Posts Tagged ‘Pyrenées-Orientales’


Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
Walking to Punxó

Walking to Punxó

After having helped a film crew bring their equipment down from an estive, I ended up in the Cerdagne last weekend with friends. We climbed Punxó, a little-known summit.

It was bucolic rather than wild, but the pastures were still empty. An exceptional point of view. We identified Carlit, Cambre d’Aze, Puigmal d’Err and Andorra. We thought we could see Vignemale in the distance, covered in snow.

On the summit of Punxó

On the summit of Punxó

Little wildlife, but we did hear a marmot and see a short-toes eagle (Circaetus gallicus) circling above. On our descent we passed through pastures with cows and horses waiting for gates to be opened, signalling the start of their summer liberty.

An easy summit, accessible from near the Mas Franco, above Enveitg. 1000m climbing, 17.5km circular walk.

Rewilding: with sheep, by hunters

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Mouflon. The principal distinguishing characteristic of the male mouflon is its long, curved horns (in females the horns are absent or smaller) © Laurence Terminet


The sheep isn’t the first species that comes to mind when I think of ‘rewilding’. It seems unlikely that the idea of rewilding with sheep will warm George Monbiot’s heart ?, given his views on the animal’s ecological hoofprint. But an ancient variety of sheep, the mouflon, present in the French Pyrenees in the Pleistocene, has been reintroduced: by hunters who were not in the least interested in the idea of rewilding. Indeed, they started the project in 1957 before the term ‘rewilding’ even existed. Yet, if there were more mouflons, they could become a food resource for the more charismatic brown bears and wolves currently preying on domestic flocks. Even shepherds – traditionally opponents of rewilding – might find some solace. (more…)

Canigó webcam now working

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

The Cortelets hostel webcam is now working and will be online until mid-Octobre.

The webcam is aimed at the summit (2784m). Screen-shot on 26 mai 2018

The webcam is aimed at the summit (2784m). Screenshot, 26 mai 2018

There seems to be a lot of snow on the ridge leading to the summit.

Crying wolf?

Monday, December 11th, 2017
Wolves in the Maison des Loup, Orlu, Ariège

Wolves in the Maison des Loups, Orlu, Ariège


Are too many wolves being culled in France? Or not enough? Ecological associations here are taking the government to court, demanding that it changes its policy on culling. Up to 36 can be killed each year if they repeatedly attack sheep. The associations want the government to take the (relatively low) total wolf population into account and reduce the number of wolves killed. But, as a recent demonstration showed, some farmers in the Pyrenees are unhappy about predators and don’t want any more. (more…)

In the corridors of the (future) Mountain Parliament

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Part of the audience at the preliminary meeting


I was in Quillan (Aude) earlier this week, for a meeting on the future of our mountains. Following a major reorganisation, the new region of Occitanie (articulated around the two metropoles of Toulouse and Montpellier) has decided to create a Mountain Parliament.

The idea is to give stakeholders a voice. According to Carole Delga, the region’s president: “The aim is to encourage communication and the emergence of new ideas so that regional policies can be adapted to the needs of the whole population.”

And mountains are a significant part of the new region:

  • 55% of the surface area
  • 20% of the population, ie 1.13 million inhabitants
  • 47% of the communes, ie 2153 in total


Access to Canigó to be restricted?

Saturday, November 18th, 2017
Canigó summit: often crowded

Canigó summit: often crowded


The authorities are considering limiting access to Catalonia’s favourite mountain. This has practical implications (details below) but it also heralds the start of a new chapter in the way we perceive Canigó and the Pyrenees in general.

Initially remote, wild and dangerous, Canigó has become a Catalan emblem – frequently nicknamed la montagne sacrée [sacred mountain] des Catalans. It has been exploited for minerals and wood, and narrowly escaped some of the worst ravages of mass tourism. Now it seems to be heading for a quieter life.



21 May: Canigou now accessible without crampons

Sunday, May 21st, 2017
Canigou as seen from above Ria, where I was walking today. The snow on the western face is clearly visible, as is the ridge which runs from the Porteille to the summit.

Canigou as seen from above Ria, where I was walking today. The snow on the western face is clearly visible, as is the ridge which runs from the Porteille to the summit.

Information from the Facebook page of the Cortalets Refuge updated by Thomas Dulac, the manager of the refuge, who climbed up to the summit today Sunday 21 May 2017.

From the Cortalets, no snow until you get to the fontaine de la Perdrix but the west side of the peak (Vernet)  is covered in snow. It is possible to climb the ridge which goes  directly from the Porteille to the summit (easy rock climbing) with classic mountain walking boots.

It is also appears to be possible to climb to the summit from the Cortalets via the Barbet, Porteille de Valmanya and the Cheminée, without crampons (not checked).

From Mariailles, no need for crampons (no snow on the Cheminéee).

Pic des Sept Hommes (Canigou massif)

Thursday, April 20th, 2017
Unmanned hut (refuge forestier) at Mariailles

Unmanned hut (refuge forestier) at Mariailles


When I stayed at the unmanned Pla Guilhem hostel last year, I said to myself I would come back when the vast plateau was covered in snow. Yesterday I was there again. (more…)

Diversions on the GR 10 near Superbagnères and Le Perthus

Monday, November 7th, 2016
Diversion of the GR 10 west of Superbagnères

Diversion of the GR 10 west of Superbagnères


Coming back home for a rest from the exertions of the Pyrenean Haute Route (HRP), via a leg of the GR10, I got lost. Despite a big, clearly labelled arrow, I walked round in a circle. From the Col de la Coume de Bourg (2271m) to Superbagnères, instead of skirting along the hillside, the route now drops into the valley and then climbs out again on a freshly-made path.


Diversion of the GR 10 east of Le Perthus

Diversion of the GR 10 east of Le Perthus


A rather older diversion further east is also worth noting. Immediately after passing under the motorway at Le Perthus the GR 10 now climbs back into the forest (passing absent-mindedly into Spain) before re-joining St-Martin-d’Albère. A great improvement: previously it followed the road for many kilometres.

Walking the Pyrenees: the French GR 10 or the Spanish GR 11?

Friday, September 5th, 2014
GR11: flowering pastures above Estos; in the background the Maladeta massif

GR11: flowering pastures above Estos; in the background the Maladeta massifmassif de la Maladeta


I’ve now walked the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean twice. First on the north side, then on the south. Having written about the first trek (If You Only Walk Long Enough: Exploring the Pyrenees), I’m trying to put my thoughts together for my book on the southern option, the GR 11. [Update 2016. Book now published as Footprints on the Mountains: The News from the Pyrenees]

So what are the differences for a walker between the GR10 and the GR11?


map of GR10

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