Walking A Different Path.
Why The Pyrenees?
The Pyrenees form a spectacular natural frontier between France and Spain stretching more than 400km (250miles) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1862 Charles Packe, who was an explorer who helped popularise the area, wrote in his guide to the Pyrenees - "Inferior, indeed, to the Alps in height and expanse of barren glacier, but far more picturesque in form as well as colour"
In 1995 the Rough Guide to The Pyrenees said "These mountains challenge and invite rather than intimidate."
Kev Reynolds who has written guides to mountainous areas all over the world, says on his website: "For the walker and trekker, the range has just about everything."
The founder of the Spirit of Adventure Foundation, Colin Mortlock, who has journeyed extensively in the area, loved the Pyrenees "not least for their wildness, their beauty and their alpine flowers."
During the Second World War thousands crossed the Pyrenees to reach neutral Spain and Andorra to escape Nazi persecution and eventually reach 'home' to remain free or return to continue the fight.
Allied airmen shot down over occupied Europe (from Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and Poland for example),
Jewish men, women and children,
Young French men in their 20's escaping forced labour,
French men and women responding to DeGaulle's call to join the Free French Forces.
Only by visiting the region can you really experience what it was like to follow an authentic Escape and Evasion line from France over the Pyrenees and properly learn about the rich history of the area during WW2.
Take a look at the photos on the site for the scenery on offer. There is something for everyone. Accessible peaks, 360° summit views, raging torrents, glacier carved valleys, mirror lakes and airy ridge scrambles. The area is great for alpine flowers and wildlife is abundant. Although there are no Ibex, which do exist in the Alps, the Pyrenees has the Brown Bear and the Desman which are absent from the Alps. The Pyrenees also has a greater number of Bearded Vultures/Lammergiers.
Ariege Regional Nature Park.
Another of my favourite parts of the Pyrenees, the Ariege Regional Nature Park is in the Ariege département. It has some of the wildest, least spoilt, authentic mountain scenery in the whole Pyrenees. The area in the Pyrenees where it is easiest to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds. The weather is less dry but the landscape greener and lusher as a result. There are some spectacularly located mountain refuges for hut to hut trekking and the area is perfect for wild camping.
Want to discover the area yourself? Try the PMA holiday The Chemin de la Liberté/Freedom Trail.
Andorra is a tiny (468 square km/181 square miles) country located between France and Spain in the Eastern Pyrenees. With 70 mountains over 2000m and 70 lakes the scenery is spectacular. The country offers a range of walks to suit all abilities, levels of experience and areas of interest. Flower rich mountain pastures, rugged peaks, sparkling lakes and airy ridges. Want to discover the area yourself? Try the PMA holidays Andorra 5 Peaks and Across Andorra 5 Peaks.
Top 10 Guidebooks to the Pyrenees.
All the major guidebooks to the Pyrenees will have sections on the Eastern part of the chain.
Here is a link to the Pyrenees Mountain Adventure blog and an entry on The Top 10 Pyrenees Guide Books.