Just brief notes here; for the detail you’ll have to wait for the write up – aka Into the Pyrenees with Alfonso and Manu: Photos & Notes. (Next on the list!)
Tuesday saw us complete our mini Carros de Foc trek, walking down from Refugio Amitges (2380m) to Estany St. Maurici (1912m) via the Cascada de Ratera and retreading the trail back to the car park.
Lunch back on the sunny terrace of the Restaurant Vall d’Àneu in Esterri d’Àneu then on to Vielha for a night at Hotel Eth Pomèr (Apples, how appropriate), beers and presentation of the Team Mucho Gusto T-Shirts (plus chutney and spare toothbrushes) at REFU Birreria and dinner at Woolloomooloo.
Wednesday was transit day, driving west-ish from Vielha to Refugio de Belagua via Ainsa (mediaeval city) and Jaca (lunch, mini Magnums and a mooch around Barrabés).
The Golondrinas huts are all accessible by road, and Belagua was buzzing. We had a fab evening – receiving our Golondrinas swag, taking in the views, enjoying our private en suite room. And bottom bunks!
We set off on La Ruta de las Golondrinas on Thursday morning: driving down to the car park at Rincón de Belagua and then walking through forest and fields and forest again to Refugio de Linza. Hot.
A day of Cathedral-like beech forests, sparkling dew on spider’s webs, bracken and gorse, a stiff, sweaty climb, a picnic in the woods – all accompanied by an impossible light bulb riddle.
The Linza hut was the quietest we stayed in, there were only around 10 other people there. Very relaxing. We played Scrabble in Spanish sat at a shady picnic table before dinner.
Friday saw us cross the border into France on Ruta de las Golondrinas day 2, trekking from Refugio de Linza to Refuge de l’Abérouat. A long, hot day.
Highlights: morning shade, chamois and marmots, Collado de Petrechema, goats cheese selling berger in his ‘house of love’, another beech forest picnic, 7.2% beers!
Lowlight: 4km on toasty tarmac.
We stayed in France on Saturday as day 3 of La Ruta de las Golondrinas (which I suppose I ought to be calling La Route des Hirondelles given we’re in France) took us from Refuge de l’Abérouat to Refuge Jeandel.
The trail took us over pas de Azuns and pas del Osque – and Alfonso and Manu provided an optional extra for Rach and I, climbing up one of Les Tourelles. FAB.
The Jeandel refuge and the manmade ski resort of La Pierre Saint Martin were less so.
I did get a proposal from a passing berger mind you.
Sunday saw us return into Spain as day 4 of La Ruta de las Golondrinas brought us back to Refugio de Belagua, a day after La Vuelta had passed by. En route, Pic de Arlás (2044m), quiet meadows and close up vulture views, and a bit of zig zagging over the main road in the run up to elevenses.
Late lunch at the hut then Rach and I accompanied Alfonso and Manu back down to the car park to collect the van. It’s a very steep trail down through the forests – very glad of the presence of poles and the absence of backpack.
The evening thunderstorm in the valley reached us overnight. Lots of rain, and lightning. A suitably dramatic end to our Ruta de las Golondrinas.
Monday was a day for farewells, and the end of this year’s adventures with Alfonso and Manu.
We drove back to Lourdes airport, flew back to London Stansted in the company of nuns, got the Stansted Express back to Liverpool Street, said au revoir to Rach and then headed down to Hotel Hazel for the night, and another Thai Takeaway for dinner.
TV: My Mum, Your Dad (out of the corner of my eye).
Audiobook: The Bullet that Missed – Richard Osman.
Photos: Herefordshire week 193 on Flickr.
Phil: w/e 2023-09-10.