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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
I'm sitting in the very comfortable new albergue in Lescar, having walked the few dull km from lovely Pau in surprising heat this afternoon. This will be my 10th compostela, sqd, and the first time I've started from France. The view of the Pyrenees from the Boulevard des Pyrénées in Pau was both spectacular and a little daunting. Lamartine said "Pau est la plus belle vue de terre" and for a few hours I thought he was right, until I got to Lescar and saw an even more impressive version of the same panorama centred on the majestic grandeur of Midi d'Ossau.

I'm a little nervous about the next few days, but more than a little excited about doing the Camino Aragonés for the first time.

IMG_20190929_204404_596.jpg
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Me too! The amazing Mide d Osseau looks even more taunting from further away, Miramont, in the LePuy route. Walking in France is fabulous, you are up to something good! I am hoping to do Bayonne-Oloron-Somport and then onwards one of these years. Buen camino!
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
The view of the Pyrenees from the Boulevard des Pyrénées in Pau was both spectacular and a little daunting
Enjoy the walk up the Somport pass. When I was walking DOWN it in March this year I was thinking how glad I was that I wasn’t walking UP it! (But I HAD walked up the other side.) If you have the time, DO go on the guided tour at Canfranc Estacion, as it is well worth it. I had to stay two nights there due to snow on the Somport Pass, so could fit it in quite easily. Looking forward to reading your Live reports. Jill

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
This will be the best thread going until you finish in Santiago! So I am happily looking forward to reading your beautiful prose, looking at your gorgous photos, and generally tagging along from the sidelines.
Bon chemin and buen camino, Alan!
 

JacTx

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
?
I'm sitting in the very comfortable new albergue in Lescar, having walked the few dull km from lovely Pau in surprising heat this afternoon. This will be my 10th compostela, sqd, and the first time I've started from France. The view of the Pyrenees from the Boulevard des Pyrénées in Pau was both spectacular and a little daunting. Lamartine said "Pau est la plus belle vue de terre" and for a few hours I thought he was right, until I got to Lescar and saw an even more impressive version of the same panorama centred on the majestic grandeur of Midi d'Ossau.

I'm a little nervous about the next few days, but more than a little excited about doing the Camino Aragonés for the first time.

View attachment 65289
Buen camino!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Lescar to Oloron Sainte Marie

I was out of the albergue at first light, after sharing a cafetiere with two French sisters who were staying as well. The volunteers who run the albergue are a lovely lot, and it's highly recommended.

The path from Lescar quickly takes you over the Gave de Pau, the same river many more pilgrims cross at Saint Jean Pied de Port. After about 12km you get to Lacommande, which has a small albergue attached to the ancient pilgrim hospital. Other than an expensive wine shop, and the romanesque church, there is nothing else, so I decided to carry on, but the French sisters planned to stay there. After Lacommande it gets much tougher. There are several very sharp rises and falls. It's mostly through glorious almost autumn woods, with chestnuts and acorns joing the first leaves underfoot. The woods were "lovely dark and deep" but sometimes so thick that I almost regretted wearing my prescription sunglasses. And then there would be a lovely clearing, "enfolding sunny spots of greenery". And up, and down, and sometimes a tantalising glimpse of the mountains getting nearer. Over 800m of accumulated ascent over 34km, quite hard work for a first day, but also very useful training for the obstacle course getting ever closer. And almost as much down as up, as Oloron St Marie is only 50m higher up than Lescar.

Sadly, after my pleasant relaxed evening eating from Lescar's emergency supplies with the two charming women from the Midi, Oloron St M's albergue seemed a bit rule-bound: doors locked at 8pm (we had a number pass code at Lescar), curfew, chucking out time (no such things at Lescar) etc. I'm sure it felt worse as I was knackered and had run out of water earlier, but worst of all, one of the other guests was loud and opinionated and prolix and managed very successfully to bring out my inner Garbo. To the extent that I altered my plans for the next day, having heard where he's planning to stay, in order to avoid him.

It was exciting high up earlier on, to see a panorama panel marking my first sight of the Gave d'Aspe Valley, where I will be spending the next couple of days.
 

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C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
to bring out my inner Garbo
That is an metaphor I haven't heard before. However, my guess is that it is what happened to me at one point on my last Camino! I'm not sure any onlooker would have immediately compared me with Garbo, though. :cool:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
That is an metaphor I haven't heard before. However, my guess is that it is what happened to me at one point on my last Camino! I'm not sure any onlooker would have immediately compared me with Garbo, though. :cool:
Duh!!! I read the post and wondered what rubbish collection had to do with anything. I should have expected there was a much more literary meaning.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Duh!!! I read the post and wondered what rubbish collection had to do with anything. I should have expected there was a much more literary meaning.
Well I confess I knew nothing of the apparently iconic Garbo trash can. Off-topic,I know but I am always happy to learn.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)

Jenyat53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: September 2013 & April/ May 2014
CF: April/May 2016 CP Tui - SDC Feb 2018
I had heard it, but never used it. Here is the first reference I found when I looked it up.
OMG!!! I love the background story on this Kirkie. It rang all my bells. Definitely going to used that term especially in January.
Thanks for sharing. 🤗
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Well, Alan, may you find the solitude you craved last night today!
Glad thanks to you for these vivid (and amusing) descriptions - I can almost smell the chestnut leaves underfoot! And as always, now we will all want to follow in your footsteps as a result. 🙏
very useful training for the obstacle course getting ever closer
Ha! some obstacle course. It sounds like yesterday was already pretty taxing - if you were knackered, God help the rest of us.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Oloron Sainte Marie to Bedous

A lovely day, although clouds started forming, and it rained heavily soon after I got "home" - much the best time. The valley, wide and fertile at first, got quickly much narrower and the surrounding hills much higher. The Aspe, like its surroundings, got more dramatic, with occasional rapids and waterfalls. I had hoped to stay in Sarrance, but the couple of hours on to Bedous were great, and the town (large village) seems much more lively and fun and for supper I had a delicious "garbure" (local speciality soup/stew including any available meats, cabbage beans etc).

I stayed in a delightful B&B, the Maison Leclède (booked by the highly efficient and helpful local tourist office, 100 yards away) almost ridiculously reminiscent of my first visits to France with my parents 50 years ago, even down to the bolster instead of pillow, and the timed light switches which leave you fumbling in the dark after 20 seconds. Just wonderful, although I'm not sure whether to be insulted or flattered that the landlady asked if I was Belgian (it's not an accent much admired by the French). Very glad I did the extra km today, as heavy rain due in the morning, so a shorter day to get soaked, and then forecast to be fine on Thursday for a detour into the high mountains.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Bedous to Borce

"into each life some rain must fall". Too much fell on me today. Wet wet wet. So glad I did a long day yesterday, cutting today down to about 13km. I left my lovely old B&B, with its fading Louis XVI furniture, after an excellent breakfast, with the rain, pouring all night, still coming down. And then steadily up, with occasional breaks in the clouds showing what must be spectacular cliffs and gorges: sadly the inside of a cloud is not much different wherever you are. Through lovely woods made less inviting by a carpet of slippery leaves, and occasionally along the quite busy quite narrow national road. The Aspe got narrower and swifter, and changed to a curious silver green.

Not really a pleasure of a day, but a few hours got me to Borce, where the local bar/grocer does rooms, and had a very jolly evening with two people doing the GR10, and the nicest of the people I'd been with in the albergue in Oloron (luckily the boring Belgian had gone on to Urdos).

There have been better days and there will be worse.
 

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Feeling like a drowned rat is no fun. I very much hope the weather is better tomorrow.
sadly the inside of a cloud is not much different wherever you are.
All too true. Thankfully your company has been good; the opposite would be no fun squared.
There have probably been worse days and there will definitely be better. ;)
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Borce to a shepherd's hut somewhere on the GR10

The few people I've told recently that I was thinking of avoiding Somport and going into Spain by the Col des Moines all tried to discourage me, some with unexpected vehemence. One said "mais il faut être Alpiniste pour faire ça" and another, who told me he knew everything about the Camino, said that I had to start it at St Jean Pied de Port. Sigh. Even when you're convinced that you're, if not right then at least reasonable, such negativity can be demoralising so it was a huge relief when the two friendly people in Borce who were doing the GR10 confirmed that, far from needing mountaineering equipment or skills, I probably wouldn't even have to use my hands. And so it proved.

A hour's easy walk on the GR10 (the west-east route on the French side of the Pyrenees) takes you to the start of the Chemin de la Mâture, looking down on the slightly sinister Fort du Portalet, where Daladier, Mandel and other de _20191005_211902.JPG mocrats were imprisoned in 1940 and, with a pleasing circularity, Pétain found himself banged up in 45.

The Chemin de la Mâture is a path 2-3m wide and 3-4km long cut into a sheer cliff, and used to drag tree trunks down from the higher woods to make masts for the battleships of Louis XV's navy. It is bloody scary even if you don't have vertigo, as a slip or stumble could easily launch you into oblivion. At least it isn't particularly steep, and eventually you reach some beautiful woods, at which point you start going up seriously. If the previous day's resumé was wet wet wet, Thursday's was up up up.

After about five hours of continuous up, including a stretch of 70m up in 210m forward, I wondered briefly if I had possibly fallen off the cliff, and my purgatory was a Sisyphean eternal walk through never ending woods with a heavy backpack. At least there was no water shortage.

Eventually the woods did end and I found myself on a gloriously beautiful upland pasture, 1500m of accumulated ascent since breakfast. And, an hour or so later, and about three hours before I'd planned to stop, a tiny hut appeared with a sign saying that, after 15 September, when the shepherd stopped using it, the National Park made it available to anyone. A single room, a table, and a loft with two mattresses. And a delicious source by the nearby stream. Although it was relatively early in the afternoon, it seemed too good to miss, so I had a late lunch/early supper, and settled down. A few vultures circled around, some cows with their musical bells joined me, night fell and I had one of the best views ever, completely clear of light pollution, of "la splendide forêt des constellations". It was a magical ending to a very special, if rather energetic, day - and then lulled to sleep by my two favourite sounds: animal bells and a busy mountain stream.
 

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CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
Wow that trail looks terrifying. But to have a little cottage to yourself for the night is pretty special. How fabulous! Buen camino!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
A day in the high Pyrenees.

Having made it most of the way to the top of the hill I decided, unlike the Grand Old Duke of York, not just to go straight down again, staying another night in one of the mountain refuges the National Park makes available.

A final 500m of ascent brought me to the Col d'Ayous, 2180m high and the highest point I'll reach on this camino, probably on any camino I ever attempt. A high point metaphorically as well as literally, with fantastic views down my secret valley to the shepherd's hut, across to the forbidding bulk of Midi d'Ossau, and on to the Col des Moines and the next day’s walk into Spain.

The Refuge d'Ayous, down by the Lac Gentau across from Midi d'Ossau, is staffed in high season, with power provided by solar panels, and off season they leave the basement open, with seven bunks, blankets and plenty of delicious cool water. Once again the stars were astonishing - when I looked out at about 5am it was as if Cetus was using the bulk of Midi d'Ossau to shelter from Perseus, and Sirius was blazing bright in Canis trotting along with Orion to the west.

DSC_0376.JPG
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
On. My. List.
Wonderful, Alan. Just wonderful..
Thank you for these evokative posts; I have to admit to hanging out for them like a dog before suppertime. 🙏
 

Simon Shum

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Oct 2013, Porto, San Salvador & Primitivo 2014. Norte 2016, VdLP & Via Francigena 2017
Borce to a shepherd's hut somewhere on the GR10

The few people I've told recently that I was thinking of avoiding Somport and going into Spain by the Col des Moines all tried to discourage me, some with unexpected vehemence. One said "mais il faut être Alpiniste pour faire ça" and another, who told me he knew everything about the Camino, said that I had to start it at St Jean Pied de Port. Sigh. Even when you're convinced that you're, if not right then at least reasonable, such negativity can be demoralising so it was a huge relief when the two friendly people in Borce who were doing the GR10 confirmed that, far from needing mountaineering equipment or skills, I probably wouldn't even have to use my hands. And so it proved.

A hour's easy walk on the GR10 (the west-east route on the French side of the Pyrenees) takes you to the start of the Chemin de la Mâture, looking down on the slightly sinister Fort du Portalet, where Daladier, Mandel and other deView attachment 65498mocrats were imprisoned in 1940 and, with a pleasing circularity, Pétain found himself banged up in 45.

The Chemin de la Mâture is a path 2-3m wide and 3-4km long cut into a sheer cliff, and used to drag tree trunks down from the higher woods to make masts for the battleships of Louis XV's navy. It is bloody scary even if you don't have vertigo, as a slip or stumble could easily launch you into oblivion. At least it isn't particularly steep, and eventually you reach some beautiful woods, at which point you start going up seriously. If the previous day's resumé was wet wet wet, Thursday's was up up up.

After about five hours of continuous up, including a stretch of 70m up in 210m forward, I wondered briefly if I had possibly fallen off the cliff, and my purgatory was a Sisyphean eternal walk through never ending woods with a heavy backpack. At least there was no water shortage.

Eventually the woods did end and I found myself on a gloriously beautiful upland pasture, 1500m of accumulated ascent since breakfast. And, an hour or so later, and about three hours before I'd planned to stop, a tiny hut appeared with a sign saying that, after 15 September, when the shepherd stopped using it, the National Park made it available to anyone. A single room, a table, and a loft with two mattresses. And a delicious source by the nearby stream. Although it was relatively early in the afternoon, it seemed too good to miss, so I had a late lunch/early supper, and settled down. A few vultures circled around, some cows with their musical bells joined me, night fell and I had one of the best views ever, completely clear of light pollution, of "la splendide forêt des constellations". It was a magical ending to a very special, if rather energetic, day - and then lulled to sleep by my two favourite sounds: animal bells and a busy mountain stream.
Vow, these are spectacular views! I had just walked from Oloron couple weeks ago, now I wished I had the courage to walk the GR10 high route like you have done! I took the low route (my research said the GR10 high route is for professional mountaineers and not for a 71 years old pilgrim walking alone!). I was looking up to the "sinister Fort du Portalet" view from the road and I was wondering how beautiful it is, looking at your pictures I know I missed a very good walk! Somport is easy in comparison!
By the way, you might have the info already -- further on to Jacca, there is a bus service going up to San Juan de la Pina at 9:30 am. When I was there, most pilgrims would fully enjoyed the new and old monasteries in two or three hours, and yet have to wait till 5 or 6 pm bus to return to Jacca. What I learnt is that you could talk/negotiate with the drivers to catch earlier bus to return. The bus driver was kind enough to take three of us to the camino point so we could walk to Sant Celia at 2:30 pm. But staying at the monastery till 5 pm could be a bls=essing too!
Bon Chemin! Buen Camino!
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Refuge d'Ayous to Villanua

Another perfect autumn day in the high mountains. At the refuge you leave the GR10 and head towards the border, joining the Haute Route Pyrenées at some point, and passing the very pretty lac Bersau on the way up. With carpets of delicate autumn crocuses, and different views opening up at every side. About 500m of accumulated ascent brings you to 2150m up and the Spanish border at the Col des Moines. At which point my mobile went mad, with 2 days of accumulated messages all pinging at once after not having had a signal since the Chemin de la Mâture. Not that there was much battery left anyway.

Very soon after crossing the border you pass near the source of the río Aragón, which will be my companion for the next week or so as I move onto the Camino Aragonés. An hour later and you reach the largely deserted ski resort of Astún, and another hour down gets you to Somport, the end of my chemin d'Arles.

Not a bad week from Pau, and the last three days in the high mountains were just spectacular. But I'd have stuck to Somport if the rain had carried on. DSC_0392.JPG
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
What an amazing picture! What time did you take it? It looks like you folded it in half and the image printed again.
 

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