They say that time flies when you’re having fun. Well, Hike Pyrenees is now in it’s 10th season of running hiking holidays in the Spanish Pyrenees, and those 10 years have flown by very quickly! To celebrate this, we put on a special hiking holiday, based in the lovely medieval town of Ainsa, for those that had been with us before. The result was the Hike Pyrenees team being joined by 24 familiar faces for the week. Many of whom have been on multiple holidays over the years and all of whom we would definitely consider to be good friends.
Whilst we have often visited Ainsa with guests, normally for a meal out during our Discover Ordesa weeks, we hadn’t used it as a base for a whole week before, so Hannah and I (Ken) spent much of the week before researching suitable hikes with the aim of being able to offer either two or three different hikes each day. It’s a tough job researching hikes, but someone has to do it!
With hikes, restaurants and logistics all in place, there was nothing to do but to let the week unfold. It was great to see so many familiar faces around the dining table on the Sunday evening.
On Monday, we kicked off the hiking, with Phil and Javier taking one half of the group a little way south, to the Castillos de Samitier. This walk gave everyone fantastic views of the high mountains to the north, as well as passing two beautiful chapels and the ruins of ancient Moorish castle towers. Meanwhile, Hannah and I took the rest up to Plan, from where we hiked up to the stunning Ibon de Plan, nestled in amongst the high Pyrenean mountains. That evening, we were treated to a buffet dinner, with local wines, at the local delicatessen. Part the way though the evening, Joe, Madaline, Paul, Barbara, Cathy and Bob burst into song with their own version of ‘There’s no business like show business’, which they had been working on for some time. Their rendition was entitled ‘There’s no business like Phil’s business’!
The following day, Phil visited the Anisclo Canyon. The Anisclo Canyon is an impressive water-worn canyon that runs 22km south from the Collado de Anisclo. Hannah and her team visited a waterfall and swimming hole in the Valle de Sieste, south of Boltana, and I took our team to the eastern flanks of Cotiella, where we hiked up to Refugio Armena and back. We dined in Hotel Sanchez, in the new town that evening.
Wednesday saw us all hiking in the Valle de Pineta. Phil and his team headed up to the Cascadas de Lalarri, whilst Hannah and I took our team from Espierba, up onto the broad ridge above, where we eventually joined the GR11 and made our way to the Circo de Pineta. I took a small team up Comodoto 2361m en route. The vistas from the ridge were nothing short of spectacular, with the steep cliffs of the north face of Las Tres Marias and Tres Seroles dominating our views.
After three days of hiking, Thursday was a rest day, where many of the guests opted to visit the local bird sanctuary. Here, they have a number of birds of prey (including a short-toed eagle, buzzards, eagle owls and a red kite), which have been rescued but unfortunately aren’t in a fit state to release back into the wild. That evening, we had a wonderful tour of the Sommos Winery, near Barbastro. The building itself is ultra-modern and worth a visit in its own right.
We explored the Valle de Escuain and Pena Montanesa area over the two final days, and finished the week with a brilliant meal prepared by Callizo Restaurant. It was nothing short of a fantastic week, and great to both explore a new area and to hike again with so many friendly faces. Thank you all for your support over these past 10 years and for such a fun week, here’s to the next ten years of Hike Pyrenees!