Tag Archives: Sallent de Gallego

Pyrenees snowshoe holiday

Snowshoeing holiday in the Pyrenees

Next February we are running a guided snowshoeing holiday in the Valle de Tena. We’ve been asked about this lots of times by readers of the blog, so hopefully some of you will be able to come and join us for this advenure!

Snowshoeing in the Pyrenees

Snowshoeing near Portalet

Snowshoeing is brilliant fun and requires no previous experience or technical skills – if you can hike you can snowshoe! We’ll teach you all the techniques you need to know during your stay. It’s a great way of discovering the mountains in winter. The scenery is simply beautiful and the winter really is a magical time to be in the mountains.

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Asp Viper in the Pyrenees

Snakes in the Pyrenees

Ian a regular reader of the blog recently sent me a couple of photos of some snakes he’d seen on the French side of the Pyrenees to identify.

Ian's mystery snake

Ian’s mystery snake

He’d found a lovely example of a green whipsnake. It’s a long thin snake which can rach up to 2 metres but is usually quite a bit shorter than this around 1 to 1.5 metres.

You can find them across most of southern Europe and like warm scrub covered areas. I don’t come across these very often but when I do they often stay perfectly still and then shoot off very fast. The name whipsnake is for the speed of their movement. They’re non-venemous so there was no need to worry Ian!

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New route option on our Village to Village holiday

At the Cucuraza viewpoint looking south

A great new viewpoint has been constructed above Panticosa which has allowed us to add a new option on day 3 of our Village to Village walking holiday. Cucuraza (1758m) sits high above Panticosa and gives fantastic views down onto the village and across the southern and western sides of the Valle de Tena.

From the viewpoint you link up with a footpath that passes into the northern end of the valley before descending into the village of Sallent de Gallego (the next stop on the village to village tour). It’s a fantastic option with great views throughout the day.

Views from the Cucuraza viewpoint

Views from the Cucuraza viewpoint

A good path heads fairly steeply up through the woods north of Panticosa. You initially pass through oak, box and beech before getting to some beautiful Scots Pine in the higher reaches. As you leave the woods the views are just fantastic and you take a short side trip to the viewpoint for birds eye views down onto Panticosa.

Looking down onto Panticosa

Looking down onto Panticosa

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A Successful Refugio Week.

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The Refugio Week team at Refugio de los Ibones de Bachimala

Han & I (Ken) have recently returned from guiding the first Refugio Week of the season, which proved to be very successful, with everyone reaching the summit of Monte Perdido, which at 3335m, is the third highest peak in the Pyrenees.

For the first half of the week, we started at Sallent de Gallego, in the Valle de Tena, and walked on the GR11 alongside the beautiful Rio de Aguas Limpias, up to Refugio de Respomuso.   We made the most of the afternoon by practising basic winter skills (such as using an ice axe and crampons) up towards the Collado de la Facha on the French/Spanish border.

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The team with Pico Teberrai in the background

The following day, the team made the most of their newly acquired skills by continuing along the snow covered GR11 up the Collado de Tebarrai, from where some chose to reach the summit of Pico de Tebarrai at 2916m.  A long descent, made much easier by the softening snow, led us down to our second refugio, the new Refugio de los Ibones de Bachimala, above Baño de Panticosa.

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Les Treseroles - Cilindro, Perdido & Anisclo

For the second half of the Refugio week, by taking 4x4s up to Punta Acuta, and traversing the southern rim of the canyon then up and over Punta Custodia, we approached the popular Refugio de Goriz, at the head of the Ordesa Canyon, from where we all summited Monte Peridio the following day.  There was still a lot of snow from Lago Helado to the summit, again requiring the use of an ice axe and crampons.  The team descended from Goriz via the Anisclo Canyon. It was a great achievement by Keith, Lindsey, Carol, Michelle & Mike and we certainly celebrated accordingly!

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On the summit of Monte Perdido

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Descending the Anisclo Canyon

Punta Del Pacino

Elder flowered orchids in the PyreneesI was hiking up Punta del Pacino at the weekend which is one of my favourite peaks in the valley – not high at 1965 metres but with a fantastic position right in the centre of the valley and you get superb views in all directions from the summit. The lower sunny slopes are covered in elder flowered orchids and spring gentians.

Summit views from Punta del Pacino

Summit views from Punta del Pacino

This is the view looking south west over Embalse de Escarra to the Sierra de Partacua. Still a lot of snow higher up but most peaks around 2000 metres have only patchy snow. Higher than this there is still a lot of snow – particularly along the route of the GR11.

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Hiking from Sallent de Gállego

Our friends Dave and Elena are over at the moment with their daughter Evangeline. We all went hiking from Sallent up to the embalse at La Sarra which is a lovely spot. Isabel and Evangeline went in the backpacks and loved it.

Wild daffodils in the meadows

The spring flowers are really getting going now and there were meadows full of wild daffodils.

It’s  a great walk and can be done as part of our village to village walking holiday either as an extension to day 3 or as an easy option for day 4.

Overlooking Sallent with Punta del Pacino in the background

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El Gigante de Sallent

In bars and restaurants in Biescas and Sallent de Gállego you will see pictures of one of the valleys most famous residents – Fermín Arrudi Urieta, more commonly known as ‘the giant of Sallent’. Born in Sallent de Gállego in 1870 Fermín reached 2.29 metres (7 feet 6 inches), weighed 170 kg (nearly 28 stone) and had size 58 feet.

There are many tales of Fermín’s deeds – he was said to be as strong as ten men and  more use than any farm machinery. He loved village life, hunting and the mountains. One famous tale is of him killing a bear with just his bare hands and a small hunting knife.

Gigante de Sallent

French postcard of Fermín visiting Eaux Chaudes

Fermín toured the world showing off his remarkable height and had shows in Paris, Berlin, Holland, Belgium, New York and did year long tours of both North and South America. The shows bought him fame and fortune and while in Paris he met his future wife Louis Dupuis. However he was never happy with the touring life and once married returned to Sallent where he built a house, bought some land and lived once again as a farmer.

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Puente del Paco in Sallent de Gallego

This 16th century bridge is called ‘el viejo’ or ‘del Paco’ as it links the district called ‘El Paco’ with the main part of the village. A wooden bridge has existed here since 1427 and was replaced by the stone bridge around 1565.

The millstone from the old flour mill

A lot of bridges were constructed in the valley around that time and this bridge was the final link in the route known as ‘Camino Real’ which linked Biescas with the French border and was important with the increase of trade between the two nations.

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