During the last week of July, we finally ran our first guided walking holiday for over a year! We welcomed five American and Danish guests, who all now live in Valencia, making it simple to travel up to the Pyrenees. We’ve also welcomed several couples doing our Village to Village self-guided itinerary over the last six weeks.
It was great to be back out in the mountains, showing people the wonderful Pyrenees once again. The week was based at the lovely Hotel Tierra de Biescas and we hiked in both the Valle de Tena and Ordesa National Park.
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Our first days’ hike took us up to the Ibon de Piedrafita which lies below the thousand metre cliffs of the Sierra de Partacua. This is always a really popular hike with our guests with superb views right from the outset that just keep better as you climb up to the lake.
With all the hot weather we’ve been having this summer, we were lucky to have a week of perfect hiking temperatures, with it not being too hot on any day and only a few drops of rain on the final day – despite showers and storms being forested for most of the week.
The following day we headed to the road head of La Sarra and hiked a section of the GR11, following the Rio Aguas Limpias – the river of clean water. This hike always has great butterflies and flowers and is one of my favourites. We saw a great range of butterflies including apollo’s, brimstones, greater banded graylings, and both scarce and standard swallowtails. Usually, it’s a good spot for Camberwell beauties but we weren’t lucky today.
The flowers didn’t disappoint either and this hike is a good chance to see some of the most poisonous species in the Pyrenees – purple and yellow monkshood as well as wolfsbane, known as matalobos in Spanish, and previously used as a poison for wolves. Even in a dry summer like this one, there are always some lovely waterfalls along this route and a place to dip your feet in the water while having lunch.
The summit of Punta del Pacino was our objective for the following day. This peak doesn’t quite reach two thousand metres, but its position right in the centre of the valley gives stunning panoramic views from the summit. We do a complete circuit of the peak which gives ever-changing views on the way up. This was the first-ever hike Anna and I did in the Valle de Tena and we’ve hiked the route hundreds of times since. However, this week I did an excellent new route down that follows a nice ridge, stays up higher for longer, and is hardly ever walked – I discovered this new variant while out hiking on my own during the pandemic – just shows you’re always learning, hover well you know the mountains.
A rest day was required, so on Thursday, we visited the lovely church of Santa Elena. This area is steeped in history with a neolithic dolmen, defensive structures from the 15th century, Napoleonic and Franco eras. The church has lots of legends associated with it and has a hidden door in the altar which you can pass through to a cave behind. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the area.
With the legs fully recharged we headed to Ordesa National Park on Friday. The spectacular kilometer deep Ordesa Canyon, never disapoints. There are a variert of excellent hikes in the valley. I headed along the valley floor to see the waterfalls and ancient beech forests, while David headed up to the Faja Racon which winds around the high cliffs.
For our final days’ hiking we headed to Panticosa. It was great to welcome our guide David back for the hikes on the final two days – it was brilliant to be working with him again. The weather forescast was awful today and I stayed down in the valley of la Ripera with half of the group, while David headed higher into the clouds to the Dedo de Yenofrito – a great column of rock sticking out of the valley floor. In the end, the weather played abll and we only had five minutes of rain and the scebnery was very atmospheric with the clouds swirling around.
A huge thanks to all of the guests for coming on the week . I hope that you enjoyed your time with us in the Pyrenees. It was such a boost to be out hiking with a group again and showed that there is finally some light at the end of this COVID tunnel! To be honest, I think I enjoyed the week more than the guests!
2021 Pyrenees walking holidays
If you’d like to come and hike with us this September, we’ve published a revised guided hiking program for September through to early October. We also are running self guided holidays throughout the rest of the year, our Village to Village itinerary in the high Pyrenees is always popular and has brilliant hiking and views ecery day. We realise that it’s not possible for everyone to be travelling this summer, so if you’re not ready to come and visit us this season, we’ll soon be publishing our 2022 dates and we hope to see you next summer.