My Pyrenees HRP Diary - Introduction

This blog was begun in 2015, to record my walk along the Pyrenees HRP from Hendaye to Banyuls. If you want to read about that, I suggest you start here.

But that is all in the past now, and I have expanded the blog a little to cover more recent events.. such as:

Snowdonia Way
Hebden Bridge
Equipment Reviews
North Downs Way

and also, one day:

Pennine Way .. which I am due to walk for the third time in 2019, this time from N to S I think

I hope you will find something interesting. Please do provide a little feedback or comment, and if you are interested in something that I didn't say enough about, please let me know .. happy walking!


Sunday, 26 July 2015

HRP Day 19

Sunday 26 July 2015

Refuge Oulettes - Gavarnie

This morning I said farewell to my Dutch friends Joost, Kaatje & Irena who are walking down to Cauterets & then home. It has been nice talking to and walking with them.
I set off after breakfast to climb to the Hourquette d'Ossoue, 2734m, the highest col so far. A 600m climb, and I was pleased to complete it in 1hr 50m, quicker than the guide's expected 2 hrs. On the way there are fine views of Vignemale, which you walk right next to.
From the col it is a short walk to Refuge Bayssellance, at 2563m the highest manned refuge in the pyrenees. Then, a long and difficult descent that continues all the way to Gavarnie. Descending is a slow business for me at present, because of my ailing knees and because the poles I acquired in lescun are too short. I must buy some new ones in Gavarnie, and then try to speed up a little if I can.
The tedious descent was enlivened by two things. First, it passes the Grottes Bellevue, three caves hollowed out of the mountain in the 1880s at the behest of the rich and deeply eccentric Lord Henry Russell. One for him, one for his guests, and one for meals - and we are talking Persian carpets, waiters, candelabra and full evening dress here. Wikipedia has more about this remarkable man, in whose honour Pic Russell is named.
The other excitement was a close encounter of the marmot kind. Marmots are one of my favourite animals - furry, cuddly, and totally harmless. Think oversized guinea pig, though technically they are a type of squirrel. They have a loud warning whistle that you hear a lot, but they are harder to see and seldom come as close as this one did. They were hunted to extinction in the pyrenees, but after the second world war some alpine marmots were reintroduced and they are now widespread. They are herbivore and hence not a pest or a threat to anything else much, bless 'em.
Eventually I reached Gavarnie and my first proper bed and shower since lescun.

Joost, Irena, Kaatje. I am hoping Joost's no shaving look is just while he's walking. I'm not certain the Lee Marvin look quite suits him. 
Looking back at the refuge Oulettes, visible in the centre of picture. 
Vignemale, close to
Looking down from the Hourquette d'Ossoue towards Bayssellance 
the Ossoue glacier, which must be climbed en route to the summit of Vignemale. I counted 20 people on it 
Entrance to one of the Grottes Bellevue
inside. No Persian carpets now. .

spot the marmot! 
He came very close
quite a lot of snowfields to cross on the way down, like this one. 


  1. All the pictures are really excellent and all your blogs seem to have been uploaded. My ebook following your route has expired but I can follow you on the map. Hoping the blue sky continues for you (not quite what the weatherman is saying but they are often wrong). Just take care.