Catch a train to Gatwick, meet Chris, fly to Toulouse and go in a coach to St. Lary, France. We were on a 9-day, 3-stop coach tour, mainly for wild flower enthusiasts.
We set off from our hotel and did the most spectacular walk I had done to date. We went from St Lary to Ens past the Lac de la Come to the peak of the climb at 2179m. The views of jagged, snow covered peaks, raging rivers and plunging slopes were breathtaking. The flowers were pretty and we saw several eagles.
Feel a bit jaded but set off never-the-less on a valley walk through fields and meadows of flowers down to the head of a valley where a waterfall plummeted and boiled and two others dribbled down. Picnic there.
A day spent on the coach south from St Lary through the Bolsa tunnel to Spain. Stopping at a medieval village for coffee and for lunch. Arriving at La Viella in the rain.
Our first day in La Viella. We set off on our free Land Rover trip up a valley in the pouring rain and fog. We felt we were leaving the weather behind only to realise the rain was turning into snow. We were also rather uncertain of our route as the Spanish map was rather poor. We were loosing our nerve as first we were in lying snow and then we had trouble finding the path. However we did have an escape route down a road. We continued up the path across several large patches of lying snow and were finally confronted with a basin with at least 75% of the ground snow covered. Visibility was poor and the snow became a blizzard. I was excited by the beauty and drama but was easily convinced by Chris to turn back. We struggled to get down as the conditions worsened and we became colder and wetter but we managed to find refuge huts to shelter for our lunch and our hitched lift home was from our morning Land Rover driver. We arrived back very satisfied with an exciting day.
The weather today was totally different. We took a taxi to the Refugio Restasica and had an argument about the bill.The walk through a wooded valley up a laid stone path to the dam and Refuge was magnificent. After coffee and inspecting the Refuge we met some climbers who warned us about the bad snow conditions ahead – they had walked our walk in reverse. And thank goodness they had as we used their footprints as a guide for the rest of the day We followed them over vast snowfields and round a lake in a snow filled valley. It was spectacular and exillerating stuff but we were both glad when we commenced the decent. This took quite a while and was marred by losing the path and retracing our steps twice but was pleasant enough. Getting back was again easy – the second vehicle we hitched stopped. We were lated thrilled to find we had walked part of the Haute Route – Restanca to Hostal Veilla.
A pleasant enough day on the coach with our happy band of campers, leaving La Viella at 10 and arriving in Andorra at 1630 after stopping for coffee and lunch on the way. The hotel was much nicer than the previous one but with a deadpan atmosphere. The hotelier and waiters were all gay. We had a drink with Martin, Jackie and Tracy and ended up in an awful disco, even having a dance.
Our first walk in Andorra. We set off in damp conditions up a metalled road through a lot of grot. Once we were off the road the charm of the place took over. The path was initially well marked but then disappeared and we found ourselves quite lost. The map was poor and we had strayed too far east. It took us some time to work out exactly where we were and even longer to convince ourselves as we had unexpectedly climbed a peak, Pic de Llops at 2858m. Chris was over the moon.
On the way up we clarified most of our family business which can be summarised as follows:
- Chris to repossess Dares Estates shares and borrow the money off me;
- Ros has to be advised to buy Dave out ASAP with a possible influx of cash from Mum with the sale of the cottage
- Mum to be coaxed into discussing the money from the sale of the cottage, possibly passing Dave & Ros’s share as cash
- Xmas to be essentially finished.
We walked back in the rain and get absolutely soaked. A fairly quiet night for me, chatting in the hotel bar with the Croonks and Tracy and Chris.
We set off on the coach up the Ordino valley, got off and were unable to locate the path so we got back on and it took us a bit further. We set off from El Serrat with a plan to walk up a valley, round 2 or 3 headlands, through a coll and walk down a valley to the other side. The path proved to be non-existent once up the valley and we were also rather unsettled by 2 Spanish lads who thought us over ambitious. The final straw was a huge climb up a peak to get to the coll. We almost abandoned the trip but by then we were into the other valley by 1700 and down into Canillo by 1845. An amusing but frightening trip down a steep rocky path in a French man with 3 ladies caused us some upset. We celebrated outlast evening at a firework display, a walk round Escales, a jazz club, a Spanish and bottle of wine at about 0100.
Home. After a latish start we do some shopping in Andorra La Viella – Chris buying pearls for Vicky and me a leather bag for Pauline. After a rushed lunch we drove on the coach to Toulouse. It was ad to say goodbye to the Pyrenees but the time had come. Then a horrendous journey home, 1700 at Toulouse, 2100 in London and 1 am in Crewe. Chris was last seem in the red channel at customs with his pearls and a lost ticket for his bus.