June 17th – 24th, 2020
The French and Spanish Pyrenees
Price: £ 1595 inc. flights, £ 1345 ex-flights
Leaders: Bob Gibbons, Eric Lamont and Phil Sterling
The Pyrenees are amongst the most beautiful and unspoilt mountains of Europe, with an exceptionally rich flora and fauna. On this week-long tour, we split our time between the French Pyrenees National Park, and the Spanish Ordesa National Park, giving us easy access to a fantastic range of flowery mountain habitats.
We depart from Heathrow in the morning for the short flight to Toulouse, before setting off southwards to cross the Pyrenees and head up to the attractive old village of Torla, our base for the first 4 nights. Torla is the gateway to the fabulous Ordesa National Park, where there is an abundance of flora and fauna in spectacular scenery. We can walk up the beautiful Ordesa canyon towards the high pastures full of alpine flowers, drive up to Bujaruelo, or just potter about near the hotel looking for glow-worms and orchids – everywhere in this area is rich and unspoilt. On one day, we’ll head for the extraordinary Añisclo Gorge, full of exciting species.
After 4 nights at Torla, we cross over the Pyrenees into France via the Col du Pourtalet and other smaller cols, stopping whenever we feel like it, to reach Gèdre. This is a superbly-placed village, with views up to the high peaks around Gavarnie and the Brèche de Roland, and lovely woods and flowery pastures all around it. From here, we have easy access to a wonderful array of mountain habitats in the beautiful central Pyrenees. On some days we can walk direct from the hotel, while on other days we will travel a short way by road to reach the spectacular cirque de Gavarnie, the impressive cirque de Troumouse, or some lovely high grassy flower-filled plateaux.
The flora and fauna of the high Pyrenees is quite exceptional, and these are two of the best places in which to sample it. The range of flowers is huge, and we should see hundreds of species, often in considerable abundance. Some of the special flowers include the striking spikes of Pyrenean saxifrage, Large-flowered and Long-leaved butterworts, several species of rock-rose in many colour forms, Dusky cranesbill, Horned pansy, ‘English’ iris, Pyrenean Ramonda, Pyrenean Squill, Pyrenean Fritillary, Pyrenean Speedwell, Tall Marsh Orchid, several trumpet gentians and many more, of which quite a few are endemic. Higher mountain species include Spring Gentian, several Primulaspecies such as P. integrifolia, Vitaliana, Androsacespecies, purple and orange saxifrages, snow-bells, Potentillaspp., and many others. Although not a mecca for orchid-lovers, we should see a number of species including Burnt-tip, Red and Sword-leaved helleborine and plenty of others. The birds are marvellous with opportunities for good views of unusual species such as Lammergeier, Griffon vulture, Wall-creeper, Common and Alpine choughs, Citril finches, Golden and Booted eagles and many of the more common species. It is also an exceptionally rich area for butterflies, and there should be plenty of blues, fritillaries, coppers, apollos and others. We should also see a few mammals, such as the Pyrenean chamois and Alpine marmots.
Although not specifically a photographic trip, the opportunities for photography are extremely good, with abundant species in a spectacular landscape. There will be fair amount of walking in the programme, though none of this will be difficult, and the longer walks are optional. We will have our own transport throughout.
The tour price includes return flights from Heathrow to Toulouse, all transport during the week, accommodation in good hotels on a half-board basis; and services of leaders throughout, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. ▲ tour grade. Tour code:NHT/20/05.Price: £ 1595 inc flights; Single room supplement £ 200; Deposit: £ 400.
®Alternative travel: It is possible to travel to Toulouse by train quite easily. For more information, see the website: http://www.seat61.com/France.htm#London%20to%20Toulouse%20by%20train