The Pyrenees: Unexploited, wild walking for everyone

On many occasions in the Pyrenees you will feel like you have the place to yourself. Which is very surprising given part of the Pyrenean magic is its accessibility.

Head to the Haute Pyrenees to see the 'Lake District'Head to the Haute Pyrenees to see the 'Lake District' Villages like Barèges, half way up the famous Col du Tourmalet from the Tour de France, have good year round access which means summer and winter adventures are easily possible from here. But what makes villages like Bareges special is that with some walking from your chalet base for the week, you can be on a different network of seldom-travelled paths each day, climbing to hidden lakes and cirques, and high peaks - then returning to familiar comfort each evening. Forming a natural frontier between France and Spain, the Pyrenees Mountains stretch 450km between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Walking above the village of Bareges in the PyreneesWalking above the village of Bareges in the Pyrenees In the Hautes (high) Pyrenees, the border between these two countries is a high ridge of wild peaks, often more than 3000m high. These peaks include the Vignemale, the Pic du Midi Bigorre and Monte Perdido, as well as the Neouvielle an Arbizon mountain ranges. The impressive Breche de Roland, a natural gateway from France to Spain, spans the imposing Cirque de Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the thousand metre high walls of the Spanish Ordesa canyon. They provide wonderful inspiration for fitter walkers eager to walk up higher. This mountainous barrier divides the dry, baked landscape of Northern Spain from the green and fertile hillsides of Southern France, where even the weather and plant life differ greatly on each side of the border. The French and Spanish Pyrenees each have very different climatic zones and striking contrasts in their landscape, geology, flora and fauna. Walking towards the Cirque de Gavarnie in the PyreneesWalking towards the Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees The region contains the Pyrenees’ two largest national parks, the French Parc National des Pyrénées and the Spanish Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido. Both parks have incredible and variable scenery, as well as circling birds of prey, lynx and brown bears. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the High Pyrenees is how untouched they are. They are not criss-crossed by roads.  There are few all-year routes between France and Spain, which means that unlike other European mountain ranges you can easily get far from the crowds. As you’d expect from such an untouched area, the Pyrenees has an abundance of flora, fauna and insects. It’s still easy to find rare wild flowers, elusive birds and timid animals. These, combined with stunning scenery such as year-round glaciers, make the Pyrenees a real treat for walkers of all abilities. The Pyrenees are an unexploited and wild area, easily accessed on an unpack-only-once centre-based walking itinerary. An easy walk from your base can leave you in true wilderness.
Interested in centre-based walking in the Pyrenees? Check these Pyrenees walking trips out.
France, Pyrenees

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