Avg.Time : 40 – 50 days
Start / Finish :
- Both trailheads are easily accessible via regular public transport.
Season : Late June to September.
Maps / Info :
- In 1999, my friend Dave and I used Georges Veron, Pyrenees High Level Route (1991). This book is now out of print. A more up-to-date option is the Pyrenean Haute Route (2nd edition, 2009), published by Cicerone Press.
- Topographical maps are needed for the high level sections of the route. The French IGN series 1:50,000 Topographical maps [# 1-8 & 10-11] cover roughly 85% of the walk (ie. all of the French sections and some of the Spanish parts). These maps can also be purchased at local bookshops along the way.
- On the Spanish side of the border, we made do with the sketch maps in Veron’s guide. Alternatively, you could use the Spanish ICC (Institut Cartogrefic de Catalunya) 1:50,000 series # 20-25. To purchase online see the ICC website: http://www.icc.cat/eng/Home-ICC/Inici.
Route / Conditions :
- Whilst on the French side of the border, the Pyrenees High Level Route coincides to a large extent with the GR10 (a trans-Pyrenean route which stays solely in France). These sections are very well marked with red and white blazes.
- When not linked with the GR10, the High Level Route is much more sporadically marked. Good map reading and route finding skills are necessary.
- In the higher central part of the Pyrenees, snowfields are common. That being said, unless there has been an unusually high snow year or you are hiking very early in the season, an ice axe and crampons will not be necessary.
- Water is not a problem. Virtually all the villages you pass through have fountains or pumps and there are no lengthy dry sections in the mountains. No need to carry more than two or three litres at any one time. Treat any water taken downstream of human settlement, grazing animals or agriculture (see Intestinal Disorders in HEALTH & SAFETY).
- Regular resupply options throughout the route . Basic staples such as pasta, bread, cheese, cereals and chocolate are ubiquitous, and you should never have to carry more than 2 or 3 days food at a time.
- A wide range of accommodation such as mountain huts, gite d’etapes and hotels is available. Don’t miss the opportunity to stay in some of the villages. The food, wine and hospitality are unforgettable.
- That being said, you definitely should carry a tent. There are some magical, not to be missed camping spots along the route.
- The Pyrenees High Level Route is a wonderful fusion of culinary, cultural and natural elements.
- The mountain scenery, particularly in the central parts of the range, is amazing. Equally memorable are the charming villages and the friendly, hospitable people whom inhabit them.
- One of my all-time favourite hikes.