The village of Etsaut, where we are based, is situated on a crossing points of two famous long-distance walking routes (The GR10 and the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) and it also constitutes an ideal base from which to access numerous walks in the mountains and valleys of the Pyrenees National Park and surrounding areas.
Weather permitting, each morning we will spend between 2 and 5 hours (excluding breaks) walking in the surrounding forests and mountains. A portion of each walk will be dedicated to mindfulness (including mindful walking and mindful observation/awareness of the surrounding nature and environment) The pace of walking will be gentle and sometimes slow, and none of the walks will be technically difficult. Nevertheless, the paths can be rough and stony and we will be walking up and down some hills so you do need to be relatively fit and able to walk in such conditions. Weather permitting, we will stop for a picnic lunch before returning home.
During the week we envisage doing 4 shorter walks and 2 longer ones, but all of the walks are optional, and you can choose for yourself which ones you would like to come on. To take part in the walks you will need suitable footwear, clothing, sunscreen and headgear to protect you from the sun.
Just to give an idea of the range of environments we will be walking in, we’ve outlined below some of our favourite walks. Facebook photos from our previous “walk and talk” and mindfulness events are available here .
Le Lac d’Estaens
This popular walk begins in the mountains South of Etsaut, a couple of kilometres from the Spanish border. The path rises steeply through woodland, up to a high grass-covered plateau where it then crosses over into Spain and joins the GR11 long-distance pootpath. From the Spanish border onwards, its then an easy stroll to the lake’s shore.
It is possible to swim in the lake, although sometimes the water can be rather cold! Whatever the case, it’s a super spot for a picnic.
This circular walk starts and ends in the beautiful village of Lescun (the highest village in the Western Pyrenees) It offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains (le cirque de Lescun), the Vallée d’Aspe, and the green pastures of the Plateau de Liers. Often during the walk one can observe the vultures that like to glide on the thermals rising from the valley below. After a picnic at the top, we return back to Lescun for a look around the village and refreshments in one its cafés.
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela
This branch of the ancient pilgrimage route to Compostela follows the river Aspe right up to the Spanish border and then down to the city of Jaca, the ancient capital of Aragon. We usually join the Camino near the village of Urdos (5km South of Etsaut) walking along what was once a Roman road, through ancient woodland and heaths up to the border, where there is now a café. After the visit to the café, we drive you back to Etsaut.
Le Col d’Arras
For this walk we drive up the mountain road above Etsaut, where we are based. At the end of this road, there is a track used by shepherds to take their sheep up and down from the high mountain pastures between our valley and the next. Up Above the Col, there is a remote forest with a truly magical atmosphere. Perfect for meditation. On the way back down we call in at the Beloute café for refreshments. Still high in the mountains, the café’s supplies have to be delivered on foot or by donkey! Then we return to Etsaut... either by car or, for those who want a longer walk, by foot via one of the many ancient donkey tracks.
in the French Pyrenees
For people who stutter