TRAIL RUNNING/SPEED HIKING SKILLS WEEK: €1730 P/p
On this week we take you up and on to the main trails of the Massif des Albéres which is the last mountain massif of the Pyrenees chain before they tumble down into the mediterranean sea. The trails here can go from beautiful forested mountain slopes to steep and rocky coastal trails and there is enough here to take you to a different area each day to teach you new skills that we can practise and put to use as the week progresses.
Based in a nice 2* hotel near to the beach, we spend six days out in the mountains of the French and Spanish Catalan area. Steeped in tradition, great food and fantastic local wines, the trails that we will travel at times cross the frontier of both countries, wind through ancient vineyards, climb and descend rocky and beautiful coastal paths where at times we can stop in small coves and beaches for a quick dip in the clear waters of the med before carrying on.
Everyday will see us trail running/Speed hiking between 10 – 20 kms per day. Some days will be shorter than others but by staying in the charming hotel by the beach means you will most days get time to spend on the beach and have a swim, making this trip feel like a perfect holiday.
As soon as we understand how Covid-19 will effect 2021, we will post the dates that we know we can run. Please be patient and we promise you that this is not a trip to miss if you are new to trail running and wish to have a great holiday while learning how to run in a beautiful area.
- 8 Days
- 7 nights hotel based on B&B Twin sharing
- 6 days Running/Speed Hiking
- Breakfast each day
- Picnic lunch on all running/Speed Hiking days
- 3 dinners – Arrival night (Saturday)/ Tuesday/ Last night (Friday)
- Fully qualified International Mountain Leader (English and French speaking)
- Airport Transfers
- Insurance – Travel and hiking insurance inc Rescue & Repatriation including helicopter rescue
- 4 dinners – Sunday/Monday/Wednesday/Thursday
- Trail running shoes
- Trail running vest/Backpack
- Running poles
- Small warm layer
- Light waterproof jacket
- Water bottles (There are no filling points on any of these days so bring enough water bottles to last the day)
- Sun kit – Hat, cream, glasses
- Evening clothes inc warm layer
- Swimming costume
- Small personal first aid kit inc, tape bandage, blister plasters, foil blanket, medication etc etc
- Insurance papers
- waterproof bags
Day 1 – Arrival day (Saturday)
Settle into your hotel and meet with your guide in the evening for a glass of wine and to discuss your week.
Meeting at your hotel at 6pm with your guide for introductions and to find out the itinerary before you head out and find dinner for the evening.
Day 2 – (Sunday) -Tour de la Madeloc – 651 Mtrs.
Included Breakfast & Lunch
Distance 11.3 km Ascent 532mtrs Descent 521mtrs
This is a great run/hike to start the week, driving up to a view point we park the van and continue up the winding small road on foot for a couple of hairpins before starting on the main path. Climbing up steeply on rocky paths we find ourselves arriving at the old Batterie Taillefer, from here we ascend good paths up to the old Torres de Madeloc where we stop for our picnic lunch.
After lunch we head down past more ruins and make our way towards the Col del Gascons where we pick up and traverse a small part of the GR10 route and arriving at the col de Vallauna. From here we drop off to our right traversing underneath the Torre de la Madeloc with vineyards stretching down below us as we make our way back to our starting point.
A great day to warm up the legs for the week, have an understanding of the area we are in and then return in the middle of the afternoon for some beach time.
Day 3 – (Monday) -Tour de la Massane – 782 Mtrs.
Included Breakfast & Lunch
Distance 14.8 km Ascent 826 mtrs Descent 833 mtrs
Today we start at the chateau du Valmy, a centre for birds of prey. From the parking we drop down right along the vineyards for a couple of minutes before coming out of the trees and finding the main trail. Turning left and heading up through cork forests and arriving at a small Dolmen; we pause to grab a photo of this ancient burial site before we carry on up leaving the cork forests behind and entering an area of oak and holly forests. This is a day of being in the forests, passing outcrops of rocks projecting up through the trees. Finally we come out onto an open area with the tour de la Massane sitting above on a rocky outcrop. After climbing up to the tour we start descending down past the ruins of La Chapelle de St-Laurent back into the cork forests and finally retuning to the parking at Valmy.
Day 4 – (Tuesday) -Tour des Cretes de Cerbère – 675Mtrs.
Included Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Distance 13.2 Km Ascent 861 mtrs Descent 857 mtrs
Todays run/hike has one of the bigger ascents and descents of the week and is a magnificent day out. Starting right on the sea, we wind up through the narrow streets of Cerbère and arrive literally where the road finishes and the trail takes over up into the mountains. The trail starts steeply but gives great views of our day and where we started. At times the path is rocky under foot and we traverse small rock areas continuing to gain height and large birds of prey can sometimes be seen floating on the warm thermals above us. We gain the heights of Puig Joan and the Col de Cerbère and at times have views of the Massif des Albéres, the Mediterranean coastline and the mountains of southern Catalonia and Spain all at the same time. By the time we reach our highest point of the day the Peak and Torre de Querroig at 672 mtrs we are on the actual frontier with Spain. From there we descend on again sometimes rocky paths following the border all the way back down to Cerbère for a cold beer or glass of wine to finish our day.
Day 5 – (Wednesday) – Coll de L’ullat – 938 mtrs
Included Breakfast, Lunch.
Distance 16.8 km Ascent 919 mtrs Descent 919 mtrs
We start from the village of Laroque des Alberes and climb up close to the Spanish frontier and the refuge at Col de L’ullat before descending by a different route along great single tracks back to the cafes in Laroque.
We begin our day by running through the old streets of Laroque -a beautiful ancient village nestled into the foot hills of the Albéres massif – up to its historic tower from where we can see much of the route ahead. Crossing a suspension foot bridge we leave the village and start a gentle climb on good tracks until we get to a view point looking back over the village and the med beyond. We then take to steeper single tracks and climb steeply up towards the Pic d’Orella before heading on flatter tracks through forest to the Col de L’ullat and a well-deserved drink and lunch at the refuge with amazing views into Spain and the Pyrenees. After lunch we start our descent passing the Puit de neige where ice was kept before the age of freezers to serve the hotels on the coast in the summer. Running down lovely single tracks through forest, across streams and from time to time we gain great views until we arrive at some small waterfalls and rock pools – prefect for swimming in the summer. We then have a short run of 15 -20 minutes back into the village where we can finish the day with a beer.
Day 6 – (Thursday) – Le Pic de Sallfort – 981 mtrs
Included Breakfast & Lunch
Distance 11 km Ascent 594 mtrs Descent 594 mtrs
There is the opportunity to lengthen this day and distance, see day notes below.
Todays route ends up taking us up to a big metal cross on the summit of Le Pic de Sallfort. Starting at the col des Gascons, we head up and along the GR10 track to the col de Vallauria. This col is the same col we crossed on the first days trek but here is where the connection ends for instead of dropping down to our right we turn left and head up through wooded and shaded paths for a while before hitting the ridge line that becomes more rocky and open. The path winds steeply upwards and passes through some wooded areas and wonderful rock formations until we claim the open plateau. Here we can discover a small cabane/refuge tucked into the side of a tower of rocks. The refuge Tomy as it is called is not even marked on the local maps and is a wonderful surprise to discover. Making our way over to the right we gain the summit cross and amazing views of the Spanish Catalonian mountains, the Mediterranean coastline and the Massif des Albéres. Depending on the weather and the group we can keep traversing along the frontier ridge following the GR10 track for as long as we like. If the group is fit enough and wants we can traverse all the way to the Puig de Quatre Thermes but this makes the day a 20 km day with double the ascent and descent. Either way today is a magnificent day with views and solitude to make you feel really good.
Day 7 – (Friday) – Port Vendres to Banyuls sur Mer – 74 mtrs
Included Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Distance 11.9 Km Ascent 552 Mtrs Descent 573 mtrs
This is a great coastal path run Le sentier Littoral, starting in Port Vendres we circumnavigate the port and start to climb up the hillside leaving Port Vendres stretched out below us. The trail takes us past the lighthouse at Cap Béar and then past some tiny beaches and hamlets before we traverse past Le site Paulilles (an old dynamite factory that has been transformed into a free and ecological park). Continuing on along the rocky sea bashed coast line, we can stop at any of the beaches to eat our picnic lunch. We should arrive in Banyuls sur mer in time to have a glass of wine or a coffee before catching a bus back to our hotel. In the evening we get ready and go out for our final dinner together to celebrate the great week.
Day 8 – (Saturday) – Departure day.
We have our breakfast, check out of the hotel and say goodbye to each other and the beautiful Massif des Albéres and Côte Vermeille.