Trail Running/Speed Hiking skills week

TRAIL RUNNING/SPEED HIKING SKILLS WEEK: €1632 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.

Dates:

16th May – 23rd May 2020 – AVAILABLE

19th Sep – 26th Sep 2020 – AVAILABLE

03rd Oct – 10th Oct 2020 – AVAILABLE

Included: 

  • 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)

Not Included:

  • Flights
  • Airport Transfers
  • Insurance – Travel and hiking insurance inc Rescue & Repatriation including helicopter rescue
  • 4 dinners – Sunday/Monday/Wednesday/Thursday
  • Drinks/Snacks
  • Tips

Equipment needed:

  • Trail running shoes
  • Trail running vest/Backpack
  • Running poles
  • T-shirts/Shorts
  • 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

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival day (Saturday)

Included Dinner

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. From here we turn left and head up towards through cork forests and arrive at a small Dolmen; from here 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 back down through forests past the ruins of La Chapelle de St-Laurent and 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 Cebère 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 Cerbére 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 right 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 passed and 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 Tony 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 hike, 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 a long 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.

Day 8 – (Saturday) – Departure day.

Included Breakfast

We have our breakfast, check out of the hotel and say goodbye to the beautiful Massif des Albéres and the Côte Vermeille.

Big Smile Adventures Team

gary

Gary Daines

Gary is an International Mountain Leader and a member of the British association of International mountain Leaders (BAIML) and SNAM (Syndicat National Des Accompagnateurs en Montagne) the French Association, he has traveled, climbed and trekked all over the world for work and pleasure. He lives in France but works worldwide, as well as being an International Mountain Leader he is also a Duke of Edinburgh accredited expedition assessor up to Gold level and a SPA climbing instructor. Gary has an extensive wealth of knowledge and experience leading youth and adult expeditions worldwide and has been trek guiding worldwide since 2004, he is in a position to tailor fit any trip you would like to go on anywhere in the world. From reaching the highest peak in Africa Kilimanjaro, to snowshoeing in the European Alps, to trekking through the Patagonian wilds and across the mountain ranges of the Himalaya, Gary is known to leave you with a Big Smile on your face when you finish an adventure he has created.

Emma Jack

Emma is a qualified IML (International Mountain Leader) and has been leading expeditions for the last 17 years. She’s led the Tour du Mont Blanc over 40 times, the Everest Base Camp trek 27 times, Kilimanjaro 10 times, and has also led trips in Nepal, Peru, Cuba, India, Bhutan, Cambodia, Thailand, the Alps, the Pyrenees, Russia, Uzbekistan and Madagascar, amongst others.A passionate skier, in 2009 she made the first ski descent of Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world (8156m).Fluent in French, Russian and Spanish, she also works as an interpreter and loves to chat.

David is a UIMLA mountain leader and has lived in the French Pyrénées Orientales since 2004. He is passionate about the beautiful mountains, the history and culture of eastern end of the Pyrenees. Before settling in France he lived in Tanzania, Spain and France and travelled extensively in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia exploring mountainous and wilderness areas. 
He leads groups in both the Alps and Pyrenees hiking year round and snowshoeing in winter. 
David is British, lives with his French partner and son and speaks French and Spanish fluently.
 

carolineCaroline McCann

Caroline lives in the UK Peak District and has a wealth of experience in the outdoors. She’s travelled on six continents but also loves playing closer to home, especially in Scotland in winter! Her qualifications have taken her and her clients to the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa and Lesotho, The High Atlas Mountains, The Andes and the Indian Himalaya to name but a few. She also works in the UK with children and adults alike, teaching climbing, winter skills and navigation, as a Duke of Edinburgh Award Supervisor and Assessor as well as taking people mountain biking. In 2013 Caroline claimed a first ascent of Cha Ri – a 6046m Himalayan Peak, so she’s no stranger to exploring new places. Her qualifications are backed up by fantastic references from everyone who she works with – a true professional who also has an uncanny knack of finding the best coffee shops wherever she is in the world.

kelvinKelvyn James

began rock climbing in the quarries around Manchester when I was 17 – this quickly led to North Wales, the Peak District & then the Lakes. For nearly 20 years I had a career in senior management – but my spare time was increasingly involved in the outdoors – trips to Scotland, The Alps, the Rockies, Himalayas & other wonderfully exciting places. In 2000 my wife & I realised a dream & moved to the Lake District.In 2010 I sold my manufacturing business to concentrate on my love of the outdoors & since then I’ve formalised those years of experience and taken my instructor qualifications. I’m now a fully qualified International Mountain Leader (amongst many other things) and spend 3-4 months of the year working in the Alps from my base in St Gervais Les Bains – a wonderful place to start an adventure from. Many people think my job is about mountains – but I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s about people – making sure you’re safe, having fun & that your days are filled with those ‘wow’ moments that you came away to enjoy. I believe that good instructors and guides keep themselves up to date with the latest best practise – it makes for a more rewarding day for clients – but the very best ones always have a smile on their face – just the way we want to leave you after a day out with Big Smile Adventures.

Peter Myers

I’m a qualified International Mountain Leader, a rock climbing instructor and an open canoe guide. My dual passions are nature and adventure. Having been drawn into adventure travel by seeking out wildlife in Africa in the 90s, I was inspired to make traveling through the natural environment my way of life, be it on foot, on 2 wheels or on the water. I’ve trekked and climbed to high altitude in North and Central Africa, cycled across of North America, canoed in Scandinavia and established new rock climbs in the Middle East. Besides introducing countless young people to the challenges and delights of the outdoor life, I’ve led expeditions to Africa and Asia as well as guiding hikers and trekkers in the Alps, the Highlands of Scotland and the Dolomites to name but a few. After years of living on the road wherever it may take me, I’ve settled in the French Pyrenees and I use this as my springboard into the mountains of Europe where most of my guiding takes place these days.”

Simon Conroy

I was born in 1965 in Truro, Cornwall UK and was educated at Bournemouth Grammar school up to 1985 at which point I joined Her Majesty’s Royal Marines where I specialised as a Physical Training Instructor. After 22 years service I retired from the Royal Marines and became an International Mountain leader and Ski Instructor working and living in the Bavarian Alps where I met and married my now wife Jen, who is also an International Mountain Leader and Ski Instructor.

After working out in Bavaria we moved to the Swiss Alps where I worked as a freelance instructor for International Schools and various trekking companies based out of the Chamonix valley.

After a few seasons I started specialising in Guiding Ultra distance trail running trips and have now found my passion for life running trails all around the world including back in my now home country of Scotland where both myself and Jen reside in the small village of Dalwhinnie, famous for its Whiskey distillery which is yet another added passion of mine.

Hike Les Massif des Albéres & the Vermeille coast dates 2020

14th May – 21st May 2020 €1632 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

17th Sep – 24th Sep 2020 €1632 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

24th Sep – 1st Oct 2020 €1632 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Haute Route Highlights Dates Summer 2020

Sat 11th July – Sun 19th July 2020 – €2390 P/p – Available https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 18th July – Sun 26th July 2020 – €2390 P/p – Available https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 1st Aug – Sun 9th Aug 2020 – €2390 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 8th Aug – Sun 16th Aug 2020 – €2390 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 22nd Aug – Sun 30th Aug – €2390P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 5th Sep – Sun 13 Sep 2020 – €2390 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Tour du Mont Blanc Dates summer 2020

Sat 27th June – Wed 8th July 2020 €2700 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 4th July – Wed 15th July 2020 €2700 P/p – 2 more to guarantee

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Wed 22nd July – Sun 2 Aug 2020 €2700 – P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 25th July – Wed 5th Aug 2020 €2700 – P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Wed 12th Aug – Sun 23rd Aug 2020 €2700 P/p – Available

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 29th Aug – Wed 9th Sep 2020 €2700 P/p – 1 more to guarantee

https://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Sat 5th Sep – Wed 16th Sep 2020 €2700 P/p – 3 more to guaranteehttps://bigsmileadventures.com/2019/12/10/booking-form/

Testimonials

Great week snow shoeing in the alps with Big Smiles Adventures. Gary made it tough but rewarding and was constantly making sure that I was pushing myself without overdoing it. Fantastic views with the peaks we climbed and great fun doing it. If you want something different then make this it, excellent

Steve Ellis reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Gary is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest people you could wish to spend time on Exped with. “Big Smile” is Gary, “Adventures” are what he makes happen

David McGill reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Thanks again for playing a key part in what’s been such an enjoyable and memorable holiday for us all. Sincere pleasure to meet you

Mark Coleman reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star
Martin Bayliss reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Spent a great week with Gary and 6 others doing the Tour Du Mont Blanc. Laughed, drank and joked throughout the entire week. The mountains were fantastic and the weather kind, and Gary chose the best times to avoid any dodgy weather. Excellent guiding throughout the week, made for some very special memories. Hope to be back soon!

Sue Purcell reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Having spent most of the last 20 years living in the city, what a joy to spend an amazing time in the mountains with such a knowledgeable,warm and friendly man like Gary. He made me feel so at ease even when I thought I couldn’t do something he would push me with words of encouragement and gentle persuasion. His love and passion for the mountains is so very obvious and I highly recommend him as a guide as any time spent with Gary in the mountains will be a time you will never forget. Big love x

Elliott Blain reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Having previously been snowshoeing with Gary, I’ve Just spent the last 4 days trekking in the Italian and French alps with Him. What an amazing time, the routes he showed had the most fantastic views. His knowledge on the areas we visited was exceptional and he took the time to explain so much about the mountains.
Would highly recommend Big Smiles if you truly want to see the alps

Gary is simply a legend.
I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had in the mountains being guided by such a brilliant person.

ADAM HARTLEY  – 18-30/12/18 – MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) 

Gary is the mountain guide that looked after me and Hannah on Kili.

I cannot recommend him highly enough.

Big Smile is his company. He organises amazing trips in amazing locations that inevitably puts a big smile on your face.

Anyone seeking adventure, please check out his website.

WILLIAM BACON – 18-30/12/18 MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) 

Gary led my expedition on Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro in December 2018. I can say with utter confidence that Gary added to the enjoyment of the trip. He successfully managed to balance a tremendous sense of fun whilst remaining highly professional. After suffering with altitude sickness on Meru, Gary helped me down safely and remained calm throughout. Gary was excellent also when it came to working with our in-country team of guides and porters. He united all as a team and this added to the atmosphere of the expedition. I would recommended Gary as an expedition leader to anybody.

ANDY FISHWICK – 18-30/12/18 MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) I have just returned from a trip to Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro led by Gary- it was fantastic. He assisted each member of our group in a personal and professional manner, offering advise on everything and anything mountain/altitude/kit/health related. He was great at dealing with each of our expectations and worries individually, monitoring and checking we were healthy, safe, and happy the whole time. He dealt with different abilities within the group superbly, I felt in safe hands the whole time we were on the mountains. Gary clearly has a passion for being in the hills, with an amazing amount of knowledge he loves to pass on. Unfortunately he also has a passion for remembering and passing on some absolutely terrible dad jokes!
10/10 would travel with Gary as a guide again!

Itinerary Hike Les Massif des Albéres and the Vermeille coast

High Above the beautiful Vermeille Coast line

Day 1 – Arrival day (Saturday)

Included Dinner

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     Time 5hrs

This is a great walk 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     Time 6hrs

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. From here we turn left and head up towards through cork forests and arrive at a small Dolmen; from here 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 back down through forests past the ruins of La Chapelle de St-Laurent and 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   Time 5hrs

Todays 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 Cebère 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 Cerbére 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) – Randonnée des deux Fontaines – 500 mtrs

Included Breakfast and Lunch

Distance 10.3 Km        Ascent 418 mtrs         Descent 433 mtrs     Time 3.5 hrs

The Randonnée des deux Fontaines is a great hike starting in the small village of Laroque-des-Albéres, following wonderful little trails up through the woods we come up and out into the open wider paths before heading up into the forested trails once again. The 2 fountains are non-working now and really just give their name more than their presence to this hike. It does supply though wonderful views and an easier day half way through the week. Arriving back to Laroque-des-Albéres we take our transport and go off to Collioure the beautiful and charming seaside village to sample the shops and cafes before return back to the hotel.

Day 6 – (Thursday) – Le Pic de Sallfort – 981 mtrs

Included Breakfast & Lunch

Distance 11 km             Ascent 594 mtrs           Descent 594 mtrs   Time 5hrs

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 right 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 passed and 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 Tony 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   Time 5hrs

This is a great coastal path hike, 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 a long 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.

Day 8 – (Saturday) – Departure day.

Included Breakfast

We have our breakfast, check out of the hotel and say goodbye to the beautiful Massif des Albéres and the Côte Vermeille.

Itinerary Queyras.

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your route based on those conditions.

Day 1 Arrival

We meet at 7pm at our accommodation when your guide will be available to discuss the itinerary and answer any questions about the week ahead. Please note that for those arriving into Turin airport a transfer is included, departing at approx. 1630 hrs to allow us to arrive in Aiguilles in time for dinner.

Day 2 La Croix de Curlet

We ease into the week by heading for an excellent view point which gives a good introduction to the area. This is one of the best belvederes of Saint Veran and the cirque of Clausis. There is the possibility of doing a loop on our descent to vary the terrain and views. We will aim to also do some training looking at the snowpack and considering mountain safety in winter. We will stop at the gorgeous village of St Veran for a well earned ‘refreshment’ before heading back to our hotel. Ascent 670m. 7.5km. 5.5 hrs.

Day 3 The Alpages du Sommet Bucher

We begin by heading up a narrow valley towards the highest village in Europe at St Veran. It claims this title as the only village inhabited all year round at this altitude of 2050m. We wander through the pine forests zig zagging our way up the mountain side till we reach our destination at Sommet Bucher. It is a good place to view the Col Agnel, the frontier with the Piemont are of Italy. A visit to St Veran for a coffee after climb is an excellent end to the day. Ascent 554m. 6km. 5hrs.

Day 4 Col de la Creche

A view of the picturesque village of Chateau Queyras is on offer this morning as we head for the Col de la Creche which rises above the village. We drive up a steep mountainroad to the community of Les Meyries which is our starting point. A gorgeous climb follows through the pine forests until we rise above the tree line and the impressive ridge leading to the Pic de Agrenier, comes into view. We swing round to the Col de la Creche which gives an excellent view point over the region, we then claim the summit ridge! Ascent 640m. 9km. 6hrs.

Day 5 Alpage de Fontantie

We start at the trailhead at Montbardon with the high alpages of Fontantie as our goal. This is a superb mountain pasture, and we should get a great view over the Ecrins National Park from the top at 2,500m. The pastures are home to the cow herds during the summer months, but in winter they are a silent snowcovered landscape with all the cattle safely ‘tucked up’ in the barns in the valley. Ascent 743. 5km. 5 hrs.

Day 6 Crete de Gardiole

This is one of the classic winter peaks of the area and will be our highest summit, sitting as it does at 2656m. We drive to the lovely old village of Abries, before taking a stunning side valley to the hamlet of Le Roux. Here we begin our hike up a mountain that offers incredible views of the range. Definitely, one of our favourite snowshoe trips! A fine summit awaits, and if the weather is kind you will without doubt be impressed be the photo opportunitites. Ascent 910m. 8km. 6hrs.

Day 7 Col de Longet

The Col sits at 2,701m and is an excellent goal for a great day out. We have some choices here as to whether we do a circuit from St Veran, and over the Col and down to Fontgillarde, the last inhabited village before we reach the Italian frontiere, or whether we do a smaller loop from Fontgillarde, and then back to the village. Either way it will be a good end to the week. Facing north we can be guaranteed some powder, or we hope so! Ascent 800m. 10km. 7hrs.

Day 8 Departure

Departure Day and morning transfer to Turin airport, Italy. Please ensure that any departure flight is after 1300 hrs. The journey to Turin will take approx 2.45 hrs.

Queyras week in a nutshell

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Just on the French side of the border between France and Italy, the Regional Parc of Queyras has all the caracteristic to be consider the Paradise of snowshoeing.

Based in the small village of Aiguilles (with its 400 habitants) you will discover the  pleasure of a silent nature, walking around the Alpages, arriving on the top of a small mountain from where admire the beautiful scenery.

  • Remote wild valleys
  • Spectacular mountain views
  • Away from the crowds
  • Gorgeous village base
  • Return airport transfer included
  • Excellent auberge accommodatio
  • Guided with highly professional and qualified International Mountain Leaders

Itinerary.

Things to consider: intermidiate fitness level.  We have a set itinerary but we could change it considering the snow condition.

Price: €1446
Included: the price is based on shared twin room accommodation with half board in a 2** Hotel or similar. A single room supplement may be available in the hotel if you do not wish to share, £170. The price includes the professional guiding services of a qualified International Mountain Leader,all necessary snowshoe equipment, including poles, snow shovel, avalanche probe, and in resort transport. A transfer from Turin airport at a time to suit the majority of the group is included. This will be no later than 1630 hrs to allow time to reach our accommodation before dinner.
Not included: lunches are not included. Flights are not included, nor transport to our base in Aiguilles, apart from the above mentioned airport transfer from Turin.