Video: Hiking & Backpacking in the Pyrenees with Hendrik

A quick response to my Pyrenees 2019 post came from Finnish hiker Hendrik Morkel. Hendrik’s video series features a hike he took last summer with his friend Martin. The hike started and finished in Andorra and features sections in both Spain and France.

In the videos Hendrick and Martin give the viewer a great feel of how the mountains look and feel. Being decidedly younger than me Hendrik has also used some new technology. Not only do the pictures move but one of them must have been carrying a drone — which makes for some superb ‘helicopter’ shots.

There are seven videos in the series and in each one Hendrik not only shares with his the video he shot during the day but talks to camera about each excursion.

These videos really do give you a feel for the mountains and, in particular, demonstrate the difference between the Spanish GR11 side and the French GR10 side.

The first video is here. Follow the link to YouTube to view the whole series. Thanks Hendrik.


Pyrenees 2019?

Walking up Ordessa

Over the last few weeks I’ve started to receive a lot of emails about trips to the Pyrenees this summer. I have to apologise for the Pyrenees Forum not being operable at the moment (more below). However, I thought I’d put together some thoughts which map against many of these emails. I’m always happy to answer emails and help if I can!


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Pyrenees Forum — User Announcement

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning on the blog and the Pyrenees Forum. I have had a problem recently of a thousand or so bogus user registrations. I’ve had to change the registration process for the Forum. 

New registrants will now have to wait until their registration is confirmed. I’m sorry about this but I’m trying too protect the system.

In clearing out these bogus accounts it is possible I have deleted a genuine account or two by accident. This should largely effect those who are lurkers, i.e.. people who have registered but have never posted. However,  if you can’t access the forum simply re-visit to register again. 

Sorry for any inconvenience caused!

Pyrenees/Continent — Finding Alcohol For Stoves

I’ve had a couple of queries recently about finding alcohol when you are in the mountains or on the continent. French and Spanish outdoor stores rarely carry clonal for stoves. One of my readers emailed in a slight panic yesterday from a Spanish trailhead town from where he was about to start walking.

Stove alcohol will not be found in outdoors shops. You will find it in hardware stores. Most French and Spanish towns still have stores that sell all manner of hardware products. In my experience the alcohol is of a high quality and burns well, but you will have to buy it in litre containers — containers that look like this:

In France ask for alcohol de bruyer. (The direct translation is Esprits Méthodiques but I’ve never seen it described as this).

In Spain ask for alcohol de quemar

IMG 20170410 120933


You should never have any trouble finding this. It is very cheap, 2 Euros for 1 litre at the moment I am told!

The Pyrenees Forum is Back!

Those of you who are lovers of the Pyrenees — or have plans to explore there in the future — will be glad to see the Pyrenees Forum back on this site.

The previous forum was abandoned after a massive problem with spam. I then moved the forum to the SLACK system but this wasn’t as intuitive, as easy to find and really didn’t work! This is new Forum system should be more secure and more easy to use.


To participate in the site you will need to register. The Registration Button is on the main forum menu bar at the top of the page. Registration is quick and painless — you simply enter a Username and your email address. Your email address is held by the system only and is not published. If you wish to use an ‘alias’ for your Username, this is fine!

I’m afraid that those of you who registered before will have to register again, this will only take a few seconds. 

Introduce Yourself

Don’t forget to Introduce yourself in the Introduction Topic.

If you are a first time user, welcome. If you are returning to the forum — thank you and welcome back!

Andy Howell

Review: Space to Wonder, A guide to trekking the mountain frontier of the Pyrenees, by Gordon Wilson

From the emails it is clear that the planning season for high mountain treks has started. So, here’s a book that is very welcome, socially if you are now obsessed with land speed records or take a more relaxed attitude to hiking than many. If hotel, refuges and refugees are more your thing than, say, a bivy up high — well, this is a boo for you.

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New Pyrenees Forum — Registration Applications

Apologies to those of you who have being trying to register recently. I have been a bit slow in processing the requests!

I have now processed all of the outstanding applications. You should receive an email from ‘SLACK’. This will have a link to follow and then complete your registration details with SLACK. Once in the forum you will see a thread _ or Channel as they call them — which is called using-this-system. In here you will find direct links to download both desktop and mobile, dedicated, applications.

I look forward to seeing you over there!

The Pyrenees Forum Returns for 2016!

The Pyrenees Forum was one of the victims of my blog collapse last year. The forum ran as an add on to my WordPress blog system and I suspect it became a backdoor for all kinds of nasties.

While I have been re-installing everything I’ve been mussing on how best to re-establish the Pyrenees Forum and I’ve now settled on a solution that uses a collaborative work platform that is surprising easy to use. The Pyrenees Forum can now be accessed using a dedicated desktop app and also by IOS and Android apps for mobiles and tablets.

I’m afraid most often access information has been lost so if you want to re join — or simply — join, have a look at the forum page.

The New Pyrenees Trek Forum

The Pyrenees Forum

Not all the functionality of the blog will be back immediately. The Pyrenees Forum is a bit lost at see. I was having a great deal of problem with this during the last few months of operation. While I’ve been away I have been using a collaborative work application which I’m very impressed with and it strikes me that this might be a better resource for the Pyrenees Forum.

I may still have a record of all of those who registered for this. But if you are interested in re-visiting this, drop me a comment here with and I will get back to you.

The Pyrenees: Bears

Some of the enquiries to this website are like buses — you don’t hear of them for months or years and then a whole load come around together!

For some reason I’m getting a lot of emails about bears in the Pyrenees! I’m not sure why this subject has come to the fore again but I thought I’d write about it so that other — who may have more up-to-date information could join in!

Basically, hikers and trekkers in the Pyrenees do not need to worry about bears!

The Pyrenees have long been associated with bears but there numbers were driven to the verge of extinction during the late 19th and 20th centuries. There have been a few famous attempts to re-introduce them on the French side over recent decades but I’m not sure how successfully these have been. The French authorities try and keep the sites of re-entry secret but word seems to slip out. A few years ago, in the Vallée d’Aspe, local farmers took to the forests to track down a couple of bears and they shot what appeared to be a mother; nobody is really sure whether the offspring was mature enough to survive.

Bears may live on in the Pyrenees, especially on the Spanish side, but it is worth considering their habitat. Bears will stick to forests and thick woodland and are very unlikely to be anywhere near the open, high, spaces that walkers and trekkers use.  They are likely to be very wary of humans, not least because the locals seem so determined to shoot them.  Even when footpaths travel through forests its extremely unlikely that you would encounter a bear not least because the numbers are so low.

Bears may live on in the Pyrenees, especially on the Spanish side, but it is wortWhile the Pyrenees is a major mountain range much of its appeal for me is that it is quite compact — this is not the vast expanse of the Alps for example. It is relatively quick and easy to get to the summit ridge and cross over from side to side. The trails are well walked and this alone would put off the bears. The wild camp sites in the Pyrenees are many and also easy to get to. But they are on exposed and open ground.

Anyone hiking and camping in the High Pyrenees doesn’t really have to worry about bears.

Wolves were also traditionally associated with the area. Some reports suggest that Wolves are naturally finding themselves back in the area, travelling from Italy through the higher and more remote parts of the Languedoc and onto the Pyrenees. Although no Wolves have been spotted,let alone killed, their tracks have apparently turned up in the Eastern end of the range, But in all honesty, you don’t have to worry about Wolves either …

… do you?