21 September 2019
We woke refreshed after a night in the mountains. Following a hectic few weeks it was nice to relax, sleep late, take it easy and wait to see what the day had in store for us.
We walked down to the village to have coffee (still haven’t found a good one) and see where the wind was going to blow us.
The options were varied: we could go canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking or do nothing at all.
We opted for a combination of the last two. (Unlike the girl shown above, as tempting as that might be).
The lady in the tourist office gave us a few suggestions for local walks, handed us a map and wished us well.
We chose a walk to a waterfall about an hour away. We packed a picnic lunch and headed off up the gentle slope following the red and yellow signposts.
Now gentle slopes have a habit of becoming not so gentle in this part of the world. We should have known!!
As we climbed up towards Spain, the slope got steeper and steeper. Just as I was really beginning to regret our decision we stumbled across our cascade.
We had it all to ourselves. And it was well worth the effort. The water was cold and refreshing after the hot sweaty walk.
We enjoyed our little picnic of bread, cheese, tomato and ham. Someone forgot to pack the bottle of wine so we settled for cold water instead.
The descent to the village was quicker and much easier, but the knees still took a pounding.
My Garmin watch congratulated me on achieving my stair climbing goal, four times over (it felt much more like twenty four times over) for the day.
Just across from our gite was one of several “wash houses”, where the local women would meet and do their communal washing. A spring supplied them with fresh running water and a meeting point for a bit of a chin wag. Looks like back breaking work to me.
We recovered at our gite before looking for another adventure. A little less strenuous.
Later , we drove further up the valley through little villages which would be, no doubt, heaving in the ski season. We passed through Gourette, a ski resort and headed further up the mountain to Col d’Aubisque.
The carpark was full of tourists, cyclists, walkers and horses, all admiring the sensational view.
The horses plonked themselves in the middle of the car park and only moved if and when they felt like it. And no one was going to argue with them. They were big, healthy mammas.
We walked up the nearby hill to get an even better view of the mountains.
The local cow herd was busy admiring the view too. And this is where the bells come in. The whole valley was echoing with the dingle-dingle-rattle-rattle of cow bells. It was quite a racket considering we were on top of the world, far from the hustle and bustle.
Poor cows. The constant dingaling-dinging must be driving them crazy. The bells are fitted quite snugly, so they dingle even when they are chewing. And cows chew a lot!!
To say it was magnificent up here is an understatement. We absolutely loved it. So much so we celebrated with a cold ale while taking it all in.
This Col had been on last year’s Tour De France route and there were still a few stragglers arriving while we there. At least, that’s what I assume, because what sort of person would choose to cycle up here just because they could?
Our descent back to Laruns was held up by this little group of sheep who chose to run down the road in front of us. Bells a- dingling!
And then there were the church bells…….