Tonight we trundled over to Stockport for Andy Howell's presentation to the Stockport Walking Group. We had previously supported him on his visit there last year to talk about the TGO Challenge. This time Baz (from London) and Shirley (Peewiglet) from Southport also made the effort to attend, and it was good to see my old workmate, Garry. It's a very friendly group, and the atmosphere in the Grapes afterwards was exceedingly convivial. Mr Sloman would not have been out of place in these surroundings. It was an ideal venue to catch up with Andy, and make new friends. About 30 people attended, despite the competing attraction of World Cup qualifying soccer on TV (not to mention a judo class).
Andy's talk was, as always, relaxed and fluent. He was not fazed at all by the judo class taking place in the room above - he'd had previous experience of having to compete with a 'sexual awareness class', in comparison with which this was a minimal distraction. His travails between Lescun and the Néouvielle Lacs National Park were beautifully illustrated. The Pyrenees is indeed a wonderful place to visit. Thank you, Andy, for sharing your experiences and inspiring others to venture to the area, which has something for everyone.
One of the natural icons of the Pyrenees, the Brèche de Roland, is shown above. I took that picture on 23 June 2006, a lovely sunny day for a stroll up to Pic du Taillon (3144 metres) via the Brèche. This gap in the frontier ridge is about 40 metres across, with walls 100 metres high. Whilst geological fact indicates that it was formed when a heavily eroded ridge collapsed, legend has it that a heroic warrior, Roland, nephew of Charlemagne, attempted to break his sword on the rock in the year 788, rather than let it fall into the hands of the Saracens. But the rock, not the sword, broke - allowing Roland to escape through the gap.