Distance: 16 km (Cum: 526 km)
Ascent: 1130 metres (Cum: 29,780 metres)
Time taken: 7.5 hrs including 2.25 hrs stops
Weather: sunny, until the thunderstorm after we camped
We were away before 8am on a continuation of our 'Tour du Biros'. (Biros is the name of the valley. )
It's fair to say that the campsite was pretty basic and the village of Sentein had very little by way of amenities. However, as a shop and a campsite were all we needed, we just about managed without a bar or restaurant. Curiously, my passport was needed for the first time since leaving Biarritz airport, in order to get onto the campsite, which cost rather less than €3 each, including taxes!
The heatwave affecting northwest England has fortunately not reached here, so our night under 'canvas' was cosy without being too hot.
The path dropped gently, partly along the quiet road, to Orle - a hamlet beyond the pretty village of Bonac, with its old church and various amenities including a gite d'etape.
A steep zigzag path through lovely beech woods took us from 700 to 1200 metres, where at the site of a 'funicular' we joined an old tramway from the end of which the remains of the old lifting gear would have transported whatever was being mined here to the valley.
The upper picture was taken just after reaching the tramway.
There were noticeably few flowers in the woods - seemingly just a few Broomrapes, Willowherbs, Cranesbills, etc, including a lone rose in the centre of the path. The light isn't great for flowering plants now that the trees are in full foliage.
The old tramway rose about 50 metres over almost 6km. An impressive feat of engineering. We passed through several tunnels, one of them a good 40 metres in length. They were easy enough once you got into them, but debris nearly blocking the entrances made for entertainment with the big packs.
Leaf litter occupied much of the path, but certain sections were overgrown with nettles and ferns and stuff.
Whereas yesterday's descent on the Tour du Biros path had been quite busy with people, we didn't see a soul on this side of the valley. The path could do with being better maintained and advertised. It's a good route.
At around 11.50am we reached the familiar red and white daubs of the GR10 signs. We turned left, up towards Cabane de Besset. Two figures appeared on the path behind us. Guess who?
Up at the cabane, Matthew and Jonathan were enjoying their lunch. I managed to get a brew on for Pierre and Yolaine before they arrived. They quickly slurped it and continued up to Clot de Lac (1821 metres), to enjoy their lunch in the knowledge that their climbing for the day (1600 metres) was over and they could enjoy a leisurely descent to the gite d'etape at Pla de la Lau.
We followed them after an hour at Besset, enjoying our own tuna salad lunches. We were due to stop at Besset, according to my itinerary, but it was both too early, and too steep for camping.
Clot de Lac was a lovely spot, sadly with no water. We lingered with P&Y for a while, enjoying the display of huge ceps and tasty looking chanterelle mushrooms that they had collected earlier. Whilst they then snoozed and photographed sheep, Graham and I continued down through flocks of uncomfortably hot sheep, to the next cabane, which does have a water supply, the elaborately named Cabane du Trapech du Milieu, at 1540 metres.
The cabane has recently been refurbished, but we prefer to camp on the slopes nearby.
After seemingly a very long time, P&Y eventually appeared, refreshed from their sleep. We may not see them again for a while, so - our campsite is pictured, with our French friends sitting in the foreground on our water supply. I hope Chantal and Joel are suitably amused.
Anyway, we settled in, brewed up, watched the storm, enjoyed the symphony of sheep bells as the massive herd wandered past to spend their night in lower climes, and cooked our suppers, etc, etc.
Dinner is 'Poule et Vermicelles' soup (for 4), with added Coquillettes (pasta) and a large tin of Thon à la Catalane to add a bit of 'meat'. I don't know what Graham's having.
Sent from our GR10 trip - see here for our itinerary