In February we went to stay in the Pyrenean town of Quillan for a week. The holiday was primarily aimed at improving the skiing skills of younger members of our extended family. I’m not really much of a skier, preferring to walk up a mountains rather than hurtle down down them at breakneck speeds.
However, I can see the appeal and it was great to watch the kids having so much fearless fun on the slopes.
I did manage to sneak off for a couple of days walking.
The first walk was local and circular. The weather was near-perfect, the sun was out with my big jumper staying in my rucksack the entire hike despite snow on the higher ground.
I started out from Quillan and climbed to the ridge of the first of three hills, ‘Les Trois Quilles’, from which the town derives its name. There are some wonderful views of Quillan from the ridge. The hills in the photo are the ones I’d be traversing on the return walk.
By the time I reached the third peak I could see Belvianes-et-Cavirac below me and this is where I began my ascent to the river Aude at Cavirac.
On the way to Belvianes-et-Cavirac I passed the ruin of a cottage, I expect some ex-pat will buy it up to convert into a yoga centre or somesuch.
I ate lunch outside the church in Belvianes-et-Cavirac and set off on the second half of the hike.
My next destination was Belvédère du Diable, a viewpoint overlooking the Gorges de Pierre-Lys, carved out by the Aude as it makes its way downstream from the high Pyrenees.
I admired the view and tried to scout out a track that might follow the entire length of the gorge but couldn’t see anything.
I then headed further uphill. The higher I walked the more the paths became covered in snow.
It was fun walking in the snow, it wasn’t deep enough at this height to need snow shoes.
Looking across the valley I could see the ridge I had traversed earlier on.
Finally I began my ascent. I took a steep path down the hill, the snow quickly became quite deep, coming up to my knees at some points.
After wading downhill through the snow I took a break at the Chalet de Carach.
And an hour later a final break at the Palace bar in Quillan.
The perfect end to a fine day’s walk (with many thanks and love to Anne for providing me with the opportunity to enjoy and explore this beautiful region of the world).