Col de Pailhères 2

14th May 2022 The cyclists stream up the wide road from Ax-Les-Thermes to join the cars and camper vans at the summit; most walk up to the rock outcrops to take in the long views . The road from Ax is improved to cater for the skiers that come in great numbers to the Station…

Col du Pradel

6th May 2022 Coming up the small mountain road through the forest and up into the high pastures, the hillsides around the Col are transformed by a carpet of daffodils. There are also patches of ubiquitous broom, which the farmers are always trying to burn away in early Spring, and a scattering of flowering mezereon…

Col du Fajou

17 May 2022 The mountains above Col de Marmare are crossed by drovers’ paths which run through wide pastures. The grasslands are covered in elder-flowered orchids and gentians, woodlarks and tree pipits sing ceaselessly and the wall of sound is joyful. On the steeper slopes, juniper scrub is filled with territorial green hairstreaks that bound…

Valley of the Flowers

1st May 2022 La réserve naturelle nationale de la vallée d’Eyne rises through pine forests up into montane pastures and runs south to the Spanish border. Known as the ‘Valley of the Flowers’ this is one of the great sites of Pyrenean botany with a long history of surveys since the 18th century and today…

Col de Marmare

According to the cycle route websites, the route from Luzenac climbs 817m to the Col which is at 1361m some 16.7km away. This is the local patch and holds a diversity of habitats each with its own flora and fauna. As April turns to May, each is becoming richer; the changes since the cold days…

Le gypaète barbu du Quié

At the top of a long and bumpy track there is a wonderful view of the Ariège valley; the sounds of the traffic travel up from the village in the morning air. Soon they are drowned out by cowbells as a herd of cows and calves comes over the ridge; they graze for an hour…

The first brood of grey wagtails are out…

The local pair of grey wagtails that spend their days flycatching over the running water for lacewings and now mayflies have had a nest in a high wall behind the terrace of houses that looks out over the bend in the river Ariège. After a lot of noise recently from the anxious parents by the…

Col de Pailhères

The road winds up through the forests from Ax-les-Thermes eventually passing the Station de ski d’Ascou and the paraphernalia of winches and guide posts as well as the various ski runs. At the Col, and just above a small hameau of chalets, the road barrier is down even though the snow has cleared and the…

March and April in the Ariège

The bare forests of early March that carpet the valley sides were only lifted by early blossoming wild cherries and catkin-covered willows. The towns and villages were full of bright Forsythia and orchard blossom. At the end of March into early April, a few days of snow and frost laid waste to the blossom and…

Assault on the River Ariège

I’m not saying that the action on the pretty bend in the river Ariège resembles the Assault on Precinct 13, but the blackbirds are for a few days in mid April at each others throats all day; the chases are endless and dust-ups frequent. There are perhaps five territories all vying for the bushes, the…

Le rat-trompette

The Réserve Nationale de Faune d’Orlu is magnificent; a single track runs up through the hanging beech woods and moss-covered boulders, where Camberwell beauties now hold territory in sunny glades, to a wide valley surrounded by rugged escarpments and snow-capped peaks. The route follows the small river that crashes down through the steep valley swollen by…

Out like a lion…

On the last day of March the temperature drops 10 degrees and the next day the snow arrives on a cold north wind. March goes out like a lion. At the start of March, the weather is not lambish at all. The skies are a constant stone grey and the sun entirely absent. The trees…