Col d’Agnes

15th May 2022 On the route up to Port de Lers the road runs through dense woodlands to the open ground where waterfalls crash down by the road and woodland browns chase along the fringes of the beeches but never land in plain sight. In a flush by the road, a single De Prunner’s ringlet…

Château de Miglos

8th May 2022 The crumbling Château de Miglos is surrounded by equally ancient, limestone grassland rich in flowers and insects. The steepest slope, down which there is an overgrown footpath, faces west looking up the Vicdessos valley. There is a magnificent view from the small hill above the castle, including one looking south to the…

Above Cassou for the last time…

25th May 2022 The steep limestone grassland above the village has provided endless riches, a fleeting Apollo perhaps the pick of the many butterflies but there was also an array of orchids and other vibrant flowers on this large patch of pelouse calcaire. With the advent of spiked speedwell it is not surprising to find…

Les Ariégeois

The people of the Ariège inhabit a wild and inaccessible corner of France; there is no escape from the narrow valleys and high mountains. But yet this is a landscape that for centuries has been subject to intensive human use. The discovery and dating of numerous charcoal pits and forges tell of a significant iron…

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…

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…

Étang de Lers

The road from the small town of Massat winds up a narrow, wooded valley to the Étang de Lers; the onward route to Val-de-Sos and Tarascon over the Port de Lers is closed and so is the lakeside restaurant. The Étang itself is still frozen over and the snows have only just left the hills…