11. Pyrénées here we come! San Esteban de Litera to Lumbier.

As we approached the Pyrénées, we drove through increasingly remote areas, with ancient towns and villages perched impossibly on crags and ridges20150908_104736Amazingly the roads were still 2 lanes and with a good surface. The scenery was lovely, and we stopped at the charming town of Ainsa for supplies. Tuesday is market day, and we bought some very fresh and tasty fruit and veg, as well as local sheep’s cheese.  The supermarket had a novel way of selling wine… Waitrose, take note! 20150908_125105Then we climbed the hill to the charming old down, which dates from the 11th century. The doorways were particularly striking as many still had an original oak arched door. At the top of the town was a wonderfully simple stone church, with a very irregularly shaped cloister to fit the available shape of the hilltop.

We then climbed the tower for panoramic views all around. We were at the level of the bells, and rather hoped they didn’t chime while we were there!

Ainsa church bell tower
Ainsa church bell tower

Next we drove up the  valley. It went up a gorgeous gorge(!) but eventually the road got twister and narrower so we decided to turn back. High above us was  the striking sight of Griffon vultures circling on the thermal air currents.20150908_142518

After a picnic in a very scenic spot, we drove on towards the Ordesa National park. En route we parked in a viewpoint and walked along the old road down towards the river. It was so peaceful, with dramatic views at every turn.20150908_154718

Then we drove on to Thorla and camped at Rio Ara campsite which is excellent  at just 15 euros per night. Finally we climbed up the valley to visit the old town of Thorla. Very pretty again, but with a really Alpine feel…including geraniums in window boxes and the Hotel Eidelweiss!!


Tomorrow we must start early as we are planning a walk in the National Park.

September 9th 2015

Up early….and as we are camped at 3,414 feet above sea level it is just 6 degrees here this morning. Layers will be required as it should get up to 26 degrees by the afternoon!

Dawn in Torla
Dawn in Torla

We head for town to catch the bus… the only way to get into the Ordesa National Park. Lots of very keen hikers all planning routes of varying length and precariousness!

Our route was to follow the river up for a few miles to see some rather dramatic waterfalls. 20150909_112029It was a wonderful walk. We climbed up to nearly 5000 feet, but the Pyrénées make a sheer wall in places, rising to over 9000 feet around us.

Ordesa Nat park
Ordesa Nat park
Ordesa Nat park
Ordesa Nat park

We also saw a few new birds, including a really pretty, and hard to find, wallcreeper.

As a reward for the early start and our walking exertions, we had booked a table for a late lunch at El Duende in Thorla. It was recommended to us as serving excellent local cuisine.

Wow, what a meal.

Olives and local meats as nibbles

Starters -Chris had risotto with scallops and prawns  20150909_143433Anne had puff pastry with goats cheese, foie and mushrooms


Mains – we both had confit of duck with a cherry sauce.20150909_145113

Dessert- Chris – Raspberry cheesecake with homemade icecream  20150909_151641 Anne – Nut and caramel mousse with homemade icecream.20150909_151648

2 glasses of wine

2 coffees

Mineral water and bread

All superb. How much? £17 per person!!! Unbelievable.

We dragged our rather full selves back to Boris and decided to drive on to the next valley,  of the River Tena, to look for birds of prey. We were rewarded with more stunning views, plus sightings of red kite and Booted Eagle.20150909_181316

From this point, the day took a nose dive. We decided to continue the drive east towards Pamplona. This is well off the main tourist trail. We had got some places in mind for overnight stops, but on arrival they had disappeared. One location was now under a mountain of aggregate where a new motorway is being built.  The excavations for the motorway are immense and are making a real scar across the landscape. We drove on, and as it started to get dark we were despairing of finding a place. Eventually I located a site in Lumbier, a place where we had earned a possible walk, so we headed there. There are only a few other people here but it is peaceful and we can stop for the night!

3 thoughts on “11. Pyrénées here we come! San Esteban de Litera to Lumbier.

  1. Pauline Masters

    Mmmmmmm, just missed you here in Torla, camped at the Rio Ara as well. What a great view of the mountains from a great campsite…pleased you enjoyed yourselves here.
    I am moving on today as well, 12th September 2015…it is great and damp here! Will be moving on down to Ainsa and from there well who knows. And also thanks for the info about park for visiting Dali’s place at Cadaques, really helpful.
    Happy travelling to you both.
    Ps. I may already be on an email list of yours?


    1. Hi Pauline,
      Glad it was helpful. I’m planning to organise it better when I get home with headings for topics to but I’m new to this, and there are limits to what I can set up on my phone!
      I’m curious as to why you think I might already have your email!
      Happy travelling… wherever you end up… are you away long?
      Best wishes Anne and Chris


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