I admire Le Vignemale photographically but it’s not one of my favourite Pyrenees mountains. I find it an austere and uncomfortable place. You climb it from the other side crossing a glacier. You can climb Le Petit Vignemale which is a smaller outlying peak and quite easy. At the Baysellance refuge, up here to the left then down the other side, I met a British couple from London. They had an apartment in Luz Saint Sauveur and told me on a good trip, they could drive there in twelve hours taking the Euro Tunnel. What a wonderful privilege. I suppose it wouldn’t be vastly expensive, holiday apartments are not uncommon, but the Euro Tunnel and petrol prices would make it more so. I understand the media presenter Melvyn Bragg lives in the Lake District and works in London. That’s a good combination. London is a tremendous place if you’re wealthy; you can see the kind of lives such people have. London and the Pyrenees would be even better.

The one thing I enjoy about Manchester is proximity to the hills. Snowdonia and the Lake District are less than two hours away, the Peak District can be reached in forty five minutes. Scotland is a major journey but not as bad as the trip from London, Birmingham, or even the south coast. Southern England is warmer and more comfortable. There’s far more money down there and you sense it. There’s a pie and chips, flat cap feeling to the north however much Manchester, for example, grows and develops. I prefer the south, but I like the hills. I think I’d struggle living in Scotland however because of the cold, rain, and lack of sunshine.

I met a French chap at Baysellance too. The four of us shared a table at dinner. I asked him how you pronounced Neouvielle, which is an area of the Pyrenees. It’s not difficult. You say it how it appears, but it seems difficult with all those vowels. When he got back to Paris, he said, two weeks later he’d be walking in Crete. I told him about Crete because I’ve been there six times, working my way along the south coast. Why do you like it, he said. It’s because it’s a very simple place. In addition to the weather of course, the stunning Libyan sea and the Lefka Ori – the White Mountains.

 

Pyrenees Mountain Photography: Le Vignemale Cloud BW

Wednesday November 19, 2014