I mostly walked the Spanish GR11 in 2013 and it was possibly my best Pyrenees trip. This is a marvelous area. The Anayet lakes are in Spain. The peak in the distance is Midi d’Ossau in France. The GR11 passes through mountains to the south of the High Level Route.

I walked here from Candanchu. I had a pleasant dinner and breakfast at a hostel with a lady from Quebec and another from Holland. No one else was there which meant I had a room to myself for the second time. The same happened in 2014 but that year I was alone wishing for company. In 2009 I sat with a Spanish party.

You walk down the road from Candanchu trying to find the beginning of the route into the mountains. It’s not difficult but not obvious either. I was anxious for an hour or two until I was sure my path was the GR11 for Sallent de Gallego. You walk into the Canal Roya valley which climbs very steeply at the end up to these lakes. I stopped for lunch and noticed a man and his wife doing the same. The man was carrying a knife, finding six inch diameter mushrooms and stuffing them into a bag.

I met a delightful Spanish trio at the Anayet lakes. When I was ready to leave I asked for directions and they offered to first show me and then walk with me. Paula was kind and pretty and laughing, stopping to offer cakes to her friends and then me which she didn’t eat herself. Lawrence was more sober than Danielle who kept looking back at me to ensure I crossed streams safely. You are a strong walker he said, when I told him my plans. No I’m very slow, I said. Slow but strong, he said. When we reached Formigal they had a car and took me to Sallent de Gallego. Without that ride I’d have finished the day with several unpleasant hours on a descending road late in the evening. I like your company I told them when we departed. Thank you, they said with their happy smiles.

There was another party here from Russia. They’d just arrived and were camping for the night. I asked them for directions too. If there’s a language problem one option is ask where people have come from, hoping it’s where you are going. He was strangely unfriendly as if he didn’t understand why I might ask the question, didn’t care, and wasn’t interested. He said he’d come from Russia. I’ve encountered that only once before, in the Scottish highlands. I wasn’t sure of the path up to Beinn Eighe and asked a chap walking with his family. He looked at me like the question was extraordinary, unwelcome, and impertinent.

I liked Sallent de Gallego. I’m not comfortable in Spanish villages because I can’t speak the language. It was however a warm, relaxed, quiet little village I’d like to revisit. I was worried the post siesta night life would keep me awake. It was very modest, but my room was above tables outside a cafe. It wasn’t perfect sleep but good enough, and I was refreshed the next morning for my walk to Respomuso.


Pyrenees Mountain Photography: Anayet Lakes

Monday May 11, 2015