Being in a mountainous region can be very beautiful but also very frustrating, especially when you are a visitor with limited time. Being right at the foothills of the Pyrénées, I was almost desperate to get into the mountains but the weather really wasn’t that great for the views I wanted. My week saw the peaks always hidden under cloud and to be honest, it would have been a terrible waste of time making the drive. However, my last day promised to be the best option so I kept all fingers and toes crossed and set off. The only way to visit is to take the mountain passes or ‘cols’ and the first one was the Col de la Crouzette, As I climbed I was rapidly becoming more gloomy because the cloud was closing in (or was I just getting higher into the mountains)? The headlights came on automatically and I felt sure that it was going to rain. Then suddenly I reached the top and behold! 🙂
View from the Col de la Crouzette
If you go up, at some point you have to go down, and the valley below was my route. And being the mountains, you eventually end up climbing again, this time on the The Col d’Agnes. I think for me, this pass was the most scenic and enjoyable. At the start of the col is the lovely Étang de Lers (Lake Lers).
Étang de Lers
This was a perfect lunch stop, and what better place to sit – on a rock, overlooking the mountains and the lake. And as you can see, the weather wasn’t that bad either!
Then onto the Col de la Core.
Here, and all around this part of the Ariege you can see signs, plaques, memorials for “Le Chemin de la Liberté” or Freedom Trail. From November 1942, his route was of vital importance for people fleeing the Nazis and the terrible oppression in France, Local guides took them across the mountains and into Spain. You can still walk the trail and it is chilling to think of the risks these people took and their amazing bravery. Today all is safe and calm. Next stop was the Lac de Bethmale, an emerald green lake surrounded by lush woodland.
Maggie was happy with all the mountain walks and I was thrilled that the sun shone for most of the time. Time to be heading back to camp and also time to wind up my trip here in the Ariege. The forecast for the next seven days…yep, you guessed it – clear and sunny and hot! I’ll be back here again because there is so much to see and enjoy.