Queyras guided walking in the Alps
posted by William Armstrong 18th December 2012
Now that our 2013 brochures are all sent out and the website updated with our new walking holidays, it's time to look back at a couple of guided walking holidays from 2012.
Before I tell you about our week in the Queyras, I thought I would remind you about our early bird offer which finishes on 31 December. Book on any of our scheduled guided walking holidays before the end of the year and you'll receive £25 off the holiday price per person. In addition, if the dates don't suit or you wish to adapt an existing holiday please let us know and we'll only be too happy to accommodate your plans where possible. Last week, we received a booking for a group of 14 walkers from southern England for a tailor-made guided week in the Beaujolais at the beginning of September. So please contact us and tell us about your plans.
Back to the Queyras. During the last week of September 2012, we organised a tailor-made guided week's walking in the Queyras for a group of 7 friends. The Queyras is a beautiful and relatively quiet region of the French Alps, close to the border of Italy, which offers great walking, spectacular views and has a wonderful sunny climate.
Our first day started above the historic village of Saint Veran, which at over 2000m is the highest permanently inhabited village in France, and climbed gradually under a blue sky to reach a wonderful mountain pass with views of Mont Viso, which at 3,800m is the giant of the area. After a brief rest we made our way to the double summits of Caramatrin, at over 3,000m for views across the Alps including Mont Blanc as well as the high summits of Switzerland. The valleys of the Piedmont in Italy were covered in a blanket of low cloud beneath us, whilst above, a bearded vulture glided overhead. At the end of the walk we enjoyed a beer in Saint Veran, classed as one of the prettiest villages in France.
The following day after an aborted walk in the morning, due to a storm, we followed a fairly gentle trail in the afternoon to the pretty hamlet of Souliers, passing through a landscape of old terraced fields. On Tuedsay we drove to the village of Ceillac and after admiring a spectacular waterfall (Cascade de la Pisse) which plunges down to the valley, we climbed through forest to reach the beautiful lake Miroir underneath towering limestone peaks, before reaching lake St Anne, its normal turquoise blue waters darkened by threatening skies. After lunch we climbed onto the ridge leading to the Tete de Girardin for wonderfully dramatic views, buffeted by strong southerly winds.
The next day again was dry with sunny periods although as we climbed onto the summit of Pic Gazon at 2,744m we were again confronted by cold strong winds. Back down at the meadows of Furfande, where we were lucky to find the guardian of the mountain hut who had come up from the valley to finish closing down for the year. She was kind enough to make us tea, which we enjoyed under a warming sun. We then traversed high above the Guil Valley with dramatic drops and great views.
That evening the rain that had been threatening, finally arrived, providing a dusting of snow on the summits. In the morning we drove to the Casse Dessert, and climbed to lake Souliers under the snow covered ridges of Pic Rochebrune. We then made the steep ascent to Pic Ouest, as the snow melted on the south facing slopes. As we climbed we were treated to the sight of 20 or so Chamois scampering across the rocky slopes. The panoramic views from the summit ridge are wonderful and are captured in the video below.
For our last day we moved away from the limestone peaks to the metamorphic schist covered mountains above Abries in eastern Queyras. Here we attained our 5th mountain summit of the week, La Lauziere at the end of the pretty Gilly ridge, where again the weather stayed fair.