High Level Walking in the Pyrenees at its most dramatic
- Five consecutive stages of a renowned long distance footpath for the experienced walker
- Some of the best high level hiking in the Pyrenees
- This holiday includes transfers from Zaragoza airport & rail station and all transport throughout the week
- Grade: Hard
- 6-13 September 2020
- 13-20 September 2020
- £875 per person
Join Collett’s for a week on the GR11
In early and mid-September, Collett’s Mountain Holidays offers you the chance to walk 5 consecutive stages of the awe-inspiring GR11 high in the Pyrenees. Walking in the high Pyrenees is a particular joy for anyone who seeks out a quieter alternative to better-trodden high trails of the Alps. A combination of spectacular peaks, glistening tarns, deep valleys and expanses of wild beauty, unseen by most visitors, makes this walking holiday in the Pyrenees an excellent choice for the adventure seeker. It is an excellent opportunity to get a true wilderness experience leaving civilisation far behind you.
When Wainwright devised his UK coast to coast walk in 1973, one can only ponder whether he was in any way inspired to do so by this renowned trail that links the Atlantic with the Mediterranean via the mighty Spanish Pyrenees. Its full name is the Gran Recorrido 11. It is better known as the GR11. This is a ‘hard’ walking holiday for the fit and experienced walker. You will venture into a rugged mountain wilderness on paths that are occasionally steep and precipitous.
You will stay a night in the remote Refugio Respomuso, as well as a night in a hotel in the village of Torla, gateway to the Ordesa canyon. Otherwise you will return each late afternoon to our base at the Hotel Sabocos in Panticosa, high in the Valle de Tena. The holiday price includes accommodation, breakfast, three course dinner with wine (6 nights), packed lunches (5 days), return transfers to and from Zaragoza – and all transport to and from the walks.
Click on the ‘Itinerary & Factsheet’ tab above and find out more.
A Collett’s Walking Holiday on the GR11
At a glance
Grade : Hard – Long
Ascents : 700m to 1000m each day
Walking Time : 7 to 10 hours each day
Descents : 100m to 1200m each day
Terrain : Way-marked paths which can be steep, rocky and loose underfoot. Some short sections are very steep and may be considered by some to be exposed. Previous hiking experience, surefootedness, a good head for heights and a good level of fitness are essential. Some basic scrambling experience may also be beneficial for the crossing of the Collado Tebberai. If you are in any doubt whether this holiday is suitable for you, please call the office on 01799 513331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss the route in more detail with you.
Day 1 (Sunday)
Arrive & Settle in
After being picked up from Zaragoza, you will be transferred to the delightful Hotel Sabocos, our base in Panticosa, high in the Valle de Tena. This will become your ‘home from home’ for your stay – where you can settle into your room after a quick check-in process. Dinner will be served in the restaurant at 8pm, over which a short briefing will take place.
Day 2 (Monday)
The Canal Roya and Ibones de Anayet
14.5km, 900m ascent and 600m descent – A superb ‘first day’ walk which ascends the Canal Roya up to its near vertical headwall starting off on a good track. Soon the track gives way to a path which in turn somehow manages to find its way up between rocky crags and pops out into the high mountain plateau which is home to the idyllic Ibones (lakes) de Anayet. Weather and legs permitting, you will then have the option to either enjoy an extended lunch stop at the lakes – taking in the magnificent views north to the iconic Pic du Midi d’Ossau – or to climb the distinctive Vértice d’Anayet (2559m, an additional 300m ascent) from where there are panoramic views to be enjoyed. The GR11 then weaves its way down into the Valle de Tena, affording you stunning views of Balaitous (3144m), Vignemale (3298m) and the Picos del Infierno (3083m) – the very mountains you and the GR11 will be rubbing shoulders with over the coming days.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
Aguas Limpias, the Ibones de Arriel and Refugio Respomuso
11km, 800m ascent and 100m descent – After a short transfer to the GR11 trailhead at La Sarra, just north of Sallent de Gállego, you will continue to follow the now familiar red and white markers of the GR11 on a well graded path as you ascend the Aguas Limpias valley deep into the wilderness. Today you have the option to leave the GR11 in order to visit the spectacular Ibones de Arriel – four stunning lakes which nestle in the shadow of the mighty Balaitous. From the Ibones you will follow a superb high level traverse into the Circo de Piedrafitta above which many of Spain’s 3000m peaks tower. Since the ascent to the Ibones is a tough climb across steep, loose scree and small boulders, you may choose to stay true to the GR11 and follow it directly to Refugio Respomuso. Tonight, you will sleep in mixed sex dormitories of between 6 and 14 people, and your evening dinner will be provided by the refugio – which serves a fairly basic but none-the-less adequate three course evening meal (wine will be provided). Refugio Respomuso is remote and you will need to carry your own personal belongings for the overnight stay here.
Day 4 (Wednesday)
Collado de Tebberai, Ibones Azules & Embalse de Bachimaña to Baños de Panticosa
12.5km, 700m ascent and 1150m descent – After an early breakfast in the refugio (which again is fairly basic), you will continue to follow the GR11 as it weaves its way up and over the Collado de Teberai – at 2782m, it is the second highest point along the entire GR11 route! It is a truly stunning ascent – at first over grassy pastures, then over loose scree and finally up a short but very steep and narrow gully to the collado. An equally short but just as steep descent then follows and leads into a narrow traverse above the enchanting Ibón (lake) de Tebarrai. A well trod but very rocky path then twists and turns as it makes a steady descent past the Ibones Azules and Embalse de Bachimaña down into the historic spa village of Baños de Paticosa. You will need to be sure-footed, have a good head for heights and be comfortable on very steep and loose ground for today’s section of the GR11. On reaching Baños de Panticosa we will arrange for you to be driven the short distance down the mountain to Panticosa, where Hotel Sabocos awaits your return.
Day 5 (Thursday)
You are free to have a well deserved lie-in (breakfast is served until 10am!) and to spend the day relaxing in Panticosa. Perhaps visit the 4* spa at Baños de Panticosa. There are also a couple f short walks from the door. On Wednesday evening your walk organisers will help you to arrange taxi shares should you want to visit the Spa or explore the Valle de Tena on a longer self-guided walk.
Day 6 (Friday)
Cuello Alto del Brazato & the Ara Valley to San Nicolas de Bujaruelo
18.5km, 1000m ascent and 1200m descent – Shortly after breakfast we will take you back up the mountain to re-join the GR11 where you left it on Wednesday evening. A well graded path will help you to gain height relatively quickly and will lead you on to the Cuello Alto del Brazato (2578m) which you will reach by another short but steep ascent which is loose under-foot, and a tricky traverse across a small boulder field. From here fantastic views of the impressive Vignemale (the highest peak in the French Pyrenees) may be enjoyed. The descent down to and along the Ara Valley is both stunning and long but other than another short section of boulder hopping and a river crossing, you will follow a well-trodden path. Upon reaching San Nicolas de Bujaruelo you may feel that a drink at the refugio is long over-due!
You will then make the short transfer to the picturesque village of Torla by taxi where you will spend the night. You will need to carry your own personal belongings for the overnight stay in Torla.
Day 7 (Saturday)
Faja de Pelay and Ordesa canyon
20km, 800m ascent and 800m descent – Today you will make the short journey (approx 20 mins) deep into the Ordesa canyon on a national park shuttle bus. The final walk of the week is a true classic. This stunning high level walk begins with an intense ascent to a breathtaking mirador (lookout) high above the canyon floor. It then continues along a natural, and at times narrow balcony (faja) which has been formed by millions of years of erosion. Once on the faja, magnificent views of the Ordesa canyon far below, Monte Perdido and the Brèche de Roland are your rewards. After the exhilaration of the faja, you will meander back along the valley floor through delightful forests of beech, pine and fir. Stronger walkers may also choose to continue to follow the GR11 up to Refugio Goriz. The national park shuttle bus will then transfer you back to Torla for your final night and farewell evening meal in Hotel Bujarelo.
Day 8 (Sunday)
Enjoy a well earnt leisurely breakfast, and time to pack. The transfer to Zaragoza will depart late morning.
The above is a sample itinerary only and the exact programme may vary as a result of adverse weather or trail conditions.
Included in the price
- 4 nights in the 3* Hotel Sabocos, Panticosa
- 1 night in Refugio Respomuso, located at 2200m
- 2 night in the 2* Hotel Bujaruelo, Torla
- Breakfast each day (buffet breakfast in the hotels; basic breakfast in Refugio Respomuso)
- Packed lunch each walking day (5 days)
- 3 course evening meal, wine included (6 nights, not Thursday – your rest day)
- Detailed route notes
- Transport to/from the GR11 trailheads each walking day
- Transfers to/from Zaragoza Airport or Zaragoza ‘Delicias’ Rail Station.Transfer times are based around the Ryanair flight from Stansted airport to Zaragoza.
If you are interested in visiting Barcelona or Madrid at the start or end of your holiday with us, consider the high speed AVE train to and from Zaragoza Delicias. Journey times – approx 90 mins. See www.renfe.com for train times.
Not included in the price
- Flights & Insurance
- Transport and activities on the Thursday – your rest day
- Lunch and your evening meal on the Thursday – your rest day
At your own risk
You join our organised itineraries and make use of our ideas & information at your own risk. It is important that you understand that whilst our own walkers have substantial local knowledge and are familiar with the routes which our organised walks follow, they are not qualified mountain guides.
Hotel Sabocos - Your Accommodation
A delightful three star hotel in the Valle de Tena
Hotel Sabocos is a delightful three star hotel about 300 yards from the village centre of Panticosa, a picturesque mountain resort in the Valle de Tena, about 15 minutes from Spain's border with France. The hotel is run by our good friends, Abelardo and Pia, who go to great lengths to ensure you are happy and comfortable.
Indeed, it is rare to see them without a friendly, accommodating smile and this epitomises the warm and welcoming character of the hotel. You are certain to enjoy its relaxed and stress‐free atmosphere.
The hotel provides modern, comfortable and immaculately clean accommodation in en suite bedrooms, many with balconies enjoying absorbing mountain views.
We hold Office Hour in the spacious and comfy hotel lounge, which characterises the warm and unassuming hospitality you can expect here ‐ lots of armchairs and sofas arranged in cosy alcoves; bookshelves, chess and card tables; a large balcony with majestic views. It is the perfect place for relaxing with a book or chatting over a drink with friends.
The hotel's café‐bar opens onto a sun‐drenched terrace with views to the stunning cliffs of the Sierra de la Partacua. In the hotel’s pleasant dining room guests of Collett’s enjoy together a delicious (typically Spanish) three course dinner (with wine included) six nights a week ‐ not Thursdays.
Refugio de Respomuso
Refugio de Respomuso was built in 1993 and occupies a stunning location at the foot of Balaitous, the westernmost 3000m peak in the Pyrenees. It overlooks the immense Respomuso lake and is dwarfed by the surrounding Piedrafita cirque complete with its steep needles, ridges and summits which include the Gran Facha, Pico Arriel and the mighty Infernos. The facilities at Respomuso are basic but reasonably modern and comfortable – with showers, hot water and even a bar which serves draught beer ! Sleeping is in mixed dormitories of varying sizes. A simple but filling three course evening meal is served, and snacks and drinks are also available.
Our base for Nights 6 and 7 of your GR11 holiday is the charming 2* Hotel Bujaruelo which is situated in Torla, nestled very much at the entrance to the Ordesa & Monte Perdido National Park. Hotel Bujaruelo offers all the vibrancy of a village, which is a strategic gem for accessing the national park, whilst still providing a sense of being in the great outdoors. All rooms are en-suite, and have a traditional mountain style design complete with traditional wood floors. Most rooms benefit from a small balcony with superb mountain views. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Hotel Bujaruelo also offers spacious areas in which to relax, including both a cosy lounge and a café-bar with a large terrace for sunny afternoons and evenings. It is also only a stones throw from the village centre, where quaint cobbled streets and atmospheric nooks and crannies can be found hiding characterful bars and cafes where well earnt post walk drinks and tapas can be enjoyed.
Getting to the Pyrenees is easy and transfers are included in the price of your holiday.
We organise one transfer every Sunday to/from Zaragoza Airport and Delicias Rail Station. We aim to pick up any guests arriving by train at around 1615, before then picking up those guests who have arrived on the 1640 Ryanair London Stansted Flight.
At the end of your holiday, we aim to leave Panticosa at around 1300 in order to drop guests back at the airport at 1500 in good time for their 1705 return flight to London Stansted. We will then continue on to the rail station which is only 15 minutes away.
Places are limited, so please check availability before you book your flights. Exact timings will be confirmed approx three weeks before your holiday
For guests who would prefer to fly drive or self-drive, whilst you are free to make your own way to and from Panticosa at the start and end of your holiday, unfortunately we are unable to offer you a self-drive discount because all the walks throughout this week are linear (with different drop off and pick-up points). This therefore means that you will still need to take advantage of the trailhead transport each day, which is included in the price of your holiday. For a competitive car hire quote please visit our Car Hire page.
This option will also be of interest to guests who would prefer to fly to an airport other than Zaragoza – such as Lourdes, Pau, Biarritz, Toulouse, Madrid or Barcelona. See our Travel Page here for more options.
Your ‘Week on the GR11’ will be spent at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of the party is responsible for their own safety and has a duty of care to their fellow walkers.
The following is an explanation of the status of our organised ‘Week on the GR11’ – which we refer to as organised, not guided.
Our ‘Week on the GR11’ is a series of self-guided walks which are made available to you on a basis of goodwill so that you might enjoy a route you might not otherwise have undertaken if you had visited the area independently. It represents nothing more than the opportunity to go out on a beautiful walk in the company of like-minded individuals.
It is a fact that mountains, mountainous areas and activities undertaken in them are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such areas, you are exposing yourself and your party to the possibility of personal injury or even death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.
In these days of litigation it is important you know that you (and each member of your party) join us on this holiday at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of that group has a duty of care to the other. This is no different from the responsibilities you have on a casually arranged weekend walk with friends or family in the UK.
Our walk organisers all have experience of the mountains, some more than others. Some may have qualifications relevant to mountain activities, but they are not qualified mountain guides. We recruit and train our walk organisers in line with a Health & Safety Policy, which is based on Risk Assessments and recognised mountain safety procedures. Not being professionally responsible for you on our organised itineraries does not mean we ignore safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to each person who joins us on an organised itinerary.
Your safety is paramount and we therefore take our own measures to maximise safety. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We apply codes of practice to the procedures carried out by our outdoor staff. We assess, manage and communicate risk. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and to highlight their responsibilities when part of a group.
Our codes of practice should not really be taken into consideration or relied upon by you when deciding to join this ‘Week on the GR11’, for at the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by every individual when preparing for a day in the mountains.
Finally, during your holiday with Collett’s Mountain Holidays you act at your own risk on any ideas, information and opinions you might acquire from our walk organisers or from material prepared by us to help you get the most from the area.