The Cirque de Gavarnie never fails to enthral me. I have walked here in every season of the year and also of the soul. Sometimes I walk here alone, often with friends and occasionally with family. Even on the occasions I have had to share Gavarnie with some of the thousands of tourists who flood along the mule path from the village to the Hôtellerie du Cirque every year, there is still something quite magical about the place.
Gavarnie village at 1375m above sea-level lies at the foot of a mountainous barrier which creates the phenomenal cul de sac of the Cirque. It is a vast amphitheatre of rock gouged out by a glacier, streaked with waterfalls and interrupted by two giant steps of limestone capped with snow and ice most of the year. The rock bands forming the semi-circular wall rise abruptly for over 1300m to a group of five 3000m summits on the frontier ridge.
This weekend was the occasion to discover a new path, towards the Refuge des Espuguettes on the east side of the valley. We were joined on our walk by a German-Turkish couple, who were walking together in the Pyrenees for the very first time. Despite an occasionally chilling wind, we were blessed with clear blue skies and sunshine, affording clear views of the ravishing beauty of the Cirque, the 3000m peaks towering all around and the Brèche de Roland.
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