Autumn on the Haute Route PyreneesFri Night Vid

© John Fleetwood

The Haute Route Pyrenees (HRP) is the classic high level route along the whole length of the Pyrenees, stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean. Follow John Fleetwood in this short film of his recent solo journey on the 800km trail, an adventure that also took in several major summits. 

"I'd wanted to make the traverse for some time, having heard multiple people wax lyrical about the wild natural beauty" John says.

"Finishing my job gave me the opportunity, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another as I left the office one day and arrived in France the next."

A wintry blast on Pic D'Estats  © John Fleetwood
A wintry blast on Pic D'Estats
© John Fleetwood

"I was a little apprehensive beforehand as I could only make the trip in October, with the potential for show-stopping snow and a need for plans B, C and D. As things turned out, the weather was immaculate for the first 18 days with warm sunshine and virtually no rain, so my pack was heavy with superfluous winter gear. I was glad of this later, with a period of storm force winds, but there was hardly any snow and I achieved more than I ever thought possible, completing the route in 32 days including the major summits of Pic du Midi d'Ossau, Vignemale, Monte Perdido, Pico Posets, Pico Aneto, Pic D'Estats and Pic du Canigou."

Heading east, the feel starts getting really big around Lescun  © John Fleetwood
Heading east, the feel starts getting really big around Lescun
© John Fleetwood

"Having been blessed with such good weather, Autumn was a wonderful time to spend in the Pyrenees, with great air clarity, stunning Autumnal colours and empty trails. Going out of season does pose certain practical challenges, however. The possibility of serious weather is always a threat and many of the huts, gites and shops are closed making for a heavy rucksack at times. I ran out of food a couple of times and was only saved by a half-eaten packet of pasta in the left-food shelf of a camp site kitchen."

Pyrenean icon Pic du Midi d'Ossau    © John Fleetwood
Pyrenean icon Pic du Midi d'Ossau
© John Fleetwood

  • For practical advice from Alex Roddie on walking the trail, see here:

  • And check out our interview with Mike Coppock, who ran the fastest known time on the HRP:

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