The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all my trips
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- 25 may 2009 -
The easy path to Roncesvalles

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Part of a 16-days trip, using day 1-10 to cover bm154 to 264 in the eastern Pyrenees and day 11-16 for bm416 to 365 near Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Day 1: An easy but also long day from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to bm197 and then to Col de Lindus (bm155).

Weather: nice, except for the thunderstorm in the afternoon and the fog and chilliness in the evening.

For explanation of the gps-coordinates and other cartographic backgrounds:
see my cartography page

En route: ± 9.10 - 18.50, 9.39h with a break of ± 3/4h.

According to my watch:
Up 1423m Down 413m = 1836m in total. Hmax 1179m Lmin 151m

According to visugpx
- distance : 27.37 km
- cum. elevation gain : 1348 m
- cum. elevation loss : 329 m
- total elevation:  1677

- altitude maxi : 1187 m
- altitude mini : 156 m
- altitude average : 472 m
Last night I slept in this hotel in Bayonne, having arrived there by train from Lille.

In the early morning,  I take the train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
In St-Jean-Pied-de-Port - at the office for the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella - I see this map of the Valcarlos-route
to Roncevaux.

It's a bad weather-alternative for the classic pilgrim's route over the mountains. For me it's an access route to bm197.
View of this lovely medieval town.
The alternative route is - in general - well waymarked. Soon it crosses a stream (La Nive) to proceed on quiet country roads on its west-side.

It enters Spain at a venta-complex where bm196 should be. I don't see a marker but I know I will be back here later for more searching.

At Arneguy I drink coffe and write postcards. The route continues on the other (=French) side of the river and returns into Spain at Ondarolle / Valcarlos.

Underway this warning for a field infested with vipers.

Ondarolle is interesting in terms of borders: the inhabitants attend the church in Valcarlos (Spain) and bury their dead on its cemetary. It's a sort of ecclesiastical pene-enclave.
After Valcarlos, you need to follow the main road until the Pilgrim's way goes left, descending on a minor road to the hamlet of Gainekoleta.

That's where I should find bm197. Meanwhile a thunderstorm has started.

One of the inhabitants of Gainekoleta tells me how to access bm197.

On the minor road to the hamlet there's a green square fence at the left side. That's where I wade through the river, go a bit to the left to where the small borderstream coming from the east merges with the river. I cross the stream and there I find


Bm197. Looking quite new with fine engravings.

There seems to be no other access. Perhaps you can descend from the upper houses of the hamlet to the small meadow nearby. There must be some access to that meadow.

I return to the road: this is about where I crossed the river, you can see the green square fence along the road.
The sun is back and I continue on the pilgrim's trail east of the river, then along the main road on the other side and finally it's a long climb through the forest and underneath electricity cables.

This is Puerta de Ibañeta with its chapel. Roncevaux is already visible in the next valley.

Here I leave the pilgrim's route and take a small tarmac road (GR12-waymarks) to the W.

There's a source along the road. That's important if you want to continue from bm155 on the ridge to the N. There's no water supply on the ridge until ± bm174.

Bm155 on Col de Lindus.
I pitch my tent nearby. It's getting foggy and chilly.

Bm155 again.
A EU sponsored project: making or enhancing the borderfence. Tomorrow I will follow this sturdy fence to the N.
Finally - before sheltering in my tent - bm154.

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