As the batteries had completely shut down the night before, I awoke to the possibility of a tea-less morning. Fortunately my parents had the little gas cooker, so I borrowed that to make a brew… then realised we had hardly any water. The result was half a cup of very sad tea, at this point I was more than happy to head to a campsite in order to recharge our batteries and fill up the water tanks. It is also quite clear, that we’re going to need a good battery charger as having no electric for us is a big problem, as we don’t carry gas, everything runs off the batteries. This is fine if a) you drive for a long time (although an alternator will never fully charge a leisure battery) b) it’s sunny. However without either of these things, it’s easy to run out of charge. We could plug the van into the generator and this would charge up the batteries, unfortunately on the current set up it would take around 23 hours. I feel another expensive eBay purchase coming on…
So, with all this in mind we drove to Cauterets a fairly large town which is predominantly used for skiing. We looked up several campsites, but after driving to them all in turn, they were all closed. We found one on the main road into town that said it was open but there was no one there. After some faffing, which involved trying to phone the owners, wandering around the site and eventually asking the woman in the shop opposite, we parked up anyway. After some lunch and cycling to the local laundrette, we headed off for a walk. We took my parents van, which doesn’t currently have a name, as we wanted to leave ours on charge for as long as possible. Driving out of the village for some more windy mountain roads we headed for Lac de Gaube and Pont d’Espagne.
We parked up outside the main car park, to save a precious €7 and then walked through towards the start of the walk. Google warned that the site would be busy, and the car park was indeed gigantic, but fortunately not very full. Before the main bridge, the path turns up left to head to the lake. It climbs steadily up through the trees on a stony but well made path.
Crossing the occasional snow drift, and climbing gradually towards the lake.
Some interesting patterns on the rocks for the latter half of the ascent.
This is the fast flowing river that comes from the lake itself, we are nearly at the top.
Arriving at the lake I was surprised, for some stupid reason, to see that the majority of it was frozen over. There is a restaurant up here too, which declares the altitude to be 1800m.
Crossing over the river, the return paths follows the opposite side of the valley on a more level and even path back down.
Soon you reach the ski lift, which is now shut down having just finished the season.
From here, the path is clearing a ski run, it cuts a wide swathe through the forest as it zig zags back down the mountain. There’s still quite a lot of snow on it too, though fortunately a path has been cleared through it for the majority of the walk.
Arriving at the bottom, we turned right to follow the river back towards the van. Soon, you see a huge waterfall appear on the right.
Before arriving on the Pont d’Espagne itself.
It’s relatively busy now, on this very cold damp day in April, so I can only imagine the crowds and the enormous car park being filled to capacity in the summer. It’s worth a visit though, the amazing force of the river has cut a canyon into the rock face as it continues down the mountain and the roar of ice cold just melted snow is clearly something to be reckoned with!
I spent a while trying to get a picture with no other people in it, but in the end the photos don’t really do it justice anyway. Dad and Lee waited for me up on the bridge.
We now headed down to the campsite for a warming hot chocolate with additions (that’s brandy if you weren’t sure) and a proper hot shower. Tomorrow my parents are heading back North as they have an earlier ferry than us, which leaves us with plans to go to Cirque de Gavarnie tomorrow.