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This incredible trek in the Pyrenees follows the Freedom Trail, or ‘Chemin de la Liberté’, one of the hardest WW2 escape routes into Spain when the Nazi had occupied France. Local people risked their lives to help the thousands of Jewish refugees and allied servicemen fleeing to safety, and we pass memorials dedicated to their bravery.
The trek is tough and steep, taking us through spectacular scenery on remote trails, and climbing Col de la Core before we descend into Spain. Whenever the going gets tough, we only have to think of those who took the same paths in fear of their lives to find the determination to continue.
This is an incredible trek with a poignant undertone – a personal challenge which commemorates the bravery of others.
Day 1: UK - Toulouse
Fly to Toulouse and transfer to St. Girons. Spend some time exploring and visit the Chemin de la Liberté (Path to Freedom) museum ahead of our trek.
Day 2: St Girons – Aunac (Trek approx.4 hours)
A half-day walk takes us through picturesque woodland and deeper into the mountains. We climb to Aunac, where there’s a memorial to the Évadés de France (escapees of France).
Day 3: Aunac – Subera Hut (Trek approx 6-7 hours)
Today’s path takes us steeply up to the Col de le Core (1395m) – this is a demanding ascent, but the views are spectacular as we gain height. Pause to admire the scenery, taking a moment to pay respects at the col’s memorial to passeurs. The hardest part of the trek behind us, we continue around the mountainside, catching a glimpse of the terrain that awaits us.
Day 4: Subera Hut – Estagnous Refuge (Trek approx 8-9 hours)
A challenging day, we head for the Col de Craberous (2382m), but first pass the crash site of a British Halifax bomber. The wreckage is left untouched out of respect. Continuing to climb and descend, we see dramatic peaks, towering cliffs and jagged rocks. It’s hard to imagine how those escaping France would have felt, travelling in the dark and in fear of capture.
Day 5: Estagnous – Spanish Border – Ax les Thermes (Trek approx. 6 hours)
We trek downhill to the lovely Lac Rond (1929m), before climbing extremely steep slopes to Lac Long, assisted by a fixed cable. An arduous walk through snow takes us to the peak of Col de la Clauère (2522m), where we gaze into Spain. After a gentle descent, we drive back to the spa town of Ax les Thermes in France.
Day 6: Ax les Thermes
Free time to relax! A spa is the perfect way to treat yourself after the rigours of the past few days, so visit the sulphurous hot springs which have been used since Roman times. We meet again in the evening for a celebration dinner.
Day 7: Depart Toulouse
Transfer to Toulouse Airport for our flight home.