PYRENEES

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CptBorg
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PYRENEES

Post by CptBorg » Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:26 pm

I'm currently looking into paddling the Central Spanish Pyrenees at the end of April this year and have a few queries for those in the know.

Questions:
ROUTE from Dunkirk to Central Pyrenees.

Best route south and over the mountains?

Does the fastest route converge on a mountain pass?

Is it wise to aim at somewhere on the French side (with a pass to Spain) that has paddling potential to break up the drive whilst providing a warm up? If so, where?

Possible rivers that (so called) run all year are the Pau area and the Neste d’Aure with runs at class 2/3. There are a couple of other possibles at higher grade but somewhat less reliable flows, which are most likely to have water at the end of April (i.e. a little before their traditional thaw period)?

PERMITS
Which areas are these a necessity? The guidebook talks about a few runs west of Jaca, i.e. in the Aragon region as requiring permits.
The book is c 10 years old, is this still the case. Reason given as national park protection, avoidance of into foreign species etc.

DAMS
Which rivers in the book are now dammed? If any.
Any notable calendar marked releases or festivals or dam maintenance etc?

WEATHER
Any long range forecasts/ predictions for the start of the thaw in different regions.
Any snowpack information.

Other sensible points or suggestions?
Last edited by CptBorg on Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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CptBorg
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by CptBorg » Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:32 pm

Also welcome are any links to web guides or local PDF maps/guides/tourist info that are particularly pertinents to paddling the Central SPANISH Pyrenees.
River Rambo or Paddling Hermit depending on the day!

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by yurperjoe » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:15 pm

Get in touch with AndyH.
He organised a trip out there last year, he is also planning on running more trips out there so he should have all the beta for you.
As for the drive all i can say is that its a bloody long way and the route to Sort through the mountain pass seemed to take about 6 hours.
It may not be much farther than Briancon in distance but it certainly takes alot longer to get there.
J
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Liam
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Liam » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:22 pm

CptBorg wrote:I'm currently looking into paddling the Central Spanish Pyrenees at the end of April this year and have a few queries for those in the know.

Questions:
ROUTE from Dunkirk to Central Pyrenees.
Best route south and over the mountains? Bang it down the motorway to bordeaux, then take the m'way across to Pau/tarbes and then cross anyof the passes as required depending on where you are going to paddle


Does the fastest route converge on a mountain pass?There are lots of passes that are all accessible from the Mway running along the French side of the pyrenees, depends where you want to cross

Is it wise to aim at somewhere on the French side (with a pass to Spain) that has paddling potential to break up the drive whilst providing a warm up? If so, where?You could stop at Pau, but you're nearly there then. If there are 2 or more drivers, then Dunkirk to Pau should be about 10-12 hrs - there are lots of radars on the motorway.

Possible rivers that (so called) run all year are the Pau area and the Neste d’Aure with runs at class 2/3. There are a couple of other possibles at higher grade but somewhat less reliable flows, which are most likely to have water at the end of April (i.e. a little before their traditional thaw period)?If you bring a laptop with wifi, you can check levels on line at eauxvives or http://www.urkankayak.com/Info/infocaudales.php and go where the water is.

PERMITS
Which areas are these a necessity? The guidebook talks about a few runs west of Jaca, i.e. in the Aragon region as requiring permits.You still need permits on the off chance the guardia civil stop you, it does happen. If you have photo paddling ID I can sort them out, PM me your email.
The book is c 10 years old, is this still the case. Reason given as national park protection, avoidance of into foreign species etc.

DAMS
Which rivers in the book are now dammed? If any. No changes on dammed rivers in Spain that will affect you
Any notable calendar festivals etc?18 de Abril, río Eska.
Un clásico entre los clásicos donde normalmente se pasa algo de fresco pero que siempre compensa el “sacrificio”.
Burgui to Sigües III-IV.

8 - 9 de May río Aragón Subordan (weekend monster pissup with good rivers varyng g3-g5. Fancy dress recommended - think NSR and you're getting there.
You must let me know if you're interested as there are li ited places for accomodation (bunkhouse up a mountain)


WEATHER
Any long range forecasts/ predictions for the start of the thaw in different regions.
Any snowpack information. There was a bit of a dump last weekend, but not a huge amount. The thaw is just beginning

Other sensible points or suggestions?Fuel is cheaper in Spain by upto 15 cents a litre

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by cucc2stu » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:15 pm

Last year in April we found that water was a little on the low side but with some travelling around there was enough stuff to do. The Spanish side was definitely warmer with cheaper petrol. On the other hand the very top section of the Gave de Cauterets was well worth it for some of the drops and the waterfall (even if the lower section of the river was too low.) I wouldn't necessarily restrict yourself to any particular area, France or Spain be mobile and try heading where ever the water is.

Liam kindly helped us out with the permit issue but in the event no one ever asked.

It is a long, long drive...
Stuart

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Dave @ TRC » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:54 pm

I run from dunkirk to pau is a lot its quicker to avoid the tolls unless your going to hit 70 80 all the way, the none toll route is about 100 mile shorter , and most of the roads are good the one from poiter to bordeux is just as fast if not faster . also depending where you heading from the portsmouth to leharve crossing is worth while this is the run ive taken the last few time but I go from warrington, I save an hour on the uk leg and about 70 mile, and it takes three hours of the drive from dunkirk as well as the fuel about 200 mile on the french leg and gives.also a greater break, so you can cover more road on the run down .


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chrisps
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by chrisps » Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:04 pm

I'm also going out to the Pyrenees at that time and am interested in what you say about permits Liam... I had a Spanish friend phone some of the tourist info offices and the general impression seemed to be that permits arent required and the only place that was prohibited was the Picos De Europas park.

Is this not correct? If so, what do you need?! Thanks!

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Liam
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Liam » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:59 pm

chrisps wrote:I'm also going out to the Pyrenees at that time and am interested in what you say about permits Liam... I had a Spanish friend phone some of the tourist info offices and the general impression seemed to be that permits arent required and the only place that was prohibited was the Picos De Europas park.

Is this not correct? If so, what do you need?! Thanks!
It's not correct and unfortunately the toruist info offices go by what they think might be right. You need to speak t the river authorities. In the Pyrenees you can get away with one permit as they are all all part of the Ebro drainage system, in the Picos de Europa (6-7 hrs drive from the central Pyrenees off over towards portugal on the north coast)they almost all drain straight into the sea and so you need a separate permit for each one (if you are going by the book.
As a one off, it isn't normally too bad, but if you are spending any length of time driving round with boats on the roof, then chances are you might get stopped either in the Pyrenees or in the Picos. The police often watch from a distance and wait til you are getting ready to get on.
I've never been stopped but last year 2 groups from our club were stopped on separate occasions, one group were fine and the other group weren't. Those without the paperwork were fined €150 per person. As locals we can complain or argue the toss and pay later, but as foreigners if you are fined, then you have to pay on the spot or the police can confiscate kit until you do so. A group from the UK were also stopped on the Subordan, but they had paperwork.

If you have photo paddling ID, then I can get you sorted enough to blag it and it'll cost you nowt except a beer. Or if you want to be 100% legit, you apply direct to the Confederacion Hidrografico del Ebro (CHE) at the following website:
http://oph.chebro.es/DOCUMENTACION/Cali ... Aguas.html
then look under navigation in the left hand menu, then fees.

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Liam » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:02 pm

There's also a French organised event on the weekend of the 15th 16th May on the Gave de Brousset, piss up, individual racing and team events.

Sounds like a right laugh but G4+ only really. Details can be found on eauxvives and in the latest Canoe et Kayak Magazine (french).

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chrisps
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by chrisps » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:17 pm

Thanks for the info Liam! When you say "photo paddling ID", what do you mean? I have a British Canoe Union membership card (no photo) and a driving licence (with a photo)... is that ok?

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Liam » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:55 pm

BCU and other photo ID would be fine, pm me your email and I'll get the permits sorted.

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Digimeister » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:32 am

Liam wrote:BCU and other photo ID would be fine
And for non-BCU people?

Cheers for all the info.
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Jokie » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:56 pm

As Liam mentioned, we were stopped by the Guardia Civil as we were getting on the Subordan last year. Only Liam's paperwork, our BCU cards and some dodgy Spanish got us out of a sticky situation. Big thanks to Liam! The paperwork requires you to be a member of a club - hence the need for BCU or club IDs.

Based on our experience last year I want to be 'legal' this year, so have been in touch with the Confederacion Hidrografico del Ebro. Last week they told me that new application forms would soon be available and that there may be no cost for kayakers/canoeists.

There does now appear to be new documentation at http://oph.chebro.es/DOCUMENTACION/Cali ... isitos.pdf but it's all in Spanish. If anyone can supply a translation (it's a 13 page document) please do so, otherwise I'll have a bash, when I get the chance, using online translation software.

Incidently, the full cost last year for driving a car down to the mid-Spanish Pyrenees, and back, was about £425. That was a ball-busting, non-stop drive. Another car went via the Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry and full cost was £735. The ferry is more expensive (and slower) but if you split the cost between 3 or 4 mates you can arrive refreshed and enjoy a cruise into the bargain!

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by chrisps » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:37 pm

Heya Jokie, try this for size: http://translate.google.com/translate?j ... l=es&tl=en

A particularly good line from the document is "vessels propelled by oars with a length less than 2.5 meters are considered complementary to the bathroom fixtures"... got to love Google Translate :P

I'm not sure I can gain that much info from it apart from that fact that you need 15 days to register and that maybe we are exempt as under 2.5m?

Liam; I have sent you a PM - thanks for all the info - much appreciated!

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Dave Manby » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:14 pm

Its been very wet in Spain and Portugal since October - Andalusia has has BIG floods with landslides and rock falls and this rain also happened in France on the SW areas so expect some changes in the rivers.

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by CptBorg » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:39 pm

Excellent information guys, very helpful! Particularly Liam.

Are there any sections you would consider MUST DOs that have a high likelyhood of passable flows in the last few weeks of April?

It would be useful to know which rivers to target on the river gauges pages.

Thinking particularly for on the way over/back around Pau, i.e. French side

AND

lesser known but great, scenic, high WW stars runs on the central Spanish side.

Once again, thank you for all your responses.
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Re: PYRENEES

Post by RobMoffatt » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:59 pm

If it's running make sure you give the Gave De Cauterets a try. Video here from our trip last year. The Upper is only a short section, but incredibly steep and technical and finishes with that drop. The slide is also a nice little park and play.

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Ralph Wilson » Sat Apr 03, 2010 4:19 pm

Spanish central Pyrenees:

Early/mid May last year we found the Barrosa, at the top of the Cinca valley, was excellent and high, despite guidebook saying "only a small chance of finding enough water". It was more 4 than 5, though we didn't do the very top part.

I inspected parts of the Cinqueta, trib of the Cinca, and decided it was too hard for our group, but looked well worth it for a stronger team.

The end of the top of the Rio Ara, down to the confluence with the Arazas at the Los Navarros bridge, was enough to scare us away, again you might like it! The section below that was a more regular quite chunky 4(+) but with exceptionally high flows the approach to the weir at Torla was a no-no for us. GREAT campsite just the other side of the bridge across the river immediately above the weir, though.

We too got stopped and asked for permits - but only on the Saturday (on the Aragon Subordan, I think it was). Got away with it thanks to photocopies of some licence paperwork from a local club, our BCU cards, and some dodgy Spanish language efforts. This year we're aiming to be fully watertight on the permits.
Ralph

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Dave @ TRC » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:44 pm

RobMoffatt wrote:If it's running make sure you give the Gave De Cauterets a try. Video here from our trip last year. The Upper is only a short section, but incredibly steep and technical and finishes with that drop. The slide is also a nice little park and play.

?? where did you guys get on and off , did you launch at cauterets ? ,

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by RobMoffatt » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:10 pm

Dave @ TRC wrote:?? where did you guys get on and off , did you launch at cauterets ?
Can't remember exactly where, but as you drive up the river through/past Cauterets you come to an old dilapidated thermal baths, which is where the slide is. Going up the switchbacks on the road from here takes you further up the river, you can see the fall from the road, and about 500m upstream there is a small lane off to the right which is where we put on. We took off after the fall. It's a really nice steep (guidebook says ~100m/Km) tight run. And best of all the thermal baths and sauna in Cauterets were a perfect end to the day!

There wasn't enough water for the other sections when we were there, but the section from Cauterets down had a mentally steep grade 5+/6 section for about 200m which you can just about see from the road on the drive up - looked pretty intimidating!

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by David Fairweather » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:17 pm

I distinctly remember being shown off a river in the Pyrenees a few years back by a smiling guardia with a large gun. It turned out that the only place to get permits was a 40 mile drive away and was only open when you're not there. I'd recommend taking Liam up on his offer.

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Re: PYRENEES

Post by Liam » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:43 am

CptBorg wrote:Excellent information guys, very helpful! Particularly Liam.

Are there any sections you would consider MUST DOs that have a high likelyhood of passable flows in the last few weeks of April?

It would be useful to know which rivers to target on the river gauges pages.

Thinking particularly for on the way over/back around Pau, i.e. French side

AND

lesser known but great, scenic, high WW stars runs on the central Spanish side.

Once again, thank you for all your responses.

You're best looking at the guidebook (WW pyrenees) for ideas of rivers your group might be up for and then checking those river levels on line. The Urkankayak page has a lot of rivers on their flow guide and the average grades of the most interesting rivers in roman numerals too http://www.urkankayak.com/Info/infocaudales.php - ignore the Piqueras, Ubagua and Najerilla though as they are a long hike from the pyrenees over towards La Rioja - from Jaca it'd take about 4 or 5 hours drive.

Please note that is no limit to paddling in Aragon on Wednesdays and Thursdays (no fishing allowed) - the rest of the week it's limited to between 12 and 18 (to allow fishermen access)- there's normally no problems being a bit flexible with these times but don't take the mickey.

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