Pyrenees Trip

by James Farquharson

All events happened in 2001.

Given the publicity surrounding The World's in Spain, some of Britain's best boaters decided to check out the rivers of the Spanish Pyrenees during the spring thaw. We tagged along, slept on their floor and ate all their food.

We left Marlow after work on Thursday and drove to Dover to catch a late evening ferry to Calais. Having disembarked, we sped through the night getting as far as 10 kilometres from Calais before we ducked into a lay by for a refreshing 8 hours sleep. Good progress indeed.

Paris, Orleans, Limoges and Toulouse ate our dust and after 13 and a half hours of driving we arrived on Good Friday at the Spanish river running Mecca of Jaca. We paid our respects to San Miguel until the early hours.

Apparently the expeditions climatic expert had made slight errors in calculations. Mid April is verging on the too early side for the region we would have been better off arriving late April or early/mid May. Water levels were still low. Fortunately a section of the Aragon Subordan was reputed to be a goer in low flows. "Boca de la Infierno", or "Mouth of Hell". A trip coward was nominated to formulate excuses.

Saturday night was again spent on our knees in worship to San Miguel.

Sunday dawned, bright and hot. Old Man Mountain stirred and released some of his ice as water. Peter Knowles and his White Water Pyrenees (translated from the French) pointed us to the Ara. A few typos led to confusion but otherwise we got on and off at appropriate places. It was good. San Miguel was pleased.

Monday: Hot. Bagged the Cinqueta. Great run. More typos led to even more confusion but common sense got us on and off again. Large drop in the middle required the nomination of a new trip coward. The portage was completed successfully much to everyone's relief.

Tuesday: Weather great. Rio Gallego. Lovely scenery, too easy.

Moved to Sort that night. We arrived safely and celebrated our great good fortune by eating a whole pig each. Stayed in the campsite on the upstream end of town.

Wednesday: A cloud in the sky caused much confusion amongst the locals. We explained what it was and told them if they wanted to see more they should come to Britain where we have plenty. Bagged the rafting section from Llavorsi to Rialp. It's a classic fun run like the Ubaye Race Course or the Isere. Did the Upper Noguera in the Afternoon. Much trickier, great run. We got some local directions to the access points which was just as well as White Water Pyrenees again had more than a few crucial errors, such as using the words footbridge and roadbridge interchangeably. It's a fantastic book to have but you can't slavishly follow it or you will just end up totally lost.

Thursday: Something not quite right, more cloud than sun! Played in the hole downstream of the main road bridge i.e. The World's Hole. Very much like a double ended Muncher with a gnarly bit in the middle. Local boys schooled us in the art of freestyle, but we didn't care as we are British and therefore could be just as good if we put our minds to it.

Ate another Pig each and drove home.

To sum up we should probably have gone a little later but we still had plenty to do for a week. Most of the Runs there aren't super-gnarly. If you are OK on nice, kind of rocky, not too pushy grade 4 you will have a great time. Makes a good additional holiday to anything you may be planning for the summer. The Spanish should be in charge of licensing laws and made Social Secretary for the EU immediately.

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