Refuge d'Estom from la Fruitiere, near Cauterets
Country - France
Region - Haute Pyrenees (65)
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 11.0 km / 6.9 miles
Ascent - 433 metres / 1429 feet
Descent - 433 metres / 1429 feet
This walk explores Vallée de Lutour, which lies a few kilometres to the south of the regional town of Cauterets. The route traverses some beautiful landscapes with excellent views of the Pyrenees and allows the hiker to enjoy a sense of solitude and wilderness.
To reach the start of the walk, take the D920 south from Cauterets towards Pont d'Espagne. After passing through la Raillère you go through a four hairpin bends. After the last bend the road straightens and you should look out for a minor road on your left signed to la Fruitière. Takes this and continue to a large parking area adjacent to the river at the end of the road (or at least where public access terminates).
After parking follow the clear track upstream through pastures almost immediately crossing to east bank of the river. You should see cows grazing on this section. The path continues alongside the river climbing steadily crossing to the west bank after 3 kilometres. As you progress up the valley the surrounding scenery becomes more rugged and the mountains close in with Pic de la Sede (2976m) dominating the view ahead.
Like many glacial valleys the valley floor rises in steps and this is very much the case in the Lutour valley. Nearing the end of the walk you cross a flat area with the refuge just visible on a rocky ridge ahead. This final ascent complete, you are faced with a wonderful view ahead with Lac d'Estom providing a wonderful reflection of the mountains rising steeply on its far shore. The refuge lies to your left, strategically placed to prevent damage from avalanches and other catastrophes.
Lac d'Estom provides a perfect place to relax. If it is a busy day you can climb away from the area by the refuge to find your own private space to enjoy the view. The easiest way of doing this is to follow the path to the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube. Relaxation complete, the return route is a gradual descent following the same path used for the ascent. Reaching the start at la Fruitière there is small hôtellerie offering meals and refreshments.
- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Vignemalle - Ossau, Arrens, Cauterets - 1:25000 Sheet 1647OT
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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