Walkabout World

Escape! to the Hills

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Snowshoeing is a non technical activity which is easy to pick up. It is the ideal way to get out into the deep snow and explore our stunning winter environment on foot and we have been wanting to put on a snowshoeing holiday for a while. Our venue in the Ariege area is unspoilt, tranquil and often overlooked with it's simple way of life, beautiful mountains, valleys and forests.

The Guide
Pete Myers, who works part of his summers for Walkabout Scotland is a qualified International Mountain Leader and Snow Shoe Instructor who lives for the winter months in a small village in the French Pyrenees, surrounded by snowy mountains. This trip will be run by Pete, using his home trails.

The holiday includes 7 nights full board accommodation and 5 full days guided snowshoeing in the Ariege area of the French Pyrenees. We will be staying in the historic little town of Tarascon sur Ariege, which has 1 bar, 2 cafes, 3 hotels and 3 boulangeries. It makes the perfect base for exploring the area on snow shoes.

Detailed Itinerary
The holiday includes 7 nights full board accommodation and 5 full days of guided snowshoeing in the Ariege area of the French Pyrenees, We will be staying the historic little town of Tarascon sur Ariege, which has 1 bar, 2 cafes, 3 hotels and 3 boulangeries. It makes the perfect base for exploring the area on snowshoes.

(note: when travelling on Snowshoes we normally travel slower than you would in summer conditions, so a full day out will normally cover less distance than you might expect but be no less rewarding than when walking for that amount of time in summer- nor less tiring!)

You will be guided by a qualified International Mountain Leader. Snow shoe hire is included.

Day 1. (Saturday) Arrival: Collection from Toulouse Airport in the afternoon 1.5 hours transfer to our base in the forested foothills of the Ariège Pyrenees. Settle in, have dinner and get to know each other.

Day 2. (Sunday) Introduction to Snowshoeing: Drive up to the Plateau de Sault, where will spend the day exploring the area around the Col de Marmare(1361m). A day of getting used to moving on snowshoes. Not a strenuous day but wonderful vistas abound. 7km, 300m ascent, 4-5 hours.

Day 3. (Monday) Col de Port: Today we attempt our first summit of the trip. After a short transfer to the Col de Port(1250m) we climb to the summit of Pic D'Estibat(1663m) from where we can peek into the Couserans mountains, the wildest part of Ariège where the rare european brown bear has made its home. Taking a loop path we retrun to the Col de Port via a shepherd's hut. 6km, 500m ascent.

Day 4. (Tuesday) Mont Fourcat: (2001m) is a fine mountain summit standing as it does on the end of the chain of the Massif de Tarbes it which gives spendid views over the plains to the North and also into Vicdessos Valley and the High Pyrenees. 9km, 750m ascent, 6 Hours.

Day 5. (Wednesday) Free day/ Rest day. Un guided. The small ski resort and spa town of Ax Les Thermes, the nordic ski resort of Plateau de Beille or the château and town of Foix can all be easily reached on a very good train service. Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, visiting tourist sites, eating out in little French restaurants, the choice is yours. The guide can help out with logistics advice beforehand.

Day 6.(Thursday) Plateau de Beille is a large open nature reserve on a plateau rising from 1800-2000m above sea level, surrounded by jagged snow capped peaks in all directions. The mountain pine woods shelter red squirrels, ermine, mountain hares and even the elusive capercaille. The plateau also welcomes large nubers of locals keen to enjoy the snow. Fortunately our guide can take us into tranquil areas little frequented to look for animal tracks and signs, before a spot of people watching over hot chocolate and crepes finishes off a quintessential French winter day out.

Day 7. (Friday) Pic de Tarbesou. Weather and energy level allowing we can attempt the highest peak of the trip as a grande finale. Taking advantage of a high start from the Ascou-Palières ski station(1550m) we head for the skyline ridge above which culminates in the Pic de Tarbesou (2364m) which despite its great size, offers gentle slopes well suited to a snowshoe ascent, not to mention an unparalleled panorama to finish off the trip.10km, 800m ascent,6-7 hours.

Alternatively a lower level adventure through snowy wooded terrain seeking out animal tracks and signs may better suit the weather or the group spirit.

Day 8. (Saturday) Homewards: Transfer to the airport or train station after breakfast.

Dates and Prices 2023
February 25th to March 4th

£1295 per person (Single Supplement £250)
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Accommodation & Meals
Your accommodation for the week will be in Tarascon sur Ariege - hotel or "gite" depending on availability. Evening meals will be at local restaurants. On all our tours the meals are a highlight of the trip, especially in France! Specific dietary requirements can be catered for, especially if we know in advance. Packed lunches are included and will include fresh local produce.
The snowshoeing on this tour, we class as "moderate" - suitable for people of reasonable fitness who enjoy walking in the outdoors but do not have necessarily have previous mountain hiking or snowshoeing experience. The tours each are 5 - 7 hours, some lower level trips and some more challenging days involving some mountain ascent.