Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees

Overview

Title: Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees (Fifth Edition)
Author: Kev Reynolds
Publisher: Cicerone - 2008
Price: £15.00

Focusing on the Central or High Pyrenees from Lescun in the west to Ax-les Thermes in the east, this guidebook gives the reader an overview of the area through a combination of single and multi day trips, plus the odd easy rock climb.

Review

This guidebook has graced the bookshelves of many climbing and book stores for over 30 years and in this the fifth edition, Kev Reynolds has re-written many sections of the book to bring it up to date with all the latest developments in the area.  Focusing on the Central or High Pyrenees from Lescun in the west to Ax-les Thermes in the east, this guidebook gives the reader an overview of the area through a combination of single and multi day trips, plus the odd easy mountaineering route thrown in for good measure.

Kev Reynolds is a well known guidebook author with a wealth of trekking experience from around the globe.  The credits on the opening page of the book list nearly 30 other guidebooks written by him and with this track history you know that you are going to be dealing with an authoritative guidebook.  For such a vast area it is difficult to imagine how he could have whittled down the list of available routes for publication and surely with the inclusion of easy rock climbs this is making the task doubly impossible.  However the impression one gets is that the author doesn’t want this book to be viewed as a definitive guidebook for the area, rather a sample of some of the highlights available within the region, which hopefully should encourage the reader to explore further and make their own discoveries.

With over 170 walks, multi day trips and mountaineering ascents crammed into the 400 odd pages you do feel like you are getting your monies worth.  As usual with Cicerone guidebooks, the introduction gives an overview of the area including access, travel, flora & fauna, recommended equipment and grade definitions.  However with all these routes to get through this doesn’t go on for too long and you are soon into the first route.  To make it easier to use, the region covered by the guidebook is broken down into 21 smaller areas.  Each area has its own map showing the location of the main towns or villages, the locations of the guidebook routes and mountain accommodation that can be used.  There is further written area specific information including travel and recommended accommodation and then it is onto the routes. 

Each route is clearly explained and starts by outlining the grade, distance covered, height gain and estimated time to complete the journey.  This should make it simple for the traveller already in the Pyrenees or those planning a trip to quickly find a route that suits their needs.  As with all Cicerone guides, an overview of travel options to access the area and within the region are included.  From our experience while you can get by with public transport, if your trip will focus on day routes then a car is essential, especially if these are spread across a wide area.  Do remember that if you are driving from the UK, to check the legal requirements of the country you will be driving through.  Your vehicle should also be covered by good car insurance covering overseas driving, to ensure financial assistance should unwanted circumstances occur.

An index of all the routes with associated grade are included at the back of the guidebook which should make the task of planning your trip even simpler.  Although each route doesn’t have its own map, the main area map allows the reader to orientate themselves on a local map for the region.  Make no mistake these maps are for information purposes only and walkers shouldn’t consider following any of these routes with just the book alone.  Fear not though as the author has kindly included details of the maps to use and where they can be purchased at the front of the guide.

All in all this is an excellent guidebook, typical of those that Kev Reynolds has produced in the past and this new edition is an excellent enhancement to an already established title.  For anybody planning a trip to the Pyrenees and considering some walking or easy mountaineering routes, you would do well to add this book to your reading list.

The Walks and Climbs in the Pyrenees guidebook can be purchased directly from Cicerone for £15.00.

Information such as these can be handy for those who decides to bring their 4x4s on the trip.

Review written by Giles Thurston on June 01, 2008

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