WALKS WITH HORSES – French Pyrenees

The Transhumance, Bethamale Valley

The Transhumance, Bethamale Valley



Mevrouw T and I will never run with the bulls in Pamplona; walking with the cows, sheep and, best of all, the Merens horses of the Bethmale Valley in the French Pyrenees is more our style.

As spring arrives, stock are moved from the small farms and villages up the valley to the high mountain pastures, where they are left to graze for the summer months. The movement, known as the Transhumance, has become a festive occasion, with food, music and a crowd of walkers and horse-riders accompanying the animals.

For two days we walk with them, as they pass first through the tiny Bethmale villages, then up through forest to finally emerge in the open meadows.

The mob arrives to start the journey.

The mob arrives to start the journey.

We follow them along the country roads...

We follow them along the country roads…

...and up into the open meadows.

…and up into the open meadows.

Other walkers are following the sheep. Nice enough, but not as spectacular as our horses.

Other walkers are following the sheep. Nice enough, but not as spectacular as our horses.

A refreshment break. Coffee or beer for us, water for the horses.

A refreshment break. Coffee or beer for us, water for the horses.

Two days later, we arrive in the high meadows.

After two days’ walking, we arrive in the high meadows.

The band plays on...

The band plays on…

Everyone is happy.

..and everyone is happy…

...including us!

…including us!


Thanks to our guides Ton and An.

Ton offers accommodation and guiding from Le Petit Refuge, in the village of Ayet, Bethmale Valley.

An organises walking events through her (Dutch) website http://www.wandelnaarjezelf.nl

4 Comments

Filed under Hiking

4 responses to “WALKS WITH HORSES – French Pyrenees

  1. Angela Highstead

    How wonderful is this. If you are going to tempt us Richard, can Ton have English as well as French and Dutch on his site? I would love to read his story.

    • Ton is the expert author of many books on walks in the Pyrenees, including guidebooks in English. though most of his clients at the moment are French- or Dutch-speaking it would indeed be good to have his info there in English too. We’ll suggest it to him.

  2. This must be one of the coolest hikes to do, Richard! Beautiful!

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