follow us on facebook follow us on twitter

Links Abroad

Print

Hiking the Pyrenees

From the start, the biggest challenge seemed to be to have five pupils available for the trip with passports and parental agreement. Into the closing stages, it happened that we had an extra in Jack E who had been accepted onto the 'Highest Classroom on Earth' challenge in Nepal next year.

pyr1The group left bleary eyed at four thirty on the morning of the 10th for Norman Foster's magnificent Terminal 5. Passports were handed over and the group proceeded through security (sacrificing various bottles of suncream and Lynx) and off to the plane. SW wobbled a little on the way into the plane but was skilfully guided by the lovely air hostess.

We left sunny England and arrived in Toulouse in a violent thunder storm with rain lashing down and lightning striking very close to the car-hire booth. Once the cars had been collected we set off into the grey day in convoy. The pace was reduced due to concerns that AL could not keep up. When we eventually arrived in the campsite the group split with a party heading out to buy essentials from the local shop.

Another early morning followed with the trip to Saint-Lary-Soulan where we met our guide Jean and drove up to 1900m above sea level to begin our Alpine Adventure. The guide immediately showed the hikers what plants could be eaten and what roots could be chewed and before we knew it, civilisation was a long way behind us. The rain started to fall about five minutes before we set eyes on the refuge but held off long enough for us to put down our packs safely and have a short rest while watching the storm blow through. When the storm had blown through we headed out on an orientation course to identify the paths for the following few days all while playing in the snow and taking in the surroundings.

We returned in time for a four course dinner of typical SW France food consisting of soup, pate on rye bread, confit duck with haricots blanc and a spiced rum apple puree. All this came out of a kitchen the size of a single bed and was eaten with gusto by the weary mountaineers.

Day 3 started off a little more leisurely as there was a long way to go during the day. We were going to follow the path past a few mountain lakes over the Col de Bastanises and around the Pic de Bastan before heading back to the refuge. All this was achieved with very little fuss and much wonder as we encountered lakes filled with snow and clear skies. Scott was motivated up the steepest parts of the day by Josh and John who doubled his speed while keeping him positive. From the top there were a series of traverses across steep snowy banks that required the group to really work as a team and support one-another. We arrived at a second Col and had the refuge in sight when Jean announced that the snow bank that dropped beneath us was a good place to practice the skiing technique, so one after one we set off down the long slope trying to stay on our feet.

Day 4 started much as the day before despite requests for a Full English Breakfast the team was again baffled by a bowl of hot chocolate and a bit of bread to dunk in it. We set off immediately up a very steep incline to the top of the ridgeway we would be following all the way. The group motivated each other well and then worked in unison to climb through the scree on the ascent to the Pic de ???? (2637m) Photos were taken and a few bites to eat before setting off down the ridge line into the lush green below.

Car catastrophe hit us and LJ's car had a total flat. JS jumped in to help in switching the spare while others went to talk to the mountain rescue police who had been out searching for a missing woman with an enormous bloodhound. The next day was a chill out day next to the pool enjoying the sun and games and the local competitions with the French. Scott and some other boys had a diving lesson from Mr James, with a water polo match finishing the relaxing day. Later that evening we travelled to a local town and experienced the festivities of Bastille Day. Party time and a magical cultural experience with fire works and live music.

Waking to a high temperature of 28 we began our trip to the stunning beach of Narbonne. On our return leg of the journey we stopped at the amazing walled city of Casscondare where Mrs Hooper was in her element teaching us all some French history. It was a late return but Mr Brown and Mr Buchanan cooked a fabulous duck dinner that was enjoyed by all. Well done fellas ( you definitely pulled that one out of the bag).

Day six was our final full day at camp. The boys ventured into town to buy gifts for loved ones and completed the week around the camp site. That evening we were invited to join the owners and others residents for dinner. A truly magical experience and amazing how they all interacted, dancing, playing, talking and engaging in the local festivities.

Our flight was mid morning and our journey home began. The flight was on time and SW forgot any previous nerves on the outward bound flight. Mr Fitzpatrick collected us from terminal 5 and our challenge was almost at its end. Thank you for a fine performance from Mr Brown and Mrs Hooper on the bus ( hitting the music charts and a school assembly very soon).

I would personally like to thank all staff and pupils who made this trip so successful. An amazing challenge with unforgettable memories that I wish all could experience.

A final thank you to our sponsors and Mr Clarke for coming up with the idea and letting us go.

Europe- France

We are linked to a school in France. Each tutor group is writing letters to pupils from a school in Tours. Our pupils are developing their awareness of different culture and boarding their knowledge of the world. We are planning a trip to the South of France at the end of the year to extend this experience for 5 lucky pupils.