There are so many beautiful walks to go on starting from the gates of River Cottage it is difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, we are very lucky to have Richard and Monique, the previous owners of River Cottage, who have years of experience of walking in the area, and particularly Lesponne valley, to draw upon. They include treks to Lac Bleu, Lac de Bassias, Lac d’Ourrec, Lac de Peyrelade and Cabans de la Lit and they have written some wonderful guides and beautifully illustrated them with stunning photos. The guides are available in the cottage along with some maps.
Walking to Lac Bleu
Lac Bleu, at an altitude of 1998m, is the largest and most popular lake to visit from the Vallee de Lesponne. The normal starting point is from the car park at Chiroulet. The walk takes about two and a half to three hours from the parking area after a 5 minute drive to Chiroulet from River Cottage. Alternatively you can leave directly from the cottage where you just turn left out of the garden gate and follow the gravel track through the pastures and forest to Chiroulet, this takes three and a half hours to four hours to the lake. The views as you look back down the valley and across to the Cabans de la Lit are awesome and the lake really is blue! A word of warning…..if you don’t normally do much activity you might want to start with a more gentle walk like the one to the Cabans de la Lit. The descent from the lake can put quite a lot of strain on your knees.
Lac de Bassias
Walking to the Lac de Bassias
You can walk to the Lac de Bassias directly from the cottage but as the round trip shown here takes around six hours walking or more from Chiroulet it is probably best to drive the short distance to Chiroulet and then walk from there. First walk to the Lac d’Ourrec as described below. From there head north west along the path to the top of the Hourquette d’Ouscouaou. Then follow the path leading south along the ridge with the Lac d’Ourrec below you on one side and the Lac d’Isaby below you on the other side. The path will take you around a small summit and then through a small pass that crosses the ridge to the Lac de Bassias.
Walking to the Lac d’Ourrec
The Lac d’Ourrec is approximately a two and three quarter hour walk from the cottage or two hours from Chiroulet. Turn left from the garden gate and follow the gravel track through the pastures and beside the fast flowing river, then through the forest to Chiroulet. On arrival at Chiroulet join the road at the car park and go to the far end taking the path beside the little chapel. After a few minutes you will cross a bridge over the river, take the path leading to your right after crossing the bridge.
Lac de Peyrelade
Walking to the Lac de Peyrelade
The Lac de Peyrelade, at an altitude of 1919m, is the most spectacular of the lakes within walking distance of the holiday cottage. Please be aware this is a challenging walk due to the severity of the climb and walking shoes or boots along with poles are highly recommended. It is surrounded by a semi circle of mountain peaks that descend almost vertically down to the lake. The walk from the cottage to the lake takes a little more than three hours and the return trip can be made via the Cap de Labasset (2038m), and the ruined Cabane de Lahus then returning to L’Haya through the forest de Pouzac. Round trip time if you drive up to L’Haya via the forestry road de Niclade and walk from there is about 3 hrs 30 min.
Cabans de la Lit
Walking to the Cabans de la Lit
The Cabans de La Lit are a very popular walking destination from the vallée de Lesponne. They are accessible (almost) all year round depending on snow depth and make an extremely picturesque walk. The commanding views from the cabins are incredible at all times of the year making it a good first walk to help with orientation in the valley. The starting point is from a small parking area beside the road about 500 meters before reaching Chiroulet. The walk from Chiroulet takes just under an hour with an extra 45 minutes to be added if walking directly from the holiday cottage.