The Vallee de Lesponne

 

  

The Vallee de Lesponne is one of the hidden treasures of the Pyrenees and a paradise for walking. It is a 12 kilometer long cul de sac that leads to the heart of the mountains a land of fast flowing rivers, waterfalls, forests, stone cabins, high altitude lakes and mountain peaks. To turn into the valley at Beaudean from the road leading from Bagneres de Bigorre to Tourmalet is to take a trip back in time. As you progress up the valley past the the dispersed hamlets and small pastures on the valley floor to the background sound of running water and the tinkle of cow bells you are slowly transported back in time and away from the every day rush elsewhere

Lesponne under the snow

The village of  Lesponne in winter

  This feeling is enhanced by a stop at the cafe Chez Gabrielle  in the village of Lesponne where the interior is adorned with photos from times gone by. In the valley it is still common to see grass being cut with a scythe and hay being turned by hand before being carried to the stone Bergeries just as depicted in the photos. There is also a grocers shop to visit which is preserved as if in a time warp just as it was 30 years ago

Looking along the valley towards Chiroulet

 Looking along the valley from high above River Cottage.

  Continuing up the valley the road comes alongside the river Adour just before the river bridge (Pont d'Abbay) before climbing up towards the beach forest and passing the Magenta water falls which can be seen on your right at the foot of the Montaigu mountain (2332 m). The last hamlets now give way to occasional stone bergeries, scattered pastures, and forest, with the spectacular backdrop of the mountain peaks. The road then ends at Chiroulet where there are amazing views of the surrounding high mountains rising above the beach and pine forests. This is the starting point for many walks to lakes, mountain peaks, and old stone cabin settlements that were used by the sheppards during the summers of a bygone age to look after their flocks high in the mountains.  Although much reduced, the tradition of sheep farming is still alive, and some cabins scattered around the high mountain slopes are still occupied by sheppards during the summer months.

 The lack of any through traffic has allowed the valley to retain the authentic character and charm of an age long passed in other areas.