Chemin de la Liberte with Discover Adventure - The Freedom Trail

A mixture of the old and the commemerative Chemin de la Liberté

We've just been running a trip for Discover Adventure, specialists in fundraising trekking, to raise some money with a great bunch of people who wanted to make the push from freedom over the Spanish border. Making their own escape to Spain was especially poignant for some who were doing it for a particular reason - whether it be a personal challenge or to raise money for a charity following a life changing event.

But was it fun? YEEEESSSSSS!

From the 11th of November 1942, the date on which the Germans occupied the free zone following the Allied invasion of North Africa on the 8th of November, the Nazi noose tightened and surveillance increased dramatically. Frontier guards, mainly Austrians, were posted along the whole length of the mountain chain and enemy patrols intensfied. A forbidden zone twenty kilometres deep was also set up along the Pyrenees into which access was only allowed with a special pass. During the early years of the occupation the Ariège was still in the free zone and although under the control of the Vichy police, many evaders succeeded in reaching Spain by their own means, often following easier routes such as the "Ports" of Aula and Salau which were high above above the villages of Couflens and Seix. We chose to cross at the porte d'Aula after visiting the beleagured Halifax bomber and passing through Aunac and the Subera Refuge where Gilles showed me a a beautuful video of a baby ibex which he had captured close to the refuge.

Day 1
Visit to the Maison du Liberte and a chance encounter with the amazing Paul Broué
Welcome team! 

Day 2 La Soumiere - Aunac
It is here near the col d'Artigue that a monument has been erected to the memory of 19 year-old Louis Barrau, a passeur who was betrayed, captured and shot by the Germans. It was moving to be next to the shelter where he had been expecting to help some evades, but was sadly betrayed by the Milice. Aunac offered a perfect stopping place with excellent food and flowers - or was that a mixture of the two?

Bois de cos
Camp before the camp

Day 3 Aunac - R Subera and beyond

After descending to the river d'Esbinz we climb up to the col de core for lunch and move into the Subera refuge accompanied by some wild donkey's for part of the walk.
Team moved up speedily to over 2000m
Great ambassadors for the Macmillans cancer Support charity

And up to the Halifax bomber early evening... after two hours of climbing we arrive at the base of the Pic de Lampau where a plaque has been placed near the wreckage of a British Halifax bomber in memory of the seven crew members who died there when their aircraft crashed into the mountain on the 19th of July 1945. After straying off course the flight ended in trajedy.
Jill looking strong

First signs of the plane moved downhill by snow

Gee up! 

Vic's tattoo

Bull chilling with his ladies
We were lucky to have Rich along - former RAF logistics for IDing

Day 4 R Subera - Etang d'Arreau

A big descent and ascent took us up to the Etang d'Arreau just in time for a little party and some home comforts from the van. Much to our surprise a family of cyclists passed by at around 11.30pm! Due to the mist the day before this was the first sight of snow, magnificent river views and a fine cascade on the 1400m of ascent.
Morning view

Great presence from Wales at the Etang d'Arreau

Subtle shades 

DAY 5 Ascent to porte d'Aula, Spain and return to Ax les Thermes, France

Modelling en route...

Small yet perfect...

Team with pic clavera and Valier in the background

Spanish wild horses being a little too wild on the reccy with Ian Spare

Top meal from la petite Fringale, Ax les Thermes to send off the trip nicely.
Big thanks to Victor, Kate, Jen, Rob and Laura from DA; John, baby Amelie, Charlie, Max, Ian and Richard for supporting so well and the team of Ian, Richard, Mike, Claire, Stewart, Gill, Julie, Valerie, Roger, Victoria, Kitty, Katheryn and Diane for making the trip fun. It was a pleasure to meet you.   


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