Cathar Crossing Guided Trail
Explore the wild mountains with breathtaking views and medieval hilltop castles
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Choosing the level of your walks
Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Discover the fascinating story of the last of the Cathars, as you follow their footsteps as they fled from France to Spain, along the path of the Bon Hommes. A time forgotten landscape of legend and great natural beauty will accompany you each day as you traverse the Pyrenees. Enjoy a snapshot of different cultures as you cross from country to country; France, towards Andorra, and lastly, Spain.
During this holiday you will stay at a number of hotels and guesthouses, on or near the route. Each has been selected for their character, quality, warm welcome and friendly service.
The Hotel Lons (1 night) is located in the historic centre of Foix, 5 minutes walk from the imposing castle,”Château de Foix”. Formerly a coaching-inn, Hotel Lons has been owned and ran as a hotel by the Lons family for over half a century.
A small family run hotel, where you are assured of a warm welcome, Le Chalet (2 nights) is in Ax les Thermes. The hotel has recently been refurbished, with light and airy rooms, and is renowned for its restaurant.
Look out over the river and the old town of Bellver from the charming, spacious Hotel Bellavista (2 nights). The rooms are basic but comfortable and clean. In the evening there is the possibility to eat on the outside terrace, and there are plenty of communal areas in which to relax.
The Hostal Cal Francisco at Gosol (1 night) is basic, but comfortable and clean. All rooms are en-suite and the welcome from the owners will ensure you enjoy your evening’s stay. This is a small establishment and the menu offered for the evening meal is limited. It will however offer hearty food, from locally sourced produce.
In the centre of Berga, Hotel Estel (1 night) is a comfortable place to stay for a well earned rest after completing the trail!
On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.
Day 1: Arrival in Toulouse
Transfer from Toulouse to the medieval town of Foix, where you spend the first night. If time allows take time to visit the castle of Count Gaston Fébus or stroll around the medieval city. (1 night)
Day 2: Montségur to Comus
A coach transfer of 45 minutes will take you to the beginning of today’s walk at Montségur and to meet your leader. You will meet at the Castle where you can enjoy magnificent views of the valleys and mountains around you. You will also enjoy an introduction to Cathar history and legend on your visit to this famous castle, before traversing the spectacular Frau gorges where the Mediterranean influence is more present. A 30 minute coach journey takes you to the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes for the night with its hot springs and thermal baths. (If time allows enjoy a relaxing time in the wellness centre “Les Bains du Couloubret”- 17€ for 2 hours). 9½ miles (15km) with 2,500 feet (750m) of ascent and 1,500 feet (450m) of descent. 4 hours of walking. (2 nights)
Day 3: Ax-les-Thermes to Mérens
Today we take a short train transfer to Mérens and a beautiful walk, giving close-up views of the high mountains of Ariège. Taking shepherds’ paths and forest trails, we reach the high-point of the day with spectacular far-reaching views of the Pyrenean chain. Descending through the meadows and woods surrounding the village of Mérens, we can revive our feet in the natural springs, before taking the short train journey back to Ax-les-Thermes. 8 miles (13km), with 2,650 feet (800m) of ascent and 2,350 feet (700m) of descent. 4½ hours of walking.
Day 4: Porta to Bellver de Cerdanya
Today we take a 40 minute train journey on the famous route to Porté Puymorens and the Mediterranean Pyrenees. From here we begin our ascent to the Portella Blanca (8,257ft above sea level), and the border of France, Andorra and Spain. Crossing into Spain, the landscape changes yet again, as we are greeted by the stunning sight of the Sierra del Cadi. You will be rewarded by beautiful scenery as you cross into Spain. A short transfer from the end of your walk takes you to your hotel. This is the longest day, as you cross the border and it involves a very early start. 14½ miles (23km), with 3,350 feet (1,000m) of ascent and 3,600 feet (1,100m) of descent. 6½ hours of walking. (2 nights)
Day 5: Bellver de Cerdanya
Continuing in the footsteps of the Cathars, our walk continues south, to discover the stunning Sierra de Cadi massif, and on towards the Moixero’s peak. The landscape now has a much more Mediterranean feel to it. 7 miles (11km), with 1,750 feet (525m) of ascent and 1,600 feet (480m) of descent. 5 hours of walking.
Day 6: Baga to Gosol
From Bellver we take a 20 minute transfer to Baga where we begin our walk through the heart of the Cadi-Moxero national park and in the shadows of the emblematic fortress of Pedraforca’s Peak. Our trail ends today at the town of Gosol with its castle, a place of refuge for many Cathars. 10 miles (16km), with 2,650 feet (810m) of ascent and 2,500 feet (770m) of descent. 5 hours of walking. (1 night)
Day 7: Fumanya to Berga
The final chapter in this legendary journey leads us from Fumanya (after a short transfer from Gosol to Fumanya), to the Cathar sanctuary of Queralt, the ‘balcony of Catalonia’, and through the Mediterranean forest to Berga, where we can toast the life and legend of the “Bon Hommes”, and enjoy the final section of our journey. 9½ miles (15km), with 1,400 feet (420m) of ascent and 2,900 feet (870m) of descent. 4½ hours of walking. (1 night)
Day 8: Departure Day
Free time in Berga before your transfer to Barcelona airport which takes just over an hour.
The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader with regard to the weather and other external factors
Perched on top its 'pog', the castle dominates the town. In centuries past, the castle controlled access to the high Ariège river valley, and watched over the surrounding countryside. Dependent on flight times, a visit to the castle may be possible on the first evening, or before departure for your walk on the second day.
Couloubret Roman Baths
The thermal waters in Ax les Thermes have been exploited for their medicinal qualities for many years, but in 2009 a luxury Roman Baths (Le Couloubret) was opened with its jacuzzi, sauna, frigidariam (very chilly pool), steam room and outside relaxation pools. There is time during the two evenings that you spend in the town to relax and enjoy these facilities. They are open every evening except for Sundays, and cost approx. €17 for 2 hours. The perfect end to your walking day.
Should you wish for a more authentic experience, there are also public spa baths next to the Couloubret.
Gosol Municipal Museum (Picasso Room)
This room holds a collection of replicas of the compositions that Picasso made during his stay in Gosol. Pablo Ruíz Picasso visited the village in the spring of 1906 and stayed until the first half of August. Whilst in Gosol, Picasso underwent a transformation and during this period changed his palette, his sketching style and his rhythm of composition.
A group transfer is included in the price for those who have booked the “with flight” option. If you are travelling independently but would like to use this transfer, please contact us for details.
Holiday Start: For those who have booked our “with flight” holiday, a coach transfer from Toulouse Airport direct to your first accommodation is automatically included. A representative of our partner agent will meet you upon arrival and direct you to your transfer.
Holiday Finish: Similar arrangements apply. A coach transfer to Barcelona Airport will be arranged to connect with the HF Holidays flight.
Please note that these transfers will be timed to connect with the HF Holidays’ flights. We cannot make separate arrangements for guests arriving/departing at different times.
Flight details: these will be confirmed upon booking.
François is your friendly hiking guide, who lives locally in the Haute Ariège valley. He looks forward to leading you on this historic crossing from Montségur to Berga and to sharing his knowledge of the fascinating story of the last of the Cathars, and also the region, its customs, geography and flora and fauna. François has strong field experience (a qualified mountain walking guide) and will adapt the speed of the walk to your own pace so that you enjoy your holiday in this beautiful area.
Gilles Heurtevin lives in Montségur, the cradle of Catharism in southern France. He is passionate about history and Catharism in particular. He qualified as a mountain walking guide in 2003 and loves to share his experience with walkers. He is also a photographer and will share with you the beauty of the Pyrenees.
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Dates & Prices
|21 Sep 2019||
XLLDW - Cathar Crossing
(Travel included - Departs from: London Heathrow)
Flight - Outbound
Flight - Return
|21 Sep 2019||XLLDW - Cathar Crossing - Without Flights||7||£1,149.00||Book Now|
Prices are per person
- 7 nights' Full Board accommodation
- The services of an experienced local leader
- All transport and luggage transfers on walking days
- Group transfers from Toulouse airport to the first night's accommodation in Foix
- Group transfer from Berga to Barcelona airport
- Single room: £170 (complete holiday)
If at eight weeks prior to the start of the holiday a sharing partner is unavailable, a single room or room for single occupancy with associated supplement will be allocated to you instead.
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person