You are probably not aware, but Ollie and I used to live in Sheffield with only 20minutes car ride to beautiful and probably best in the country walking paths. We spent many weekends hiking in the Peak District and since we moved to our new house we would always get very nostalgic about this place, particularly as where we currently live it is just flat!
We were super excited about our trip to Pyrenees Orientales for many reason. Obviously the first one was all the stunning views and hikes we would be able to do again. However we have very sentimental relationship with this place. Exactly here in Eus, Ollie popped a question and since then we would be back occasionally to visit this amazing spot. It was our 4th time, but definitely the most adventurous one. Since having Bella, we didn’t do many hikes, only some walks which involved the pram.You can imagine what a great feeling of achievement we felt as it was probably the most adventurous things we did as 4!
We stayed in the beautiful village of Eus and from there we explored 5 stunning hikes. Here is the list and I truly hope the picture will make its justice!
1. CASCADES OF THE ENGLISH AND SAINT VINCENT
Time: 2.5h-3h; Distance: 7 kms; Altitude difference: 320 m; Difficulty: Easy
It was definitely one of the more fun hikes we did during this holidays. It included plenty of rocks (gentle ones though), many bridges, footbridges, awesome gorges and beautiful waterfalls. Let’s face it all the best bits that a child will like during a walk. Oh and did I forget to mention about many butterflies? Our 3 yr old Lily is not an experienced walker yet, but she did 3/4 of this trek, so even less experience can easily follow the marked path that will bring them without difficulty to the waterfalls. Most paths are shaded, so it is a perfect hike to do even in summer days. And if you are brave enough, you can have a swim next to the waterfalls at the end. 2. GORGE DE CARANCA
Time: 2-2.5h; Distance: 6 kms; Max altitude: 1040 m; Difficulty: Easy/Medium
This the most beautiful and unique walk in the area. However this time we decided to do it without our toddlers. It is not like you can’t do it, but due to cliff edges and narrow paths we decided to leave them with grandparents. The trail starts from the small village of Thuès-entre-Valls, a town that is found after Olette. This is a fantastic trek and be sure not to miss it. It was definitely our favourite excursion (even Ollie loved it despite not being a friend with heights) as you get fantastic views of the deep gorge. The walk is perfect for a medium difficult hike, but make sure you wear some proper walking boots. We have seen many families with older kids, so if your children are confident walkers and you can trust them I’m sure you can do it together. They will definitely have fun during this 2.5h hike as it has plenty of river crossings over rope bridges and footbridges. 3. GORGE DE GUILERA
Time: 1.5h-2h; Distance: 6 kms; Max altitude: 771 m; Difficulty: Easy
This walk is not very well known and probably not the popular hike around Pyrenees Orientales. I found it by accident on internet and while we hiked we didn’t come across a single soul. It is pretty easy trek with some up hill at the end. At the bottom of the village Rodes you will find some indications how to access the gorge. There is a small path along the canal which takes you to the spectacular canyon (if you suffer vertigo you might not want to do it). Along the walk you discover the remains of the aqueduct bridge that would bring water from one bank to another. By continuing up, you get indications for the Rodes Castle (ruins) with remarkable panorama from the top. 4. LADY CHAPEL AND HER CAVES
Time: 2.5h – 3h ; Altitude difference: 310 m; Difficulty: Easy
This hike embarks you to the most stunning view we saw in Pyrenees Orientales. It is good 45 minutes hike up which leads you to the Chapel Notre Dame de Vie which is situated on the cliff. If you decide to follow a trek for another 5 minutes you will get to the most spectacular cave that offers breathtaking view of the Conflent. It is easily to imagine that prehistoric man survey this splendid scene. The walk is not difficult in itself, we easily managed to do it with both girls on our backs. However due to 310m altitude difference it is a good climb that makes your leg work hard, particularly if you are caring a toddler on your back. There is barely any shade, so just make sure you put suncream and sun hats on, have plenty of water and avoid any heat temperatures. The entrance to the path is not very well visible, it is just after the level crossing on the N116 (just outside Villefranche), next to the small shrine. I have added picture with Ollie, so you can easily find it. We parked just at the end of the Rue Faubourg. 5. FORT LIBERIA
Time: 2h; Difficulty: Easy
This was probably the less pleasant walk we did. Don’t get me wrong, it is stunning, but at this point we were a bit fed up with a staff member who sold us tickets and gave us misleading information in regards of the shuttle bus. Long short story, there is no bus, but if you do not fancy a climb up, there is 4×4 that can take you to the top. You can catch them up from the Villafranche. If you are interested in history and military, then you definitely don’t want to miss Fort Liberia. Additionally the views from the top are just spectacular. If you decided to actually hike yourself, there are two ways up. First is via ‘Les miles marches’ which means thousand steps.This underground stairs were built in the 19th century. Apparently 22 men fell to their death during its construction. If you are walking with your toddlers, we recommend to walk down this way as it is steep and narrow with some little light. Moreover on the hot day it is definitely cooler to use this path. Second way is a pathway which takes you through beautiful views over mountain and the valley. At the top you will find an exceptionally well preserved fort with splendid views. Make sure you have cash with you as cards are not accepted.Hope you enjoyed these journeys with us. So when are you planning to put your walking boots?