THE TERRAIN

This snap of the Fontaine de l'Ours (one of the few places where you can see the trees for the wood!) gives a rough idea of the terrain.

Beneath the tree canopy, a mixture of pines and deciduous, it's not very photogenic unless you like 36 shots of trunks, branches and twigs.

Oh yes, and the bogs....

Yes, this place has its own bog monster, just like Casterton Fell. The tree canopy keeps the ground nice and damp long after the rest of France has dried to the consistency of a scorched tortilla. The result is lots of squidgy bits and slipping and sliding around on greasy limestone and paths..

Paths, that is, if you can find them. The main trails are OK but smaller paths - petites sentes - might possibly be found by a sniffer dog with night sights.

The routes to some of the entrances are a bit obscure to say the least, and that's in daylight. Wisps of plastic tied to trees usually keep one going about right, but some of these paths must be a right b.....d in the dark. If you get lost you may not come out of the woods 'til morning (on some day of the week).

Fortunately, the more popular, easier trips are not far from the main track, all of them twenty to thirty minutes walk beyond the end of the clearing you see above. Trou Mile, Trou des Heretiques and Trou de Vent are all easily found.

Just as well, because if it's hot and sticky you'll work up a regular sweat bashing around in the undergrowth. I got a bit of a dab on looking for Gouffres Pierre and Michelle, and nearly gave up on the steep pull up to the Pont de Gerbaut. Pene Blanque is another half hour beyond that.

Beyond Trou Mile the track breaks out into open pasture with some very nice walking up onto the ridges (fine views of the Pyrennees) - but there aren't any caves up there.

the Fontaine de l'Ours car park, Froggy cavers' camp on the left.

Entrance to Trou des Heretiques

Entrance to Trou Mile

Cloud rolling off the ridge above the Coume.

Overview

The Setting

The Terrain

The Caves

Pont de Gerbaut from the bottom of the doline