The Pyrenees are an impressive range of mountains stretching some 270 miles (430km) in length. They extend from the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea forming a natural boundary between France and the Iberian Peninsula. Their name apparently originates from a princess in Greek Mythology called Pyrene, daughter of Bebryx who was the lover of Hercules, but fled to the mountains and died. Although the Pyrenees are a relatively young range formed during the Tertiary period some 100 and 150 million years ago, the region has some of the most remarkable scenery in Europe in addition to its exceptional flora and fauna. The alpine meadows bring colour to the landscape, and the roadside verges are overflowing with flowers and insects making it a real paradise for the macro photographer.
These majestic mountains differ in many ways from the Alps, in that they still retain much of their wilderness and isolation. The region encompasses many massifs, which divide the range into distinct areas. Some peaks exceed 3,000m and retain snow on their highest summits all year round. Deciduous forests carpet many of the mountain slopes, and fast-flowing rivers with impressive waterfalls are a familiar sight across the whole landscape.
I need little in the way of an excuse to visit this remarkable landscape, having ran a number of workshops in the region and explored much of the south-west and central areas on a number of occasions. The Cirque de Gavarnie on the French side and Ordesa on the Spanish are perhaps two of the best-known regions within the chain.