The Pyrenees

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.


Fox Moth Macrothylacia rubi
Black-veined White Aporia crataegi
Willkomm's Sacifrage Saxifraga willkommiana
Wart-biter Decticus verrucivorus
Landscape view near Le cirque de Troumouse, French Pyrenees.
River d' Estaube Lac de Gloriettes, French Pyrenees.
River Gave Gavarnie, French Pyrenees.
Purple-shot Copper Lycaena alciphron
Pearly Heath Coenonympha arcania
Marbled White Melanargia galathea
Le cirque de Troumouse, French Pyrenees.
Le Pourteillou from Gavarnie, French Pyrenees.
Glacier des Gabietous, French Pyrenees.
Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea
Flower Beetle Enicopus armatus
False-heath Fritillary Melitaea diamina
European Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris
Dianthus pavonius
Conopid Fly Myopa buccata
Common Frog Rana temporaria
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
Cirque de Gavarnie, French Pyrenees, France.
Apollo Parnassius apollo
Alpine Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza alpestris
Alpine Marmot Marmota marmota
Adonis Blue Polyommatus bellargus