The Freedom Trail
P3 - This trip is physically tough. Frequent exercise is necessary to prepare properly for this expedition. Regular walking mixed with training at the gym to build up endurance and cardiovascular fitness is key. Expect to be able to do 8 hour days in hilly and often steep train, carrying a pack of 6-10kg in weight with the occasional extra long day.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T2 - Consider this a trek, although there may be occasion to use hands for short sections of easy scrambling. No previous climbing or trekking experience is necessary.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
The Freedom Trail also known as the Chemin de la Liberté marks one of several escape routes used by Frenchmen, Jews and crashed RAF airmen escaping German-occupied France over the Pyrenees into Spain. Our challenging 4-day trek takes us on a historical journey from France to Spain through the stunning Pyrenees with amazing views every step of the way. With a free day at the end to relax in the beautiful mountain town of Bagnères de Luchon.
This trail begins in Saint Girons, trekking through the forest into the foothills of the Pyrenees. We then begin climbing towards the Cabane Subera high in the peaks of the Ariège before continuing towards the Col de Craberous (2,382m). The crash site and memorial of an old Halifax bomber reminds us of the wartime significance of the route amid stunning Pyrenean panoramas, clear mountain lakes worthy of a refreshing dip, wild horses, deep gullies and exhilarating ridges. To have made this trek at night, under-nourished, ill-equipped and hunted by the Wehrmacht, Austrian Mountain troops and the Milice would have been a remarkable endeavor!
Throughout this historical Pyrenean trek that commemorates the bravery of others, you’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable and experienced guide who will make sure you immerse yourself fully into the experience knowing that the day- to-day logistics are taken care of.
Photo credit : 360 Expedition Leader Emma LinfordFind out more
Date & Prices
For private trips or bespoke itineraries inc. different dates, please contact the 360 office on 0207 1834 360.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.
A monthly payment plan is possible, please contact the office to chat through the options.
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight UK-UK)
Start: 17 July 2022
End: 23 July 2022
Price without flights: £1,170
17 July 2022
23 July 2022
Start: 11 September 2022
End: 17 September 2022
Price without flights: £1,170
11 September 2022
17 September 2022
- 360 Mountain Guide
- All transfers to and from Toulouse Airport
- 1 night in chateau in St Girons
- 1 nights stay in picturesque mountain gite
- 1 night camping
- 1 night’s stay in picturesque mountain refuge
- 2 nights stay based on 2 sharing in a Luchon guesthouse (breakfast only)
- Celebration meal
- All camping equipment except that noted in the kit list
- 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
- Monthly payment plan, on request
- Flights* (please see the FAQ’s for the pick-up / drop-off times in Toulouse)
- Personal equipment
- Dinner on arrival (due to many restaurant choices and varied flight arrival times)
- Excludes tapas on way back from Spain
- Snacks, alcohol, laundry and other items of a personal nature
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Arrive Saint Girons
Your guide will meet you at Toulouse Airport and transfer you to St Girons. During WW2, the town lay just inside the German imposed Border Exclusion Zone. Our accommodation for tonight is in the incredible Chateau de Beauregard, requisitioned by the Germans as their HQ for the region. The chateau dates back to the XIX century, and you’ll find large, quiet rooms, a spa, delightful gardens and swimming pool. We will have dinner at the Auberge d’Antan.
DAY 2 : Saint Girons (391m) – Aunac (766m)
Following an excellent breakfast, we will walk down to our start point of the Pont le Chemin de la Liberté, inaugurated in 1995 after the old iron bridge was demolished for safety reasons. It was at this bridge that the train driver would sound his whistle, the signal for the evaders to jump from the moving train, where they were hastily collected by the Resistance and hurried into the woods. Today will be a longish, if relatively gentle, warm up to this 4-day trek, with just 375m of height gain.
Tonight, we will stay at the rustic Gite d’Etape, in a wonderful setting in the foothills above the village of Aunac. This communal gite includes hot showers and sit down loos! We will spend the evening having a wonderful dinner al fresco with homegrown vegetables and being lulled to sleep by the owners’ donkeys!
(Approx. 23km, 6-7hrs, 375m ascent)
DAY 3 : Aunac (766m) – La Cabane de Subera (1,499m)
We start our day walking through old beech forests and along a section of the GR10, before climbing over a few easy cols up to the Cabane, which lies underneath the rock wall of Le Cirque de Lameza.
Of course, those escaping from France had no such luxuries as huts or tents, but tonight we immerse ourselves in history and take our shelter in either the rustic shepherds hut (cabane) or in tents. This is wild camping, with no facilities, as we spend the night under the stars, with the gentle ringing of goats’ bells across the mountain and, if it’s been a chilly day, the shepherd’s fire to keep us warm.
(Approx. 16km, 6hrs, 733m ascent)
DAY 4 : La Cabane de Subera (1,499m) – Le Refuge des Estagnous (2,245m)
Today we stop to pay our respects to the crew of a Halifax bomber that crashed into the Pic de Lampau. Remains of the wreckage still litters the ground and there is a simple memorial plaque set into the rock. From here it is necessary to climb the gully leading to the Col de Craberous (2,382m), which may be snow filled early in the season, before a steep descent for 300m and then a succession of lakes and boulder fields to reach the Col de Pouech above the manned Refuge of Estagnous. The path can be uneven under foot, and at times we may have to use our hands for balance over the rockier sections, but there are plenty of breaks and the scenery balances the effort, with chances to see herds of Merens ponies (the distinctive black mountain pony of the Pyrenees), and Griffon vultures circling overhead, with a possibility to sight the Lammergeier with its vast 9-foot wingspan.
We will end the day at Le Refuge des Estagnous that lies amongst beautiful settings at an altitude of 2,245m. During our stay at this dormitory styled accommodation, we will have hot showers, a hearty dinner, and spectacular sunset views.
(Approx. 13km, 7-8hrs, 833m ascent)
DAY 5 : Refuge des Estagnous (2,245m) – Pont de Perosa (1,500m)
We descend to Lac Rond before a 200m climb and short, slightly airy traverse to the Etang Long. From here it is about an hour to the Frontier Col at 2,522m. We descend down to the Lac de Clauere for a dip and a bite to eat, before the final descent to the Noguera Palaresa river for a pick up by minibus, weather and road conditions permitting, otherwise we will trek a further 4kms to the Refuge de Fortet for our transfer. We then drive to Arties – depending on our timings we may stop for a late tapas lunch, before heading onwards to the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon, where we have time to check in to our local guesthouse and freshen up before a celebratory dinner.
(Approx. 7-8km, 5-7 hrs, 745m descent)
DAY 6 : Relaxing day in Bagneres de Luchon
Today is a free day in the wonderful spa town of Bagneres de Luchon. There are many lively bars and restaurants to spend away a lazy day, or why not treat yourself to an hour in the local thermal baths.
We will spend the night in a charming local guest house.
DAY 7 : Return home
Today we start our journey back home with a transfer to Toulouse Blagnac Airport.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
Approx. 55-65L capacity. Your day to day pack that you carry with your daily essentials (see FAQ’s), fitted with shoulder straps and importantly a waist belt
Waterproof rucksack cover
To protect rucksack from rain
Nylon rolltop bags that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks.
Please note that many countries are now banning plastic bags. We would always advise buying re-usable nylon rolltop bags for keeping your kit dry (and sustainability).
Sleeping Bag 3 season
You should get a sleeping bag rated to 0C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature. A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights
Sleeping bag liner
Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer
¾ length Thermarest will keep the weight down, but will be less useful in colder climates if you plan to do more trekking at altitude
This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head
Wide brimmed hat
Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck
Essential for protection from the sun and dust
Worth spending money on good UV filters. Julbo is our preferred supplier
Essential for protection from the sun
Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection
This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion
These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack. Ideally to have a windstopper function
Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece
Waterproof jacket (Outer layer)
A good Goretex Hardshell jacket provides effective defence against wind and rain as your outermost layer
T-shirts / Trekking tops
A couple of t-shirts or loose fitting (non-cotton) trekking tops / shirts to wear whilst walking
Consider a light polartec pair for potential bad weather and evenings and a thicker pair if the weather were to turn
Like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex
These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts
An alternative to trekking trousers if you prefer walking in shorts. Note that the trails often become overgrown and prickly plants can scratch your exposed legs (consider gaiters)
How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
3-4 season walking boots
Well worn in 3-4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support
Just in case
To protect the tops of your footwear from harsh conditions and to provide some added insulation
1L capacity either in a water bottle or Camelback
Although generally all water is boiled some prefer to double up and add purification tabs as well. Always good to have in your bag
Clothes for the evening such as casual shorts, T- shirts etc.
Comfortable trainers / flip flops / crocks
For the camp life and evenings
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
Preferably biodegradable, these are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past
A must have for good camp hygiene
For early stages and once back down
Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps
Nappy sacks or dog poo bags
Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between refuges and for keeping your rubbish tidy
Personal first aid kit
The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.
Keep this in your daysack
These can sometimes be a personal preference, but we would definitely recommend you bring them for this trek. They help with your stability, especially on uneven ground or rockier sections, and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming downhill.
For protection against the inevitable snorers!
We recommend Petzl head torches. Bring spare batteries.
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards
European travel adaptor
Knife, fork, spoon
Light weight mug that is not easy to break
Although you will be fed well we do we advise bringing a small selection of energy bars. Have a couple per trekking day
iPod, book, Kindle etc.
Dental check up
We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap
Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers.
We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
EH1C (formerly E111)
While you do have travel insurance, this can save you paperwork and reduce upfront costs should you have a minor ailment or need to see a local GP if you already have one
Food and Water
Where do we get drinking water from?
Each morning you will fill your water bottles/bladder from the chateau / gîte / refuge. We pass streams in various places that you can top up from if you should run out, so take purification to add to it in the form of silver chloride or chlorine.
What is the food like on the trek?
The food in the refuge and gites is plentiful and of very good quality, often using locally sourced ingredients. Breakfasts consist of pastries, fresh bread and jams and you can expect a three course meal in the evenings. On our wild camping night we’ll be eating expedition food, but we can still take into account dietary preferences!
Can allergies be catered for?
Absolutely, please inform the office of any allergies or intolerances and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.
What are the gîtes and refuges like?
Each have dorm style accommodation but each person will have their own bed (bunk). It is worth remembering that these places are not designed for luxury but rather a safe place to rest whilst in the mountains. They are clean and comfortable and are a great place for socialising with like-minded trekkers.
Can you get a hot shower there?
Hot showers are available at the refuge. There may be a small supplement for hot water. Of course, at your hotel and gite accommodation, there are bathroom and shower facilities. There are no showers available on the night at the shepherds hut.
What is the camping night like?
For many, it’s a chance to experience something totally new,
This is wild camping, with no facilities, so we’ll find sheltered spots for toileting and it will be a night around the fire and under the stars. We have tents or there is the opportunity to sleep inside the shepherd’s hut – it’s a unique experience, though very basic, with simple mattresses on platforms.
How tough is this trek?
Just because we’re in Europe and reasonably close to home, it doesn’t mean that you’re undertaking a gentle walk in the hills! This is a challenging trek with significant altitude gain and some long days, including a fixed rope on a steeper section. Worth thinking about when you consider that the escapees of the war had none of this assistance, and often did all the walking in the dark to avoid capture!
Health and Safety
What happens if there is an issue on the trek with a client – a fall or an illness?
360 Expeditions have conducted detailed risk assessments and put the necessary plans in place to cope with any accidents or illness whilst out on the trek. Our expedition leaders are highly qualified and experienced mountain leaders who hold expedition first aid qualifications and are used to working in remote environments. Their training, allows them to deal with situations quickly and safely. Should someone find themselves requiring further medical attention, the leader will organise for that individual to be taken from the trail and transferred to the nearest hospital. The leader and the 360 office team will also be on hand to offer guidance and support for insurance claims and contacting next-of-kin.
Is there any risk of altitude sickness?
There is no risk of altitude sickness on this trek.
What sleeping bag do I need?
The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible for the night and henceforth to ensure plenty of sleep for the arduous days ahead. A 3 season sleeping bag with comfort rating of 0C will do the trick just fine.
What boots do we need?
Because of the huge variety of terrain encountered walking in these mountains it is very important to wear the right footwear. Boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. A wide range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local outdoor store. The leather / Goretex combinations are endless and each with their merits. Our best advice is to try them on – if you think they’re comfortable, and will be for several hours a day, buy them. It is not necessary to buy technical boots with crampon clips as crampons are not used for climbing this trek.
Do we need crampons and ice-axes?
You will not need crampons and ice axes for this trip.
How much weight will I be carrying in my rucksack?
You will only have to carry your own kit for most of the trip but on one day you will need to carry some camping equipment and extra food supplies. For this reason you should pack as lightly as possible and only bring the essentials. You can expect your pack to weigh around 10kg when fully loaded so ensure you train with this in mind and get used to carrying a rucksack for long periods of time.
Do I need a down jacket?
Though many trekkers bring one, a down jacket is not essential, a good thick fleece or jumper layers will suffice for the evenings.
What is the weather like?
During the day temperatures can be warm and can even reach to the mid 20 C. In the evening higher up, it could drop to below freezing and have a distinct chill in the air.
As you will be trekking in a mountain environment, the weather can rapidly change for the worse so you need to be prepared for all conditions. Even in good weather it is not uncommon to have short heavy downpours or heavy snowstorms.
Flights aren’t included what time should I arrive and depart to Toulouse?
We haven’t included flights as this gives you options from the UK. There are many flights that come to Toulouse daily from many different airports.
We will be at the airport at 11.30 am on day one of the itinerary.
On the day you leave we will be dropping the team off at Toulouse airport for 2.30 PM
Please therefore find flights that work for these timings.
If there are any issues with this please let us know and we will also try and help however it might mean in getting a hire car/train or taxi to your start / finish point.
Bagneres de Luchon is 1h 40 mins drive away.
Do I need special travel insurance for the trek?
You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip to include, at a minimum, medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.
Any tips on how a trekker can maximise their chances of success?
The 360 training programs have been devised to be expedition specific. Use these as a guide but also feel free to contact us for individual advice on how to best incorporate the best suitable fitness program with your own lifestyle.
Will I be able to get WiFi along the way?
You will be able to get WiFi at the chateau/guest house at the start and finish.
The gite/refuge generally don’t have WiFi due to their remoteness.
Is there mobile reception?
Mobile phones work in most places on this trek but there are a couple of areas where you may struggle to get reception.
Can I charge my phone/iPod during the trek?
The gîte/refuge do have electricity so you will be able to plug things in to charge, but depending on how busy the gite/refuge is, you might find yourself competing for a socket with other guests.
What plug sockets do you have?
France and Spain use the continental two pin with earth prong, adapters are readily available from many outlets before you leave the UK.