The French town of Larrau, which belongs to the Aquitaine region, within the department of the Atlantic Pyrenees, is home to countless charming spots such as the Holzarte Footbridge in its municipal district, on the border with neighbouring Navarre. Colossal mountains and deep gorges carved by the tireless passage of the rivers that run through them are part of the hallmark of the historical Basque-French territory.
On one of these deep gorges sits the Holzarte Footbridge, suspended in the air about 150 m from the ground and joining the two slopes of the gorge, this dizzying bridge was built back in the 20s by the timber industry. The route with 4 Km in total allows us to cross in its beginning the bottom of the canyon following the course of the river that has formed it. With each step we will go up the slope of the mountain saying goodbye to the pleasant company of the river while we go through a dense forest in search of the upper part of the gorge.
A lonely and beautiful waterfall is the prelude to the hard slope that awaits us. A stark mountain path that will allow us to climb over the gorge and contemplate in all its splendour the Holzarte Footbridge, witness of the union of two deep gorges Olhadubi and the Holzarte from which it takes its name. Crossing this hanging bridge while swinging swayed by the wind and the inertia that we drive is an experience reserved for the most intrepid adventurers.
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Legend has it that many years ago when the current footbridge did not yet exist, in the area there was already an old bridge. Every day they met a couple of lovers whose families disapproved of their relationship, moved by old land disputes. In one of these encounters, the lovers were surprised by a sudden storm that completely destroyed the old bridge. Years the families were looking for the couple of young people but of them it was never known again, although according to some voices the days of storm one can hear the efforts that the lovers make one on each side of the bridge by holding the current footbridge of Holzarte which allows them to remain always together.
Access to the parking area from where the path leading to the Holzarte Footbridge starts is not far from Larrau, in the middle of the road that connects it with the towns of Licq-Athérey and Sainte-Engrâce. We can also reach Larrau from Saint Jean Pied de Port or from Ochagabía, in Navarre. Once there we will have several parking areas near the beginning of the route in addition to the shelter parking that is in the layout of the road.
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Nice and interesting route for our friend, ideal if we want to start him in this type of land. It is not too much that we try to take him tied up given the steepness of some areas.
Although the route is relatively short, we should not fail to bring him his corresponding ration of water, since the effort of the ascent added to the possible heat and humidity that we will support in some seasons of the year can be high.
Initially, and although the area is a wildlife reserve, it is not very common to run into the different inhabitants of the place, given the transit of people it supports, although we can coincide with other dogs that accompany their respective owners.
The car park (0h 00min) that we find just after passing the old wooden bridge up to which the path that connects this spot with the nearby road arrives is the starting point of the path that has to lead us to the Holtzarte Footbridge.
As soon as we cross it, we will come across several signs that send us to the beginning of the path, which we have on our right as we cross the bridge.
The GR 11 and GR 10 will be our travel companions on this interesting route. The beginning of the trail climbs calmly the course of the river that for the moment we will have at our side.
Although we began to gain altitude the slope is still very bearable.
Soon we will reach the height of the wooden bridge that will allow us to cross the stream that falls from the nearby waterfall that we can see here.
The trail follows the course of the river maintaining even its sweet unevenness that allows us to enjoy the environment that surrounds us.
Not much further on the path puts an end to the truce he had granted us and begins to demand more effort from us.
A towline as a handrail will help us overcome this rather slippery part of the course, especially on the descent.
The forest that we are crossing makes this hard stretch a little more pleasant to overcome. But soon the vegetation will leave us at the mercy of the implacable sun that together with the still notable unevenness, make this stretch a hard steepness to overcome.
Luckily, the slope seems to be diminishing at the same time as the trees are once again gaining prominence. This area of the route, now much more comfortable, allows us to catch our breath at the same time that we are sensing our destiny.
The gorges of Holzarte and Olhadubi merge into one under the attentive gaze of the hanging bridge towards which we are heading. The final stretch that separates us from the Holzarte Footbridge (1h 20min) allows us to calmly contemplate this vertiginous bridge as if it wanted to give us time to mentalize ourselves of what awaits us.
Once we have enjoyed the magnificent natural landscape in which the Holtzarte footbridge sits, and lived the unforgettable experience of crossing it, we only have to go back to the car park (2h 00min) following the same path that brought us here.
Total distance. 4 Km
Total time. 2h 00min
The state of the trail can condition quite a bit this figure given the slippery that can be some areas of it.
Time of year. Better in good weather
Throughout the year we can find enough reasons to more than justify a visit to the Holzarte suspension bridge. It is true that snow, ice and mud are not good companions for this route and more if we do not have the necessary experience and material. With strong wind or bad weather is not very advisable either to undertake this route.
Required equipment. You're on the mountain.
An appropriate footwear, preferably a boot that protects our ankles not only from sprains or mud, but also from possible blows with the slabs that populate the steepest area of the entire route. The canes can also be of help to us at the time of ascending up to the footbridge. The water and some food, although it is a relatively short route we can not miss. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 450 m Slope positive. 225 m Slope negative. 225 m
Maximum altitude. 628 m Minimum altitude. 403 m
The slope to be covered practically accumulates in its entirety over a distance of about 500 m, making this section have some ramps of considerable unevenness, which it is better to take it easy. This makes it advisable to be in good physical shape and not be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the route. The descent is also demanding, especially if you are not used to this type of terrain.
Severity of the environment
Of course it is essential not to leave the marked path because the terrain surrounding much of the itinerary is quite exposed, although it does not seem so. Be very careful with the slipperiness of some areas, especially the descent, as these also coincide with the steepest sections, which is where most of the stones and slabs are grouped, quite polished by the passage of people.
Marked by the marks of the GR, without any other trail that leaves our path and with the trail perfectly treaded and delimited given the influx of people who travel, we should not have any problem to make this route. In addition to the beginning, which is where more trails coincide, we have a good signage that will get us out of any doubt.
|1-Parking||0h 00min||403 m||0 Km||30T 668848 4764802|
|2-Holzarte Bridge||1h 20mim||628 m||2 Km||30T 669250 4763394|
|3-Parking||2h 00min||403 m||4 Km||30T 668848 4764802|
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the route is approximate, map Tardets Sorholus La-Pierre-Saint-Martin Canyons de la Haute Source. TOP25 1446ET. 1:25.000..
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
Una verdadera pasada la pasarela de Holzarte, te impresiona nada más verla mientras subes por el sendero. Al atravesarla notas como se balancea, toda una experiencia muy recomendable.
¿Did you know that...
The footbridge of Holzarte had to be reconstructed after the passage of a cyclone in 2010 that completely devastated the area causing severe damage not only to the footbridge, but also to much of southern France.
Don't miss out...
A visit to the nearby town of Larrau, which still preserves all the character given to it by its various buildings marked by the architecture that characterises the villages of the French Pyrenees.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 15-09-2018. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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