Across the Pyrenees....

I flew my little plane to Spain on the last day of September, crossing the Channel between showers and looking down on white horses below. I refueled in La Rochelle and set off south.

I flew down the massive mouth of the Gironde towards Bordeaux, marshes extending twenty miles on either side...

Gradually the marshes gave way to vineyards - the most famous in the world on the left bank. This is Pauillac. Not very beautiful.

South of Bordeaux you cross the vast forest that takes up a good bit of Aquitaine. There are no villages, few houses and only the occasional road. Not many spots for an emergency landing either.

As I entered the Pyrenees the cloud was well below the high peaks. The valleys of the Pyrenees are steeper and with none of the wide valley floors with fields and villages of the Alps - only rivers cutting through deep gorges. My plan was to follow the valley up to the  road pass into Spain and see whether the pass was below the cloud level. If it was impassable I would fly east around the end of the range and into Spain that way. A blue hole opened up and I climbed through it.

The clouds dissolved around me and I found myself in world of high peaks.....

.....with the mountains disappearing to the west with a sea of cloud breaking onto them from France.

The sun was almost unbearably bright but the beauty sublime.

I circled a few times to take in the glory of my surroundings and appreciate the privilege of being in a place allowed only to those with wings before turning towards Spain. On the other side of the divide there was only a sprinkling of clouds covering the sierras of Catalonia. It was another world and another geography - a proper frontier.

And what a day’s journey.

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