Pyrenees Adventure 2019

A life-changing retreat experience in the mountains in the South of France.

All your questions answered

The information on this page should tell you everything that you need to know. However if you still have any questions, do please let me know - [email protected] 

  • Dates: Trip A runs 2nd to 9th September 2018. Trip B runs 12th to 19th September. Flights will be in and out of either Luton or Gatwick, we will travel as a Group.
  • Costs: 2019 cost is £995 per person, and that's an almost-all-inclusive price. The price includes flights, airport transfers, accommodation, all daily transport (minibus, fuel, tolls) and meals except those eaten out. Price includes activities, horse riding, spa and massage, via ferrata and the night at the mountain hut (dinner, bed dorm-style bunks, and breakfast all included).

    Your only additional costs will be:
    - Book your own travel insurance, with trekking cover (budget about £50, details below)
    - Two restaurant meals (about 40 quid each seems plenty) and a cafe lunch (budget about £100)
    - A few coffee's and things out and about (a few pounds)
    - Get yourself to and from UK airport. Airport parking in UK at your own cost
    Everything else is included.

    For a full week away, including hiking in quiet mountain locations that no commercial trekking company would take you to, that's actually pretty fantastic value for money!

  • CAVEAT on COST: BREXIT is going to happen between now and then. This may push up prices through exchange rates going pear-shaped, through new taxes on flights, etc. I cannot control this, so please, I reserve the right to make changes if absolutely essential. I will try to book 'everything' in advance and pay to secure prices in advance, but BREXIT is beyond my control, and if I have to surcharge everyone then please understand. Asking you lovely folks each to stump up another 50 quid, is a lot easier than me having to find 400 or 500 on my own and running the trip at a loss!
  • Logistics: Flying as a group from Luton (possibly Gatwick, for Trip A) to Toulouse. We will have a 9-seater mini-van as transport in France. Mercedes Vito, Toyota Proace, or similar. Fully insured of course. Our accommodation is in a fabulous convenient but quiet location, far into the mountains, just outside of town, with mountain views when it's clear. Each day we will drive to the start point of our hike...some days are just 10 minutes, a couple of days are around half-an-hour drive. From Toulouse airport and back again, it's all taken care of. Airport transfer time is around 90 minutes.
  • Accommodation: Our home for the week is deep in the Pyrenees, just outside the village or Vicdessos, which has a pharmacy, a small shop, and a few other amenities. The beautiful 4-bedroom Gite we will be staying in is utterly wonderful, it is a fantastic property, in a gorgeous location, with mountain views (you can't avoid them!) and the owner is immensely friendly and helpful. Guests will share bedrooms, but everyone gets their own bed! We have two bathrooms, a large whirlpool bath, one or two showers, two toilets, two hairdryers, bed linen and towels will be provided. Our Gite is set in 17 acres of private grounds, expect horses and goats on the land, and we have peace, trees, river access, outdoor seating and a hammock.
    We have a decent-sized and well-equipped kitchen, complete with dishwasher and washing machine and a pair of slow cookers. We want to be able to cook our own healthy meals. Eating in restaurants is nice, but there are a few downsides. 
    Not many places to eat: part of the beauty of this trip is that we are going off the well-beaten tourist trails, we are going to be visiting quiet, remote valleys, which we will likely have to ourselves in September. Compared to The Alps, I love the remoteness and peaceful solitude of this part of the Pyrenees. The flip side of this 'less touristy' aspect, is far fewer places to eat out in the evening.
    What places there are, are often shut: Ha ha, that's the reality. Out of peak season, in these quiet rural areas, many restaurants are shut, or they close very early in the evening. If our group are late off the mountains and we are driving around looking for food at gone 8pm, often there is nothing for miles in every direction.
    We want lots of vegetables: Finally, when you do find a restaurant open, it's often serving pizza, Chinese, or it's dead fancy and you have to wait an hour and pay 50 quid to eat a snail and a lettuce leaf! Fine French cuisine is a wonderful thing...but not always ideal after 12 hours hard graft hiking up a mountain. And we MND'ers love loads of veggies, and few restaurants serve fresh veggies in great quantities. 
    So, for all these reasons, we will eat at our Gite most evenings, so we can eat what we want, when we want, at our convenience. We will likely eat out a couple of evenings, just for fun and variety and so we all get a night off cooking, but two-thirds of the time, we will eat at home. We can load our slow cookers with meat and root veggies and seasoning early in the morning, and return home after hiking to hearty, healthy food.

Our Accommodation

A selection of rooms we will all be sharing.

  • Accommodation: In life, everything is a compromise. We could have more/solo bedrooms, such as in a hotel, and more convenient local shops and restaurants - but this would all mean being much further out from the mountains, which is then more time stuck in the van, driving in and out every day. As you can see, this accommodation is far into the mountains, about as far as you can get, and snow-capped peaks are visible from the windows! When we have to get up at 05:00 in the morning, for our longest days, we will all be glad there isn't an extra hour of driving to get to our start point.
    We could have had 'hotel style' rooms, in a large B&B/boutique hotel, just 20 minutes further up the road (away from the mountains) with inclusive breakfasts provided every day (though not at 5am for sure!) - but this would bump the trip cost by an additional £250 per person, and add 40 minutes more driving every day.
    So you see, everything is a compromise. The Gite we have chosen is extremely good value for money, provides 8 beds for 8 guests, and gives us shorter travel times, mountain views and our own kitchen. For that, we must share rooms and all help chop vegetables! A small price to pay!
  • Food and cooking: As discussed, we will cook for ourselves more evenings than we eat out. I know of two or three restaurants close by that serve decent food (plants and animals!) so we will likely eat out a couple of times, certainly on our last night. 
    Everyone can help out with the cooking, but not all at once! Obviously I will do all I can to cook and tidy up every day, but I cannot cook for eight people twice daily all on my own, and we have opted for self-catering to keep costs low and to allow us to eat the MND way. When we all come home from a day out hiking, let's be sensible, and some folks can help prepare food while others take a shower, then we swap over. Nothing regimented, no set rota, just 'many hands make light work' and let's all use common sense and a helpful attitude to speed us along so we can all sit down and relax together after our adventures.
    This trip is all about making the most of our time out on the mountains, it's not about late nights sitting up getting drunk! Likely we will all be 'early to bed, early to rise' every day, and we will cook our own breakfasts, probably mostly sticking to MND stock favourite's such as banana and egg scramble, fresh fruits and nuts, nut porridge, scrambled eggs with greens and so on.
    The owner of the Gite is a wonderful, kind lady, she installed two large slow cookers (crockpots) for me in the kitchen. We can prepare healthy meals of meats and vegetables, leave them on low heat all day, and return to hot healthy meals when we come home.
  • Lunches: This bullet point segues us neatly into 'Required Kit List' coming next. Almost every day, lunch will be eaten out on the hills. Our fridge will be well stocked, so we might take some French cheese, liver pate, olives, tomatoes, some smoked meats and so on. But most days, we will be hiking and I do not anticipate long time-consuming lunch breaks. Anyone who has been on a hiking day with me before will know that in fact, personally, I rarely eat anything much at all out on the hills! I find my banana and egg breakfast usually lasts most of the day. Most times I'll take a few nuts, perhaps some Biltong, and then some fresh fruit and water lasts me most of the day. Making and packing some lunch will be down to you. The fridge is full, help yourself!
    When food shopping, I will buy anything you want, of course, but then it's down to you to pack up your own rucksack each day and ensure you have what you need on board. If you want two oranges, a pork pie and a block of cheese, half a bar of dark chocolate and three chewy cereal bars, then you need to make sure you bring the cereal bars with you from the UK, and make sure you tell me the kind of things you want for lunch so I can get them in when I food shop.
    From my experience, I can tell you that you won't find the kind of snack bars and other convenience foods that you might be used to, in the French shops. I urge you to take what you need with you. See my picture below. For a full day hiking this shows the food I am likely to pack for myself. A bag of Sainsbury's organic fruit and nut mix, a Trek bar and some fresh fruit. Obviously, MND Core Principle 3, a Trek bar is very much a processed food, but it's a pretty healthy bar, as bars go, and unlike bananas, which turn to mush in your rucksack, a Trek bar travels pretty well in all weathers. Avoid bars with lots of added sugar. Decent options are Trek, 9 Bar, or Nakd bars.
    I won't bother with all this much food on our easier days, I'll just take some meat and cheese, some fresh fruit, that will be fine. But I will take probably four of these bags of fruit and nut mix, four or five Trek bars, and maybe a couple of bags of salty Biltong with me from the UK, and I suggest you do similar. Fresh fruit will be in our Gite ready for us in France.
  • Lunch note: Don't rely on buying lunch snacks out on our hikes. We are way too remote for that, there are no villages, no shops, nothing. As detailed in the itinerary, we visit mountain refuges on some days, so you can buy food and drinks, and water refills. Mountain huts tend to offer free water refills (Day 2, and our refuge on Pic d'Estats, Day 5 and 6), and we can buy food and drinks, but most days we must take most of our food and drink with us each day
  • Kit list: For safety and comfort on mountain terrain, good sturdy walking boots are essential. If you do not already have good boots, then this is likely to be a 3-figure expense, as decent boots can easily cost upwards from £150 pounds. This trip is for intermediate level mountain walkers, so you should already own boots, and they should be broken in before we get to The Pyrenees. 
    This list is not comprehensive (I reckon you'll remember your own undies and some shower gel!) but consider these items as essential:
    • Hiking boots - proper, sturdy boots for hard rocky mountain terrain. Lightweight boots are fine, crampon fitting and 4-season are not required, but ankle support is essential, and waterproof is best
    • A waterproof layer. In the South of France in late summer we should be blessed with sunshine most days, and if poor wet weather is forecast then we will change our agenda accordingly, but still it is essential for everyone to carry some kind of waterproof jacket or shell, as mountain weather can be unpredictable and can change fast
    • A fleece or mid-layer, for high up
    • Gloves, and ideally a hat, Buff or cap. The head cover is as much for sun protection as anything else...hats that cover the back of your neck, or a Buff, are highly recommended
    • Sunglasses (take up Pic d'Estats with you, if there is snow it can be blinding and squinting will give you a headache)
    • Mid-size rucksack to carry your own water, food and spare items of clothing
    • Bladder or bottles - you must take at least three litres of water with you each day, so your rucksack will need a hydration bladder or bottles and bottle holders
    • Recommended: electrolytes. If you don't know what that is, question if you have enough hiking experience for this trip?
    • Headtorch and batteries - there is a strong likelihood we may start hiking before first light on our longest day, so please pack a headtorch and batteries
    • Sleeping bag liner - we are spending one night in a mountain hut. These are awesome places, and bedding is dorm-style, on large bunks, where you will likely be side-by-side with Spanish, French and Italian hikers. Mattresses and blankets are provided, but for hygiene purposes, you should take a sleeping bag liner to sleep in. You can buy one of these online for a tenner. You do not need a sleeping bag, just the liner
    • Lunches, nuts, snacks - see above
    • Your own medications. I am a trained first aider and I always carry a little first aid kit with me for our group, but if you have any known requirements, please remember that your medications are your responsibility. If you are prone to headaches, carry some paracetamol; if you get car sickness, bring tablets; if you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs, and so on. You know you better than I do, so take your meds from the UK, don't leave it to chance, we are not in a city with a pharmacy on every street
    • Optional, but highly recommended: If you like to use trekking poles please take your own. Same story for sunscreen, if you like to use that stuff, then please take your own; ditto blister plasters, hair straighteners, hair curlers, false eye lashes and any other stuff you might think is important - this is a rustic, rural mountain climbing trip and such luxuries are not provided!
    • Required: swimwear. You will need swimwear for our spa visit. Our Gite does not have a pool, but I am hoping that at least one day we might take a dip in a mountain lake - I suggest taking swimwear (or spare undies) and flip flops or Vibram five-fingers, and if you own one of those 'micro-towels' then bring that too
    • Optional: This is weird, but you might like to make up and keep a little "poop in the wild" kit and keep it in your rucksack. You know, when nature calls, you gotta do what you gotta do. And doing just that is a lot easier if you have a few sheets of loo paper, a couple of wet wipes for your hands, and a couple of 'dog poo bags' or 'nappy sacks' all in a little zip-lock sandwich bag in your rucksack. The thought of a wild pooh freaks a lot of people out, but 'carrying a full load' all day can become quite uncomfortable, and you are better off eliminating when you need to rather than holding on for hours. We are in the wilds, there are no toilets, and few people about, so you go behind a rock, leave what nature created behind, leave loo paper with it, and place a rock over it when you're done so it's out of sight and will wash away in the next rain. You can wipe your hands with a wet wipe for hygiene, put used wet wipes in your nappy sack, and take that away til you find a bin. It's no great effort, and can all be done quite discreetly
  • Mountain hiking clothing and footwear: Boots we have covered - again, ankle support is essential so everyone will require boots not shoes please. A proper sturdy hiking boot is essential as you will be walking on hard rock in the mountains, and waterproofing is recommended for added all-day comfort.
    • For clothing, the best advice is 'dress in layers'. It is my hope that we will enjoy wall-to-wall sunshine every day, and personally I will undergo all hiking in shorts and t-shirt. But realistically, mountain weather can be unpredictable, changeable, stormy, unreliable and potentially dangerous, and so you should take a range of clothing options with you - both shorts and longs, for tops and bottoms
    • For easier hiking days, shorts and t-shirts are great. For the two days we climb higher, it can be windy and cold at the top, so a couple of layers and maybe a windproof shell are advisable. I like to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt under a short sleeved t-shirt, and carry a windproof shell, and I find that all works well
    • Several pairs of good hiking socks are essential (gite does have a washing machine we are free to use all week)
    • Utility trousers are very useful - shorts and trousers designed for hiking that have lots of big pockets for snacks and sunglasses and so on
    • Optional: ghastly winter weather is not expected, but if you wish to take full waterproof trousers, gaiters, fleece tops, scarf, winter mitts and so on, then be my guest. Think: at 10,000 feet, patches of snow persist year-round and never melt, despite sitting in the summer sun all day. This tells you about the air temperature at that altitude
    • Any restaurants we visit will be relaxed and informal, so nothing smarter than jeans-and-t-shirts is required for the whole trip
    • Required: sturdy pair of trainers, for horse riding, you will need long trousers and some sturdy trainers, which may get wet, as we ride through rivers, and depending on rainfall, they can be deep. You will also need sturdy trainers, or use your hiking boots, for the via ferrata
    • Optional: you may like to pack some kind of gloves for the via ferrata, such as fingerless utility/sports gloves, to protect your hands on the rocks and steel cables
  • Training: This trip is not suitable for beginners. I doubt anyone would read the itinerary and even think of coming unless they have some reasonable degree of fitness and they feel an affinity with mountains, but please understand this is very much an intermediate-level mountain hiking retreat, and you MUST have some experience on the hills.
    What does 'intermediate level' mean? It means that if you have never climbed any UK peaks - Pen-y-Fan, Snowdon, ScaFell Pike, Ben Nevis, Helvellyn - then you are a total novice. If you have climbed Mont Blanc, trekked over 10,000 feet in the Himalaya and bagged a number of Munros, then you know just what you are doing. If you have full Alpine experience and own crampons and ice axes, then that counts as 'advanced'. Intermediate is somewhere in the middle. Training is your own responsibility and you need to be at the "Snowdon is an easy day out" level of fitness. Some mountain hiking experience essential. If you have never walked on rocky mountains, then you are not yet intermediate level.

    Your fitness and ability on the hills, impacts everybody's safety. In any group, one person has to be the slowest, and one person will always be the fastest. That's fine. But for safety reasons, the group as a whole must move at the pace of the slowest person. On our longest hiking days, we must maintain at least a 1-mile-per-hour all day average, including stops for pictures, etc.

    As our week unfolds, I will be constantly monitoring the speed of the whole group, and pushing the slower hikers if need be, to keep us on schedule. This is for two reasons:
    1: Group safety - we all have to stay together, none of us want to be carrying the others back down, and we have to finish each day and get safely off the mountains before dark.
    2: Everyone coming on this trip has paid to complete the full itinerary, and it would not be fair to hold back those who have trained, because we are stuck waiting for those who have not.

    If you are not fit enough in France, you will have to 'sit out' the hard days out, so please do your training. As your leader, and with safety in mind, my word is final. If I have to recommend you sit out the hardest days, staying at home relaxing in the Gite and wandering around the village, while the rest of the Group go hiking, then my decision is final.

    Please log as much training as you can in preparation for this trip - it makes our time on the mountains safer, and your personal experience more enjoyable. My biggest job, as leader, is to ensure your safety, and that includes getting you all off the rocky-scrambling parts of the mountain while we have daylight. You need to train on real hills, so your muscles adapt to both uphill, and downhill, hiking, so you are prepared for all of our hikes, especially Day Two, and Pic d'Estats.

    Throughout the spring and summer leading up to this trip, I will run one or maybe two training weekends if I can (likely Snowdonia, and the Lake District, perhaps a day on Brecon Beacons) and I will advertise these dates as far in advance as possible. I strongly urge you to attend these weekends if you can. Nothing trains you for multiple days mountain hiking with ascent and descent, more effectively than multiple days mountain hiking with ascent and descent.

    For those who like to train in a gym, I can recommend wearing your hiking boots to the gym, setting the treadmill to it's steepest setting (usually number 15) and marching up hill for an hour at a time as fast as you can. It's a fantastic fat-burning workout and great for your hill climbing muscular stamina! (You'll get some funny looks, but who cares!)

The beautiful Pyrenees

  • Mountain safety: Your safety on this trip is my #1 concern. I have been climbing and hiking around Europe for 29 years now and it's taken many years to find the right routes to lead a group safely, away from masses of tourists, to be able to bag a couple of serious peaks up-and-down in a day. Finding such places is not easy. All the walks we are doing have been selected with safety in mind. There are no vertiginous drops over precipitous cliff edges, we are not crossing unstable glaciers, there are no dangerous unstable sections (loose rocks) and rocky scrambling is 'just enough for some fun' but nothing resembling rock climbing.
    I always carry a First Aid kit and Mountain Safety kit with me...if we need a bandage, neoprene ankle strap, an aspirin, compass, whistle, spare boot lace or some safety pins, I have that stuff in my backpack.
    In terms of rocks and heights, there are no dangers on this trip. That said, there are some obvious points that need mentioning:
    • We are climbing mountains! They are high! That's the point! If you are hell bent on self-destruction, I am sure you'll find plenty of high spots to launch yourself off! Please be sensible, mountains are inherently dangerous places, our goal is to have fun but with a serious intent, so let's smile and laugh, but leave the tomfoolery at the bottom in the Gite
    • Once we leave the tree line, you are walking on rock pretty much the whole time, so slips, scrapes, bashed ankles (boots = ankle support remember, which also means ankle coverage), twisted ankles and other such hazards are part of the game. Personally, when I twist an ankle, which I frequently do, I find the absolute best thing to do and quickest way to recover is to keep walking - sitting and resting for ten minutes only makes it worse
    • There will be some, very limited, rock scrambling. Scrambling means "it's steep and you'll need to use your hands too." Scrambling is brilliant fun, but won't do your nail varnish much good, so don't be wasting 50 bucks at the nail bar the day before we fly...save yourself for when we get home. The sections of scrambling we will encounter are quite easy, they are short, not exposed and not on sharp edges or steep drops
    • Via ferrata: when we ascend the via ferrata (Italian for 'iron road') we will be climbing steep and dangerous rock faces - that's the idea! They build via ferrata routes all over Europe to allow non-rock-climbers, to go to places that normally only rock climbers get to go. It's fun, you will have a professional guide, a safety harness and a hardhat, all supplied
    • Summits: Having said there are no steep drops and sharp edges, of course, our goal is to reach the summit. By default, mountain summits are often pointy bits that stick up, that's kinda the whole point, and as such, a summit such as pic d'Estats is a rocky prominence with drops of a few hundred feet off every side. The summit is big enough for a couple of dozen people, but it's rocky and one big trip-hazard so please remember that you are in a potentially dangerous place and exercise some caution - save the naked cartwheel stunts for Instagram for the lush valleys down lower
  • Altitude sickness: Generally speaking altitude sickness doesn't affect many people until you start pushing appreciably above 10,000 feet. But it can, and there are people who are sensitive to the effects of altitude, and they can feel a bit of altitude sickness from about 8000 to 9000 feet and upwards. It's not a big deal and it won't kill you, but it's possible you might feel a bit drained, legs like lead, and a bit nauseous. Symptoms can include swollen fingers or face, headaches, and dizzy feelings. It's unlikely, and at the altitude we are going to, feelings will only be minor, and they will go again as soon as we descend below 9000 feet. It won't do you any lasting harm, it just might make you feel a bit crappy for an hour while we bag the summit. Slowing down and taking it steady, and drinking plenty of water, will help
  • Disclaimer: This isn't a detailed legal document, just a few words of common sense really. MND Health Ltd is not a travel agent, nor registered with ABTA, we are not ATOL protected and the company is not a registered tour operator. MND Health Ltd is a small business that is big on personal relationships. I can't give you a contract for your holiday, I can't guarantee that Easyjet won't go bust before we fly, but honestly, it's pretty unlikely. 
    Your money: MND Health Ltd will not be using your money to fund anything else but this trip. Your money is safe. 
    Non-refundable deposit: As detailed further down on this page, you are required to pay a deposit of £300 to secure your place on this trip. That deposit is non-refundable, because soon after you pay, that money will be used to purchase your flights in advance, to pay for your accommodation and the group transport (van hire) has to be paid in advance. More details on payments, cancellation policy and refunds below.
    Karl, your host and guide: Please remember that MND Health Ltd is not a commercial tour operator or trekking company. If we were, this trip would probably be costing you more money! Karl is a qualified Personal Trainer and First Aider, but he is not a qualified mountain guide or licensed mountain leader. (Even if he was, in the UK, it would be irrelevant in France.) Your safety and repatriation in the event of an emergency is your own responsibility.
    Karl is very experienced and has climbed lots of mountains, and faced a number of dangerous situation. This trip is well planned with your safety and enjoyment in mind and all the hiking is in safe environments, avoiding major mountain hazards such as glaciers, sheer drops, snow fields and avalanche areas. Karl knows the mountains, knows the routes, and ultimately we are just walking, there is no technical scrambling or rope work involved. In summer weather, with careful planning, this should be very safe as mountains go.
    But please remember that all mountains can be dangerous places, and accidents can happen, and if you stumble and break an ankle and need a helicopter rescue, then payment for that service is your own responsibility.
    In other words, you go trekking at your own risk and you must book trekking insurance. It's simple and cheap - approx £40 from someone like The BMC, The British Mountaineering Council provide excellent cover for trekking up to 4000M. Please buy well before you travel. We strongly recommend you join the BMC (they do great work) for about £35 per year, then buy your insurance.
  • Rules, etiquette and common courtesy: It may all seem obvious, but to some people it may not. They say you don't really know someone until you have lived with them...well, we are all going to be living together for a week, sharing bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, and the best way to ensure we all get along is to all observe some basic rules of good etiquette. 
    • Shared bedrooms and living spaces: We are room sharing, so let's all spare a thought for how each other like to live. Let's suppose Person A is a 'neat freak' (that's me!!) and Person B is a slob (like everyone else who lives in my house!). If Person A and Person B are sharing a room, there is potential for abrasion.
      Person A - you can be as neat and tidy as you like on your side of the room, but leave Person B alone, and don't be telling him or her how to tidy up!
      Person B - it's your holiday, your mess, and you can do what you like, on your side of the room. If you want to be a slob that's just fine by me, but respect Person A's space and don't be leaving your clothes in shared areas, keep your mess to your own space
    • See how all this works?
    • Cooking and kitchen mess: I will do as much as I can for everyone, but I cannot cook for 8 people all week on my own, I will need some help. A paid chef is expensive, so let's all muck in and save ourselves some money. For our evening meals, there will be vegetables to chop, things to bake and boil. Two or three people in the kitchen at any one time is plenty...so if each person helps with dinner in some way, say, twice each over the whole week, that she see us all fed in good time. 
      There is no set rota for this, just be aware, use your eyes and ears, volunteer. If you didn't help cook yesterday...maybe it's your turn today.
    • In the morning, some days we need to be up and out dead early, before 6am. Lots of folks are tired and grumpy early in the morning, some folks are annoyingly cheerful, like me. Let's all help get Team MND out the door on time, by helping sort breakfast and lunch. If I make breakfast for everyone, tidy up, fix packed lunches and load the van, while everyone else has a pooh and loads their rucksack...well then everyone else will just be stood around waiting for me, while I have a pooh and load my rucksack! So don't be shy at breakfast, again, one or two turns knocking up scrambled eggs each, and the whole week will be sorted. If you are quiet and grumpy at 5am, that's OK, just grunt and smile and we'll not push your buttons
    • That's how all this works. Experience has taught me that the bigger the group, the longer everything takes. The purpose of this trip is - 
       - To enjoy a retreat into nature
       - To safely summit a 10,000 foot mountain and get back down again
       - To laugh and make new friends
       - To boost your fitness, stretch your comfort zones and grow your confidence
       - To witness the beauty of nature
       - To enjoy relaxing the MND way...on foot, in the beauty of the hills
      Those are our goals. Cooking meals, loading dishwashers, shopping for food and sharing bedrooms are just details, a means to an end. If we all muck in and help, and all respect each other's space and individual ways, remembering there is no right or wrong, just differences of opinion, then we will all enjoy the maximum time out on the mountains, and minimum time wasted back at base
    • On the hills: Mutual support is the backbone of teamwork. If someone is nervous at the bottom before we start, give them a hug and a reassuring word...it might be you who is nervous and in need of support at the top. If someone is struggling going up, be patient and give them encouragement...it might be you who is struggling later, coming down. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, everyone has their strong and weak moments, and it helps us all along as a team if we all maintain our smiles, our sense of humour and our spirit of working as one
  • Payments: A £300 deposit is required to secure your place on this trip. Please be aware this payment is non-refundable under any circumstances, because soon after you pay it, it will be spent on booking your flights, accommodation, transport, and more.
    Even if something happens, you have an accident or injury and can't come on the trip, your costs have already been funded in advance, and your places likely cannot be re-filled at short notice, hence the deposit is non-refundable.
    Your balance can then be paid as you wish - in monthly payments of 7 * £100, or in two payments of £350, as is easiest for you. Full payment must be complete by first week of August 2019, 28 days before we travel, thank you.
    You can pay MND by online bank transfer using our usual banking details. Let me know when you want to book a place and I will email you details.
  • Cancellation Policy and Refunds: Please note, again, that your £300 deposit is non-refundable, under any circumstances. MND Health Ltd is not a big tour operator, we do not have funds available to refund monies we have spent in advance.
    Further down the line, should you need to cancel this trip, then a partial refund can be made. Prior to 90 days before the trip then all monies paid except your deposit can be refunded. Between 90 days and 30 days, 50% of monies paid (not counting your deposit) can be refunded. After 30 days, all monies are forfeit. 
    Please, don't book your place and pay your deposit til you have double-checked that the dates don't clash with Uncle Trevor's 67th wedding anniversary. Be sure you want to go hiking for a week in the mountains before you book, so that we can be certain you won't change your mind. 
    Of course, if you have to cancel for some very legitimate reason, such as a broken limb or family bereavement or some other such unavoidable circumstance, you will lose your deposit but otherwise MND Health Ltd will honour payments you have made and make a discounted place available for you on the next trip  
  • Insurance: For clarity: you must book travel insurance with trekking cover, up to 4000M. All this needs is a regular travel insurance policy, with added 'sports cover'. Most travel insurance basic level of 'sports cover' includes trekking up to 4000m. We will be hiking up to 3200m but no higher. Such a policy costs 30 to 50 quid, and covers the usual lost bags, late cancellations, flight delays, that regular stuff. Our vehicle will be insured to the hilt, including all the extra options they offer, experience has taught me this is worth having! Your responsibility (and cost) is to book the Trekking Insurance yourself, and you will be required to email Karl a copy of your insurance certificate as proof, before we leave. As noted above, a simple policy from the BMC is ideal. This insurance is your helicopter off the mountain if you bust a bone - that can cost you as much as £25,000 if you don't have insurance!!
  • Disclaimer: Once you book your place, as we get close to the time of the trip, you will be asked to complete and sign two simple forms. One states that you self-certify yourself fit for exercise, the other is a simple disclaimer, stating that you understand that mountains can be dangerous places, and you have trekking insurance in place. Both forms are simple, 1-page forms, in clear plain English.
  • Flights: Trip A, 2nd to 9th Sept, may fly from either Luton or Gatwick, TBC. Trip B, 12th to 19th Sept, should fly from Luton. Flights are to Toulouse. Once flights are booked, times will be confirmed.

The MND 2019 Pyrenees Mountain Retreat

2nd - 9th September 2019 * 12th - 19th September 2019

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