Barry Arnold is one of those guys fascinated by borders: border-crossings in all kinds, border-phenomena, and in particular tripoints. His website (https://barrysborderpoints.com/) lists all his trips to various borders and tripoints.
In August 2020 he traveled to the French-Spanish border in the eastern Pyrenees and documented thoroughly the ‘borderpoints’ he visited, including the two tripoints of Andorra. See this subpage of his website. Very interesting, very informative, very worth reading.
Noteworthy: he did the Llivia-circuit as well, covering all the Llivia-bordermarkers (soon to be added in his enclave-section). He is also one of the few among us who dared to climb the Pic de Medecourbe (western tripoint of Andorra). Also interesting: his account of the pene-enclave Os de Civis, the only Spanish village that can be reached by car only by going through Andorra (link). He might consider – with his stamina – to do the Andorra-circuit.
This cheerful couple from Barcelona started in 2016 with searching and photographing esfr-bordermarkers. This is their website.
First, they covered the eastern Pyrenees, east of Andorra. Then they made a crucial decision: let’s try to do all 602 esfr-bordermarkers. They worried a bit about their age (they look 55 but are actually a tiny bit older) and feared the long trips into the high mountains. But why not try? Jacques Koleck started when he was 71 and Michel Molia was 73 and they both completed the whole esfr-border.
Since yesterday you can follow their progress on this website-map:
The red markers are the ones still to be done, the green ones have been covered. You will also find yellow lines (bm’s done walking) and violet lines (done by car).
A few days ago, they reported me that they had found their 301st bordermarker implying they are halfway of the official 602 bordermarkers.
Congratulations! You are going strong!
To be honest (and they know it): In fact there are more than 602 bordermarkers (double ones, extra ones, intermediate ones: see this page) but this one deserved to be celebrated.
Jean-Paul Laborie is a commissioner of the Pyrenean border committee. As such, he is popular with the media and has appeared several times in newspapers-articles or on television.
His latest appearance on television was part of a news-broadcast (Le 13 heures du samedi 23 mai 2020) on the French TF1-channel. Not as an actual news-item but as a human interest subject on the bordermarkers of the Pyrenees. The video contains a lot of drone-made aerial footage, I like that.
Les-bornes-frontière-de-Napoléon – Le 13 heures du samedi 23 mai 2020_TF1 from Eef Berns on Vimeo.
The video has four parts:
– part 1: Jean-Paul visits Col du Portillon (bm366) and Col de Barèges (bm356 and 358) and gives some explanations
– part 2: a trip (without Jean-Paul) to the old mines of Bentaillou which are said to be close to bm420. In fact they are much closer to bm418/419 which is still a 2-hours walk from the mines. The guide points wrongly to a col (Portillon d’Albe) where there is no bordermarker and to a mountain top (Pic de Serre Haute) with a ‘borne’ visible. But that not a ‘borne frontière’ but a giant cairn.:
(Picture above borrowed from this webpage)
– part 3: two short visits to Llivia and Le Perthus
– part 4: Jean-Paul visits for the first time bm602 which is in a cave at the mediterranean coast. Bm602 is only accessible by boat or by swimming.
I have published in the past several posts on the ‘Bidaubus-conflict’. The last one was http://blog.grpdesbf.nl/?p=710
It’s all about a border change on a hillside near Bagnères-de-Luchon, between the bordermarkers 407 and 409. France and Spain have agreed on a compromise in which France is about to lose 8 hectares of its territory. That is surprising because – in my opinion – the treaty is very clear about the right borderline. All the reasoning can be easily summarized in a 4-minutes video. It is in french to cross the language border. It might look a bit amateurish, but it explains well enough the inevitable logic of the treaty.
Bm602 can’t be reached by foot. This very last bordercross is hidden in a cave at the Mediterranean coast between Portbou and Cerbère. In 2011 we rented a boat with a boatsman to get there and Serge Poncet peddled with a canoe from Cerbère while the mountaineer Lionel Daudet descended along the steep rockwall to the waterlevel. The cave is in fact a tunnel as the following picture shows.
There has been only one man (Cayetano) who reached the cave by swimming as far as I know. Until now….because Corinne Gourgeonnet and her little son Arthur undertook the same adventure on August 2th 2018. From Portbou they followed the trail along the coast as far as they could and then started swimming.
And that’s not something to consider lightly: it implies swimming 700m to the cave and 700m back. To remind you: Arthur is only 9 years old but – as his mother wrote me – a good swimmer.
And the young Arthur may behold the future of our bordermarker-interest. Corinne is since a few years an impassioned searcher of bordermarkers and Arthur joins her regularly and who knows ….
Arthur is his habitat to be perhaps. Picture taken this spring in the Basque country between bm022 and 023.
Well, it’s a nightmare for Jesús Murueta. He has ‘done’ the esfr-bordermarkers 1-272 in the years 2000-2003, finding all these bordermarkers or getting an old picture of the few markers which are are lost. See this post for his story and to download his extensive account.
There’s one exception: bm271bis. It was a bordercross on the isolated and rough ridge of Añelarra near Pic d’Anie. It has long been reported (on the French topographic maps) as being destroyed and no one in the last decennia has found any trace of it and we have NO old pictures. This keeps haunting Jesus Murueta: a picture would fulfill his bordermarker-quest. Who can help him?
But there’s an important question: what was in fact the location of bm271bis? The esfr-border follows in this part of the karst-plateau a a zigzag-line with a straight part on the Añelarra-ridge for a few hundred meters.Let’s show it on this Google-Earth map:
The Añelarra-ridge has two summits. Bm271 is at the western summit and nowadays we find a geodesic marker of Navarra, close to it (with D.F.N. on it = Diputación Foral de Navarra). That makes sense. The second summit is at ± 240m to the east and could make a logical location for bm271bis. Here we find today an iron plaque with the contour of Navarra and a large cairn.
But the topographical and historical evidence is different! The original treaty says that bm271bis is 360 meters from bm271 on the same ridge. But we have to acknowledge that the distances between the previous bordermarkers 262-271 – as mentioned in the treaty – are often unreliable.
The location of bm271bis on the IGN-maps is ± 310m from bm271 when following the ridge. And that position makes more sense. The ridge descends and bends slowly in the direction of Pic d’Anie. It’s a logical/natural place for the borderline to bend southwards and descend towards Col d’Anaye. Let’s zoom in:
I have to return and do a new search, now focussed on the lower half of the red circle. The upper half and center of the circle, I searched thoroughly on this trip.
I was surprised to learn from Charles Darrieu that there is an extensive and free hikingmap of the Pyrenees. It’s built to be used it in Garmin-software (Mapsource / Campbase) and on Garmin-gps-devices. You can download it from http://topopirineos.blogspot.fr/
Installing this map-software wasn’t that straightforward (at my computer): in the download-process the two files were renamed and that prevented a proper ‘unzipping’. So: when you have downloaded both files, check of they have the following names: ‘TOPO PIRINEOS 6.1.part1.rar’ and ‘TOPO PIRINEOS 6.1.part2.rar’ (of course without the ‘). If not, rename them. Finally you can ‘unzip’ them with software like Winrar of 7-zip. The unzipping gives a giant .exe-file which does the final installment. In Mapsource or Campbase you can chose this map as map-layer.
And what does this map offer? Well, every bordermarker is indicated (pillar or cross) but most of all we see many, many trails which we don’t see on the official IGN-maps. You can distinguish between official waymarked trails (and see their names) and other trails. It’s a treasury! An example: the access-routes to bm001:
The evidence presented in the previous post has been confirmed by Charles Darrieu. He and his wife Josette tried in 2008 the first part of the shortcut, starting from Col d’Anaye. They didn’t have enough time to climb to the ridge but they found a cairn-waymarked trail uphill.
Moreover: Charles showed how on the Topopirineos-map (see next post) this trail is indicated. And moreover: on Google Earth we can even spot the beginning of it on Col d’Anaye.
I made a kml-file of this connection: esfr-bm271bis-272-connection-on-topopirineos.kml
Let’s show some pictures: first an overview of the connection on Google Earth.
And now a view towards Col d’Anaye , approximately on 3/4 of the route from uphill to the Col.
And this picture shows the very beginning, when started from Col d’Anaye. If fact it’s very simple: from the current wooden signpost at Col d’Anaye, climb straight N and soon you will pick up the trail (hito = cairn).
On 20120829 I had to make a large detour to get from bm271 to 272. A shorter descent seemed impossible because of the steepness of the rock-hillside underneath bm271. But I was surprised to read that Iñaki Vigor and Carlos Sanz (see literature) did use a more direct (cairns-waymarked) trail. They also thought it was far too steep. But they found at the saddle between the two hilltops (between bm271 and the former bm271bis) a cairns-trail which took them without much problems to down below.
Also Javier et María-Jesús Sancho-Esnaola (see this previous post) took a short-cut but their starting point was the saddle east of bm297bis. They talk about following a cairns-trail, descending to the right down a gully (including some rock-scrambling), the route not always being obvious.
In both cases, they must have descended SW. Straight S is – according to the elevation lines – really too steep. Let’s draw it on this Google Earth-capture:
Conclusion: I have to return and check.