Our evening on the Vénasque mountain refuge, near the Spanish border excessive within the French Pyrenees, was going higher than we might have hoped. After a sweaty, three-hour trek up the valley we had cooled off in a mountain lake (a lot hotter than it had any proper to be, given the altitude), then loafed on its banks whereas cloud swirled over the ridge. It was like a scene from Tolkien with out the hobbits. As the sunshine light, bowls of soup and pasta have been served by the refuge warden, and earlier than lengthy my spouse and I have been making pals with our fellow hikers within the dinner tent whereas our two boys (aged 10 and 13) thrashed us at playing cards.
The enjoyable actually started when it was time to show in. Edging by means of the creaky steel door of the dormitory hut, the 4 of us groped our approach blindly by means of the darkish and up into our shelf-like communal bunk, failing miserably in our try to not disturb the household of 5 beneath us. Solely then, as we shuffled beneath thick, musty quilts, did it daybreak on us that we have been additionally sharing the berth with two as-yet unidentified French hikers.
The six of us lay there in a row, squished collectively like sardines as my spouse giggled helplessly. Three hours later, with our older son wriggling and elbowing her within the face repeatedly, the joke had worn off. After which somebody farted …

The route as much as Port de Vénasque, on the Spanish border
Subsequent morning, glad that we’d survived the evening with out being attacked by our refuge mates, we set off early for Port de Vénasque, the slim cross the place, at 2,444 metres, France meets Spain. With our boys straggling behind in a textbook show of teenage idleness, we pressed on previous pockets of snow within the scree and arrived simply in time to catch the early morning solar shining by means of a chink within the rock to light up Pico Aneto, the best peak within the Pyrenees. Even the boys couldn’t assist however be impressed.
This was a excessive level – actually and metaphorically – of a packed exercise week in and across the Luchon valley. We’d been on the lookout for a vacation that might fulfill our stressed boys whereas nudging us out of our consolation zones, after we stumbled throughout this itinerary organised by vacation agency Journey Creators.
The corporate suggests and arranges lodging – campsite, lodge or gîte. Our evening within the refuge aside, we opted for a valley-side chalet. Every social gathering member then will get a lot of credit to be “spent” individually on their selection from an inventory of mountain actions. We appreciated the way in which it gave everybody a level of management over determination making, letting us do some actions collectively and others individually. What actually introduced the entire thing collectively, although, was the meticulous planning by Journey Creators’ founder, Penny Walker, which eliminated all of the organisational stress. Initially from Sheffield, Penny has been residing within the Pyrenees for greater than a decade and has constructed a powerful community of trusted exercise suppliers.

Graham Snowdon’s spouse and sons within the Pyrenees
Off-road and offline, our household discovered the house and time we would have liked to reunite. At some point we drove the vertiginous hairpin bends of the Vallée du Larboust from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Loudenvielle, passing cyclists huffing up the well-known Tour de France mountain stage. My older son and I rocketed down woody trails on oversize scooters, whereas my spouse and youthful son spent an idyllic morning refining their stone-skimming strategies at a close-by lake.
A couple of days later, at a tree-climbing park close to one other cross, the Col de Menté, my youthful son and I scaled tall pine timber and I watched with awe as he launched fearlessly off a harness swing 20 metres up. This was adopted by lunch, on Penny’s suggestion, at Auberge la Soulan, the place the meals is domestically sourced – and the mushroom omelette was excellent.
On the head of the valley sits the genteel spa city of Luchon (not for nothing is it twinned with Harrogate). Its predominant drag appeared well-geared to vacationers (woolly socks a speciality) but it surely by no means felt busy even in mid-August. Nor have been there many English voices to be heard; in actual fact the few Brits we did run into have been practically all different shoppers of Penny’s, criss-crossing the valleys on their very own mini-adventures.

Climbing among the many pine timber close to Col de Menté
We steered rafts down effervescent rivers, scrambled down waterfalls and canyons, and dangled off zipwires. If there was one disappointment it was {that a} paragliding journey deliberate by my spouse and me needed to be cancelled due to low cloud. There was not sufficient time to reschedule; had we realised it was so weather-susceptible, we’d have spent our credit in another way.
A automotive is important for getting round this nook of the Pyrenees: the picturesque SNCF department line from Montréjeau to Luchon has fallen into disrepair and been suspended, although there are hopes it’d reopen after 2020. However the two-hour drive from Toulouse into the hills is as fairly as one would possibly hope. This space will also be reached from Barcelona or the Costa Brava, in about 5 hours.
On our final evening we headed into Luchon for the annual flower pageant. Contemplating the event, there appeared remarkably few blooms in proof however the marching bands and formation whip-cracking horsemen parading the streets greater than compensated.
• A one-week, multi-activity household vacation (two adults and two kids) with Journey Creators staying in a three-bedroom, self-catering property prices €1,875 in Might/June, rising to €2,345 in August (although costs are decrease for the final week of August, when there may be good availability). Worth contains 9 exercise factors per particular person, which might usually be exchanged for 5 actions. The closest railway stations are Toulouse and Carcassonne; a automotive is important
5 extra mountain exercise holidays
Julian Alps jamboree, Slovenia

Kranjska Gora makes an important outside playground. {Photograph}: Shutterstock
This journey vacation is predicated at a lodge with a pool in Kranjska Gora, on the foot of the Julian Alps. Households will hike to a waterfall, experience mountain bikes round a lake and raft down a river. Summer season toboganning, mountaineering and a excessive ropes course at Lake Bled are additionally included, and there are alternatives to go caving or go to a water park. Appropriate for ages eight and above.• Seven nights from £725 grownup, £675 little one, together with transfers, actions, breakfast, two lunches and 5 dinners, excluding journey, keadventure.com
Multi-activity vacation, Italy
On this summer season vacation in Madonna di Campiglio, a ski resort within the Dolomites, households can attempt the through ferrata – a system of cables connected to the mountainside, which makes excessive routes accessible to folks with no mountaineering expertise. Different actions included within the worth are canyoning, horse driving, rafting and excessive ropes, whereas daredevils can e-book an additional hydrospeeding session (whizzing down a river on a bodyboard). The chalet lodge has household rooms and is a brief stroll from a small lake and several other mountaineering and biking trails.• Seven nights from £637pp, together with actions and automotive rent, excluding journey, zenithholidays.co.uk
Summer season multi-activity, Slovakia

Older teenagers would possibly nicely be enticed on to a vacation that features adventures within the Excessive Tatras. This journey is predicated in a three-star lodge within the city of Tatranská Lomnica and contains downhill biking; a cable automotive experience to a waterfall hike; rafting alongside the Polish border; a treetop trek by means of the forest; and visits to caves, castles and sizzling springs. Appropriate for over-15s.• Seven nights from £829pp, together with actions, breakfast and two lunches, excluding journey, whereaboutsholidays.com
Alpine decide and blend vacation, Austria
Every member of the household has 20 exercise factors to spend throughout this vacation within the Tirol’s Ötz Valley. They can be utilized for sports activities resembling archery or climbing (three factors every), a day’s biking (3½) or extra adventurous pursuits resembling canyoning or through ferrata (10). Company can keep proper within the exercise resort (which has a free spa and mountain bikes) or in a lodge within the city, a brief stroll away. The journey is appropriate for all ages, however some actions are for over-nines solely.• Seven nights from £635pp B&B, together with exercise factors, excluding journey, activitiesabroad.com
Peaks of Perfection week, France
Chamonix within the French Alps is best-known as a ski vacation spot, however there may be lots to do in summer season too. Inghams has a week-long journey appropriate for households with kids aged 10 and over, together with mountaineering, mountain biking and white-water rafting, plus non-compulsory actions resembling paragliding, summer season tobogganing and exploring glacier caves. Lodging is in a three-star lodge 5 minutes’ stroll from the centre.• Seven nights from £669pp full board together with journey, transfers and actions, inghams.co.uk
In search of a vacation with a distinction? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a spread of implausible journeys
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