Gimme shel­ter

The Guardian - Travel - - Front Page - From a ro­man­tic ru­ined her­mitage in Navarra to a min­i­mal­ist ar­chi­tect­de­signed den in a Dan­ish for­est, there’s a re­mote refuge in Europe to suit ev­ery hiker’s taste, says Rachel Dixon

Moun­tain huts web­site Rifugibi­vac­ lists nearly 3,000 huts and bivouacs across Italy – in­clud­ing Si­cily and Sar­dinia – and other Alpine coun­tries. You can fil­ter searches by ac­com­mo­da­tion type, from ba­sic bivouac to com­fort­able ho­tel, or spec­ify shel­ters that can be reached by moun­tain bike. One of the most strik­ing is Bivouac Pelino Mario (left), a cir­cu­lar red me­tal struc­ture at the top of Mount Amaro in the Ma­jella na­tional park in Abruzzo. It sleeps 12 in bunk beds but has no heat­ing, wa­ter or sup­plies. What it lacks in com­fort, how­ever, it makes up for in in­cred­i­ble views.

Guests chip in with tasks such as chop­ping wood and fetch­ing wa­ter, and cook in the com­mu­nal kitchen. Many are on lakes, such as Lun­ndör­ren Moun­tain Cabin (be­low), where you can fish, swim or for­age for cloud­ber­ries be­fore warm­ing up in the wood-fired sauna. It’s on Lun­ndörr pass, a 1,000-year-old trail near stun­ning Issjö Val­ley.

The web­site gites-refuges. com lists 4,000 places to stay in France’s moun­tain ranges, aimed at all out­doors en­thu­si­asts, in­clud­ing skiers, cy­clists and kayak­ers. The ac­com­mo­da­tion ranges from com­fort­able guest­houses to ba­sic huts that are free to stay in. The wildest are in the Pyre­nees, where in­trepid hik­ers sleep in shel­ters and shacks – of­ten aban­doned sheep­folds. France’s Na­tional Forestry Of­fice (gite­se­tran­don­nees.onf. fr) has about 40 cot­tages and cab­ins to rent (from €8 a night). The most ba­sic are sim­ple for­est huts, sleep­ing five to eight; some have so­lar power or wood­burn­ing stoves.

The Aus­trian Alpine Club is the coun­try’s largest moun­taineer­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion and runs more than 230 huts along thou­sands of miles of trails in Aus­tria and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries – with the help of vol­un­teers. There are de­tails of huts there and in Ger­many, Switzer­land and Italy on the web­site. In the Guten­stein Alps, Enzian­hutte (above) is in a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion and has dorms and pri­vate dou­bles. Open March to mid­Novem­ber and over New Year.

trekking area, has been turned into an award­win­ning shel­ter with coloured port­hole win­dows, a sleep­ing deck and 360-de­gree views. You’ll need a head for heights: it is 30 me­tres above the ground, at an al­ti­tude of about 1,000 me­tres. There are no fa­cil­i­ties in the tower, but guests can wash and eat in the main cen­tre.

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