Over the hills and into the clouds……

looking back through the mist towards France

looking back through the mist towards France

The path from our hostel takes us through the old town of Horrandiba and we are soon getting used to following the yellow arrow that leads us towards the hill behind the port. We are soon climbing quite steeply through woodland and following a series of stone crosses that ends at the first of many ancient chapels at  Senora de Guadalupe.

climbing through the mist

climbing through the mist

I am not a religious person – my Catholic faith lapsed in my late teens – however it is impossible not to feel a deep spiritual affinity with this first part of the walk. The knowledge that thousands of people have made this journey up through this woodland to celebrate their faith over many centuries produces a special aura. I find myself thinking of my lovely extended family and hoping for them a future as safe and fulfilled as possible. Some would call this ‘prayer’. Whatever it is, it is the first of many such contemplations I am to experience as I walk over the next thirty-seven days. It is  the power of walking that allows the space for such meditation.

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We decide to climb and follow the higher Alpinista route with the hope of gaining our first views of the sea but as we reach the ancient hill fort at the start of the ridge walk the rains close in and we are soon needing to break out the ponchos and waterproofs as we head into the clouds. There are no views to be had but the mystical tinkling of hidden flocks of sheep and cattle and the swirling mist from which loom the line of ancient forts more than make up for loss of long distance views of the sea as we walk along the ridge westwards.

Ancient forts in the mist

Ancient forts in the mist

There is a saying that I am going to hear a lot over the next few weeks – ‘The Camino always provides’. Soon we are to experience this as the clouds lift just as we reach the very lovely little port of Pasages de San Juan. A steep descent from our high path takes us to the estuary of this pretty village where we catch a boat to the other bank and some lunch on the quay, needed to fortify us for the inevitable climb out. A huge container ship that seems to take up the whole river entrance makes its way out to sea and wallows briefly as it breaks through the swell that pounds the cliffs before heading off goodness knows where.

Pasages de San Juan

Pasages de San Juan

There is a steep climb to be endured up to the lighthouse. Mike attacks the never ending steps and leaves me to gasp my way upwards. I take many stops to ‘enjoy the view’ which is actually my excuse for catching my breath but I am soon up with my partner and we are enjoying more forested paths that eventually lead us to the final descent into the delightful old town of San Sebastienne.

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The Auberge is at the other end of town and I can enjoy walking along the beach that sweeps around the bay. There is a fair swell and it is great to hear the crashing waves and the sea birds before seeking out the auberge and settling in with another pilgrim we had met on the way.

The Way is green

The Way is green

The Auberge is comfortable enough but we test out our bed bug sheets just in case. I feel that the first 27kms has been a joy. We had rain on the high walk and some very steep climbs and descents but the countryside is gorgeous – green and forested. The Way follows the coast quite closely and today had lass tarmac walking than I had been expecting. Only 803 kms left to walk. A doddle.

follow the shell

follow the shell