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September 26th – Day 10.   The rains of yesterday have mercifully cleared. It has been a stiflingly warm night and neither of us slept well but , fortified by a hearty breakfast, and some tasty morsels secreted into our day bags for lunch, we are ready for the off. Surfers are already braving the sea as the sun rises over the hills.

There are a few kilometres of road walking around the bay until the path takes us slowly upwards and inland through gentle agricultural land largely put over to livestock.

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We reach MAGDALENA from where there is a steep climb through miles of eucalyptus forest. The daily walking is making me slightly fitter now and I enjoy the climb. Ten days of walking also seem to have heightened my senses. The smell of the eucalyptus after the rain is intoxicating.

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The reward after the climb are the views back to the hills we have been ascending and descending since Irun. There is the gentle tinkling of cow and sheep bells as livestock grazes in the pastures that have been refreshed by the rain.  The rich, earthy agricultural aromas seem highlighted in the clean air up on the hills.

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The only downside is that Mike is still feeling the strain and , although we attempt to make light of his injury, the hills are causing him some suffering.

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We make a slow descent for lunch and a feet rest at LA PANTILLA before the last pleasant stretch to LAREDO. Here we catch the boat to SANTONA and search for a reasonable hostel.

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A pizza and delicious salad is enjoyed as we plan the next day. Hopefully we will be fit enough to make Santander – a long day of about 35 kms ending in another boat ride.

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One of the surprising aspects of our ten days walking has been the dearth of other pilgrim walkers. Today we did not see another walker and there are no obvious walkers in the town this evening. Whether we are missing the main stops or it is generally quiet I don’t know. We have tended to avoid the municipal auberges because of problems with sleep due to the injury, but even so the route seems very quiet so far.

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