Larrasoaña to Pamplona

Walk: Larrasoaña to Pamplona (9.8 miles)

A warm day, still overcast and a brief shower that had stopped by the time i’d put my rain jacket on! We stopped at Irotz for coffee – the bar with the outside oven – it’s expanded somewhat since the last time I was here, two years ago.

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J and P were keen to stay with the nuns at Zabaldika but I decided that I would head toward Pamplona. We had met up with Leo again at Irotz and he very kindly walked into Pamplona with me, escorting me through “flasher alley.” (In 2013 my friend and I met a flasher in this section). Once at Pamplona Leo decided to carry on to Cizur Menor.

I was happy to sit in the warm sunshine at Cafe Iruña and I used their free wifi to book myself a hotel room. Would have loved to have stayed at Hotel Gran Perla but couldn’t bring myself to part with 212 euros for just one nights accommodation – a bit beyond a pilgrims budget but maybe that’s why they charge so much! Hotel Leyre for me then, just a short walk from the main square and where i’d stayed on my previous visit to the city.

A long soak in the bath was fabulous. Only downside was shutting my thumb in the bathroom door – ouch!!

Couple of hours rest at the hotel then back to Cafe Iruña for wine and pintxos

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Foie a la plancha con puré de mango, brocheta de queso de oveja con cecina, vino tinto y aqua con gas

 

Viskarret to Larrasoaña

Walk: Viskarret -> Larrasoaña (10.1 miles)

A very enjoyable walk from Viskarret. Walked mostly on my own, really enjoyed the woodland section. Had a long rest in Zubiri to rehydrate and wait for P and J.

Checked in to the municipal albergue in Larrasoaña, a bit grotty and in need of a lick of pain but for eight euros a bed i’m not complaining.

Dropped my camera! I thought it was totally knackered but I took the battery out, put it back in and turned on again and it started working. Phew! The filter that I keep over the lens is a little bent but did it’s job in protecting the glass.

J was tired and went to bed around 6pm so P and I headed off to the bar and sat drinking wine for a few hours, watching the world go by and chatting.

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Loved this metalwork
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Municipal albergue, Larrasoaña

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist camino de santiago

Roncesvalles to Viskarret

Walk: Roncesvalles -> Viskarret (7.4 miles)

Woke to the sound of thunder rumbling and as we set off, waterproof clothes on, lightning was flashing too. It only got worse! Torrential rain, thank goodness we are only going as far as Viskarret.

The storm was right overhead as we arrived in Viskarret and we’d just checked into our casa rural when there was a flash of lightning, immediately followed by thunder and the power went out. Had a bath in the windowless bathroom, door open to let in some light.

After a couple of hours things improved and J and I explored the village. The lady at the bar made me a fab omelette (tortilla) with jamón in it. Sat outside in the warm sunshine, happy with my wine and tortilla.

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Our casa rural in Viskarret – La Posada Nueva – highly recommend!

Valcarlos to Roncesvalles

Walk: Valcarlos -> Roncesvalles (7.7 miles)

I think I must have been a little dehydrated when I set out this morning as I felt truly awful on the unrelenting climb from Valcarlos at just 200m altitude up to Ibañeta at 1,055m. I drank all my water and had to stop and eat salted nuts (I never usually eat until i’m done walking) and did feel a little better after that. Leo was struggling as well.

A highlight was a group of Griffon Vultures circling overhead, way up high. Also saw Ravens and Black Kite.

Needless to say Roncesvalles was a welcome sight! After rehydrating with coca cola, water, coffee, a warm shower and a rest I felt more human again.

Very busy here, the albergue is full, the hotel is full, the casa rural is full and also the overflow hostel. They reckon there are 400 pilgrims here tonight.

P and J went for their first communal meal but with my dietary restrictions I just ate the (very stinky) Iraty cheese that i’d brought with me from SJPdP plus some jamón and paté that i’d carried.

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Me, taking a break on the slog up to Ibañeta
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The municipal albergue at Roncesvalles

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist camino de santiago roncesvalles

Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist camino de santiago roncesvalles

 

Saint Jean Pied de Port to Valcarlos

Walk: Saint Jean Pied de Port -> Valcarlos (7.01 miles)

It had been raining overnight but had stopped by first light. An early start for us. We’re on our way!

We managed to navigate the various options which kept us off the main road. We rested and refreshed at Arneguy where we crossed the border into Spain. The last hill up to the albergue at Valcarlos is a total killer! Started to rain just as we arrived, lucky or what!?

Nice bunch of people in at the albergue and they plied us with iced water which was very welcome. Met Leo from Atlanta.

Massive spider running around in the shower with me – I think everyone must have heard me scream.

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Me (left) and P leaving Saint Jean
Hebridean Imaging Yvonne Benting art photography western isles outer hebrides uist camino de santiago
The municipal albergue, Valcarlos
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Fantastic view from the municipal albergue at Valcarlos
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And my watercolour sketch of the scene…
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Cream-spot Tiger (Arctia villica) that I rescued from the doorway of the bar and put in a nearby plant pot.

Bordeaux to Saint Jean

Up and about early to get the train – managed to get our tickets from the machine no problem!

Bordeaux to Bayonne then an hours wait for the next train so we wandered off to get breakfast. Warm and blue sky – how wonderful to sit outside at a streetside cafe.

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We travelled by train from Bayonne to Cambo les Bain then as the track was out for maintenance we were bussed up into the Pyrenees. Fab scenery!

Waited for the Pilgrim’s Office to open and spotted a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on a nearby flower. Sadly realised my camera was on the wrong setting to get a decent shot 🙁

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Checked into the Pilgrim’s Office in Saint Jean Pied de Port – many pilgrims here of a whole variety of nationalities. Received our credencials (pilgrim’s passports, which we’ll need to get stamped every day that we walk) and our first stamp.

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Explored a little and checked into Gite Ultreia. J went swimming in the river and we had a picnic tea.

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After a few hours J realised that she couldn’t find the bag that she’d had earlier – it contained all their money! She kept calm and tried to think where she last had it. The Pilgrim’s Office so she dashed back up the hill and there it was still sitting on the desk where she’d left it. All the money still inside. Phew! More camino magic at work!

Late evening I sat by the church watching as the Crag Martins gathered in the dusk to roost.

There is a distinct air of expectation and anticipation in the air.

 

France

Not too early a start, caught the 10:50 EasyJet flight to Paris and all went smoothly – apart from realising after checking in that i’d left my iPhone charger plugged in at the hotel! Doh!

Had a couple of hours wait at Paris Charles de Gaulle before catching the TGV train to Bordeaux. We travelled first class as it was only four euros each extra 🙂

Saw the Eiffel Tower from the train!

Arrived Bordeaux around 20:40 and checked into the hotel – the same one I stayed at last time, the Aquitane, so we had no problem finding it – just a five minute walk from the station. A warm and balmy evening here. Lovely. A long day so we all had an early night.

Heading off…

The day started off well enough, caught the afternoon flight from the island to Glasgow. P and J’s bus from Inverness where they had overnighted with their son was due into Glasgow central around 5pm so I headed straight for the hotel to see whether they had checked in yet. No. I wasn’t able to check in as the booking was in their name.

Two and a half hours later I was getting really worried and I had no way of contacting them (they have no mobile phone!). Eventually, after about 4 hours they arrived – their bus had crashed and they’d had to wait for a replacement.

Large glasses of wine called for – we were now all together and they were, very fortunately, and by some amazing luck or camino magic, unhurt.

Our camino can begin!