Camino de Santiago – Day 1
Walked from: St Jean Pied de Port, France
Walked to: Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain
There are many Camino pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. The one I started walking today is the most famous, and therefore most ‘trod’ of them, across the north of Spain. For the next 790km and 30 or so days, I’ll be meeting people from all over the world, many of whom haven’t walked any kind of distance before, but almost all with interesting stories to tell.
My day started late: my phone decided to switch itself off (a plea for help before it finally died – for good – a few hours later?) and I headed off an hour later than planned. Still, there was only one way to go, and that was up… I gained a steady 1,250m by the time I crossed over the Pyrenees from France into Spain, reaching a high point of 1,450km before heading off steeply down hill through beautiful woodland, covered in a carpet of freshly fallen red/gold foliage to the highly organised hostel (what can I say? It’s run by Dutch volunteers. They know their stuff) next to the monastery at Roncesvalles.
The first day of the walk has a reputation for being tough, and it was a bit harder than it was when I walked it two years ago (I don’t blog about all my walks you know!) but that’s because it was a damp, foggy old day and I’m rubbish at feeling wet and cold. The climb itself is long but, apart from a couple of steep sections, steady, and the downhill is manageable. Essentially, if you can walk up and down one of our big hills on the UK, you’ll be fine. The difference with this walk is that when you come down the other side of the hill, you’re in Spain – my personal food heaven. Five weeks of walking, great new people to meet, and some of the finest food in the world? This is the very best way I could think of starting my gap year – swapping working for walking. Bring it on!