Day 10, Camino del Norte – Santoña to Güemes 24.2 km

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Total distance 271.8 km
Daily average 27.2
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation ?
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation ?

I didn’t do very well with my GPS today. Firstly, I forgot to turn it on until I had walked a couple of km’s, then I reset my phone when I was fiddling with something else, and that caused it to stop recording. So I shall include the elevation profile for the first part of the walk and take the distance from my guide.

I wandered around the Anchovy Feria last evening and ate sufficient samples that I didn’t require any supper. The stall holders must get really fed up with people like me, but they were all very patient when I kept doing the rounds. Then I had a few glasses of wine with German Carsten who was expecting to take a short stage today. It was just American Niki and me last night in our room for four, and I slept very well. This morning I made a leisurely start (as I have done most mornings) and took advantage of the excellent wifi connection at the albergue to do some blog admin.

There is a walk of a couple of km’s out of the town Santoña and then I came to a beach at the far end of the town. An absolutely pristine beach of fine white sand. I really enjoyed walking along it towards the cliff at the far end. Said cliff then had to be climbed. The track was narrow and rocky and wound ever upward through shrubby growth of gorse and wild flowers. It was quite tough, and quite close to the edge. A slip wearing a backpack could have been disastrous. Definitely not for the faint-hearted – probably the most difficult track I have walked due to the terrain more than the elevation. But I just had to keep stopping to look back at the view of beach and sparkling waves immediately below me.

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I finally reached the top, and was welcomed by a view of the next long sweeping beach. In fact from the ridge I could see both beaches at the same time, such a beautiful sight.

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I then had to find the path back down the other side – it is difficult to believe that so many people are using it because it seemed quite ill-defined to begin with. It was possibly even steeper going down, very rocky with big drops to be managed and always the fear of twisting an ankle on the pointy rocks. I made it down very carefully and slowly and in one piece, having made constant use of my pacerpoles to steady my descent. I think the shape of the handle, which allows me to lean down with the palm/heel of the hand must make them more useful in this type of situation than straight poles.

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This has to be the most spectacular start to any stage on any Camino. I wouldn’t have wanted to do this climb or descent in a strong wind or in rain, but as my great good luck would have it, the air was totally still and the sun was shining down from a blue sky.

I treated myself to a rest on a comfortable rock to make notes on events so far, and it was quite an effort to rouse myself and set off along beach number two onwards the next town.

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About half way across there was an inlet of water to be negotiated, but it was impossible to tell how shallow it was, so I waited for someone else to cross before making the decision to remove my boots. So off they came for a paddle across the stream and then I walked barefoot the rest of the way. It was wonderful and although a little hard going sinking into the sand, all my aches and pains momentarily disappeared.

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The rest of the day’s walk was through beautiful lush countryside, but once again entirely on hard surface and my feet are really suffering this year. I have just the one blister on my right little toe – no other surface wounds, but the balls of my feet ache so much, not always the same ache, but pretty much all the time. Whether this is due to all the hard-surface walking or possibly my boots being less than perfect, I don’t know. But hopefully one day soon I will be walking with a spring in my step again.

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I have now arrived at the much recommended Albergue la Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto in Güemes. It is apparently a very special place and I will be able to tell you more about that later. For now I have been allocated a room with nine beds and am sharing with French, Italian and Colombian Alex from day one. There is a beautiful relaxing garden with a snoring golden retriever (when she finally moved I could see she is actually a huge mastin) lying prostrate on the daisy sprinkled lawn and I am awaiting a communal dinner at 8pm.

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It was a shortish stage without much elevation after the initial climb up to heaven, but it has felt anything but easy.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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12 Responses to Day 10, Camino del Norte – Santoña to Güemes 24.2 km

  1. Looking forward to reading about your stay at this albergue. I kept having to ask where to go with that cliff…definitely scary but rewarding. Buen camino!

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  2. Kieran O'Driscoll says:

    Maggie, you are making great progress, well done. I had awaited your views of today’s stage as others had written about the difficulty of the section between the two beaches. Your view confirms this. My wife and I do not have a head for heights so we will opt for the alternative inland route suggested in the Cicerone book. You are clearly made of hardier stuff than us!! Thanks for the insight.

    Kieran

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  3. mm4214 says:

    My poor hubby fell down three times on the down slippery slope to the beach.
    We are enjoying reliving el Norte. Thankyou so much for your wonderful blog. We know how hard each of these long stages are in completing each and every day. Kudos to you and your positivity.

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  4. Jim Reed says:

    I remember “The Hill” between Playa de Berria and Playa de Noja well. From my journal notes (2013) …

    Initially it was an easy walk along the ocean but then there was ‘The Hill’ which became one of the most treacherous adventures in recent memory. Because it had rained yesterday the path was muddy and slippery up and down. My shoes quickly became caked with mud. I ascended in four wheel drive, using both hands and feet, looking like someone just learning to ice skate. Somehow I managed not to fall. The way down was worse. I used my makila with both hands so that I was always in a tripod position. It took forever. As we were going down we saw a man coming up from the beach at Noja. Cord who had better boots and was helping me, often standing in front so I could use his shoulder for support, told the man,” You need to go back down. The other side will be worse for you. You are responsible for your life.” After some thought, the man turned around but was now behind us. At the beach, it seems there is always a beach on this route, we waited for the man. He did not appear. Soon Markos arrived and told us the man couldn’t get down. So, Markos and Cord left their backpacks, went back up and literally rescued the man. It turns out he was from Monaco and had already walked to Santiago from France, and was now walking back to Paris. Cord later told me, “Your hiking boots are for walking on the street not for walking on the CdN.”

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  5. mary lynch says:

    Dear Maggie yesterday’s hill sounded horrendous. I’m glad you made it down. I’m delighted the
    weather is being so kind also. Sorry to hear about the sore feet. This trip’s blog is full of the news of your poor feet whereas last year you hardly mentioned them. I guess it must be all the hard surfaces you have to walk on. Take it easy dear Maggie and Buen Camino xxx

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  6. lynharrison4wind says:

    What an adventure! Sounds stunning. Looking forward to the photos. Could the feet be calling for a one day chance of recuperation?

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  7. keith889 says:

    Nice one Maggie. I am glad to hear that you took extra care negotiating the steep climb up and then back down between the two beaches. I hope that you find some more forging ground to walk on for your feet. I look forward to seeing some photos later. xx

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  8. Breathtaking view. Wow. Magnificent photos, Maggie. What a treat to see. Thank you for sharing. ❤ 🙂

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  9. David Wolfe says:

    The photos are worth waiting for.

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  10. pacificswim says:

    Enjoying this immensely as I have walked two Caminos but not the Northern. I’m currently searching for airfares for next month, however just need some motivation, so please keep your blogs coming.

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  11. Danielle says:

    Wth the photos, it makes all the difference!! You have a good eye with your camera. I especially love the daisies looking up at the bautiful blue sky!

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