Day 11, Camino del Norte – Güemes to Santa Cruz de Bezana 30 km +/-

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Total distance 301.8 km
Daily average 27.4
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 140 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 170 m

(Photos now included in yesterday’s post – please go back and take a look at the lovely images – link)

So after sunning myself in the garden for a couple of hours yesterday evening we were called to a meeting of all pilgrims to inform us about the history and aims of the albergue and its founder father Ernesto Bustio. We were, I think,

8 French
4 Germans
1 Italian
1 Colombian
1 Irish
2 English speakers but not English I think
and me

The previous night there had been 48 staying at the albergue – wow, I’m glad I’m not walking amongst that lot!

The building of the albergue is the family home of Ernesto Bustio, much renovated and extended, and very pleasant to stay in, quite different from my expectation, run by enthusiastic but calm people who are rightly proud of what they offer. Father Ernesto, now 78 years old, was due to return last night from a trip to Bolivia where he helps run a social project. I believe there are also projects in Africa, particularly Senegal. The albergue is donativo and they receive no government or charitable funding for their work. They also run social projects locally, including in the nearby prison. We were served a meal of chicken noodle soup, pasta with meat sauce and a piece of fruit, accompanied by bread and red wine. All much appreciated by every pilgrim around the table, particularly me, as I had scoffed the last of my food supplies much earlier in the day. There was a bit of low-key sing-song after the meal, very unintrusive and very pleasant. I stayed in a room of hummers rather than snorers, and I managed a good night’s sleep. A very decent breakfast was also provided. This sort of place can make me feel a bit squeamish – I’m not a ‘joining in round the camp fire’ sort of person – but in this instance all was low key and laid back and very comfortable. Top marks to all for a great service.

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So today started with the sun shining through a misty haze, along quiet country roads for 6 km until I reached another wonderful section of this Camino, along the cliff top of a coastal path. Spectacular scenery, beautiful wild flowers, sunshine and … sore feet. I decided I didn’t want my aches to mar my enjoyment of this delightful walk, so I took a painkiller, and within a short while my discomfort was a thing of the past and I could really enjoy my walk.

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After quite a while I caught up with the French guys I first met at the beginning of this Camino and they turned out to be a great help in guiding me through a really difficult rocky beach and then, after we had descended onto the beach for a long mooch across the sand, they called my attention to the place I needed to exit – if they hadn’t I would have continued way too far. And then, after keeping them in my sights for a while I could see that they had reached the Ferry stop and that the ferry that had just pulled away from the jetty was reversing back to wait for them. They turned and indicated to me to hurry, and I made a very inelegant attempt at running, which most definitely isn’t easy with a fully loaded backpack. But the ferry waited for me and when I boarded a found a jolly group of pilgrims, including Alex and my new German friend Gunter already on board.

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It was quite a long crossing over the bay to the city centre of Santander and this distance is included in the distance recorded above – maybe 2+ km’s.

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After walking through the city and the suburbs, which was not nearly as dreary as my guide indicated, it was back on country roads again until I reached Santa Cruz de Bezana. I headed for the municipal albergue, but it seemed to be a long way out of the town so diverted to a private albergue (Nimon, 15 euros incl breakfast) closer to the centre. It is ok. I have a room to myself and had a lovely hot shower. A French couple I have not seen before arrived at the same time, but there may be more by now. I have meanwhile installed myself in a nice quiet bar with good wifi to catch up on my blogging.

I bumped into Irish Kevin who has walked on to the next town and I have no idea where anyone else is. But that is ok. I have become very independent on this Camino.

The spring in my step did return today, and not entirely due to the ibuprofen I think. I am hopeful that tomorrow will see my feet back on good form, and if they aren’t, then I will pop another painkiller – I have had enough of being a whinging pom – happy feet as from tomorrow!

Oh, and by the way, there was not a cloud in the sky today. The white fluffy stuff you can see in some of the images is snow on the top of what I presume are the Picos de Europa. To see the sea and snowy mountains in one vista is indeed a great treat.

I had an interesting comment on yesterday’s post from Jim who walked the route in 2013 – it might be useful to see another opinion of the climb at the beginning of the day…

…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

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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19 Responses to Day 11, Camino del Norte – Güemes to Santa Cruz de Bezana 30 km +/-

  1. David Wolfe says:

    It seems all is well with the world”Camino” today, superb views and a ferry to boot. Have a nice evening and sleep well L David xx

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  2. kitkatknit says:

    Happy to hear you got your happy feet back!!! Is ibuprofen the painkiller that works for you? Lucky you!! I’ve tried the US sold ibuprofen 650mg x 2, the Spain sold 600mg x 2 and the Spain sold Naproxem Sodium 200mg x 3 and nothing does the job… My April CF knee tendonitis is still flaring its ugly head.

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    • magwood says:

      That sounds painful. Yes, I guess I am lucky that one 600 ibuprofen will do the trick for me. But I rarely take painkillers so perhaps they are more effective when I do. I hope your tendinitis gets better very soon.

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  3. I knew you’d take the cliffs route 🙂 Hope the pain stays away, as do the clouds, and you continue to have a buen camino. I stopped in Santander, so the rest will be uncharted territory for me and help me to know what I have ahead of me!

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  4. OzAnnie says:

    Hi Maggie
    I’m sure you’re keen to sort out the feet for good.
    Are you using different inserts this year?
    Vistas look so uplifting. I can understand that you are feeling comfortable walking alone. It sure helps when the sun is shining and the view is good.
    Buen Camino
    Annie

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  5. sandyleone2404 says:

    Your beach trek today sounded a little tricky Maggie. Was the exit marked with arrows or shells? It sounds like something I would totally miss as well, and that concerns me. Great panoramic pictures of the mountains and ocean. Paradise! Buen Camino

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  6. Edina says:

    Congratulations! Look at me!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mary lynch says:

    Dear Maggie, you sound like a happier pilgrim this morning. Wonderful scenery.. I like you, find one Ibuprofen 600 usually does the job of keeping pain at bay. BuenCamino xxx

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  8. I was in Santander on Saturday evening ahead of a flight to Edin on Sun am. Please tell me that’s not the day you were passing through? It never occurred to me that we’d be so close to meeting!

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  9. Nadine says:

    I totally missed the Camino markings on that beach as well (I was walking with two girls and we were deep in conversation- we walked nearly to the end of the beach before we realized we had gone too far! The way back and over to the ferry involved some dune crossing…) 🙂

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  10. Great you feet are somewhat behaving, with or without a pill. Heartening to hear you meet kind and helpful people along your way. Solitude is nice, but having someone to share and talk with has it’s place too. Glad you’re having a mixture of both. Marvelous pictures. Happy trails. ❤

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  11. wanda Makela says:

    Love following your Camino as I will begin this one in June. What are you using for a camera as your pictures are beautiful?

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  12. Jim Donnelly says:

    Incredible pictures. And your words beautifully capture the spirit of your journey. You are doing a remarkable job with your blog in providing this to others. Jim D.

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  13. Kristina Wilkening says:

    Hi Maggie…I have been following your journey. Looks so beautiful. Spain as so much beauty.
    Hope your feet behave. Drink lots of wine…ha. Hope to do this journey sometime down the road, too.
    Cheers!! Kristina

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