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6 days walking the beautiful Baztan

2020 Camino Guides

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Well I have just walked the first day of the truly amazing Baztan. Thanks to @NualaOC for her great notes on her own journey. This really is an amazing short walk.
Flying into Biarritz, I was staying the night at the wonderful Aguirre Albergue run by the most amazing Socorro. I truly recommend her place. When you leave Biarritz airport take the Chronoplus Bus line C for Bayonne and get off at Poydenet (Socorro will give you directions). The woman, the greeting, the food especially the breakfast, are a fabulous start to this Camino.
The walk from Bayonne is for the first 13 or so km along a truly lovely river path. Lots of local people walking, running or on bicycles. Can't describe how lovely it was.
I am staying tonight in Espelette. The Albergue is closed but a lovely local hotel does a fairly good peregrino rate including dinner and breakfast. I have just had dinner and am very mellow!
Tomorrow a very short walk to Urdax and then Friday apparently it is going to be very wet , ho hum!!
Strange for me , although my Spanish isn't great, my French is worse, so today was always "sí, perdon oui"and gracias oops merci" . The french people have been wonderful and very gracious.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
Well I have just walked the first day of the truly amazing Baztan. Thanks to @NualaOC for her great notes on her own journey. This really is an amazing short walk.
Flying into Biarritz, I was staying the night at the wonderful Aguirre Albergue run by the most amazing Socorro. I truly recommend her place. When you leave Biarritz airport take the Chronoplus Bus line C for Bayonne and get off at Poydenet (Socorro will give you directions). The woman, the greeting, the food especially the breakfast, are a fabulous start to this Camino.
The walk from Bayonne is for the first 13 or so km along a truly lovely river path. Lots of local people walking, running or on bicycles. Can't describe how lovely it was.
I am staying tonight in Espelette. The Albergue is closed but a lovely local hotel does a fairly good peregrino rate including dinner and breakfast. I have just had dinner and am very mellow!
Tomorrow a very short walk to Urdax and then Friday apparently it is going to be very wet , ho hum!!
Strange for me , although my Spanish isn't great, my French is worse, so today was always "sí, perdon oui"and gracias oops merci" . The french people have been wonderful and very gracious.
So glad you are enjoying. I wonder if the albergue in Espslette is ever going to open again? 😢😉 I stayed in the hotel (the big family one with shutters and peppers decorating it). Lovely.
I'm in Macedonia (the region of Greece) having walked here from Albania and North Macedonia (the other one) on the way to Thessaloniki. (And eventually Istanbul and Jerusalem.)
I put the TV on today here and there was a feature on the annual Espelette pepper festival at Espelette. I thought it was one of the strangest places (in a good way) I'd ever been to 😁😁😁. Espelette pepper everything! Carvings, liqueurs, chocolates, pyjamas, cuddly toys.
You have another bizarre treat in store when you cross the border. You'll think you have arrived in Las Vegas. And somewhere along the way there is a wall plaque to St Joseph - the patron saint of smugglers!!!
It's a wonderful Camino. Enjoy every minute. Tim
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Buen camino, @laineylainey !
We Baztan 5 had a lovely time at that very hotel...fond memories.
I will be starting the Vasco Interior on Friday with @SabineP; we will be out in the very same bad weather - we'll be thinking of you, as you will be relatively nearby. Fortunately that climb out of Urdax is not exposed; it's mostly under the trees....if you were going over the top at Belate in that kind of rain it'd be seriously unpleasant...
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
So glad you are enjoying. I wonder if the albergue in Espslette is ever going to open again? 😢😉 I stayed in the hotel (the big family one with shutters and peppers decorating it). Lovely.
I'm in Macedonia (the region of Greece) having walked here from Albania and North Macedonia (the other one) on the way to Thessaloniki. (And eventually Istanbul and Jerusalem.)
I put the TV on today here and there was a feature on the annual Espelette pepper festival at Espelette. I thought it was one of the strangest places (in a good way) I'd ever been to 😁😁😁. Espelette pepper everything! Carvings, liqueurs, chocolates, pyjamas, cuddly toys.
You have another bizarre treat in store when you cross the border. You'll think you have arrived in Las Vegas. And somewhere along the way there is a wall plaque to St Joseph - the patron saint of smugglers!!!
It's a wonderful Camino. Enjoy every minute. Tim
Tim great to hear about your own journey. Yes so far it feels like a bit of a French holiday route but the places, scenery and people are wonderful so although it feels more like a lovely walking holiday than a Camino ( part of el Mozárabe comes to mind, as my last short walk), what's not to love about it. I think they need more pelegrino traffic to reopen the Albergue, perhaps?
I think the rain tomorrow and Saturday will remind me it's a Camino!!
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Buen camino, @laineylainey !
We Baztan 5 had a lovely time at that very hotel...fond memories.
I will be starting the Vasco Interior on Friday with @SabineP; we will be out in the very same bad weather - we'll be thinking of you, as you will be relatively nearby. Fortunately that climb out of Urdax is not exposed; it's mostly under the trees....if you were going over the top at Belate in that kind of rain it'd be seriously unpleasant...
Thanks @VNwalking , enjoy your walk too. Yes I am going to enjoy my very short walk today in the dry and not think about tomorrow. I have split 1 day into 2 so today only going to Urdax. I have plenty of time to look at all the shops here before I leave and try to remember my way back to Souride!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
No need to go to Souride...there is a direct way...but im on my phone and am no help!
Sorry. Buen camino pergrina...very good to leave that hill til mornong. It was quite a start to the afternoon.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Buen Camino, Elaine! I was thinking about you today on the Camino de Madrid and wondering when you were setting off.

@VNwalking is right - no need to go to Souraïde tomorrow. You’ve two choices:
1: Retrace your steps back out of Esplette and onto that main road. Follow the road signs for Urdax (pass a garage on your RHS) and after a few kms you’ll see the Camino trail on your left.
2. Try to find the quieter road that runs (sort of) parallel and to the left the main road. It also joins the Camino. Might be tricky if you aren’t using an app of some sort.

You need to be really careful tomorrow - there are lots of arrows, but not all are for the Camino. And most importantly: don’t follow any Camino arrows in Esplette. They’ll take you to irun!

Buen Camino!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Buen Camino, Elaine! I was thinking about you today on the Camino de Madrid and wondering when you were setting off.

@VNwalking is right - no need to go to Souraïde tomorrow. You’ve two choices:
1: Retrace your steps back out of Esplette and onto that main road. Follow the road signs for Urdax (pass a garage on your RHS) and after a few kms you’ll see the Camino trail on your left.
2. Try to find the quieter road that runs (sort of) parallel and to the left the main road. It also joins the Camino. Might be tricky if you aren’t using an app of some sort.

You need to be really careful tomorrow - there are lots of arrows, but not all are for the Camino. And most importantly: don’t follow any Camino arrows in Esplette. They’ll take you to irun!

Buen Camino!
It’s funny, but usually when I walk I am very conscientious about details, where I’ve been, etc. But reading this and VN’s messages, I realize that last year when I was in the “Baztán 5”, I just slipped into dependent mode because you guys were so on top of everything. I don’t remember any of these tips at all. One thing I do remember Nuala, is that when you and I took a little “shortcut” we wound up going the wrong way and found ourselves back in France when we thought we were headed into Spain!

My memories, though, are of beautiful Basque countryside and towns. Hope you continue to have a great walk, @laineylainey

Buen camino, Laurie
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
It's a bit of a strange one really. I think the beauty and ease of the route can make you a bit less alert but at the same time "so what!"
I found today a short delight in that I only walked from Espelette to Ainhoa but it took me more than 6 hours! First I got a bit lost out of Espelette and then in Ainhoa I met a wonderful couple from Quebec coming up town on their 2 or 3 day on the GR(50?) ( I have no idea about this route)hoping to do 900k as a retirement present to themselves having both recovered from cancer. So we had a bit of lunch in Ainhoa and chatted and as a result I got to Urdax at 3pm!!
I am staying in Casa Rural Dutari and it's great. The owner Agustin, has just made me dinner. Lovely noodle and egg soup and then pork and the sweetest red peppers in oil. Life is sweet.
Clouds are rolling in so tomorrow may be very wet.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Buen Camino, Elaine! I was thinking about you today on the Camino de Madrid and wondering when you were setting off.

@VNwalking is right - no need to go to Souraïde tomorrow. You’ve two choices:
1: Retrace your steps back out of Esplette and onto that main road. Follow the road signs for Urdax (pass a garage on your RHS) and after a few kms you’ll see the Camino trail on your left.
2. Try to find the quieter road that runs (sort of) parallel and to the left the main road. It also joins the Camino. Might be tricky if you aren’t using an app of some sort.

You need to be really careful tomorrow - there are lots of arrows, but not all are for the Camino. And most importantly: don’t follow any Camino arrows in Esplette. They’ll take you to irun!

Buen Camino!
Nuala, great to hear from you I hope El Madrid is a great walk?
Couldn't reply much yesterday as wifi in Urdax was a bit hit and miss. Just wanted to say your notes are fantastic and I am finding them so useful for this walk - thank you xx
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Well today I feel a bit of a "Peregrina cheat"!
As expected the heavens opened during the night and this morning it was raining more steadily. Agustin suggested that perhaps the steep walk from Urdax to the 500m summit was not wise in the rain. In the past I have felt a bit of a cheat if I have missed a bit of the path but nowadays my heart says "listen to a local person who knows what they are talking about!"
So I started at the top and spent a pleasant 3 hours getting increasingly wet coming down through the beautiful village of Amaiur, where in the local bar I was treated to a much welcomed cafe con leche (I just love the unexpected gifts of others) and then continued through more of a downpour towards Arizkun, where I write this now.
I have to once again thank Nuala O'Connor for her fantastic notes on this route. However I did have a 20 minute experience of what I believed was her "authentic country path" outside of Amaiur where I thought "Nuala did you mean authentic or a off route jungle???", until I realised I was not on the right path at all and when with a bit of difficulty I got back to the original path I realised that I had missed totally a yellow arrow on the left which is where I should have gone! However Nuala my brief experience of the wrong path only increased my respect for you, I was truly impressed, thinking it was the way you had walked!!!
Now staying at Casa Gontzea and looking forward to dinner in the restaurant/pub next door later.
Overall I can only imagine how beautiful today's walk must be in good weather - stunning I think.
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
It’s funny, but usually when I walk I am very conscientious about details, where I’ve been, etc. But reading this and VN’s messages, I realize that last year when I was in the “Baztán 5”, I just slipped into dependent mode because you guys were so on top of everything. I don’t remember any of these tips at all. One thing I do remember Nuala, is that when you and I took a little “shortcut” we wound up going the wrong way and found ourselves back in France when we thought we were headed into Spain!

My memories, though, are of beautiful Basque countryside and towns. Hope you continue to have a great walk, @laineylainey

Buen camino, Laurie
Laurie, that ‘are we not in Spain’ moment is one of my favourite Baztan memories. I still remember our surprise when the guy we asked for directions spoke to us in French!
 

NualaOC

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Elaine, your posts make me want to walk the. Baztan again! I can empathise with your unintentional detour. I’ve taken quite a few of those in the past few days! Annoying at the time, but not a disaster.

I think you’ll be going through Elizondo today. There’s a really good coffee shop and patisserie in the town. I can’t remember it’s exact location, but it’s in your left and before the bridge. If you need bread, the boulangerie near the church is fab.
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Well what a near perfect walking day. When I left Arizkun it was okay and then in Elizondo it started to rain, but I didn't care because I had had the most wonderful pinchos and cafe con leche in the bar just before the bridge in Elizondo and I was at one with the world! Thank you Nuala for recommending this and the lovely artisan bread shop in Elizondo.
The rain stopped and the walk through the lovely villages of Irurita, Ziga Berreota was just lovely. I am now in the wonderful hostal of Xeje and Carlos at Venta de la Blas. The ascent was lovely but I did feel it a bit!!
Something that struck me today was how wonderful it is to see a "yellow arrow" when you are walking alone. It's such a welcome sight and sometimes even joyous and I am always grateful to those who painted them. On the final ascent to Venta de la Blas there are numerous ones on trees and it was so reassuring to know I was on the right path.
I almost feel sometimes there is a person in front of me just painting them for me!! It is so reassuring when you haven't seen one for a while and then there one is. I say God bless all those who paint the Camino arrows/signs, there are my Camino comforters!!
Looking forward to the final ascent to Pass of Belate tomorrow.
 

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laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Venta de la Blas to Olaiz, 8 hours without a stop through the most beautiful Pass de Belate and numerous lovely little villages but for me, testing conditions. Rain from the start and once near the top of Pass de Belate, paths that were rivers of water. Photo taken at the start of my "river walking!". After the Hermitage it was walking down paths of water. At one stage I felt better walking in the water than trying in vain to pick another path, my feet worked better totally immersed!
My less than positive point came on the path between Etulain and Burutain. It was bad enough walking the flooded path but at the end I couldn't see a yellow arrow but I could see a swollen fast flowing river to my left. I thought this can't be the path so I walked back up through the water and tried to find someone to ask, but it is Sunday! So.....I decided it must be the path and set off again down to the swollen river. This time I walked across to an old house which I had seen the first time but by passing the house I thankfully spotted a bridge to the right going over the river, I was so happy I almost shouted with sheer joy.
The rest of the journey to Olaiz was along a very muddy track but with beautiful views of the valley below. I stayed out of Olaiz at the Lorentz hostal which is in Olave on the main Irun road.
It was perfect. I wolfed down a plate of pasta followed by chicken and chips, best meal ever! A hot radiator meant my clothes and especially my boots are dry this morning. I only have a out 8 or 9 km this morning to Pamplona and it isn't raining. Life is good.
 

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laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
And so I am on the bus to Bilbao to fly back to Dublin later.
Yesterday's walk was very pleasant from Olav to Pamplona taking the recommended path by the river to Magdelena Puente in Pamplona. The river is so swollen with water that part of the walking part is still flooded and muddy. Even the locals agree it is bad.
The weather has cheered up and although it would be lovely to keep walking, it's time to go home.
It was a bit of a shock, but good, to see so many pelegrinos in Pamplona presumably walking the Frances.
I was very lucky to meet one of the lovely Spanish group, Jesus, from the start of the week in Bayonne. He gave me a great personal guide of Pamplona starting at the famous Café Iruña. Lovely finish to my week.
As those who have walked the Baztan have said, this is a fantastic walk. I would totally recommend it to anyone and as a solo walk, it is perfect. The people, the countryside, the gorgeous towns all make for a great experience. Perhaps less rain, but I will do the walk again that's a promise I make to myself.
 

Richard Warr

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
via de la plata '2014'
Camino Frances 2010
Camino Ingles 2011
Camino Portuguese 2015
Camino Norte 18
Thank you so much for sharing your report, planning on walking the Baztan route spring 2020
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Thank you for your very informative and enthusiastic posts...on the basis of your comments I have decided to start my Camino Frances next September by walking the Baztan and joining in Pamplona
Really useful tips on accommodation and started to make some enquiries so it really feels like it is going to happen....flights are booked,so it is!
Is it possible to book in advance the Hostel at Urdax?
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Thank you for your very informative and enthusiastic posts...on the basis of your comments I have decided to start my Camino Frances next September by walking the Baztan and joining in Pamplona
Really useful tips on accommodation and started to make some enquiries so it really feels like it is going to happen....flights are booked,so it is!
Is it possible to book in advance the Hostel at Urdax?
Perhaps contact the tourist office in Urdax they would know whether booking is possible. We went there to enquire and check in for the monastery. It has a big dormitory and unless it's a public holiday time when there could be lots of Spaniards walking I'm sure you'd get a bed there.
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Perhaps contact the tourist office in Urdax they would know whether booking is possible. We went there to enquire and check in for the monastery. It has a big dormitory and unless it's a public holiday time when there could be lots of Spaniards walking I'm sure you'd get a bed there.
Fleur,
Thank you again.
My brother who is far more sensible than me,is joining me to walk the Camino del Baztan and he likes to have a definite plan of action.He will leave me in Pamplona and return back to the U.K.

I fancy myself as a bit more of a free spirit so I can then please myself and make it up as I go along on the Camino Frances to Santiago.

Less than a year away now and hoping for some dry weather in September,those Spring downpours must have been challenging
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Stayed at a casa rural in Urdax which can be booked in advance just in case you can't get into Hostal at the Monastry .
I hope you enjoy this Camino as much as others have, including myself. It is very special (I think!).
Buen camino to you both.
Elaine
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Thank you Elaine,

I have enjoyed reading your posts which has certainly whetted my appetite for next years adventure

The Camino is a present to myself for my 60th birthday next year and I don’t think I have looked forward to a birthday so much for as long as I can remember

Good luck with your future travels

Stuart
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
I appreciate that your brother wants the security of having beds booked at every stage but it's only a year since we (Baztan 4) walked that route and apart from the first night in Bayonne and final two night Air bnb stay in Pamplona nothing was booked in advance. 4 of us ( and 3 were older than you will be ) just walked and found beds with no problem. This is a little known route with few pilgrims.
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
Fleur,
Thank you for the reassurance,I will try and convince my brother but he is going to a long way out of his normal comfort zone,when it is all part of the appeal for me.

I’m sure I am not alone in thinking why more pilgrims do not take this route to join the Camino Frances.

From what I have read so far,this seems a far more attractive option than going via SJPdP?
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Don't tell your brother that although it's a wonderful, beautiful route , unlike the CF it doesn't have a lot infrastructure such as cafes bars every few kms. etc. Quite often if these do exist they can be closed, or only open at certain times, days of the week. Take water and good supplies of snacks.
 

Stuartwe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2020
More good advice.....even better if I put it in his rucksack when he isn’t looking!
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
Thanks Stuart for your reply. Enjoy the walk. I agree with @FLEUR it isn't like the CF but then again there are wonderful towns and villages and beautiful countryside which for me was different from any other shorter Camino that I have walked. However with shorter walking days I didn't find it a problem and I didn't have to carry so much in the way of water and provisions.
Elaine
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
Agree we didn't carry much if any extra in the way of en route snacks but just have a few handy to keep the brother sweet!
 
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