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Arriving in Biarritz to do the Norte. But I WANT to go over mountains!

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Irishwalker88

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Del Norte August 2017
So, I've been doing research and I think I'd prefer the Norte over the Frances, partly because it seems a little less crowded. I arrive in Biarritz on Saturday around 2pm and fly home from Bilbao the next Friday at 5pm.

Now, one thing I really want to do on my journey is go over some high mountains. I've heard that the first section of the Frances, from JPdP to Roncesvalles, has you go over the Pyrenees. I'v heard its difficult but the views from up high are amazing.

If I was to walk from Biarritz to Irun, would I get to reach heights like this?

Is there any alternative route I could take before arriving in Irun where I could go over some high mountains?

I'm a young, physically fit guy and am well able for it.

Please let me know!
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
It it possible. See the detailed French account, Liason Roncesvalles-Irun, which describes walking from near Roncesvalles to Irun following in part the east-west Spanish GR11 trail, local trails and lanes.

For personal/non commercial use I have abstracted and translated into English sections from the French site Liason Roncesvalles-Irun .

If you wish a pdf copy of the abstract/translation please send me your email in a Conversation/Personal Message.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
.
Hi Irishwalker88
You've allocated 5 days for Irun to Bilbao, which is do-able. But you want to add a detour that takes you into the mountains within that time period. Not going to happen. But you'll get plenty of ups and downs in the Basque hills anyway so I recommend you just keep it simple, stick to the knitting and follow those yellow arrows to Bilbao. But make sure you don't miss the path up onto the Jaizkibel on the first day. Once up there you walk the wide ridge for a few km. It's only 547m or 1795ft high, but the views are all around - and if it's a clear day you'll see all the mountains that you can climb when you are able to return with more time...
Cheers, tom
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I too have heard the views are amazing. They remain a figment of my imagination as my hard slog up the hill was in constant rain and fog!
 

Ramblanista

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & Finisterre (2012); Ruta del Ebro (Tortosa to Sastago) (2014); Camino del Norte (Santander - Serdio) (2014); Camino Liebana & Camino Vadiniense (2014); Camino San Salvador (2015); Camino Olvidado (Sodupe - Reinosa) (2015); Camino del Norte (Irun - Deba & Serdio - Llanes) (2015)
So, I've been doing research and I think I'd prefer the Norte over the Frances, partly because it seems a little less crowded. I arrive in Biarritz on Saturday around 2pm and fly home from Bilbao the next Friday at 5pm.

Now, one thing I really want to do on my journey is go over some high mountains. I've heard that the first section of the Frances, from JPdP to Roncesvalles, has you go over the Pyrenees. I'v heard its difficult but the views from up high are amazing.

If I was to walk from Biarritz to Irun, would I get to reach heights like this?

Is there any alternative route I could take before arriving in Irun where I could go over some high mountains?

I'm a young, physically fit guy and am well able for it.

Please let me know!
I share your eternal conflict between mountains and caminos, it's not easy to combine the two. The first stage of the Camino Frances from St Jean to Roncevalles isn't difficult, just a long uphill slog. I've done it twice, both times in good weather with fantastic views. If you wanted more mountains you could then swap the yellow arrows for red-and-white flashes and follow the GR11 from Burguete to Irun, a comortable four-day hike.
 

backpack45scb

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2001 CF, 04-6 LP, 07 Port, 08-10 Arles, 11 Mozá,12-13 Gen-LP. 00-10 PCT, 15 Norte, 16 Primi
Just after Villaviciosa you can switch to the Primitivo, where you have somewhat more mountainous terrain than the last part of the Norte.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Having done the del Norte but a few months ago, I think that you will quite enjoy yourself in your first week. An hour out of Irun you will be climbing 200m in 2km up to the Sanctuario de Guadeloupe, and another 100m over the next few kilometres. That is nothing, you might say as you sit on your sofa, but try it with a backpack on your first day. Then, having crossed the inlet at San Juan de Pasaje, you have another 220 climb by the sea before sliding into Saint Sebastian. Assuming that you have lived through this, up in the morning you will have a further 300m climb.

All of this, happily, accompanied by views of the countryside and the sea. As it is from Zarautz to Deba, with climbs of 200m and another 100m. Indeed, you will be climbing up and down all the way to Bilbao before it even begins to think of evening out.

Others have noted that the Primitivo might suit you better, and it's a great Camino if you want to try something, or at another time, rather than your Irun-Bilbao trajectory. If you can take the solitude, the Camino Vadiniense is another area of serious hill climbing. While there is nothing technical in the climbs, steady ascents through the Picos de Europa from Potes to Riano will provide you with much calf-firming endeavour and spectacular views. IIRC it took me 7 or 8 days but I am slow and self-indulgent.
 

mamadoodle

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May/June 2014
Del Norte/Primitivo (Sept/Oct 2016)
So, I've been doing research and I think I'd prefer the Norte over the Frances, partly because it seems a little less crowded. I arrive in Biarritz on Saturday around 2pm and fly home from Bilbao the next Friday at 5pm.

Now, one thing I really want to do on my journey is go over some high mountains. I've heard that the first section of the Frances, from JPdP to Roncesvalles, has you go over the Pyrenees. I'v heard its difficult but the views from up high are amazing.

If I was to walk from Biarritz to Irun, would I get to reach heights like this?

Is there any alternative route I could take before arriving in Irun where I could go over some high mountains?

I'm a young, physically fit guy and am well able for it.

Please let me know!
Hi Irishwalker. My husband and I hike all over the US and Europe and we like to climb mountains! Last October we walked the Norte and then thePrimativo and enjoyed both immensely. While neither route has truly significant climbs the Primitivo probably has climbs more to your liking. However you will certainly breathe heavily the first 3 to 5 days on the Norte! And you will have coastline views which rival the top of the mountain views you seek. We loved the Norte. Buen Camino!
 

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