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Inspired by the The Great Walk Westward

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
I gave my husband a copy of The Great Walk Westward for Christmas so we are on our way back to Spain to start walking from Irun on 6 June to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We are going to make short stages and take our time with many stops to visit sites in the area such as the markets in Tolosa, and the Valle Salado west of Vitoria-Gasteiz and the cathedral there as well. Suggestions for other sites to see would be appreciated. I have mostly relied on Gronze for information as that website appears to have the most up to date information. The one piece of information I have not been able to find is where exactly the Camino Vasco begins in Irun. Does anyone have suggestions for more resources. Thanks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Maybe @Rebekah Scott of this forum can help you. After all, she is responsible for the English edition of the book (A great book!).
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
From my notes from 2 years ago I discover we started from the old Albergue - which won't help a lot. But then reading on I discover: From the railway bridge (adjacent to the railway station) along Paseo de Colon and take the third (?) right into Avenida de Gipuzkoa to rejoin the way-marked route from Hendaye.

What I do remember is that the very helpful volunteers at the "municipal" Albergue were very helpful and a bit excited that we were going to walk the "Vasco" rather than the "Norte". Tony Roberts's guidebook available from https://www.csj.org.uk/ was all we needed and we had lots of fun ;)
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
Rebekah has already helped my husband. She helped him translate "you have arrived at the far end of freaky land" back into Spanish. That is the reason we are walking so soon after our last camino in Dec. He loved the book, I just haven't had the time to start reading it. Thanks.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
If you look at these GPS tracks up close, you can see that this path leads you from the International Bridge that crosses into Spain. From there, they take you to the Plaza Mayor. I would just figure out how to get to the Plaza Mayor from wherever you are staying and start from there.


Gronze also has walking instructions. https://www.gronze.com/etapa/irun/hernani/recorrido
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
From my notes from 2 years ago I discover we started from the old Albergue - which won't help a lot. But then reading on I discover: From the railway bridge (adjacent to the railway station) along Paseo de Colon and take the third (?) right into Avenida de Gipuzkoa to rejoin the way-marked route from Hendaye.

What I do remember is that the very helpful volunteers at the "municipal" Albergue were very helpful and a bit excited that we were going to walk the "Vasco" rather than the "Norte". Tony Roberts's guidebook available from https://www.csj.org.uk/ was all we needed and we had lots of fun ;)
Thanks Tincatinker. I will look at that on the maps I have as well as google. We are staying in Irun two nights so I think we will be able the find the start. Was that waymarking good to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I find I take guide book information, but end up paying more attention to waymarks.
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
If you look at these GPS tracks up close, you can see that this path leads you from the International Bridge that crosses into Spain. From there, they take you to the Plaza Mayor. I would just figure out how to get to the Plaza Mayor from wherever you are staying and start from there.


Gronze also has walking instructions. https://www.gronze.com/etapa/irun/hernani/recorrido
I am guessing that from the Plaza Mayor there are waymarks. I looked at the GPS tracks on my computer which always look so much different than my phone and much more helpful. My phone is old and small and does not work well with wikiloc. I can "Map My Walk", but that is about it. I see that you use wikiloc a lot, is it necessary on the Camino Vasco or will we be OK just following waymarks? Thanks.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I recall the way-marking as pretty good for most of the time. We never got lost. We occasionally sat down & thought about things for a bit. I'm a bit of a Luddite so gps & wiki-whatevers are out of my compass. That said my compass (never travel without one) pointed us in the right of a couple of confusions.

@peregrina2000 's reference to the Plaza Mayor is spot on. I'd forgotten that obvious clue.

Buen camino
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
I recall the way-marking as pretty good for most of the time. We never got lost. We occasionally sat down & thought about things for a bit. I'm a bit of a Luddite so gps & wiki-whatevers are out of my compass. That said my compass (never travel without one) pointed us in the right of a couple of confusions.

@peregrina2000 's reference to the Plaza Mayor is spot on. I'd forgotten that obvious clue.

Buen camino
And I thought my husband was the only person who never travels without a compass!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am guessing that from the Plaza Mayor there are waymarks. I looked at the GPS tracks on my computer which always look so much different than my phone and much more helpful. My phone is old and small and does not work well with wikiloc. I can "Map My Walk", but that is about it. I see that you use wikiloc a lot, is it necessary on the Camino Vasco or will we be OK just following waymarks? Thanks.
Hi, witsendwv,
I am going to bring a GPS with downloaded tracks, but it is only because we are deviating from the regular Vasco Interior and taking a couple of days in the mountains. The alternative stays with the Vasco till Hernani, and then follows a GR route through Bidania, rejoining with the “normal” Vasco a bit before Zegama. It looks very beautiful, and if you are tempted, I can give you more information. It is called, for some reason I have not yet learned, the Saiatz alternative. I am not a big fan of asphalt walking and people say the beginning bits of the Vasco are pretty much all asphalt. And since I live in some of the flattest land anywhere on the planet, I love getting the chance to ascend into mountains!
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
Hi, witsendwv,
I am going to bring a GPS with downloaded tracks, but it is only because we are deviating from the regular Vasco Interior and taking a couple of days in the mountains. The alternative stays with the Vasco till Hernani, and then follows a GR route through Bidania, rejoining with the “normal” Vasco a bit before Zegama. It looks very beautiful, and if you are tempted, I can give you more information. It is called, for some reason I have not yet learned, the Saiatz alternative. I am not a big fan of asphalt walking and people say the beginning bits of the Vasco are pretty much all asphalt. And since I live in some of the flattest land anywhere on the planet, I love getting the chance to ascend into mountains!
I would love to see the alternative. I have never heard of the Saiatz alternative. Unlike you, I do not live in the flatlands. Southern West Virginia is a really great place to walk. It is uphill the first mile and half from my front door. After this winter I was also reminded of how much it was like Galicia. (Think 40 days of rain! )
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So, this walker has broken it into 4 days.

Day 1 — Irún to Astiagarra (24 km)

Day 2 — From Astiagarra (3 km before Hernani, on the “normal” Vasco) to Venta Zarate. (23 km)
https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-2-astigarraga-venta-zarate-variante-saiatz-5810259

Day 3 — Venta Zarate to Alto de Mandubia (29 km). (Place he stayed here is now closed)https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-3-saskarate-alto-de-mandubia-por-saiatz-5878829

Day 4 — Alto de Mandubia to Zegama (20 km) https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-alto-mandubia-zegama-etapa-4-por-saiatz-5892875

The real problem is finding accommodations. You can see a longer thread discussing the issue here — https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/mountain-alternatives-for-the-vasco-interior.56973/

So, we have tentatively planned to walk,
Day 1, Irún to Orio-Lasarte (29 km)
Day 2, Orio-Lasarte - Errezil (not sure how many, but probably about 25, there is a guest house here a few km off the route) (There is a fancy hotel in Bidania, which is right on the route, but it was a bit to extravagant).
Day 3, Errezil to either Zegama or Zeraín (about 35-38 km, again not totally sure)

Looks beautiful, and best of all not much asphalt!
 

witsendwv

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
So, this walker has broken it into 4 days.

Day 1 — Irún to Astiagarra (24 km)

Day 2 — From Astiagarra (3 km before Hernani, on the “normal” Vasco) to Venta Zarate. (23 km)
https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-2-astigarraga-venta-zarate-variante-saiatz-5810259

Day 3 — Venta Zarate to Alto de Mandubia (29 km). (Place he stayed here is now closed)https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-3-saskarate-alto-de-mandubia-por-saiatz-5878829

Day 4 — Alto de Mandubia to Zegama (20 km) https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/camino-vasco-interior-alto-mandubia-zegama-etapa-4-por-saiatz-5892875

The real problem is finding accommodations. You can see a longer thread discussing the issue here — https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/mountain-alternatives-for-the-vasco-interior.56973/

So, we have tentatively planned to walk,
Day 1, Irún to Orio-Lasarte (29 km)
Day 2, Orio-Lasarte - Errezil (not sure how many, but probably about 25, there is a guest house here a few km off the route) (There is a fancy hotel in Bidania, which is right on the route, but it was a bit to extravagant).
Day 3, Errezil to either Zegama or Zeraín (about 35-38 km, again not totally sure)

Looks beautiful, and best of all not much asphalt!
Perigrina, your stages are much too ambitious for us. I may have to walk more asphalt, but I am more comfortable sticking to about 20km/day with a long day if necessary. I'll report on the asphalt if it is awful. Slightly off topic- I have read that the weather should be mid 70's F. daytime, 50 at night. I can't decide if I will need a fleece or just a long sleeve with rain jacket on cool mornings. I hesitate to carry a fleece if not necessary as we are first going to Sicily before walking.
 

josephmcclain

Active Member
I gave my husband a copy of The Great Walk Westward for Christmas so we are on our way back to Spain to start walking from Irun on 6 June to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We are going to make short stages and take our time with many stops to visit sites in the area such as the markets in Tolosa, and the Valle Salado west of Vitoria-Gasteiz and the cathedral there as well. Suggestions for other sites to see would be appreciated. I have mostly relied on Gronze for information as that website appears to have the most up to date information. The one piece of information I have not been able to find is where exactly the Camino Vasco begins in Irun. Does anyone have suggestions for more resources. Thanks.
I love that book!!! And am fascinated with your Camino idea.
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
Hi witsendwv
Yes, don't let your head be turned by Laurie's more ambitious plans - she's already done the standard route. I advise you 'stick to the knitting'. I did it in 2015 and it remains one of my favourite caminos.
My top recommendations
- have patience on days 2 and 3 with the tarmac walking and take solace in the fact that those hills above you would be v hard work. Say hello to the other pedestrians you meet 'Egun on' (Good morning). Enjoy the bustle
- from Besain, some folks (even the hospis) might tell you it's easier to stick to the valley floor than follow the markers up into the hills. But the higher waymarked path to Olaberria, while obviously longer and hillier is lovely - be strong!
- Don't just walk the fraction of Segura that is waymarked for the camino - it is fascinating. Take time to read the historical notices and walk the whole ring of the old town (probably only 20 minutes?)
- you'll see from earlier threads that I opened a discussion about the 'mountain' variant to Zerain and then came back and wrote it up after I'd done it. Well worth considering and Zerain is fascinating - a traditional Basque hill village.
- we detoured off for the famous Monasterio de Ntra. Sra. de Estíbaliz about 18km after Salvatierre/Agurain. The chapel is special and worth it if you have the energy.
- As you may have seen on other threads - I keep banging on about the guided tour of the old Sta Maria cathedral in Vitoria Gasteiz. If you can make the time for it you won't regret it.
- If it's still the same, get to la puebla de Arganzon in time for lunch. We had an old guy show us the way across the deserted national road to a busy barn-like restaurant La Legua, proud of it's huge charcoal grill, which they basically stick every type of food on.
Cheers, tom
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
- we detoured off for the famous Monasterio de Ntra. Sra. de Estíbaliz about 18km after Salvatierre/Agurain. The chapel is special and worth it if you have the energy.
I agree that if 20 km a day is what you're looking for, this alternative would not be a good idea. I have nothing bad to say about the Vasco, just looking for ways to avoid asphalt, because I once got tarsal tunnel on the Norte from so much pavement. It required 6 months in a boot. Not fun. But different people have different levels of tolerance.

But this monastery.... looks like it has some very nice Romanesque. https://www.arteguias.com/romanico_estibaliz.htm

I had never heard of it, but Gronze shows it as being less than a km off the Camino.

Tom, do you know about visiting hours? The official website says the interpretative center is open Sat. and Sun for limited hours, but it doesn't mention the church. I'm assuming the church will be open if the center is open, but wonder if there are more hours for visiting the church.

https://alavamedieval.com/visitas-guiadas-a-estibaliz/ (says center is open 5-7 pm on Sat. and 11-1:30 on Sun.)

Thanks to you, a cathedral visit in Vitoria is on my "must do" list, and now maybe this church as well. It looks beautiful. Muchas gracias!
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
Tom, do you know about visiting hours? The official website says the interpretative center is open Sat. and Sun for limited hours, but it doesn't mention the church. I'm assuming the church will be open if the center is open, but wonder if there are more hours for visiting the church.
Hi Laurie, sorry I have no info about visiting hours. I'm not sure if we knew it was open or not. I was told to go there by a basque Peregrina I met on the Ingles, whose name happens to be Esti and so knew about this person being the patron saint of the Alava region. And this her shrine.
I see wikipedia says:
Later, the sanctuary was donated to Santiago’s hospital in the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. In 1542, the donator's inheritor ordered its restoration. The new parts of the sanctuary, most of them restored, were built between the 12th and 13th centuries.
There's a pretty big car park there so they definitely expect visitors...
PS there is an albergue de peregrinos in Alegría/Dulantzi about 13km after Salvatierre/Agurain so shorter stages are possible around here..
 

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