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LIVE from the Camino Winter on Via Bayona from Vitoria Gasteiz to Burgos

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Monday 9th January
Picking the Via Bayona up again, I headed out of Vitoria Gasteiz on Monday 9th. The tree lined paseo out of the centre was busy with walkers and runners. Glad to find bar by the petrol station (before Gometrxa) was open as by then the wind picked up which made things chillier.
After Subijana de Alava having climbed to the high point I veered right onto the alternate route - I will post details of this separately when I get home with photos and trail map. Like the trail coming up, the initial path following the ridge was muddy and slippy after rain- I got very lucky and didn't end up falling but a stick would have been useful! Then onto a broad lane which gradually dropped down the hill to reach the road and rejoin the main route 300m before motorway underpass.
La Puebla de Arganzon albergue is open again! But a new system requires you to check in online with name, email and date to get the entry code- which you punch into a keypad by the door. The system does allow you to check in 2 weeks before hand which may be useful info if you don't have a smartphone. Once inside you are left to your own devices with a form to fill, donation box etc. One or two dodgy looking heaters for winter months but there was hot water.
I got a huge surprise! The albergue door opened and in came another pilgrim- a Spanish guy called Jesus. Pilgrims are uncommon on this route and in winter too! (Someone is a day ahead as well!) 20230109_153331.jpg
 
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SabsP

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some and then more. see my signature.
Wonderful to read your report @roving_rufus !
The volunteer hospi at la Puebla de Arganzon , quite a character when we met him four years ago, seems to have retired!

All the best for the next days!
Will be interesting to hear if the muni in Monasterio de Rodilla will be open.
But first Miranda de Ebro, Pancorbo and Briviesca. Enjoy!
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Tuesday 10th January
Cold and frosty morning as I started out just before sunrise. Leaving La Puebla de Arganzon takes you on the old N1 Road, which was eerily quiet as all the traffic is on the motorway- in 1km one car passed which was less than met on the side road that lead up to Burgeta. Beautiful morning with blue skies and very calm with no breeze, which made everything look wonderful!
After Estavillo the route divides, the Vasco Interior veers off left while the Via Bayona keeps straight on, lots of yellow arrows at this point so need to keep awake!
The Via Bayona then drops to Arminion and the river, with a lovely picnic area just over the bridge, where in the sun my flask came out for a morning cuppa.
I had wrongly thought I had completed my hill for the day, and I huffed my way up the one leaving the river, more out of annoyance than difficulty. But again be awake as arrows suggest 2 routes to Miranda - I kept straight on as Rivabellosa had bars and thus coffee!
From Rivabellosa the current camino route leaves over railway and river before taking gravel and dirt tracks in a manner that avoids the industrial end of Miranda do Ebro, so much so you are nearly at the edge of town before it really becomes visible. But then the arrows diminish in frequency and are harder to spot. But keeping right along the edge of town leads to supermarket, a nice bar/restaurant (decent Menu del dia), Decathlon and if needed Burger King. Then I veered into town, across rough ground and to the river.
The albergue- rang on arrival and Amadeo arrived in under 30 minutes to open up. And it is a delight even if in the centre of town! A small patio with plants and painted rocks, a cozy and well thought small space inside, which is clean and welcoming.
. 20230110_094338.jpg
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Wednesday 11th January
Rain... Miranda do Ebro, even a fairly industrial city, looked well in winter sun yesterday but this morning in the grey rain looked dreary. It's interesting how weather can shape how we view a place. Crossing the river, the camino is about 3km out through suburbs and the subsumed village of Oron on footpath by the road, till at the very edge the hospital named for Santiago (with of course a metal sculpture of a pilgrim). I doubt the rain really diminished this first part but now the rain and grey heading out into the countryside was limiting the views. But at least the camino left concrete/brick pavement and was now onto tracks. The rain let up just as I turned before Bugedo onto another lane but this time i was being taken closer and closer to the motorway.
Ameyugo provides a dry spot for a break- the bar may not yet be open as not yet noon but its covered porch was perfect and the toilets open. Wandering through the village it is clear in its past it was wealthy with a grand church and other buildings, not surprising given the gorge was a major roadway for travellers fo centuries. But these days with the N1, railway and motorway all bypassing Ameyugo its a quiet place - yet the gorge is busier than ever with all this modern infrastructure squeezing through. Leaving Ameyugo its back to track, then the rain tries to come on and I decide to shelter in the motorway service station which has a helpful pedestrian gate into it. Having dried considerable, I didn't want to get wet again, but the rain shower passed quickly by, though the cost for a lukewarm weak coffee was high and not worth the 3 minutes of rain.
Another kilometre of track before a lovely little path takes pilgrims through the gorge, passing the ermitage of Santo Cristo, then a narrow point in the gorge with room for path, river and the N1 road. At this point Pancorbo is getting close but on foot it takes some negotiation of rail, river and road to reach the town. The old town centre is quite pleasant but the railway, N1 and motorway are now the defining features.
So I am in a roadside hostal rather than albergue, as less than great past reviews of albergue and the forecast of rain made me less than enthusiastic to try it. Instead the hostal is warm and clean, the restaurant full at lunchtime with truck drivers and workers, but noisy due to road - but a bath with a plug is a treat!
Glad the rain passed quicker than expected today to enjoy the gorge, even with roads this is quite a lovely stage!
 
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roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Thursday 12th January
The forecast was for a clear day, and I decided to be ready to go and watch the light change on all the rocky crags and cliffs. So after a cafe con leche I headed out in the dark but dawn was near. And even if cold and frosty it was a good call to see the early morning light!
Leaving Pancorbo is on dirt lane by the railway, then a path which seems only traversed by pilgrims as it leads to a motorway bridge. Sorry to see the trains go and instead have the motorway for company, but at least it was more grassy dirt lanes. After passing by a motorway underpass (by not through) comes the only tricky turn of the day - as you are on a wide track in the valley floor, and a yellow arrow is painted on a tree quite ambiguously, that if your head was down and you were motoring on it might be ease to miss the right turn onto a dirt track that climbs right beside the motorway to a motorway bridge. I am not one to love getting closer to a motorway but right there as I climbed up out of the shadow of the hill into sunshine, the first feel of its warmth this morning was delightful.
After this the camino moves further from the motorway following lanes to Zuñeda. The bakery van was doing its rounds with horn blaring. And usefully a water tap is now in square by the church.
But from here on the camino is on tarred road as it rolls over long gradual hills to Grisaleña, Cameno and then to the edge of Briviesca. It was a quiet road -for 9km only two cars, but the kilometre before Briviesca involved 4 cars, a van, and a tractor. Just a warning the water tap/fountain in Grisaleña centre is marked "do not drink", but I didn't check one at the newish picnic area coming into the village, plus there seems to be a tap at the church. Unfortunately the bar wasn't open either when going through ( it is functioning just unclear on what hours.)
The long climb up hill after Grisaleña seemed to drag on forever, not steep just long and I resorted to listening to music, which I rarely do hiking, (except after a few hours walking along a canal when the long straight line gets overly monotonous), but a few songs were enough to stir me up a gear.
Reaching the edge of Briviesca at a roundabout, the arrows are not overly abundant and counter-intuitively you turn left away from town, before immediately turning right on a track and immediately at back of the house again turning right. This track heads down to a steep brick pathway and through several tunnels under road and rail, but you are immediately into the centre of Briviesca.
The albergue is accessed through the tourism office (closed this week) or the local police - both the offices are in the ayuntamiento beside each other helpfully. The police said come back at 4pm, so off I set for lunch and exploring but every church was locked up tight. At 4pm the policia office was locked up tight too...and I waited an hour for their return. But after they phoned, in 10 minutes the guy looking after albergue turned up. Briviesca has been talking about a new albergue for years with lots of stops and starts but currently it's still in a block of flats, though progress is being made on the new. It's fine, getting a little grotty but has all the basics covered.
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Friday 13th January
So left albergue at 8.45, thankful the route of town has been pointed out yesterday which made life easier as arrows were nonexistent in town centre, but they reappeared directing onto a river path to leave town, before a side road with warehouses which seems a popular walking route too with lots of local men of a certain age out for a morning walk. Then the camino follows a dirt track by the railway to Pradanos de Bureba- a few spots were flooded, one seems a permanent pond as a path as been worn in closer to train tracks. Then it was onto quiet roads but directly beside either the N1 or motorway as the camino like them is following the valley today which means it's fairly flat but noisy!
The camino connects little villages along the way - they have few services- there are Via Bayona signs at the enry to each with information on interesting buildings and a list of services. Worth noting is they all seem to have new water tap fountains- check them out in the playgrounds. Useful in warmer weather but today was cool with a stiff breeze, and a warm bar was really what I wanted!
After Castil de Peones I took a detour to save some road walking - climbing up to the railway bridge there is a lane way that takes you to a dirt lane beside railway, and at next set of rail/motorway bridges I climbed up and crossed over and rejoined the camino. It didn't save distance but nice break from walking on road.
At Quintanavides the bar opened at 12noon and I was in as first customer- heater was firing and coffee was hot! But onwards, the road continued directly beside the motorway until you get to a junction the N1 main road. You have to walk it for 500m as far as bar/motel/camping, which provided me with a bocadillo and respite from the wind. Opposite it in a lay by is a path/lane that leads to Monasterio de Rodilla.
There is an albergue but the bar has closed, and as I haven't used my budget for this camino I decided to walk 4km on to La Brujula a roadside service area with a hostal. It also evens out the days as its only 19km stopping at albergue and then 28km to Burgos, but 23km and 24km staying at La Brujula.
But I was glad i went on - as the last 4km redeemed all the road walking beside motorway and main roads! Just be careful as the arrows take you up through the top part of village via another church, but there is a more direct road to the ermita.
The ermita de Nuestra Señora del Valle is quite lovely spot with picnic tables, water tap, a spring with a pool that on a warmer day looked perfect to put your feet in. The ermita dates to 12th century. My only problem was this little dog trying to attack me, I got up on top of table while it went crazy barking and jumping, even its owners struggled to get it under control, before bundling it in a car. That rather diminished the place for me.
From here are grassy lanes in the hills, and barely audible is the N1 or motorway- what a delightful change! Climbing up before dropping down to the La Brujula service area by the N1 which is anything but picturesque but the hostal is perfectly serviceable. Just a note, there were low clouds today, some scraping hilltops, and after I was safely ensconced in the hostal, cloud had come down on the hills I had walked. The signage up there was minimal and some had been vandalised, and the grassy tracks in fog could be tricky to keep to in spots.

20230113_130108.jpg 20230113_145052.jpg
 
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The view looking back the way we'd come between the ermita and the crest of the hill before La Brujula? Jaw drooping. I hope you got to see it through all the clouds - exposed faces of folded rock layers. Really amazing.

Buen camino tomorrow - a very nice stage!
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
The view looking back the way we'd come between the ermita and the crest of the hill before La Brujula? Jaw drooping. I hope you got to see it through all the clouds - exposed faces of folded rock layers. Really amazing.

Buen camino tomorrow - a very nice stage!
Not as clear as I wish!
 
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roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Saturday 14th January
I was so cozy in bed at the hostal in La Brujula (and as a treat for a peregrina they gave me a double!) I struggled to get up. So the bar started doing some food about 8ish - perfect as it's still dark outside- so one bacon and fried egg in crusty roll later I was heading out. The weather for today doesn't sound too encouraging so I decide to skip the meander up to see windturbines and choose a more direct route. So from La Brujala I crossed bridge over N1 and took a dirt lane beside the N1 and when this ends there is a faint path continuing behind crash barrier (just one tricky culvert to navigate). Just before motorway bridge at a curve sign I climbed over barrier, crossed N1 and onto a trck that will connect with marked camino when it drops from hill. It saves about 1km.
The rest of the day follows dirt track, part of which is roman road. But its open and exposed and with wind and the weather undulating between dampness to mizxling just up to drizzle, and it's really head down and keep moving. At one point close to a golf course the track is flooded and nearly impassable - the field side is stream/Marsh and on golf course side someone has added big stepping stones but even these were struggling but I got across a little muddier but dry.
I was glad to reach Villamar at edge of Burgos as reach the city meant more shelter from the wind! But the last arrow I saw was crossing railway bridge just before Villamar, so be prepared to follow your own nose! The bar provided cola cao and tortilla and I started to feel much better! So the official camino route veers left to meet the CF but instead reaching the little river Vena I instead veered right and followed the river. Not as nice as the alternative river route on the CF into Burgos, but definitely better than walking city streets. Its popular with runners, families, walkers and dogs on walkies - both sides of the river have paths and bike lanes- you can take your pick (sun or shade?). So tucked up in Burgos albergue with 2 others - what a pilgrim party after the solitude of the Via Bayona!
(No photos - it was a keep moving sort of day, and grey low clouds and little view isn't very inspiring)
 
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roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Sunday 15th January
A few hours in Burgos this morning- it is snowing! But its not sticking around in the city. So a visit to the cathedral, chocolate con churros (it is Sunday morning after all!), and in the Arco de Santa Maria a display on Dante's Divine Comedy with art work it has inspired particularly Dali. Now a little bar visit before I depart.

All in all the later part of the Via Bayona from Vitoria was a great little winter camino. The availability of accomodation meant the days ranged from 17km up to a maximum of 28k, but I didn't do more than 24km. A few places in warmer months I might have doubled up stages to 36-38km but in winter that is pressure with the amount of sunlight. Most of the albergues are open year round, and (except for Pancorbo which I skipped) all were passable but the albergue in Miranda de Ebro is amazing (it was obviously designed by pilgrims and for an unmanned albergue was so welcoming, and is highly recommended!). Not a pilgrim menu in sight! But ate plenty as the short days meant I arrived in time for lunch and menu del dia. A lot of bars in smaller villages are opening fewer days per week or opening later in the day, so can be difficult to rely on them. But in this section lots of new water taps have been added - often in the playgrounds and I don't think water even in summer months would be an issue. Yes there is a little more road walking than I might like but this is to do with the route through the valley. Given the photos of the route down the hill to Villanueva de la Oca and reports of steep and stoney, the alternative route is an easy walk - and I will post details separately of this.
This route gets a trickle of pilgrims but deserves more! Given it starts in Bayona, in fact it passes the train station at Biarritz and a short 2km walk to join it means you could actually walk from Biarritz airport. You get to enjoy coast, mountains, Basque culture and food, roman roads, history, castles, before finishing in the wonderful city of Burgos. Definitely a cheerleader for this route!
 

lt56ny

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10/22 Aragones/Frances
Sunday 15th January
A few hours in Burgos this morning- it is snowing! But its not sticking around in the city. So a visit to the cathedral, chocolate con churros (it is Sunday morning after all!), and in the Arco de Santa Maria a display on Dante's Divine Comedy with art work it has inspired particularly Dali. Now a little bar visit before I depart.

All in all the later part of the Via Bayona from Vitoria was a great little winter camino. The availability of accomodation meant the days ranged from 17km up to a maximum of 28k, but I didn't do more than 24km. A few places in warmer months I might have doubled up stages to 36-38km but in winter that is pressure with the amount of sunlight. Most of the albergues are open year round, and (except for Pancorbo which I skipped) all were passable but the albergue in Miranda de Ebro is amazing (it was obviously designed by pilgrims and for an unmanned albergue was so welcoming, and is highly recommended!). Not a pilgrim menu in sight! But ate plenty as the short days meant I arrived in time for lunch and menu del dia. A lot of bars in smaller villages are opening fewer days per week or opening later in the day, so can be difficult to rely on them. But in this section lots of new water taps have been added - often in the playgrounds and I don't think water even in summer months would be an issue. Yes there is a little more road walking than I might like but this is to do with the route through the valley. Given the photos of the route down the hill to Villanueva de la Oca and reports of steep and stoney, the alternative route is an easy walk - and I will post details separately of this.
This route gets a trickle of pilgrims but deserves more! Given it starts in Bayona, in fact it passes the train station at Biarritz and a short 2km walk to join it means you could actually walk from Biarritz airport. You get to enjoy coast, mountains, Basque culture and food, roman roads, history, castles, before finishing in the wonderful city of Burgos. Definitely a cheerleader for this route!
Thanks so much for this. I am strongly considering doing this camino this year and starting in Bayonne. I have enjoyed reading about your journey. Are you going to continue on the Frances? I walked the Aragones late last year and continued on the CF after to Santiago. I was strongly thinking of doing it again and then going to Madrid to walk from there to Santiago. Now I am torn and leaning more towards the Vasco and then on to Santiago.
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Thanks so much for this. I am strongly considering doing this camino this year and starting in Bayonne. I have enjoyed reading about your journey. Are you going to continue on the Frances? I walked the Aragones late last year and continued on the CF after to Santiago. I was strongly thinking of doing it again and then going to Madrid to walk from there to Santiago. Now I am torn and leaning more towards the Vasco and then on to Santiago.
Not right now, I had a week's holiday. But this is part of my route from home in Ireland to SdeC - just doing it in sections which sometimes are out of order. In 2021 i walked from home to Dublin, in summer 2022 i took ferry from Dublin to Cherbourg, walked to Mont St Michel, picked up a Chemin de St Jacques called Voie de Capitales, and got as far as Nantes. Summer 2023 will hopefully see me pick up in Nantes and head down Voie Littoral to Bayonne. Then later on it will be CF to Ponferrada and then Invierno.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
This route gets a trickle of pilgrims but deserves more! Given it starts in Bayona, in fact it passes the train station at Biarritz and a short 2km walk to join it means you could actually walk from Biarritz airport. You get to enjoy coast, mountains, Basque culture and food, roman roads, history, castles, before finishing in the wonderful city of Burgos. Definitely a cheerleader for this route!
I as well. It's really nice. The albergue in Beasain is one of the nicest - and now with the new one in Zegama, the pilgrim accommodation situation is looking super for many nights.
 

NualaOC

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A few and hopefully lots more.
Thanks Rufus for sharing your journey and for all this information. It will be very helpful for those following in your footsteps. I was hoping to walk the Vasco in May, but will probably have to wait until later in the year.

Your very practical 'walking from home' plan is also giving me ideas 😀
 

roving_rufus

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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
Thanks Rufus for sharing your journey and for all this information. It will be very helpful for those following in your footsteps. I was hoping to walk the Vasco in May, but will probably have to wait until later in the year.

Your very practical 'walking from home' plan is also giving me ideas
Lockdowns were dangerous in letting me plan a crazy route from home! To be honest once you get to Brittany the association there is amazing and very active in marking routes and providing accommodation lists including lots of pilgrim hosts. The only tricky part was trying to find a route in Ireland that didn't involve too many busy roads! More than happy to pass on all my info if you do decide to try it!
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
I as well. It's really nice. The albergue in Beasain is one of the nicest - and now with the new one in Zegama, the pilgrim accommodation situation is looking super for many nights.
So there are albergues or pilgrim accommodation in Bayonne, Guethery, St Jean de Luz, Irun, Andoian, Beasain, Zegama, Zalduondo, Algeria, La Puebla de Arganzon, Miranda de Ebro, Pancorbo, Briviesca, Monasterio de Rodilla and Burgos. Plus hostels which have special access/rates for pilgrims at Santiagomundi and Vitoria. That's not too bad! And hopefully Agurain/ Salvatierra albergue gets reopened too - though at least pension there is a rreasonable price. One or two other spots that are weak links- the closure of the hostel at Tolosa leaves an issue there. It's probably possible to do it without staying in hotel, hostal, or pension and just staying in albergues if you can do some jigging around with shorter or longer days.
 

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