Six members of the Cork Backpackers Hillwalking Club put their best feet forward and completed the first seven stages of the Camino, walking over 160 kilometres from St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country to Logrono, capital of the Rioja wine-producing region.
The first day was the hardest as we walked 25 kilometres, climbed from under 200 metres to 1,450 metres and crossed the Pyrenees into Spain. Unfortunately, the weather left us down and we were denied the spectacular views we had been looking forward to.
After spending our first night in Spain in Roncesvalles we walked another 27 kilometres to Larrasoana, which was in the middle of celebrating its village fiesta when we arrived. After that it was on to the historic city of Pamplona where, after walking 68 kilometres in just three days we rested our weary limbs for a day.
Rested after our day off we then walked 27 kilometres to Puente de Reina. The landscape to the south of the city is very different to that between the French border and Pamplona. It is much drier and less wooded with most of the land under crops, mainly cereals and vines.
The following day we walked a further 22 kilometres to Estella, then 21 kilometres to Los Arcos the day after that before topping it off with an epic 29 kilometre walk to Logrono on our final day. A total walk of 167 kilometres in just seven days.
Apart from the first day, the weather was kind to us with afternoon temperatures in the early 20s, perfect walking weather.
For anyone who has only previously experienced the Costas, the Camino is a completely different way of seeing Spain. We walked along country tracks and pathways through almost perfectly preserved mediaeval towns and villages on every hilltop. At the end of a long day’s walking we treated ourselves to a few well-earned beers or a glass or two of the excellent local wines.
Having now walked a fifth of the historic route, the Backpackers’ Super Six are determined to complete the Camino. Santiago de Compostela here we come!