Camino del Norte 3 – Inland

20.5km from Deba to Markir-Xemein.

We had a lovely meal last night with a Canadian woman who is walking as far as Bilbao. It may have been the quality of the meal or the company but there was probably one glass of wine too many for a walking day and that may have led to the regrettable decision to have Basque cheesecake for dessert. Some combination led to a poor night’s sleep.

After an excellent breakfast, we set off up another hill. In spitting rain, it was a 7km walk to a coffee break. The bar we stopped in was the signal point for two events. The first was when we turned our backs on the sea and headed inland. The second is that it’s the last food or drink for 17km – something which loomed large in every walker’s conversation.

The next few hours were more up and down as the countryside changed. Now it was pine trees, with some holly and oak. Little robins darted about, often sitting calmly close to the track. The track jumped between a concreted access road, farm track, and rocky bush trail.

We stopped in a little drinking fountain in the middle of nowhere to have our lunch and while we were eating the Sun came out.

Another 5km took us to the descent into Markir-Xemein. Like last night, this stage was incredibly steep – some parts are at -41 degrees, which is insane. To add a little spice there was thick mud on the track, so much of the time you were walking through slippery clay. An hour of that took a toll on our legs. I have no pictures of the downhill because both arms and all my attention were actively involved in staying upright.

We have an apartment in Markir-Xemein, which is especially good as we ran into several people who had been unable to find accommodation. Our approach of booking ahead may lack flexibility, but it does mean we have some certainty about a place to stay at the end of the day. The downside of the apartment is that it’s narrow and so there are stairs everywhere. The upside is that we have done a washing and will have a home-cooked meal tonight.

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