Camino del Norte 4 – racing

Our fourth stage was 26km from Markir-Xemein to Guernica.

The forecast was for thunderstorms in the early afternoon, so our plan was to get to Guernica before that happened. We set off just after 7am in the wrong direction. The flaw in our plan turned out to be that we had bought the wrong coffee for the apartment’s coffee machine. Now to anyone who has not walked with Jennifer in the early morning that might seem trivial, but we are experienced. So we retraced our steps to a bakery that opened early and served coffee.

Once fueled with caffeine and a positive outlook, we once again set off in the right direction. The first part of the walk was along a pretty river, but it wasn’t long until we were climbing and descending again. It also wasn’t all that long, 7km, to the town of Bolivar which featured more coffee and fresh orange juice.


Then we were seriously in the hills for some time. But the Sun was shining and it was a lovely walk between hamlets of red-roofed farms. We saw donkeys – we are amused that we’ve seen so many here, in comparison with the Stevenson Trail which is famous for its donkeys. The trails were narrow and muddy and Jennifer and I walked separately through much of this.

On the flat Jennifer and I walk at pretty much the same pace. But I keep that pace on the hills while Jennifer gets slower on the ups and a lot slower on the downhills. That means we usually draw apart and then I wait for her at a top or a bottom. But today’s trails were narrow and there were other walkers – and once you’ve overtaken someone, you can’t really stand about letting them pass and then repeating the process ten minutes later. So we drew further apart than normal.

Jennifer was very excited when the trail took us directly through a World Heritage listed monastery.

Our lunch stop at midday was a taberna on a ridge and featured tortilla – the snack of choice for all serious walkers. That put us 10km from Guernica, which we pushed through fairly quickly.

Guernica is a large town, famous for (a) having bombs dropped on it and (b) Picasso having painted said bombs being dropped. The central area is pretty but there is a lot of modern sprawl around it. We have an apartment in a modern building a few minutes from the center.

We made it into Guernica pretty much dead-on 2pm which was our plan. As the promised thunderstorms did not appear, it might have been a bit of a waste of effort getting up early, but that’s only with hindsight. And we only beat the rain by two hours, so going out in search of food is going to be wet anyway.

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