The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 12 July 2015

GR10 Day 1 - Hendaye Plage to before Sare

A warm night was had. I wasn't quite moved to look at a thermometer at 4am when I awoke but I don't reckon it got below the low twenties. No bed clothes were required. Thankfully the day started with the same weather as yesterday, heavily overcast and it wasn't until elevenses that the sun first broke through.

Bright and early we strode out of the campsite and down the hill towards the beach. About half way I recalled the plan hatched last night. We'd already walked out to the coast from Hendaye and had walked the Hendaye Plage seafront 3 times last night, hence we'd decided to take a shortcut back to Hendaye this morning. So, back up the hill we went, back through the campsite and out the other side.

Ten minutes later Mick couldn't help but notice that he had wet cheeks ... and not on his face. With great speed he flung off his pack and dug out the offending water bottle, finding the problem was simply an not-tight lid. It took another while for his pack to fully drain and his clothes to dry.

Half an hour into the route we found we could have wild camped. Indeed, a couple was camped there. The much better location would have been 2 hours in, beyond Biriatou, but to have got there yesterday would have required different transport timings.

Instead we second breakfasted in that spot and contemplated the map deciding which of 2 options to take. We opted for the GR10 only then to find it has been rerouted such that it now follows the alternative line we had considered.

Lots and lots of runners were bonjoured to through that section then it was down to Col D'Ibardin where we ventured into Spain in this heaving shopping area (a heaving shopping area on a mountain road - a bit odd really). Mick's coffee was followed up with a second one, as we saw no reason to rush onwards. People were watched, the world seen to pass by, before finally we went on.

A small diversion was made shortly afterwards to recce whether a more direct route would go. Not much time or distance had been expended before we gave it up as a bad job and looped round to join the GR further along. It turned out, when viewed from the other end later that there had been a feasible route, if only we could have seen it.

Lunch at Insola caused our first priper encounter with another GR'er. It was a limited conversation, given the rustiness of my French and the near non-existence of Mick's, but we did establish that he's going further than us today.

Soon afterwards we veered off route again, this time onto paths in which I had confidence. We had no reason to go to Olhette, so opted instead to head up towards La Rhune, a hugely commercial hilltop. Had there been a path up to its summit from our direction we would have gone and mingled with the hoards (most of whom would have arrived by train) but as the summit path took such a long route we skirted the top (and saw some interesting rock carvings en-route) to drop back to the GR10.

We didn't go much further. A lovely grassy area convinced us not to risk a lack of good pitches at our intended location, about another mile on.

So, a good first day has been had (except for the sodding horse flies). Pleasant surroundings, lots of bird life (notably vultures and kites), lots of animal life and lots of peple enjoying their weekend.


  1. Good start, and full of your usual 'fun'. This is going to be good!

  2. You are already ahead of me. I departed Hendaye after the beach at 2:40pm and stayed at Biriatou. My second night was at Olhette and I passed through Sare the next day to overnight at Ainhoe where there was a good campsite. It was reputedly 40degrees at Olhette.

    1. 40 degrees?! I bet it was humid too, wasn't it? The highest temperature I recorded was 38 degrees and that was bad enough.

  3. Well done you two. Yes there are various alternative routes. You'll get used to that. The latest one is usually marked in a brighter shade of red...

    1. Neither of the alternative routes mentioned in this post were GR10 alternatives. In fact, one of them wasn't even marked as any breed of red line on the map (but I had done some explorations on aerial photos to suggest the route might go). The La Rhune route was a red line, albeit only a dashed one (which for anyone not familiar with the relevant maps means that there should be a path there but it's not waymarked in any way).

  4. Excellent stuff! Between yourselves and Phreerunner, those of us forced to remain in sunny Blighty can enjoy a fascinating and varied look at the Pyrenees without expending any real energy at all!

    I'd rather be there, though!

    Have a great time!

    1. We did ... even if only for half the route in the end.

  5. What Jules said (ten days ago...)