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]

Monday 13 July 2015

Day 1a and 2 - Before Sare to Sare to before Bidarray

If only I had unlimited battery (and maybe a proper keyboard) I could tell quite a tale about last night. As it goes, you can have the condensed version.

All was fine until gone 10pm, just as darkness was winning over light. Then a pack of horses decided that it wanted to be where we were and they seemed rather agitated by our presence. Cow bells jangled, hoof noises got louder and the neighing didn't sound friendly.  For a while they ran back and forth around us at a bit of a distance until finally one got brave enough to run at us.

Never mind the threat of being trampled, we were never going to sleep with those bells jangling all around, thus we decided a night-hike was in order.

At 23.14 I was lying in bed. At 23.30 we had our packs on and started walking. I think that must be some kind of a speed record, made all the more impressive by the total darkness.

That darkness and lack of a moon didn't help our descent on an eroded path. It didn't help our efforts at spotting an alternative pitch either. Many spots were considered at length and rejected for one reason or another until we arrived in the town of Sare - at just gone 1am.

A motorhome aire with a grass verge was our saviour. We had the tent up within minutes but, after all that excitement, sleep was a long time coming.

With no leisure for a lie in this morning (a grass verge behind a hedge in a car park didn't lend itself to a late start) we were off at first light. I doubt that any of the motor homers or inhabitants of the village knew we'd even been there.

Compared to all that excitement, this morning was tame. With the sun beating down, soon burning off the mist hanging in the valleys, the often-wooded nature of the morning was pleasing.

Ainhoa provided a cafe where we rolled second breakfast and elevenses together, clearing them out of their coissant supply.

Eventually we had to conclude that we ought to move before we hit the hottest part of the day, as the next section was a climb.

A long lunch was had beyond Col des Trois Crois but before the next pass where we surprised that none of the other 7 backpackers we had met in Ainhoa came by.

As I sit and type this (under a Holly tree, rejoicing in the shade) we have about an hour to go to where we hope to camp, but I shall send this early as I suspect there may not be a good phone signal once we cross the next pass.

(Thanks for the comments and keep them coming, it does wonders for our morale; I apologise that I'm not going to be able to reply individually.)


  1. I've just warned Martin that if he was doing the GR10 you would be catching him up.

    I don't like horses - can't interpret what they are thinking, but even if one could that would be no good in the dark - sounds terrifying.

    I had a long, steep, hot slog to get to Bidarray then found the gîte closed and the hotel full, but the hotel drove me down the other side to a Logis. There's always a way.

  2. I knew there would be excitement! Not the right kind though. Hope you get some sleep tonight...

    1. At least on this occasion we saw the situation as funny at the time (i.e. it wasn't one of those where you can only see the funny side looking back). Not something I'd want to have happen every night, mind!

  3. Looks liker you are both having a fantastic time. With a bit of drama thrown in, just to add spice to the journey? You are both doing fantastic. Keep writing, your readers await with baited breathed on the next installment.

    1. Can't beat a bit of drama on the first night :-)

  4. Ah yes - horses, cattle, they tend to appear from nowhere in the night. I just ignore them and they eventually move on...
    Have fun!

  5. What was the last thing I said?
    "Now don't go scaring the horses", I said.
    Deary me! An Englishman abroad...