Day 21 – Carrion De Los Condes to Leon

It got quite cold in the night so sleep was sporadic. On the whole I slept a lot better than at a refugio. Left early, and fuelled on some kind of custard filled donut, a handful of dried fruit, two bananas and a piece of chocolate, I made my way towards Leon.

IMG_0940The route was not completely flat, it has a very gradual incline, but not too noticeable to make the ride a struggle. The weather was looking grey and there were a few spots occasionally but nothing to dampen my spirits as I pushed hard to get the 110km under my belt to get to Leon.

The ride was quite uneventful, town, sello, eat, go, repeat. I’m resigned to the fact now that It’s harder to get hold of croissants, but Spain has many lovely alternatives. Today I had two pastries, not sure what they were, but one was covered in a sticky syrup and nuts, and the other had sliced peaches with some kind of custard mix (it weighed a tonne).

Got to Leon around 1500 and checked into my Hostel. I may stay another night as I’m in no rush and can spend the day having a look around Leon.

Day 20 – Burgos to Carrion De Los Condes

Burgos itself is a very attractive city, with lots of small bars and a lively atmosphere. The cathedral was impressive on the outside but wasn’t particularly so impressive on the inside. The castle was closed for some reason and I wasn’t in the mood for any of the museums. I’d recommend a visit for anyone who hasn’t been.

IMG_0936I left Burgos in high spirits after a good night sleep and a day rest. Found the route out of town easy as it was the same road I’d come in on, the N120. In fact I’d be following this a lot of the way to Leon over the next few days.

The route deviated south to re-join the Camino towards Castrojeriz, a pretty little hillside town with not a lot going on but has a certain charm. This route took me across the Meseta, a high plateau that runs across the centre of Spain. Once you’re on it, its flat and there isn’t much for miles upon miles. I would hate something bad to happen to my bike on the Meseta. Luckily it didn’t, and so I carried on to Carrion De Los Condes for a nights rest at Camping Eden. I was feeling a bit rough so went to bed early.

Day 19 – Najera to Burgos

I didnt sleep a wink. Might have been something to do with the loud snoring by 20 or 30 close occupants, the unbelievably hot temperature the room got, the street light that ONLY seemed to be pointed at my face or the fact at 0600 everyone decided to get up and go. I certainly wasn’t going to get any sleep so up I got. Oh, and the showers were cold. At least I didn’t have to pay, although I feel I should have been paid to sleep in those conditions. I’m not a snob, I just like my sleep!

IMG_0916Apart from that the day went reasonably well. Was cold in the morning as the sun hadn’t risen, but this made for some gorgeous scenery of Spanish rolling hills just as the sun did rise.

I Followed the N120 all the way to Burgos, stopping at a few towns on the way to get my sello.

I’m now in Burgos, staying in a hotel that Keri found for me. I’ve even booked it for two nights to recuperate some of the sleep I lost last night. It’s not too expensive and has free internet. So tomorrow will be a day of sightseeing around Burgos. My travels will continue on Friday.

Day 18 – Estella to Najera

Id stayed at one of the busiest campsites Id ever seen. Oddly though, everyone disappeared around 18:00 and they never seemed to return. I also noticed that the mullet seems to be back in fashion in these parts at the moment. Give me another couple of months and I’ll be right there with’em.

Not much happened really. The day consisted of a long slog up and down hills in the sunshine. I tend to find it difficult in some towns to find where to get my sello. Either the place is closed (more often than not), or it’s just not easily recognisable. I always manage to get my sello in the end.

If you didn’t know, this area is the Rioja region, famous for its beautiful wines. I cycled past so many bodegas, a lot of which seem to be closed down and/or for sale. I was tempted for a second!

Today i lost my toiletries bag! I left it on the floor outside a bank after taking things out to get to my sweeties. Such a pain, i didn’t realise until i was about 40 miles away. I have images of the bomb disposal team being called to blow up a suspicious package outside the caja rural, only to coat the front window with Nivea Shower Gel.

Finally I ended up in Najera. A busy little town with a carnival in town, or does that just seem to be every town in Spain. Without realising it, when I got my sello at the Refugio, the lady had allocated me a room to stay. I was tired, I thought go on then. Turns out room 67 isn’t a room at all. In fact it’s a bottom bunk amidst many, many more bunk beds. This was not going to be a good night!

If you’re interested in the route I’m taking for the camino here is a rough route as there are a few mistakes.

Day 17 – Buguete to Estella

I stayed in a small family run hostel just the other side of Roncesvalles. The madre obviously owned the place and everyone who entered. She scared me a little but my room had a lock. Breakfast comprised of three small rich tea biscuit sized pieces of hard bread that I can only assume was toast. As well as a croissant with a hard bit in the middle, maybe stale. I probably wouldn’t stay here again.

IMG_0911 IMG_0913As I was still above 1000m the weather was dull and misty due to being in the clouds. Either way it was wet, so on went the waterproofs.

I was waiting anxiously for my decent and it never really came much to my disappointment. Most of the morning was spent in the clouds.

When I did finally descend a little it brightened up. I took a road that outskirts Pamplona so I didn’t get to go through it, no bull Greg. This was to cut out some big climbs.

I arrived in Puente La Reina and got my third stamp in my credential aka sellos. Every pilgrim that has walked the camino in the last thousand or so years has crossed the bridge (pictured), as it’s a convergence between two camino routes from France. I had a sandwich before continuing on. Finally ending up in Estella where I camped for the night.

Day 16 – Hasparren to Buguete (Spain)

Rather than have another rest day I started off early.

IMG_0905 IMG_0907Some very steep hills to start the ride, really took it out of me. A boy leaving church decided to race me down a hill, he didnt stand much of a chance but when he ran straight into the signpost he was a gonner. I could have stopped to see if he was ok but i was laughing too much!

Got to Saint-Jean-pied-du-port in no time at all. Went and grabbed my credencial and got my first stamp. Got so excited by this I decided to carry on to Roncesvalles.

Crossing the border to Spain got me all emotional…stupid fool, but the hill climb of 1000m soon put a stop to that. Not to mention the rain!

Got my second stamp and then booked myself into a hostel.

Tomorrow I make a move towards Pamplona.

Day 15 – Leon (France) to Hasparren

There were a lot of Spanish in the campsite last night. Not that I have anything against them, they just dont seem to want to go to bed a reasonable time. Especially when I had to be up early to make a good push for the border. Well, this didn’t happen, was so tired I slept in a little and didn’t really get going until about 09:30.

Apart from that the day didn’t seem to go too bad until it started raining. Slipped on my waterproofs and I was off again. Seemed to take no time at all to get to Bayonne, so I just grabbed a quick snack and carried on.

This was a mistake, I should have eaten properly. No sooner had I got out of the centre of Bayonne I hit hills and lots of them. The Pyrenees start sooner than I had thought, All I knew was I was heading to a place called Hasparren. I reached Hasparren exhausted and needing food. It was already 15:00 and decided to stay here. It has hotels, bars and a supermarket, what more do I need. So this will be my place of rest for two nights.

I’m shacked up in the hotel Argia in the centre of town. My room is enormous, it’s more like an apartment. Far more luxury than I’m used to in a pokey little 2 man tent. On Sunday I plan on covering the remaining distance to Saint-Jean-Pied-Du-Port before starting on a fresh pair of legs for the real mountains on Monday.

Day 14 – Ares to Leon (France)

After rain all night long I woke up to a very soggy tent. Although the rain had stopped and I could see blue sky.

The lovely owner of Camping Canadienne said what I was doing was good and that I didn’t have to pay for the nights camping. After thanking him, I left.

Day started well, I’d made good progress around the estuary and now i was heading south again on yet more long straight roads. Everything felt good and I appeared to be steaming along!

This didn’t really change much, I felt like I could go for ever. Although for breakfast I’d had a french stick full of honey, then i stopped for a croissant at the earliest convenience, then I stopped again for a croissant but chose a pizza. Oh and then I stopped and had a big mac meal from some restaurant…the name escapes me.

IMG_0902I’d forgot to mention previously. Although my only plan was to join the camino de santiago in Spain. It would appear much of my route through France follows the same route.

Two fo the campsites I’d chosen for my nights stay were shut. So I kept pushing on and made it to a little place called Leon (North of Bayonne).

Day 13 – Soulac-Sur-Mer to Ares

Woke up feeling really rough from the night before. Said farewell to the two bikers and peddled off into a scorching morning.

The route took me past many I naturist campsite. Good job I had only justset off and wasn’t searching for a place to sleep! I ended up following some odd little routes through woods. I wasn’t sure if I was on a cycle route up maybe some concrete pipeline.

It got even more scorching as the day went on, it got really hot! So much so the clouds built up rapidly and a huge black thunder cloud appeaIMG_0901red in the distance. I caught the edge of it which freshened me up. Then managed to find a campsite in Ares before the second downpour.

The second downpour decided to stay all night, which caused me some hassle while trying to cook ratatouille holding an umbrella in one hand.

The ride went well. I decided not to take the ferry across to Arcachon just in case it wasn’t running. This unfortunately meant I had to add an extra 25 or so mile onto my journey to get round the estuary.

Day 12 – La Rochelle to Soulac-Sur-Mer

Left the hotel early feeling refreshed. Although I love camping and am getting more and more used to it, you cant beat a proper bed!

I couldn’t take the highway straight to Rochefort so I had to travel inland several miles before heading south.

The roads are straight and long but distance is covered quickly. You just have to have your wits about you when the lorries go thund.ring past. Actually, it’s the lorries coming the other way I hate most as the constant headwind is increase by their drag wind, If only for a few seconds, but it feels like hitting a brick wall.

IMG_0896At Royan I had just missed the ferry crossing so had to wait a good hour. I filled the time with a panini,

Met two English bikers, Taff and Adam I think were their names, They were

traveling south to Spain. They seemed like a decent bunch of guys. Shook hands off the ferry and off they went.


Bizarre thing was, they had picked the same campsite to stay at IMG_0892as me (choice of several). Not only that we were pitched next to each other. So after a quick meal in the town, they invited me to join them drinking 1 litre glasses of beer and chatting well into the night. Was a good night!