On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

January 23, 2014 — 12 Comments

I often get asked what is the difference between the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte. They are both the Camino de Santiago, right? Yes, and while they both have the exciting aspects of walking the pilgrimage, as for much of the routes, it’s like night and day. Often, on the Camino del Norte, there are long stretches without seeing another pilgrim, long stretches without a water fountain or source, longs stretches without an albergue or pilgrim hostel, and relentless climbing and descending on many days. There is much more actual hiking than on the Camino Francés. It’s definitely more challenging, especially if you actually walk the Camino del Norte and not take some of the easier “modern” routes. In summary, the Camino Francés is more like a walk in the park compared to the Camino del Norte (please don’t take offence).

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Irún Albergue to Guadalupe, here at the Santuario de Guadalupe, just as the skies began to clear. Now let’s continue and I will show you what I mean about the difference in tracks between the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte.

church guadalupe basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

Not far from Guadalupe, this is one of those stretches that more resembles hiking. Since I wore hiking shoes instead of boots, I had to be extra careful, especially when it was wet.

guadalupe basque 1 country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

  Looking back to Hondarribia. Hendaye is across the inlet and Irún would be toward the right.

guadalupe basque country 2 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

In the hills between Guadalupe and Pasajes de San Juan, the track was often along this dirt road.

guadalupe basque country 3 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

I wish I would have seen this on a clear day. I’m sure the view was amazing.

guadalupe basque 4 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

guadalupe basque 5 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

One of my more memorable experiences on the first day was walking through this stretch by myself in complete silence, struggling because I was so out of shape. Out of the blue, a regiment of the military or Guardia Civil ran toward me in formation with rifles in hand….

guadalupe basque 6 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

I was a little startled but managed to get this photo just as they passed. I wish I had my camera ready earlier because it was quite the sight.

guadalupe basque 7 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

Typical forest of young pine mixed with deciduous species of trees and shrubs. You can see some of the heather blooming on the right.

guadalupe basque 8 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

I came across this horse who looked a little scrawny. She was more interested in eating than in me. You can see she has a cowbell, or, in this case, a horsebell. When I mentioned complete silence, it always wasn’t in the hills. The sounds of the cowbells ringing and echoing was quite enchanting.

horse guadalupe basque 9 Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 

horse guadalupe basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 

guadalupe basque hills Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 We shall go right here.

guadalupe basque sign Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 

guadalupe Pasajes de San Juan basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

In both of my walks in Spain, I really enjoyed seeing heather covering hillsides.

guadalupe Pasajes de San Juan heather basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 

guadalupe Pasajes de San Juan path basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 A pleasant path!

guadalupe path Pasajes de San Juan basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

The Camino del Norte was usually well marked in Basque Country, but this was one of the confusing spots. The Camino symbol showed to go to Lezo but the yellow arrow that we followed showed to take a different route. If I was unsure, I would look ahead to find another yellow arrow or marker. In this case, walking to Lezo was unnecessary as a ferry awaits to shuttle you across the inlet.

Pasajes de San Juan sign basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

Another interesting, and sometimes startling, aspect of the Camino del Norte would be experienced on the first day. Here, we arrive to the highway for a short stretch. It starts off with a little shoulder on the left but soon…

highway Pasajes de San Juan basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

we were walking on a windy road without really anywhere to walk except on the road. It was very dangerous at times and nothing like you would experience on the Camino Francés. Just imagine a car, or even worse, a large truck heading toward you here.

Pasajes de San Juan highway basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 Cattle relaxing above Lezo.

Pasajes de San Juan cows basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

 

Pasajes de San Juan hills basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

Looking toward the town of Lezo. I took the route which was more scenic as you will soon tell.

Pasajes de San Juan city basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

 

However, I will leave my post here, just above Pasajes de San Juan.

Pasajes de San Juan path basque Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

I hope you enjoyed this post as I continued to struggle from being so out of shape. My climbing wasn’t over though as soon, I would walk through one of the more scenic stretches of the Camino de Santiago to San Sebastian. Before that, we will visit the the two very scenic seaside villages of Pasajes de San Juan and Pasajes de San Pedro. Thanks for your time.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.




 On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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12 responses to On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

  1. What can I say, but your deep appreciation of the beauty and mystery of Nature is obvious with the magnificent photography that embellishes each of your posts.

    “There are an awful lot of scientists today who believe that before very long we shall have unraveled all the secrets of the universe. There will be no puzzles anymore. To me, it’d be really, really tragic because I think one of the most exciting things is this feeling of mystery, feeling of awe, the feeling of looking at a little live thing and being amazed by it and how it has emerged through these hundreds of years of evolution and there it is and it is perfect and why.”

    — Jane Goodall.

    • Wow! Thanks. I love the quote and your kind words too. I’m glad you noticed because not everyone does. I concentrate on the Camino in my blog. I’m less important and that’s why you rarely see any photos of me posing. I want to focus on the beauty of the scenes or just showing what it’s like to walk the Camino. I’m glad you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. Randall I am enjoying your adventures on the Norte route. Great pictures. I am planning On walking the route in the late spring of 2015 if all things come together. Looking forward to reading the rest of your journey on Camino Del Norte.

  3. Wow, I don’t know why or how I missed the first part from Jan 20 but from now, I’m happy to be virtually on the road again with you!
    For many reasons, it’s not sure whether I can go to Camino this year. Even that is uncertain yet whether it’s going to be the Camino del Norte or the Camino de Francés, once more. I will e-mail you. Peter

    • Peter it’s okay to take the year off. I was hoping to walk the Via de la Plata this year from Cádiz but most likely won’t be able to get out. I will do my best to show you the del Norte here on my blog :)

  4. Thanks for your interesting blog. My husband and I are walking our first Camino this year. We have booked and start on 9 September. We have decided on del Norte and Primitivo. Hopefully we will cope. I look forward to reading more of your adventure. Thanks

    • I also have a book :)
      I hope you enjoy your first Camino. Be prepared for some warm days but also a few less pilgrims. I wish you a very pleasant journey. Buen Camino :)

  5. The photo you title “Looking back at Irun” looks to me like looking back at Hondarribia. Are you certain it’s Irun?

  6. Thanks again for a great blog Randall. We are counting down the days. First the long flight from Oz, train from Paris then it’s simply boot leather from June 1. Can’t wait, especially after reading your entries. Keep it up! We may see you on the track.

    Cheers

    Peter

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