On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Irún Albergue to Guadalupe

January 11, 2014 — 11 Comments

If you’re walking through the Basque city of Irún, you may notice a more modern look compared with many other Spanish cities of similar size. Ancient sites are scarce and not much seems to date earlier than the mid-20th century. Why is that?

During the early days of the Spanish Civil War, Irún was important due to its location on the border with France. Weapons destined for Republican strongholds, especially in the Basque region, would enter from France, by road or carried along trails through the hills. To stop this flow of weapons, General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist Army planned to take over the city in what would be later known as The Battle of Irún. On August 11, 1936, the Nationalist Army began a bombardment of the city, first from sea, and soon after, by air and ground. Although the Republican Army outnumbered the Nationalist Army, they couldn’t come close to the firepower. Added to that, the French had closed the border on September 8, causing a shortage of weapons and ammunition.

The battle lasted until September 5 when the remaining Republican Army retreated while burning any remaining building that they thought would aid the Nationalist Army. This destruction of a Basque city by Franco was by no means an isolated incident. If you’re walking the Camino del Norte, you will soon arrive at another important and rather sad reminder of the complete destruction of what I understand was a beautiful Spanish city. This is Guernica, a few days of walking from here.

I left my last post, Starting the Camino Del Norte, Hendaye to the Irún Albergue, at the albergue, located two to three blocks off the main road that the Camino follows in Irún. Now, let’s walk back up to the Fuenterrabia Kalea and continue our journey.

Alberque 4 Irun Spain Camino del Norte

Eventually, the city leads to a bit of urban sprawl, but soon, the Camino travels through some pleasant parkland. The Camino is well marked in the Basque Autonomous Community and there would only be a few times when I thought the route was unclear.

irun basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte


I had a dark and rainy start to my Camino del Norte. Please keep your eyes on the hill in front. We’ll be climbing it very soon.

irun basque country Euskadi 2 spain camino del norte


 I believe this is the Canal Amuteko.

irun basque country Euskadi 3 spain camino del norte


A typical rural Basque home. Our immediate goal is the church on top of the hill.

irun basque country Euskadi 4 spain camino del norte


 Turn right here.

irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 5 spain camino del norte


An enjoyable walk through parkland that is home to many bird species.

irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 6 spain camino del norte



irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 7 spain camino del norte


 One of the quiet hamlets as we continue to climb the hill.

irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 8 spain camino del norte



irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 9 spain camino del norte


 The track varied from paved rural roads to…

irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 10 spain camino del norte


 dirt and gravel paths through forest and alongside farmland.

irun guadalupe basque country Euskadi 11 spain camino del norte


Getting closer…

guadalupe basque country Euskadi 12 spain camino del norte



guadalupe basque country Euskadi 13 spain camino del norte


After a good climb to start the day, we made it to the Santuario de Guadalupe.

church guadalupe basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte



guadalupe basque church Euskadi spain camino del norte


  Looking back from where we came from.

view guadalupe basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte


A great place for a morning break. Get some rest here, because there is still a long, strenuous walk ahead to San Sebastian.

guadalupe church basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte

I hope you enjoyed this post as I honestly was tired from the morning climb. On my next post, we will continue through the hills from Guadalupe before visiting 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.

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.


11 responses to On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Irún Albergue to Guadalupe

  1. Your first post for 2014 is awesome!….It’s your first one, right? Anyway, I love visiting your nifty site. because there’s so much to see and read.. Thanks Randall, may your 2014 be as vibrant as the seven colours of the rainbow and warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house.
    Cheers, mon ami! 🙂

    • Wow! Maybe I’ll sneak those words into my next post. Thanks for your comment and visiting my humble little website. All the best to you in 2014 🙂

      • I got it from a fortune cookie… Yep, a Really big one 😉

      • Hello Randall
        I love the details you provide on the Camino del Norte.

        I am from Canada too. I have just finished the Camino Frances in July 2016 and loved every single bit of it, except the blisters of course. I would like to do the Camino del Norte in July of 2017 with my daughter who will be 11 next year . No kids wants to hear they will go trekking leave alone hiking but she loves visiting new places, hotels, swimming amongst others and I thought that this may be a good experience for her to discover different parts of Spain with me.

        My concerns…is the Camino Norte harder than the frances one. Can I do this with my daughter, maybe bus the most difficult climbs? The Climbs on to Cebreiro on the Frances one were gruelling (from 600 something to 1500m)….I would not put her through something similar. What are the absolute not to miss places on the Camino del Norte that would be wonderful for my daughter (-museums, beach and food,..(smile) I have to seduce her with something .and what the the “must skip sections” (thinking in terms of a child). For me, I would do the whole walk but I want her to enjoy her visiting as much as possible. I would not be doing more than 15km.

        Your advice is greatly appreciated. I am not sure how replying to me works, email or via this site but your reply is greatly appreciated.

        Thank you in advance.

        Kind regards

        • Hi Catherine,
          Thanks for the message. Sorry for the delay. First off, please understand that July will likely be very warm, if not hot. I walked in July and had many days of +30 degC which were very difficult. There are just a few big climbs on the del Norte but the difference between it and the Frances is the # of ups and downs that you will encounter on a particular day. It can be relentless especially if you stay on the Camino. I can’t go in depth here as it would take a long time. Typically, the cities on the ocean, and some of the walks between, is what you would probably enjoy: San Sebastián, Zarautz, Bilbao, Pobeña to Castro Urdiales, Laredo to Noja, Santander, Comillas to San Vicente de la Barquera, Llanes, Gijón, and Ribadeo. Towns off the coast that I recommend include Gernika, Santillana del Mar, and Villaviciosa. Of course, everyone is different but there are places of interest between these places. Ribadeo is the last coastal city and the Camino heads southwest to Arzúa where it joins the Frances. This walk is difficult and sometimes difficult to get a bed. You may want to leave Ribadeo and get a bus to Arzúa or even closer to Santiago. I could go on and on but I hope this helps a little. You will have some planning to do. All the best and Buen Camino 🙂

  2. This is an awesome blog & great read Randall! So envious of you. Are you on the road full time now? Miss you at the gym but what you are doing is far more interesting & just as physically demanding or at the very least maintaining your fitness level. Can’t wait to read more… Karen from Spinning

    • Hi Karen. Glad you stopped by. No, I’m in Vancouver still. Need to pay to go out on the road somewhere. Right now I could use month of spinning. Miss Poco FW and all of you there 🙂

  3. Randall,
    The blog is truly amazing. I am currently planning to walk the Camino del Norte in May, with my wife. We are intending to cover the distance over about 40-44 days, depending on how we feel. A question about the Albergues- is there a list of such that you know of that gives an indication of cost and number of beds available and also distances.

    • Peter, there is a list that was available when I walked. I didn’t see it in Irun but there was one in San Sebastian. That may be different now. It didn’t have all the alberques when I walked and at one unfortunate point, the alberque was closed. My main advice when walking the del Norte is to always have enough money for hotels. All the best and Buen Camino 🙂

  4. Thanks Randall

    Keep posting on your blog. I really enjoy what you have written.

    You may like to visit my website http://www.elbrando.net which I will be posting our walk on, along with photos.


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