Navarrenx – Uhart Mixe

Scallop shell carving in Navarrenx

Scallop shell carving in Navarrenx

I was tired and the weather was cloudy and uninspiring. Some days the Way was difficult, other days it was wonderful and revealing. Like life. Reflecting again on the distance to go I felt that there was so much more walking to do but I never wanted to give up. The fact that it was nearly the half way point to Santiago cheered me up.

Leaving the old town ramparts I continued trying to keep my spirits up. I started to count my steps every time I approached a junction. There was a lot of walking on roads and often there would be a stop sign indicating a junction 150 metres ahead. From the sign I counted my paces. After repeating this exercise several times the figure of 125 steps per 100 metres emerged. 1250 steps per kilometres. To Navarrenx from Le Puy I had taken one million, ninety one thousand, and two hundred and fifty steps! That amused me for a while.

At the village of Castetnau Camblong the walkers behind me had disappeared. They were all taking the more direct route via the road. After so much walking on the hard road surface it was a relief to take the official GR65. It was worth it as it passed through some fantastic native woodland. The Way rejoined the road an hour or so later where a pate factory stood on a corner. I stopped to have lunch and bought some pate. It was spicy and traditionally Basque in flavour (I was told). I took the factory address and web site intent on ordering some after returning home. To my delight the lady in the shop gave me a free sample – I would definitely be ordering some more!

Sign for cafe at the border with the Basque country

Sign for cafe at the border with the Basque country

Carol and Francine arrived (the Canadians from the gite the previous night). We walked together for a while and managed to miss the Way after talking too much. A local fisherman gave us the correct directions. When the girls decided to stop in the shade in Lichos I continued as I could see a long climb ahead. I never liked to stop in a valley halting only at the top. It was always easier to start off again refreshed and heading down hill. I rested when I got there and found a sign indicating that I was now entering Basque Country. Shortly after I chatted with some locals and to had a drink in their garage. They had converted the garage into a cafe for pilgrims!

I decided to press on at Aroue taking the detour to Uhart Mixe. Others had stopped at the gite at Aroue for the day but it did not seem to me like a very nice gite. There was construction work going on in the garden.

A short distance later a dog leapt towards me barking and salivating heavily. It looked terrifying and had all of its snarling teeth exposed. I stood my ground and stamped my feet shouting – it ran whimpering back to its owner who was laughing in her garden. I had been warned about dogs attacking walkers on the Way and was happy that this time I had been spared.

Growing very tired, I arrived at Uhart Mixe. There was the Gite d’etape l’escargot. I had seen signs for it for some time and was glad to arrive. The few beds it had were full and was given my own caravan behind the gite. The pilgrim meal was a traditionally Basque meal of vegetable soup followed by sausage, bacon tomatoes with chilli oil. The threatening skies finally gave up their rain as I went to bed listening to the wild wind outside. A deep sleep quickly followed.

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