No WiFi at my final destination last night, hence no post. Although that’s probably just as well, as I was beginning to have a serious sense of humour failure by the time I had arrived. Ruth commented on my last post that the route from Lezama to Bilbao looked a little grim, but compared to yesterday’s stretch from Bilboa to Pobena it was positively idyllic.
There’s a dearth of decent information about The Northern Way written in English, and the only guide book I brought with me was a selection of Spanish guides cobbled together with the help of Google Translate. So I did know in advance that this wasn’t going to be one of the prettiest stages (in fact most of the guides seem to recommend skipping it altogether and taking the subway to the next stage):
“We face a relatively short period. It is a strange but very interesting stage. At all times aware of the proximity to the industrial heart of the Basque Country, however, there are places of peace and calm” (www.gronze.com)
This is actually one of the more easily understandable translations that Google came up with (there are some completely impenetrable ones I’ll no doubt share elsewhere), although it’s also completely inaccurate.
The only bit vaguely resembling a place of ‘peace and calm’ was the initial descent through some fairly scrubby woodland out of Bilbao, providing a stark contrast to the previous few days in terms of signage, wildlife and general ambiance:
After that, there was just mile upon mile of pavement to pound, making it hard to believe I was even in the same part of the country where I started this trip:
But it’s also fair to say that I didn’t make life any easier for myself. The title of today’s post also refers to the fact that I managed to walk two sections of the route rather than the one that is recommended, as well as walking the first one in the least time efficient manner possible as well.
Apparently there’s a 12km route out of Bilbao to that takes you to the next recommended stop, Portugalete, by the side of a river. I took a 19km route that took me through the “industrial heart of the Basque country” referred to above:
Not only that, I completely missed any signage to Portugalete and ended up walking another 13.2km to Pobena, which is where I should have ended up the day after. Plus, there was a diversion due to a broken bridge on entering the town that added another 2km to the journey. Making a grand total of nearly 35km. On pavement. Suffice to say my feet were not too happy by the end of it all.
However, with hindsight, I’m glad to have gone the extra miles yesterday, as I think three consecutive days literally on the road might have dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. As it was, after several days walking inland, the final view of the day yesterday actually managed to put a bit of a spring back in my step:
So since you’ve last seen me I’ve come out of the mountains, spent two days in the city, walked 60km and am back by the sea.
This trip was never going to be a walk in the park.
And here’s the last double of the day: