Leg Breakers

Strange how such a quaint English cricketing term can mean something quite so different in another language. Interruptores de la pierna – leg breakers – is the term that the local walkers of The Way use to describe the 24.5km worth of vertiginous ascents and descents that make up the 4th stage of The Northern way, from Deba to Markina-Xemein.

I took the photograph above looking down on Deba, where I stayed last night, at about 8am this morning, having reached what seemed satisfyingly like the summit of a climb that felt at times like it was verging on vertical. Turns out it was probably less than a quarter of the way up.

It was also at that point that I met some fellow walkers who asked me for directions (Asking me. For directions. I know. Unbelievable).

Once I’d confidently pointed them in the general direction of what seemed like the steepest way up (just getting my own back on the cyclists the day before yesterday), we engaged it a bit of Esperanto and it turns out that I have a nickname amongst the other walkers: apparently, I’m the ‘Fast Walking Blogger’. Not quite the Street Fighting Man but hey, seems like I’ve got some rambling rep already.

Did I say rambling? After the initial ascent, there were a succession of dirt roads and concrete tracks that led me perniciously upwards again…

And again…

And yet again…

After which, rather inevitably, they went down…(you’ve got the picture by now; suffice to say this happened several times more than once).

But needless to say, all utterly worth it just for the privilege of some spectacular mountain views, the first of which below will be my last glimpse of the sea for the next three or four days as I head inland for about 70Km.

But as they say, what goes up, must come down, and I think all I need to say about the photograph below was that it was taken as I was walking backwards down the final stretch, bum in the air and walking poles pointing backwards, in a last ditch attempt to save my knees.

The image below is a cloistered monument at the base of the last mountain which offered some welcome shade at the end of the walk, cooled by these huge stones.

I asked the locals later on in the evening what the monument signified and got two different stories. One quite prosaic: legend has it that this part of the coast used to be underwater and when sea levels fell, these rocks were left behind. The other a bit more fun: the figure you sea in the background represents the ‘perfect wife’ and the story goes that if you pass under the rocks without touching them you are destined to marry the most appalling wife imaginable.

But I thought I’d leave you with picture of just about the only soul I saw along the way today. Don’t know about you, but Major out of The Aristocats springs to mind…

Oh yes, and this one:

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Deba, El Camino del Norte, Markina-Xemein, Photograph, Rethink Mental Illness, Walking

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