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Leaving France

Our journey into the mountains was not entirely uneventful. Our Garmin friend (GPS) Insisted on taking us on a non existent route round Bayonne, which led to several frustrating false starts getting out of the city. We finally found a riverside route that took us the valley to Cambo.
For me this was familiar territory in that I had hitchhiker through the area and stayed way back in the autumn of 79 and again with a group of Plymouth Uni students in 93. It is Basque Country and all the signs are in two languages.

From Cambo to St Jean Pied a Port, jumping off point for the pass into Spain and the beginning of this stage of the Camino de Santiago. We chose a 'scenic' route, which proved quiet but ver steep in sections and I ended up with a snapped chain and a puncture. After some very greasy dealings with said chain, and many baby wipes, managed to get going again and arrived late and tired in St Jean. Camped in to town and did some shopping for our epic climb. For details of our provisioning see Ken's blog .

So the morning of our pass crossing dawned grey and cloudy, which was was probably a blessing. The first 9kms were fairly straightforward and not too steep, and then the ascent began and we crossed the border quite low down.

First coffee
Fully loaded, heading deeper into Spain

First cafe in Spain, and a quick cup of coffee and carbo loading with some dense cake like provision we had bought. Then up and up and slowly up. Pauses every few kilometres on a steadily rising road until we finally reached the summit, 1057 metres after 27 km of climb.
And the sun was shining on the other side of the mountains and we descended a few hundred metres for our pic in lunch. We'd done it.


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