Our Exciting Final day of GR11 Getting to the Cantabrian Sea in Irun, Basque Country | Day 18
That day was the last day of our hike and we planned to do 10kms or so to the town Irun going mostly downhill but not excluding some small uphills of course. So we expected the day to be quite easy and that’s why didn’t have to hurry and wanted to enjoy the trail thoroughly.
Sure enough, it was our decision to divide the trail in shorter stages and thus do it in more days. As we have seen the offered stages on the signs were doing 25+kms per day and as a result doing almost 3 of our planned days in one. But to us the more important was as usual to have time to enjoy the experience and not to get too exhausted rather than doing it in less days.
We started the day later than usual only at 9am because we woke up later as well. The place we found the day before was very picturesque especially with the first rays of sun the mountainous view was glorious. But the night was disturbing for us because of the animal visitors we had-wild boars. We haven’t noticed their presence in these places when choosing the spot but apparently they were quite attracted to the oak acorns that were laying all around. So in the end we didn’t have a good sleep as we weren’t sure how to behave with them and just hoped they would walk away eventually.
At first when we came out of the forest the trail went on the gravel car road and still climbing gentle uphill. Even though we did most of it the day before we had left 100m or so of a climb. The morning forest fresh air was precious and the most delicious with so many different smells of plants, trees and ground.
Then we went out to a more open field part where we met several cute horses pasturing. There were many rest areas with picnic tables and fireplaces. We saw the signs of prohibition of putting up fires in unauthorized places and setting up a tent but at the same time there were clearly fire pits under the trees and probably people were setting camps here and there occasionally. This made us think again how we may make our life difficult by always searching for more secluded camp spots and hidden places while other people can just stop right at the side of the trail. However, it is our preference and that’s how we enjoy it more still so it was our price to pay.
The trail went through those green lawns and rest areas for some time and we finally could see the ocean coast for the second time. It was still quite far away but was very encouraging to see anyway. From there it started to go quite a steep downhill and then we faced the last uphill of 100m or so. The weather was still very nice and cool and so it was not too hard to do.
We started to meet quite a lot of hikers walking in the opposite direction clearly being just at the beginning of the trail and noticed that there was a tendency of people hiking in direction from Cantabrian Sea to Mediterranean and not vice versa. We didn’t know why it was like that but during all hiking days we haven’t met any hikers doing the trail alongside us for some reason.
The path was going through the forest for quite a while and we began hiking downhill, this time definite last major downhill all the way to the city. Again, there were many bikers cycling up and we felt a lot of respect for them, as sometimes the route was very uneven and rocky. We could admire the coastal views quite often now especially the French side and Saint Jean de Luz town where we walked the Camino del Norte 3 years ago. It brought back to us many great memories and was very nostalgic.
The sky was sunny with no single cloud and in the sun it was quite hot but in the shade it was nice and cool. The same kind of weather that was present the last couple of days and we appreciated it a lot as it was very nice conditions for hiking.
Eventually we came out on the secondary car road and started walking through the private houses and gardens. We had to get down some steps and quite steep pavement downhill before entering the town of Irun. It looked like big enough town located at the banks of Bidasoa river and bordering with French town Hendaye. It got very noisy getting close to it because of the amount of highways crossing at the entrance.
We did walk several kilometers more through the town getting to the train station and then moving to a smaller town at the coast to spend several days there. It was an incredible journey and the trail even though we did not do it in the whole integrity we could taste the different parts of it quite well. So we will share our final thoughts about the GR11 as a whole in the separate post as there will be quite a lot to say. Stay tuned for that and we will meet you very soon!