April 2020: Due to the Covid-19 health crisis travel on the Camino is not possible. We need to keep safe, and we need to keep those who live and work on the Camino safe. The Camino will not disappear, it is just temporarily inaccessible. Keep your Camino dreams on hold until such times as it is safe to travel. Read more
I commenced the Camino del Norte from Irun on 22 February 2020 in drizzling rain with my two Danish friends from last year’s walk from Madrid to Muxia. First thing is an 800 metre mountain, one of many to come.
San Sebastian is beautiful, but we walked through to the far end to find an albergue there. The Norte is definitely more expensive than the Francés. Covid-19 was starting to grip Spain, especially in the Basque country. More mountains and lots of beach as well. The Camino wanders about quite a bit.
By Santander, 14 days in, we were getting reports of the Norte, and in fact all the Caminos, closing down along with everything but the supermarkets. So nowhere to stay and nowhere to cook food.
My friend owns a villa in Caleta, near Malaga, so we hired a car and drove the 800k from the north coast to the south. Covid19 caught up with us there with much talk of border closures. I had intended to fly to Paris and be in Villers-Bretonneux for the Anzac memorial on 25 April. Instead I found myself in Madrid begging Qatar airlines to get me home. Arrived in Melbourne on 16 March to 2 weeks of ‘home arrest’ (I mean self quarantine.)
I met up with my Danish friend Flemming in Irun. With his girlfriend Linda, we made it as far as Santilla del Mar on 12 March before Covid19 struck full on. No accommodation and no restaurants. So, back to Santander to arrange flights home. I then quarantined in Melbourne at home for a fortnight before driving back to Townsville. I hope to be able to return in 2021 (vaccine permitting) and finish the Norte.
Game of Thrones?
Santilla del Mar. End of the journey. Back to Santander and the battle to get home.