It started with a leisurely breakfast with the Dutch women who were staying in town for the day, to collect an iReader that a pilgrim was bringing with them Pobena?
So a short days' walk to Islares or Pontarron de Guriezo.
I started out on a track which ran alongside a motorway with views of the sea, but which then climbed up and turned into a twisting country path which opened-up ever more spectacular views of the ocean, now a stunning blue. Past a flock of sheep who looked mournfully at me through the fence; I thought they might be thirsty. Something was amiss because they normally run away or are busy munching grass. I spent sometime talking to them... I hope they're alright.
I come to a junction at another busy road, which gives me the choice of Bilbao or Santander- I slip between the two and carry on the little dirt track past lots of neat allotments, shady woodland paths and a cold beer at Islares, but it's too soon to stop and I carry on.
I meet a group of German walkers; one of them takes photos of the scenery but then runs full tilt with her pack to catch up with her friends! She's made of strong-stuff!
The scenery is very amazing: I'm now on high grassy cliffs with the deep blue sea a long way below.
Then an amazing encounter. Two shepherds are leading a huge sleek black billy-goat with enormous curly horns. It's obviously quite difficult and they're struggling. They walk for a while and let him off the rope- just a few feet away. I decide not to hang around! and follow one of the shepherds along the cliffs.
Suddenly he starts calling and in a while, a line of black nanny-goats, with tinkling and clanking bells, appear from the bracken on the cliffs that he leads back to Mr 'Big Boy' billy - I had assumed that all the goats were wild and certainly wouldn't come if called!
I eventually reach a wonderful long beach with surf. Sadly the tide's in and I can't pass the very sharp rocks on the shore, but stop and admire the surfers for a bit. I'm in another interesting geological area- clint and grikes limestone I think. I wished I had stopped but with hind-sight it's a good thing I didn't.
The beach is bisected by a deep inlet where a river joins the sea- it's a lovely green colour where it's saline but gradually turns to creek and mudflats.
At 1pm I reach the crossing point at Pontarron de Guriezo. This is where I had planned to stay in the albergue. I have to register at the village-bar and am greeted by an unsmiling bar-maid who tells me that it's open and stamps my credencial. I trek up the hill to find it's closed, so back to the bar; where the barmaid is in a worse mood and makes a phone call. Back I go, to find a nice Municipal worker (complete with Hi-Viz overalls) who unlocks, shows me round and leaves. It's grim and dirty and I decide I can't stay. There's no key in the lock and I wouldn't fancy being here alone here, or even with a few others.
I look on my app and discover the next Albergue is at Liendo, which is only 7.6km away, but up and over a 250m ascent. I phone ahead and book a Pension, in case the Albergue is full. I have a sandwich and some Haribo 'sours' and set out at 2pm.
It's a steep walk; the first stages are through Eucalyptus woods and the birdsong encouraging me up the climb. Up, up, up and then suddenly I'm out amongst spectacular walls of rock overlooking deep valleys. Incredible. Empty apart from sheep.
Eventually the UP turns to DOWN, but I'm exhausted by the time I reach the Pension in Liendo at 7pm, which turns out to be a very posh Posada. I feel very out of place in my dirty hiking gear, so the charming receptionist rings the Albergue for me- there is space there, so off I go. Part of me wishes I had stayed and blown the £75 but I didn't.
I have a humour break-down when I ask a young German perigrina where I can find the Hospitalera to sign in ? She replies "She's gone home". I replied that it wasn't a funny remark at this time of night!
But she hadn't and had saved me a nice single bed in a quiet corner. I'm in no mood for company, so eat my sardine sandwich out the square, watching children play and listening to Samba music from the Zumba class in the village-hall. Just right.
Liendo is a very nice village (it reminds me a bit of Bathford). The church is open and full of people chatting and children playing in the porch. It has a Gothic stone-vaulted roof and an amazing array of tall carved gilded and painted, wooden reredos of saints.
After washing my clothes and a hot shower, I go to bed feeling a bit low. 45,300 steps up 250m. Active time 6.5 hours. This has been a tough day.