Basque-ing in the Sun in Atxondo

As a British man I’m no stranger to completely overreacting to a bit of sun. The truth is, though, after about five months about what seemed like continuous rain and grey skies, when we were treated to a week of glorious sunshine in the middle of April it was impossible not to make the most of it.

Right on the doorstep!

As the weekend rolled around I was determined to explore the beautiful part of the world I currently call home. Sadly most of my mates already had plans and had gone away for the weekend, so I grabbed my camera, drowned myself in suncream and headed to Atxondo – a nearby town with a nice walking trail I’d been told about by a student a few months back.

I resisted the temptation to jump on the bus from Durango and instead set off on foot with a 3.5 mile walk not sounding too bad, I guess all that half marathon training paid off. The fact of the matter was however that the near-30 degree temperatures made it feel ever so slightly longer and I was bloody knackered by the time I got to Atxondo. Just another 9 kilometres to go!

There wasn’t much to see on the way, so here’s a random church.

That said, there are very few things that can’t be made better with a beer and a pintxo and this was yet another occasion where food and alcohol came to the rescue. Naturally, before undertaking the gruelling (can’t beat a bit of drama) 9km round trip I stopped off for a quick bite and a caña. Can’t risk dehydration in such temperatures!

Getting all the essentials on board.

With a slightly fuller stomach and my thirst for beer quenched I set off from Apatamonasterio in the direction of Arrazola. As is often the case this walk probably took me twice as long as it should’ve done thanks to my habit of stopping every few steps to take a load of pictures which would more than likely be deleted within a few hours. Still, too many is better than not enough!

Since arriving in the Basque Country in September it’s been hard to appreciate the place thanks to a terrible winter just like most of Europe. However when the sun’s out you see the place in a completely different light (literally!) and it’s hard not to be taken aback when you’re surrounded by the mountains. In fact throughout the year it’s been a bit of a running joke with my mates has been that my boss needs to ask me about my plans for next year on a sunny day because my mood changes that much!

Ask me today and it’s definitely a ‘yes’!

It was fairly easy to lose myself at this point as not only was I taking in the stunning scenery but also keeping track of the commentary on Rochdale’s all important clash with Bradford as we battled relegation from League One! Truth be told it probably took me well over two hours to walk the 4.5km from start to finish and by the time I reached Arrazola I was rattling for a beer. Thankfully at the end of the trail there’s a much-welcome bar just for that!

Unfortunately it’s not a round walking trail so once you reach the end it’s very much a case of just turning back on yourself and walking back the way you came. You find yourself nodding at the same people (that’s what walkers do, right?) and taking pictures of the same things from a different angle. The only real difference was that on the way there I was celebrating a Rochdale goal while on the way back I was despairing after a last-minute Bradford equaliser!

Not even this scenery could lift my mood after a disappointing afternoon’s football!

Despite a tired pair of legs the return journey was much quicker and I even decided to walk back from Atxondo to Durango as well with probably brought my total walking distance for the day to something around the 16 kilometre mark. Not bad half marathon training I guess!

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