The ease of our walk to Santoña and looking forward to more beach walks may have contributed to the decision to walk to Güemes on Thursday – a longer and decidedly more difficult hike. We left a little later than planned – around 8 a.m. – and couldn’t resist stopping for a coffee and croissant on our way out. What followed was 9.5 hours on the Camino and a steep climb close to the start.
We persuaded ourselves that walking the 15.2 miles to Güemes would not be so difficult because the elevation gains we much less than they were our first week on the Camino. The beginning of our hike was mostly flat and led to a beach – how perfect! We even admired the rock formations at the other end of the beach and the gorgeous way the high cliffs at the end defined this small bit of sandy coastline.
It turns out the cliffs were a 100 meter vertical climb up El Brusco. Our Camino app describes this climb as “not for the faint of heart.” So true! Steep, rocky climbs next to sheer dropoffs that caused me (Sharon) to abandon my poles and scramble up some sections. But the views were spectacular and followed by a long walk along the beach.
The remainder of our day was difficult, not so much for the challenge of elevation but for the paved surfaces we walked on and the heat. This was a day of full sun and temperatures that melted our energy. We arrived at Albergue La Cabaña de Abuelo Peuto at 5:30 p.m. to a welcome that included cool water and cookies.
Albergue La Cabaña de Abuelo Peuto just outside of Güemes is a pilgrims-only donotivo hostel founded by the 84 year-old Father Ernesto. It houses 100 peregrinos at capacity. There were 47 pilgrims from 15 countries the night we were there. It’s a beautiful facility with everything a Camino hiker could want – including a delicious dinner and breakfast the following morning. Father Ernesto shared the story of his family’s history on the land and his traveling the world as inspiration for establishing the albergue with the entire group before dinner. His message was one of kindness, compassion, and welcome to people of all backgrounds and faiths.