From Maslacq to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Maslacq - Navarrenx (21.8km) - Aroue (19km) - Ostabat (23.9km) - St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (20.9km)
I MADE IT! I have officially completed the Chemin du Puy, all 740km (462 miles) from Le Puy en Velay, to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Pretty mega.
The morning of day 29 was absolutely mind-blowing beautiful. Despite having been getting up before sunrise for quite some time by this stage, I was yet to experience a really magical morning. But it was most definitely worth the wait... I'm not sure I would be able to find the words to do it justice, and I'm not even sure my photos (of which there are many) come close to how stunning it was, but the latter is probably the best option:
When you spend hour-upon-hour walking, mornings like these become so fantastically extra-special. But as if this morning didn't give me enough goose-bumps, a short climb up the steep side of the valley revealed none other than the Pyrenees. While in all my previous sightings, that distant mountain range had been a vague grey-ish outline, they were now distinctly mountain-like!
On my last evening of the chemin, I was staying at a farm with some pretty fab views over the mountains. The evening entertainment was pretty special as well - Bérnard, who runs the gite with his wife, treated us guests to some Basque singing, performing solo and then trying to teach us the songs. Basque is a completely different language to French, so I wasn't alone in struggling with the words. At one stage, he even had all 13 of us holding hands and swaying around!
The last couple of days walking after that magnificent morning passed by in a blur of excitement and anticipation, with a hint of sadness mixed in. The Chemin du Puy has been unlike anything I've ever done before, and I have enjoyed it so much more than I could've possibly imagined! Although I've still got 700 miles left to walk, reaching St-Jean signified the end of this first stage and I'm sorry to have it behind me.
"What's next?" you may be wondering... Well, I've had two fabulous 'rest' days with mum and dad here in St-Jean (did a pretty big walk with dad on one of them, had to break in a new pair of walking boots - after over 1,000 miles of walking in them, my trusty shoes finally gave up). Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading off into the Pyrenees on my own again, to spend 6 days walking to Hendaye, from where I'll head down to Irún to start the Camino del Norte! This is a different camino to the one I did last year - I fancied doing something different, and more challenging (the Norte is notoriously hard). Can't wait!
P.s. If you really like looking at photos, I've created an album on Facebook with all the photos I've taken over the last 5 weeks, that anyone can view! Link here.