Throughout today’s hike the Atlantic Ocean remains a constant companion, always on your right. Sometimes it’ll be just glimpses through the trees that you snatch, but more often its blue and glittering expanse stretches like a rug to the horizon and provides an inspiring backdrop to the routine scenes of farming and local life that unfold before you. This landscape is ancient and unchanged; documents record the sale of nearby farmland more than 800 years ago, and the cobbled footpath you walk on is a mediaeval road that has watched countless pilgrims and locals pass.
Orio is a traditional fishing village that sits at the junction between sea, river and mountains, making it an attractive place to spend an afternoon. The village is inextricably linked with the pilgrimage route; San Martin Chapel, which you will pass at the crest of the hill, was Orio’s first Parish Church and has been welcoming worshippers and pilgrims since the 13th century.
From Orio, a pleasant 25-minute train journey courses beside the river and returns you to Donostia-San Sebastian, where you can spend another night scratching the surface of everything the city offers. The trains generally run twice hourly, and costs a couple of euros; More information available here: https://www.euskotren.eus/en/tren
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.
Much of the path is along rocky and wooden steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
Camino del Norte
The Camino del Norte (northern pilgrimage route) is one of the 8 main routes to Santiago de Compostela, and thought to be the oldest – necessitated by Muslim-occupied areas further south. It is also one of the more mountainous and tougher routes, meaning it was largely abandoned as flatter routes to the south became safe.
San Martin Chapel
The chapel on the hill above Orio is dedicated to San Martin, the patron saint of pilgrims. It is said to have been Orio’s first parish church, built in the 13th century and renovated in the 16th century. It is a listed monument along the Camino del Norte.
‘Sacred Heart’ – Christ Statue
Since 1950 Christ has stood on the peak of Mount Urgull, watching over Conch Bay and transforming San Sebastian into a miniature-Rio de Janeiro. From here you can enjoy wonderful views across the city, and to two coastal bays. The statue is built atop a castle, one of many defensive fortifications that have been constructed on the mountain since the 12th century. A small museum in the castle details the city’s history.
More information available here: https://www.sansebastianturismoa.eus/en/to-do/what-not-to-miss/mount-urgull#sagrado_corazon
Food and Drink
After leaving San Sebastian there are few opportunities to buy food or drink before arriving in Orio, so be sure to bring sufficient provisions with you.
You will pass a restaurant after 7.5 kilometres, though if you are relying on this for your lunch, be sure to check it is open - https://www.asadornikolas.es/
Book recommendations for this region:
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of the steep ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.