A brutal heat had descended upon the Pays Basques and, on day four of Saints and Cynics, it showed no signs of letting up. Au contraire, as the much-anticipated crossing of the Pyrenees edged closer, kilometre by kilometre, so the thermometer crept up, centigrade by centrigrade. Those pilgrims who faced the daunting challenge of climbing the Col de Lepoeder to Roncevalles began to tread a little cautiously in our loosely-laced boots, calculating our start times and wondering whether we could walk in the before-dawn dark.
An early start but I was barely out of town before I'd already started chasing the shade. I'd left the Via Podiensis to take the detour to St Palais, I was now on the Via Lemovicencis which sets out from Vezelay but the distinction would soon be pedantic, both join the Via Turonensis from Tour just south of St Palais - two become one and lead up a short but steep hill. The sweat begins.
Chapel of Soyarza, at the top of the hill. Interesting offerings.
My poor left foot. Partly my own fault, new boots, not broken in (does one still have to 'break-in' new boots) but also a consequence of walking too far in the heat along asphalt surfaces. Prime conditions for blisters.
Ostabat. It felt, in a sense, like the heart of Europe - or at least, western Europe. The convergence of three of the four main routes across France which would have brought together pilgrims from across the continent.