Camino Frances Day 1 – Huntto to Roncesvalles

We’re walking the Camino Frances Day 1 and walking as pilgrims on the Camino Frances heading from Huntto to the monastery and albergue in Roncesvalles Spain

Camino Frances Day 1 - Overview

  • Distance – 20km
  • From – Huntto
  • To – Roncesvalles
  • Terrain – It is a tough steep climb
  • Min/Max Elevation – 493m/1427m
  • Elevation gain – 1140m
  • Steps – 51,000

We’re up early today and off at 6.30 am and today’s walk is up and over a section on the Pyrenees. In fact we have to walk for over 6hrs covering 22km and walk from 400m above sea level to over 1400m. 

I think that’s over a 3000ft ascent and similar to a 30km day on the flat. We set off after a fantastic first night at Huntto and the climb up towards Orisson is gruelling, 

Im glad I’ve got my walking poles ! 

The path switches back and forth for what seems like ages until you get to the road high above Huntto. The refuge at Orisson isn’t far away now and hopefully they will be open for some breakfast.

We stopped at Orisson for cafe au lait and a ham and cheese sandwich ! 

TOP TIP: There is only 1 stop between Orisson in France and Roncesvalles in Spain and sometimes that particular food truck isn’t open so grab a takeaway sandwich for later, just in case.

The view from the albergue in Orisson was absolutely amazing. After visiting Orisson I’ve decided next time I walk the Camino Frances I will stay here as it seems to have a really good vibe about it. 

They say when you stay in Refuge Orisson the pilgrim welcome over dinner is really amazing. I cant wait for that.

Check out this great video of the climb from Orisson to Roncesvalles from Pilgrim Nuno Santos Lourenco on Instagram.

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fantastic view from the albergue at orisson

From Orisson it was a steady climb up and up and up ! The fantastic scenery was replaced with cloud and eventually lots of rain the higher we rose. 

After about 2 hours we reached French/Spanish border and crossed over onto Spanish soil for the first time on route to the albergue in Roncesvalles. The photo below is of the border crossing point although it isn’t manned. 

The heavens opened up and it was time to get our Ponchos out for the first time on the Camino Frances and boy did we need them. It rained really hard.

I have since walked the Camino Ingles and Camino del Norte and my Poncho came in just as useful on both Caminos.

Multiple Designs
Rain Poncho Jacket Coat Hooded for Adults with Pockets (Black Point)
  • [portable]: color-matched storage pouch.
  • [material]:100% polyester. it is fabric, not plastic. waterproof eco-friendly, extremely water-resistant
  • [waterproof]: strong waterproof backing with heat sealed seams - polyester fabric is soft to the touch
  • [design]: extremely water-resistant, quick-drying, long body piece with a big hooded cap keeping you
  • [occasions]: the rain poncho jacket is fit for all, men / women / boys / girls / teens / adults.
walking on the Camino Frances to Roncesvalles
albergue in Roncesvalles

Accomodation in Roncesvalles, Spain

It rained all day !! From the Spanish border it was up to the summit and back down through a forest until we arrived at the medieval monastery and albergue at Roncesvalles. 

The route splits about 4km from Roncesvalles and you have the option of a steeper route through the first or a gentler route via the road which is about 2km longer. 

We took the forest route and is achievable as long as you take your time as there are lots of rocks on the path. 

The monastery and albergue are amazing and really interesting to look around. Have a read on more of the history of Roncesvalles at

The monastery albergue was recently renovated and is spread over 3 floors with really clean and neat bunk bed cubicles. 

In the summer the overflow of pilgrims use the original medieval hostel with has 110 beds in one room.  

I recommend staying at one the Albergues in Roncesvalles.

Available beds – 110+ beds in large dormitories in an amazing location set high in the hills of the pyrenees directly on the Camino Frances.

Cost – €15 Euro for a bed.

After checking in to the fantastic dormitories we were all very tired and ready for a hot shower !  Our first full day on The Camino, and after all the planning we have done it feels fantastic to be here. 

We found a small bar and celebrated with a few beers. We even met a guy from Bradford (our home town) what a coincidence. We booked into the restaurant in Roncesvalles and had our first ‘pilgrims dinner’ and it was delicious.

We managed to get a bed in the new dormitory area and the bunk beds in pods of 4. The three of us are in with an older lady from Germany. 

I think we will have to apologise to her before bed as I’m sure Bob and Burny’s snoring will keep her up !! The dorm has about 100 people in it and is very cozy 🙂 

I will definitely need my ear plugs tonight. First day completed and not feeling to bad either. Result !

The albergue at Roncesvalles is a fantastic place to stay on the first night of walking on The Camino Frances.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the walking stage on the Camino Frances Day 1 from Huntto to Roncesvalles.

To follow our journey read about our travels on Day 2 – Roncesvalles to Zabaldiki.

Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens

I am a long distance walking nerd and fell in love with the Camino de Santiago in 2016 when I walked the French Way for the first time. I've been blogging since then and my aim is to help all Pilgrims with hiking and walking advice.

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