Day 1 Sun 23 Mar
As El Camello (The Camel Train) climbed to Canfranc Station at 1100 meters n the Pyrenees, snow started falling. The forecast was for 15 cms of snow and winds to 80 kph. No walking for us today so we took a taxi 10 klms down to Villanua to start our Camino from there.
Snow started as El Camello climbed to Canfranc
Canfranc Station, the largest in Europe in 1928, now abandoned
Day 2 Mon 24 Mar
Next morning we set out from Villanua with the frozen ground crunching beneath our feet on a cold sunny day, making it the 15 klms to Jaca before the rain started. Jaca is a very clean town with a pedestrianized old section; would have enjoyed it a lot more in the summer.
A journey begins ...
Walking along a frozen path
Church at Castillo de Jaca
Fort at Jaca
Jaca Cathedral, oldest Romanesque building in Spain
Day 3 Tue 25 Mar
We didn’t enjoy the 16 k walk from Jaca to Santa Cruz de la Serós – it was cold wet and the muddy path made for slow going. Yet, Santa Cruz is the most beautiful stone mountain village, the best preserved in Spain, and we stayed 2 nights.
The old convent of Santa Cruz de la Serós (from our room)
Old & new - witch scaring chimney (only in Aragon) & TV antenna
Day 4 Wed 26 Mar
The old monastery of San Juan de la Peña is a 8 k walk up hill so we set off early with some misgivings as it had snowed overnight and about 10 cms remaimed on the road. The day cleared with sun and blue sky for the first time. The new monastery (1675) was restored in 2007; the old monastery (920) built into the cliffs below is definitely worth a journey.
The old (925) San Juan de la Peña monastery built into a cliff
The new (1675) monastery of San Juan de la Peña
Day 5 Thu 27 Mar
From Santa Cruz to Arrés, via Santa Cilia, was a pleasant 19 klm walk, except for the mud in places which made for heavy going. The hospitalero, Rafael, met us the edge of the village, and with great enthusiasm, led us to the Albergue. He insisted on washing and scrubbing our shoes absolutely clean before buying us a beer. Another pilgrim arrived by bike – we were the first pilgrims for 4 days so a couple of bottles of wine somehow disappeared. Arrés is a pretty hilltop village with a weekend population of 36 and a weekday population of 4.
Downhill to Santa Cilia
At Santa Cilia ...
... delicious wood-fired bread
Climbing to Arrés
Hundreds of cairns - for what reason?
The Albergue in Arrés
Day 6 Fri 28 Mar
Arrés to Artieda – 18 klms – very dreary, wondering why we are here. Walking mostly on boring secondary roads, we saw 1 pilgrim on a bike, 2 farmers, 2 cars & 4 dogs in 5 hours! Artieda is another small (pop 120) hilltop village, cold and windy today.
Artieda, cold and windy
Artieda Romanesque Church
Day 7 Sat 29 Mar
This morning all was well in the world and at 22 klms our longest day so far. We walked along a delicious centuries old footpath until Ruesta suddenly appeared. It is a crumbling abandoned village, once a medieval fort, now has a bar and an Albergue amongst the ruins. From there on mostly up hill until we descended an old Roman road to arrive at the village of Undués de Lerda with its brand new centrally heated Albergue, luxury!
Along a delicious path to ...
... crumbling Ruesta, abandoned in 1959
Descending a Roman road to Undués
Undués de Lerda
Day 8 Sun 30 Mar
On to Sangüesa, a town of 5,000 and now in Basque Navarre, only 10 klms. It was Sunday so the bars had tables out in the street – looks like a tapas crawl tonight. Sunday morning is churros day too, we cannot resist.
Sunday morning = Chocolate con churros
Door of the Sangüesa Cathedral
Now in Navarra, Basque tapas and wine, a must!