El Camino Frances

The Traditional Route from France

Navarra

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Cizur Menor to Puente la Reina

17 May 1993 and 2 June 2002 molinos

It is easy to see where the Camino leads on leaving Cizur Menor. All along the ridge ahead is a line of wind turbines generating electricity. This is a fairly recent feature of the Spanish countryside and each time I return to Spain I see more and more of them.

In 2002 I set off late because I waited to see if Jack and John were fit enough to continue with their journey. They both decided to take a rest day so I set off alone after all the other pilgrims had left. Jack was forced to give up his walk but John met up with us in Santiago one day after we arrived.

Part way up the pass is the village of Zarequiegui which has a shop and a welcome fuente. Fill your bottles here because the ornate Fuente de la Reniega, higher up the slope, was dry when I passed in 2002. This may have been due to the dry weather or may be a more permanent effect of the building of the foundations for the windmills.

Perdon

There is an unusual pilgrim’s monument on the crest of the Alto de Perdon made up of figures of a band of pilgrims cut from sheet metal. I stopped here in the shade of a concrete plinth to admire the views back towards Pamplona and forward across the open farmland towards Puente la Reina.

The descent is steep with loose rocks but not too difficult. Perdon Once on level ground there are three villages to pass through on the way to Puente la Reina and two of them, Uterga and Obanos, have refugios. In 2002 my walk coincided with the feast of Corpus Christi and I was able to see the church processions in Murazábal and Obanos. I also managed to see the last 20 minutes of a World Cup football match while I rested in a bar in Obanos.

Eunate

1993. I diverted from the Camino here to visit the Templar’s chapel at Eunate. This is on the route coming from the Pass of Somport not far from where the two Caminos join.

There is a statue of a pilgrim in traditional dress at the junction of the Caminos outside Puente la Reina. Getting a photo of this involved dashing in and out of the traffic on the busy road and there was no time to do anything fancy with the exposure settings.

statue

Puente la Reina has two refugios and several hotels. Most of the traffic is taken around the town and over a new bridge leaving the main street and medieval bridge quiet for walkers. The old bridge is closed to motor traffic but I had to give way to a flock of sheep in 1993.

1993. I stayed at the refugio run by the Padres Reparadores (a German order) at the entrance to the town. The refugio is outside the seminary but the office giving out the stamps for the credenciales was inside but unattended. There was a queue waiting here and the stamp was on the desk. After a while I took charge of this so a group could move on to another village and also stamped my own credencial. This resulted in the only upside down stamp in my collection.

The sleeping accommodation consisted of 11 triple decker bunks in one room and they all filled up with 33 pilgrims and a child that night. In the morning some late arriving cyclists were found in the mess room sleeping on the tables and the stone floor. I looked in here in 2002 and the accommodation was larger and not so crowded.

2002. There is a new and much larger refugio just outside the far end of town. I crossed over the medieval bridge and then had a steep climb up to the refugio. There is a huge dormitory but also a couple of side rooms taking ten sleepers each and I was able to join some people I had befriended in Cizur Menor. There is a basic restaurant and a bar in the refugio if you are too tired to walk back into town.