When I walked in France I was aware that the Le Puy route was a 'creation' of the 70s: the original pilgrim routes had been 'lost' over time. Still, the Le Puy route was routed past towns that pilgrims were known to have visited, and I saw many twelfth century churches along the route. Yet somehow I had the feeling that in Spain I would be walking more of a 'real' pilgrim route. For many reasons, today's walk had me really thinking I was on an ancient pilgrim trail, and I treasured it for that. I would have treasured it even more, if I had realised how much of the Spanish route was to be on modern senda or next to busy highways, with no signs of anything left from previous centuries.
One of today's treasures was the town of Cirauqui, which loomed ahead like some kind of jewel on a hillside,
but there was some sticky, thick mud to scramble/slide through next to these vineyards before the prize was reached! At one point I had to wade through knee-deep, cold water in order to continue....
It was a steepish climb up to the top of the village, then I sat and rested here for a while, enjoying the light and shade near the medieval arcade.
If I hadn't been feeling the need to push-on-summer's-coming, this would have been an interesting town to stop in longer to explore. (Maybe next time!) Leaving Cirauqui, there was an old Roman road to walk over, with many of its ancient paving stones still in place.
There were several medieval bridges to cross along the way today,
and fields of wheat with poppies that enlivened the view.
In the village of Lorca there was an area of comfortable seating where lots of pilgrims stopped for lunch, enjoying some welcome sunshine.
We were tired when we arrived in Estella, so we were pleased to find that the municipal albergue was reached soon after we arrived in the town.
Estella had many historic buildings, and after I had done the 'usual'- ie shower and laundry, I was glad to go out exploring. There was an amazing steeply humped bridge over the river, and I took that when I headed to the Correos. My mission was to post home my good windjacket (and a light long-sleeved top)- both of which I thought were now surplus to requirements since I had crossed the Pyrenees. I would have to say it was lovely to be rid of a kg of weight. However, I can't say I didn't have reason to miss the warmth of the jacket over the next few weeks. Spain in June might not be as warm as you imagine it is going to be is the only warning I will give here! Luckily it never rained much, so I was often able to wear my day and night layers together - but some people went out and bought an extra fleece jacket at this point.
Estella had the church of St Peter's as one of its treasures, and it had a steep 'penetential' climb up to it
and a very atmospheric cloister behind it, where I caught sight of this 'Peter with the keys'.
In Estella, the Red Cross had volunteers in a place right near to the Municipal Albergue. Several pilgrims I knew who had foot or leg problems were glad of the kind welcome they found here.
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