I said goodbye to the Hotel Catédral after watching Juventus shut out Barcelona with some of the other guests on the previous evening, and headed towards Puente La Reina (The Queen’s Bridge – so named because a Queen ordered the bridge to be built to assist pilgrims on their journey).
I left about 8am and it was cold passing through the shaded streets of Pamplona even with a base layer and fleece top on.
But soon I was passing the ceremonial gate on this side of the city, going through the gardens and across another lovely old bridge. Heading southwest (I think), the sun was now on my back and I made good time through the outskirts of Pamplona until the next objective started to come into sight.
The Camino climbs to pass between the windmills on the horizon. But that was still about 10km away and for the moment the Way was a pleasant walk through farming country. I hadn’t realised what a food bowl Spain is to Europe. For the past few days (I’m writing this post on Saturday evening) I have walked past field after field of wheat or vegetable crops – artichoke, asparagus, peas, olives and grapes. The wheat is specifically grown for bread making flour.
Then the climb kicks in and it was hard going back up to 750m with the windmills becoming closer all the time, and you keep hoping that the next turn will take you to the crest.
Where’s Joe Hockey when you want him to stick something.
Finally you reach the summit of this ridge which divides the Pamplona basin from the next valley. You can actually pick out the ridge easily from the Google Earth photo above. The summit contains a monument to pilgrims and the way they have travelled the Camino over the ages – by foot, donkey, horseback…every pilgrim stops here for a rest break after the climb so it is pretty busy. The monument dedication translates as “Where the way of the wind meets that of the stars” – from here on the Camino starts heading more westward.
And from there it is a relatively easy final six kilometres down into Puente La Reina and the famous bridge.
I was still feeling not too bad and met up for a couple of drinks with some of the people I’ve met along the way, and then a pilgrim’s meal with Alex from England. A nice day all round really, and the first that I’ve felt I still had some energy left after arrival.