Towns Along the Way – Navarra #2

We continue on our journey…

Uterga (map) – 710 kms to Santiago.

utergaUterga is the first town you arrive at after descending the Alto de Perdón. The descent can be perilous at times, especially during bad weather. I remember walking into the village in September 2014 and initially spotting its large town hall. It must be the tidiest village I have seen. It is home to 2 albergues and a hostal (Gronze). Albergue Camino del Perdón is perfect for a stop off after the tough climb and descent. However, many choose to walk on to Puente la Reina, another fine town.

 

Villatuerta (map) – 685 kms to Santiago

Villatuerta is a town of just under 1000 residents located 4 km outside of Estella. Although probably of Roman origin, the greatest development of Villatuerta occurred in medieval times and, as a consequence of the Camino de Santiago. Since then it has retained its Romanesque bridge over the river Iranzu, the river that that divides the town into two neighbourhoods. The parish church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, also of Roman origin, it had to be rebuilt in the 15th century. There is the one albergue here, Casa Magica (Gronze), which is well recommended.

Villamayor de Monjardín (map) – 653 kms to Santiago

VillamayorDMonjardinIn 2014 I encountered this village in Navarra. I had stayed just outside of Estella the previous night and had left early that morning. Unfortunately, there were no cafes open in Villamayor when I passed so I had to make do with the wine I picked up in Irache earlier. I wasn’t complaining :). Villamayor de Monjardín is a small town located at the foot of the Castle of San Esteban of Deyo. The fortress walls are well conserved. The main site visited is the Romanesque church of San Andrés, from the 12th century. You should have no problem finding somewhere to stay here (Gronze).

Torres del Río (map) – 636 kms to Santiago

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Torres del Rio is one of the final towns you will pass before entering La Rioja. This small village, located at the side of a hill, hosts of one of the most characteristic monuments of Romanesque architecture in Navarre, an octagonal church of the Santo Sepulcro. I was unlucky not to witness the inside of this church as it was closed the day I passed through Torres del Río. There are three albergues here (Gronze). I really enjoyed my stay in Casa Mariela. The following clip shows you the church of the Santo Sepulcro.

 

Viana (map) – 625 kms to Santiago

Viana is a town that will surprise pilgrims for its rich architecture, wine cellars and, above all, for its extensive history. The last town in Navarre is situated just seven kilometres from Logroño. It has a fortified square, surrounded by a medieval wall, which served as a defensive stronghold during the Middle Ages against the ancient Kingdom of Castile. Its narrow streets, many monuments, and the majestic church of Santa Maria are highlights. The importance of the Camino on the evolution of Viana is evident by the six refuges for pilgrims, of which several traces still remain. Viana often hosts fiestas and is known to have a ‘running of the bulls’.

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Outside the Iglesia de Santa Maria in Viana

Leaving Viana brings us to Logrono and the new province of La Rioja…

 

¡Buen camino! documentary on TVE

I first became aware of the above programme on Spanish TV channel “RTVE” last weekend when it popped up on my Facebook feed. I immediately went to the channel’s website and watched the first episode which is available for streaming for quite a while. The programme is broadcast each Thursday at 12.25am but is uploaded for viewing online right after.

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I then saw a post by Cathy Seitchik Diaz on the Facebook group September, 2017 – Camino de Santiago. Cathy has just returned from her 3rd Camino and I wanted to know how she got on, so I messaged her. When she replied she told me that she had been interviewed by the producers of ¡Buen camino! and she is due to be on Episode 6. I thought Wow!!

The documentary follows a Spanish pilgrim, Marta Márquez, as she walks from Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago on the Camino Frances. On her way, she meets many pilgrims from all over the world. We hear about their experiences and the reasons that led them to do this challenge. There are also short segments about the different Caminos, how to achieve your Compostela and what kit to carry. The first show started on July 13th and it will continue for a further 9 weeks – each week for each etapa.

The program discovers stories such as ……
– Cathy (above), a teacher from San Francisco, California, who carried her mother’s ashes with her;
– Irene and Sam, a mother and her 3 year old son riding a bicycle. They discover landscapes and areas of Galicia that they will never forget;
– Derek, a former Irish soldier stationed in Iraq. He found on the Way the remedy for its nightmares and disturbing visions.

You can view the 2 episodes shown so far by clicking on the links below –

¡Buen camino! Episode 1 – www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/buen-camino/buen-camino-programa-1/4114558/

¡Buen camino! Episode 2 – www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/buen-camino/buen-camino-programa-2/4125643/

The episodes are broadcast in Spanish however there are subtitles. If you do know of a way to change the subtitles to English, please let me know. For me however, having subtitles as it is, it is a great way of improving my Spanish as I understand most of what is being said when I read it.

I’m looking forward to seeing Cathy following our chat and I would love to have her contribute to our “Your Stories, Your Camino” series sometime in the future.

Buen Camino!

PS…please read Cathy’s comment below if you wish to change the subtitles to English. Her instructions are extremely helpful. I will upload a post about Cathy’s recent Camino shortly. Keep your eye on this space! 🙂 

Another Weekend Walk..

Last weekend, myself and some from the Free Camino Prep meet-up group met up and walked a section of the Grand Canal Way. We decided to meet outside of Dublin in a little town called Hazelhatch. The great thing about this trail is not only is it way-marked but it is serviced well by Irish Rail, so myself and my brother caught an early train to Portlaoise from Heuston Station in Dublin. We were practically the only people in the carriage so this was a novelty considering it is exactly the opposite during the week! We arrived in Hazelhatch Station, just outside of Celbridge just after 10am and waited for the remainder of the walkers. By half ten, we were 9, including the both of us, and we decided to make a start. We had 600 metres to reach the start of the trail so it wasn’t far. The Grand Canal Way actually starts in Lucan in Dublin but I chose this 12 km section as it is the easiest to get to and it is the most scenic. It isn’t difficult either, in fact, it is all flat and didn’t cause any of us any bother.

The route is well maintained and it passes many towns if you want to stop for a snack or a coffee. The Grand Canal itself is used to this day by boats and barges making use of the 117km river. We saw plenty of kayakers flying up and down the canal as we walked westward. The trail passes the Lyons Estate with it’s boutique hotel and cafe. €183 will get you a room for a night! After the 12km, we arrived at the town of Sallins. We grabbed a coffee and made way to the train station for the next train Dublin-bound.

I really enjoyed this walk but it lacked any ascent or descent for that matter. If you want an easy walk with good scenery, I would recommend this trail. But as practice for a Camino, I would give it a miss. It can be walked from start to finish in 5/6 days and many people carry tents if they were to walk it as a whole.

Tomorrow, a number of the group walk from Dun Laoghaire to Killiney Hill and back. I will write when we complete that. Follow me on instagram (@clearskiescamino) for some photos as the day progresses.

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The White Spinc Trail – Glendalough

Another beautiful day and another trip with the Camino prep meet-up group. Each time I meet with them, I feel like I have stumbled across a pot of gold. Yesterday, we took on the Spinc trail at Glendalough. As some of you may know, Glendalough is home of St. Kevin’s church and monastic site. The Wicklow Way also passes through this area.

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We arrived at 10am and started on a short walk to the trail head. At that point, we were greeted with a long and steep climb. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though as there were steps to aid us..near on 650 of them! It wasn’t long before the calves began to give in! After a half hour, we reached the top and were met with a fantastic view above the upper lake and Glenealo river. After a quick breather, we marched on, taking advantage of the boardwalks. A short time later, we reached the top of the Spinc. Boy, was that tough! But for all the aches and pains, we were rewarded ten-fold with amazing views. Looking down over the cliff-face, you can see the path on the other side of the lake. We would be walking this in a few hours.

The trails were full while we walked as many took advantage of the Easter season and took in a hike. There were many tourists out also. I was really impressed to see children of all ages run up the ascent with no bother! A further hour passed and after a descent (in some parts dangerous) we reached the old Lead-mine ruins. We all stopped here for lunch and a breather. We weren’t far from the end, with another 4 km on the flat left. On arriving back to base, we grabbed a coffee and a snack in the Glendalough hotel. I was really happy with the day and having no rain was a bonus! The next few weeks’ walks will keep me busy as I have the Howth Bog of Frogs planned with the Camino Society of Ireland on Saturday, followed by the same on Sunday with the Camino Prep Meet-Up group. The next Saturday (29th April) we have decided to walk from Hazelhatch to Sallins along the Grand Canal Way. Let’s hope it is fine that day too.

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Camino By Sea / Camino Na Saile

February 19th sees the start of a new series on Irish TV called Camino na Saile (or Camino by Sea in English). It will be shown on our Irish language TV channel over the course of 3 weeks. It documents the journey of 5 men who sailed from the south of Ireland to A Coruna over the course of 4 years. For 800 years, people have sailed from Ireland to A Coruña in Northern Spain and walked to Santiago de Compostela from there. These men have done their own version of this historical voyage in a Naomhóg (or a currach) they built themselves in this Modern day Celtic Odyssey. Stage 1 of the journey follows the crew on a journey across the Irish Sea and the English Channel to reach Brittany in Northern France.

 

Now I understand that the majority of my readers live outside of Ireland, and will be unable to watch it, however you can do so online on www.tg4.ie/en/player/home or via the Mobdro smartphone app. If you download the app at www.mobdro.com on your phone and search for TG4, you will have no problems viewing the series.

It starts at 8.30pm GMT on the 19th of February and continues each Sunday after that. Happy watching!

 

 

So what’s been going on..?

The last few weeks I haven’t really been motivated to post. I have been waiting for a moment to pick me up and put a pen in my hand, so to speak! I think today I had that moment! Last week I found a Camino group on Meetup.com and instantly joined. The first meetup was today – “Have you ALREADY been on the Camino? Let’s have coffee”. So today I ventured into a cold damp Dublin city – quite the opposite of a typical day in September on the Camino. I met some great Camino veterans from around the Dublin region. I get a real buzz talking to others who have walked different “ways”. It was great to learn about the different routes. A half hour turned quickly into two hours. Everyone I met have planned, or are in the various planning stages of a return to Spain this year. We bounced ideas and hints off each other – what’s the best guide book (or is there a need for one?) – where to get the best gear? – what’s the best and worst experience we have had? At present, there are 150 in the group and most haven’t walked the Camino yet. Hopefully it is successful and more and more join in the future. If you are reading this and are looking to meet some folks from around Dublin, click on the link above and hit that join button!

In other news, I am meeting J and C; my Camino friends from 2013, on Friday. Since breaking my wrist, I haven’t walked any great distance and hopefully these few days will get the ball rolling for September. They are returning to Spain in September also to walk the full Camino. This will be a perfect opportunity to try out my Pacerpoles.

 

 

April becomes September..

So I posted before before Christmas that I had planned to walk from Leon to Santiago. I couldn’t wait to heal up after my broken wrist, so I booked my flights and bought any other gear that I needed. There was much anticipation which is usually the case when I think about returning to Spain. I had decided on April as a good time as it’s not too warm and it’s not that busy at that time of the year.

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, I felt it would be better to postpone and cut short my Camino. I have a number of things that I need to give my attention to over the next 3-4 months and unfortunately, a trip to Spain isn’t high on that list. So I am putting it aside until September 4th when I fly to Madrid and catch a bus to Astorga. I have made a booking in Hotel Gaudi which I am looking forward to. The next morning I hope to march on to who knows where! I had to grin and bear the charge for changing flights but that’s a small sacrifice! I look forward to the Leon hills, the Cruz de Ferro, the Bierzo valley and of course, the climb to O Cebreiro!