Day 11 – Lorca to Estella

  • Distance today: 5.9mi
  • Distance Camino 2017: 71.5 mi

The walk this morning, starting at 6:45, was very pleasant… cool, partly cloudy, slight breeze… and it’s mid-August in Spain!!!


After 3 miles we stopped for cafe con leche and sweet rolls in Villatuerta (pop. 1122). A group of pilgrims from Italy also stopped for coffee. We chatted with a guy from the group, probably in his early 50’s and discovered that this was his 12th Camino! He said it gave him energy for life and it was a way to spiritually give thanks for his happy life. His wife was walking with him but it wasn’t clear if she had walked with him on all 12. He had also visited the USA in 2010 to run the New York marathon.


Continuing on, we walked across another Roman bridge in the town, passed the Iglesia de la Asunción then left the paved streets and rejoined the dirt path of the Camino. A few hundred yards out of town, we passed Ermita de San Miguel, took some photos and moved on.


About a mile from Estella, we passed a small farm and a cute pony came over to the fence to greet us so we returned the favor with a photo for all you horse 🐴 lovers.

A friendly pony came out to greet some pilgrims

A short while later we began sharing the Camino with some other pilgrims and some local dog walkers, not unlike our morning walks back in South Carolina.

Pilgrims and local dog walkers sharing Camino just outside Estella

As we walked into old Estella we stopped at the Iglesia de Santiago Sepulcro for photos, then crossed the bridge known in the Middle Ages as “Berçes Bridge” into the burgh of San Miguel.


A Spanish lady asked Jim if he was lost (he was wandering aimlessly, waiting for Linda to catch up) and he assured her in his best Spanish that he was merely waiting for “mi esposa”. She asked where we were from and when Jim said USA, she immediately began speaking good English, explaining that this week was the big annual festival celebration in Estella.

This festiveness was confirmed as we walked further and noticed that most of the people we saw of all ages were in costume consisting of white top, white pants, red bandana and an occasional red sash tied around the waist and hanging down one leg.

North portal of Iglesia de San Miguel

We stopped for a quick photo of Iglesia de San Miguel, a fortress-like 12th century church with a spectacular north portal.

On we walked to Pencion Cristina, located on Iglesia San Juan Bautista Square, which just happened to be the center of the festival activities!

Our room wasn’t ready until 11:00 so we killed an hour, pilgrim style by stopping at the nearby sweets shop and bought some sweets and got chocolate to break the chill in the air.

Got chocolate and sweets in nearby restaurant while waiting for our room.

The rest of the day was spent with chores, mixing with the Estellians as they enjoyed the festivities, eating and still finding time for a short nap.


We also observed the Estella “running of the bulls” from our room balcony.

Estella festival features running of the bulls… seen from our 3rd floor room balcony.

Nothing short of an incredible day on the Camino.

Day 10 – Puente la Reina to Lorca

  • Distance today: 8.2 mi
  • Distance Camino 2017: 65.6 mi

We prepared our own breakfast in the albergue before leaving at 6:45 a.m.

We crossed the Rio Arga via the Puente la Reina, without fear of expensive ferrymen or treacherous boat rides (thanks, Queen).

Leaving Puente la Reina on the “Queen’s Bridge”

The level, dirt path leaving town eased alongside the river for about 2 miles before taking a sharp turn up the side of a small mountain.

The footing was secure so we just took our time and a km (0.62 miles) later we were at the top.  Two 20 something pilgrims passed us on the way up the mountain. Jim recognized the lady’s hat as identical to his favorite, “Drover” hat he purchased in Sydney, Australia in 2014.  The young couple stopped to adjust their packs and as we caught them, Jim said “where are you from?”. The young man said, “Italia” and the young lady, “Australia”.  Jim then said, “Are you from Sydney?” and when she said yes, he said I have the same hat as you, I bought it in Sydney!  She laughed and agreed when seeing Jim’s hat attached to his pack.  Another great Camino memory!

Shortly after cresting the mountain, we entered the village of Mañeru, well placed for a brief rest stop.

Just a few minutes past Mañeru, we got our first view of Cirauqui, a medieval village, pop. 505, whose Basque name means “nest of vipers”. What impressed us the most was the constant, enlarging view of the village, located on the crest of a large hill and the colorful vineyards and olive trees as we wound through in the approaching valley.

The Camino passed straight through the village which meant we went steeply up and then steeply down on the narrow paved village streets/steps.

We exited Cirauqui on the remains of a surprisingly well defined Roman road which led to an also surviving Roman bridge. Shortly past the bridge we crossed the A-12 expressway and it was ironic to view a 2000 year old Roman road still existing beside a less than 50 year old highway that would probably not survive the next 50.

We walked parallel to A-12 on and off the Roman road for the next mile or two, passing another well preserved small Roman bridge, passing under A-12 and beginning our climb up to the 12th century village of Lorca, our destination for today.

Our double room with ensuite bathroom (40€) was ready about 30 minutes after we checked-in at La Bodega del Camino. By 5:30 some of our clothes are still damp due to the party cloudy, low 60 degree weather today: great for walking, not so good for drying clothes.

We stayed off our feet most of the afternoon, reading and blogging.

We had a pilgrim dinner tonight in the albergue dining area. We ate with a young man from Italia, a construction worker, a young lady who taught school in Los Angeles, and another young man from Cambridge, England, who worked as a supervisor in a Titlelist golf ball warehouse. They were all in their 20’s.

Today was one of our longer walks so far, but not too difficult, the weather being a big factor. We might actually be adapting and/or already getting stronger.