I had a lovely walk through Pamplona and spent some time looking at the Cathedral in the morning light and at some of the beautiful parks in the city on the way out.
The walk up to Alto del Perdon was beautiful although very muddy and slippery in places. I started down quite quickly as it was very cold and actually started snowing at the top (this was my first official snow so was quite exciting). The descent to Uterga was steep and quite tricky but the enormous bocadilla (a sandwich that in normal conditions one would be unable to consume due to its vast size) was well worth it. The sun came out and made for a beautiful afternoon walk. I took the detour to the church at Eunate. The church is modeled on the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem and has been linked with the Knights Templar. The day ended in Puenta la Reina. It is a lovely town that takes its name from the six arched bridge that was built to support the safe movement of pilgrims. I spent the afternoon with a german couple and we explored the Cathedral and had supper together. A very good day!
My plan for an early start was somewhat thwarted when I got to the front door of the albergue to find that it was snowing. Really snowing - not just the light sprinkling that fell yesterday. Other pilgrims seemed to be ready for this. They pulled out snow proof gear and just started walking. I was already wearing everything I had and considered it utter madness to venture out in such conditions. I just stood there. Eventually the hospitalier closed the albergue and I realised I didn’t really have a choice. So I started walking. I was completely soaked by the time I reached the first town so I tried to stop but the hospitalier told me I could come back at 15h00 that afternoon. It was 09h00 at that stage and I would definitely have died of exposure if I had waited until 15h00 so I went on. Actually, I ran for about 2km until I was warm again and then just kept walking. I am so glad I did. It was magnificent. The path went through vineyards and olive groves which were so beautiful when covered in snow.
My stop for the night was in Villatuerta Puenta. It was one town before Estella where I had planned to stop but the road leading up to Villatuerta was literally one long mud puddle. Up until about a km before the town, I had successfully negotiated this mud by stepping from one protruding rock to the next but I finally met my match when my next stepping stone exceeded my “legspan”. The result was mud up to my calves and soaked socks and shoes. So, Villatuerta Puenta it was! I found the most wonderful albergue that had big duvets, a fire in the kitchen and a resident Great Dane. It was perfect. We made supper there as it was just to cold to venture out. Again, very little common language but we had a great time and laughed a lot. It was a wonderful evening and made me realise even more how important the company of fellow pilgrims would be on this journey.
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I was privileged to spend a lot of time exploring wilderness areas in southern Africa from a very young age. I got my first camera when I was 6 years old and I have been passionate about wildlife and landscape photography ever since.