Day 4: Arre to Uterga

Today’s plan is to not get wet. Anything else is a bonus.

We’ve got an albergue booked at Uterga so we’re in no hurry. The Arre albergue is quite casual and doesn’t kick us out until 9am. But, we’re out at 8-ish and we amble up the road into Pamplona.

Mike tells me that it’s the Rio Ulztama which imminently joins the Rio Arga. So now you know…

Having our own room means we can mess about and make noise.

Diana is on ‘have we got everything?’ duty

We pack all our stuff in plastic bags, just in case the 20% (depending on which app you use) chance of rain actually materialises. My walking shoes are too wet, so I pack out my Merrell sandals with padding, add moleskin plasters to my feet and slather the lot in vaseline before inserting the slimy result into my socks.

There are some great murals/grafitti on the walk into town.

Off we go through the very pleasant streets of Pamplona. No rain…. Yet.

Much upgraded way markers since we were here last. We have this variety…
…and these.

We walk past the ancient ramparts designed to keep the likes of us out in the olden days, and remark on what a different world it is now.

I do like a good sundial
Not sure I’m on board with the happy bulls and the bishop. Apparently it’s 307 days until the bull-bothering starts again
Leaving Pamplona.

Today is a very straight route, heading pretty much due west. The landscape changes west of the city. The last few days were in familiar territory – the trees and landscape could be Scotland. From now on we’re in what might be called stereotypical Spain. I look forward to it.

We head on up to Alto del Perdon. I love this place. It’s perhaps second only to Orrisson in my where-to-go-in-your-head-when-in-the-dentist-chair locations. And today it has more weight, more emotional thump than it might normally. It was in Pamplona four years ago that Jen and I left Mike and Llew, and headed back to Madrid to be with Muriel when she went to see the oncologist about a recent test. As most readers of this blog will know, that test was positive, and what with one thing and another1 Muriel was given an 18-months to live prognosis. Four years later, she is still here. I wrote earlier about this camino being ‘unfinished business’. Thanks to Jen and Muriel’s brother, Albert, who is visiting from Australia I get the chance to come back and pick up that trail from four years back, where, in an alternative universe, Jen and I head to the bus station and home. Today, the quantum world splits and I head west for the hill of Alto del Perdon.

The scenery is marvellous, even if the sky is un-Spanish in its greyness.

The track is quite badly damaged by the recent storm and we have to cross a fast flowing stream at one point. Jonathan decides to go barefoot and has to reassemble himself.

We stop at a small town for a bocadillo – basically a cheese and tomato omelette in a baguette. Can’t be healthy…

Eating bocadillos with two Texans

I walk ahead as I want to get to the monument by myself.

I sit and think and sit and think some more.

I can’t put this into words. In a way, it’s like some kid getting to go to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse. There’s nothing inherently special about this time and this place.

And yet… and yet…

I weep buckets.

I worry what will happen when I get to La Cruz de Ferro. I fear I shall surf down the moutainside on a wave of my tears.

Damn right…

I leave and make my way down the other side of the hill, and try and catch up with the others.

Llew looking beatific, but the truth is that if he sat down he’d never get up again

We amble through the glorious countryside to Uterga where we have 4 slots booked in the Camino de Perdon albergue. And very nice it is, too….

We check in, do the washing of ourselves and our stuff and await dinner. It is excellent and we share our table with two Texans who have been training in 110 deg F heat for this. They’ll have no trouble with the Spanish heat!

I write this blog and get bitten by some evil looking insect. Tomorrow I reckon I’ll have a huge welt on my left hand. Oh well….

  1. I’m not going to write much about the details of this. This is Muriel’s story and it is hers to tell. ↩︎

Day 3: Stats

Arre to Uterga

  • Steps: 30,595
  • Distance covered: 23.9km
  • Apple Watch stats
    • 50 ‘Flights Climbed’
    • 2073 kcal burned