For me leaving Roncesvalles is a dream as the route is mostly downhill a welcome change after yesterday. 300 meters after Roncesvalles you will come to the Cruz de Peregrinos a 14th-century Gothic pilgrims cross, which was moved here in 1880 from further up the mountains. The cross depicts King Sancho el Fuerte and his wife Clemencia.
The Camino Frances follows the side of the N135 for most of the day – which is a quiet country road that weaves down the foothills towards Pamplona; initially is tree-lined and most of the day is easy underfoot.
Two km after leaving Roncesvalles the track turns towards and passes through some farm buildings. This was my first experience of barking Spanish dogs; it encouraged me to purchase a walking stick shortly thereafter. I don’t like dogs much and try to avoid the barking ones, though over a four-week period it was only an issue three times.
There is a cafe in the village that supplies the passing pilgrims with breakfast. Burguete is where the revisionist history moved the Battle of Roncesvalles to. It was thought that it was noble that armies met and fought on open ground rather than at Valcarlos, in a valley, where the battle took place.
In the first documents that testify to the Auritz/Burguete settlement it is called Roncesvalles; At the end of the 11th century, this population nucleus was integrated into the Erro valley. It belonged to the royal patrimony and in 1080 it was assigned to a bastard of the royal family, Sancho Sánchez, count of Erro y de Navarra. The pilgrims’ inn which, later on, would retain the name of Roncesvalles, was founded in 1127. The church dedicated to Santa María built next to the hospital, royal donations and the council of regular canons made that foundation increasingly known outside the region, to the point that the town on which it depended began to be known as El Burguet, and later simply Burguete.
The town again passed into royal hands and in 1197 it was the seat of the tenure of the area. At that time, a borough of Franks was born in the town that made the population grow considerably, as José Andrés Gallego indicates, 9 the year 1253 can be considered as the date on which the current nucleus of Burguete appears separated from the rest of Valderro. Towards 1274 it appeared as one of the good towns with a seat in the Courts of the Kingdom, it received the Jurisdiction of Jacaand governed independently of any other administration of a local nature. It was made up of bourgeois families that achieved economic power and high positions in the central administration. However, this trajectory was cut short with the fire that took place in the town in 1399, which ended up destroying a large part of the town (124 houses were ruined). It was not recovered until the 15th century and even so it could not prevent the diminutive of Burguete from emerging.
Given the military vulnerability of Valcarlos, the customs function weighed heavily on Burguete for centuries. For this reason, from the 16th century, there was a permanent garrison in Burguete and a fortress had to be built and improved, which remained standing until the French destroyed it in 1794 in the War of the Convention. At the beginning of 1800, the town had a flour mill and its people lived on sheep. During the 19th century, cattle and horses gained importance and already then the population had recovered significantly.
3.5km to the next food shop, pharmacy, and again a café that is open from early in the morning and caters to the passing pilgrims with breakfast and coffee, in the midst of the quaint narrow one street village.
Espinal was founded in 1269 by King Theobald II of Navarre, however nothing of note remains in the village.
Alto de Mezquiriz
2km, the alto is marked with a plaque of the Virgin and Child.
3.4km, cafe, bar, food shop, water
2km, water. Within this small village, the local church is named after Saint Saturninus a French saint. This is one of the many reminders along the Camino Frances of the strong French influence from 900 years ago on the Camino Frances. The church is of 13th century construction in Romanesque style.
Alto de Erro
4.5km, Camino information board. Here pilgrims of the past venerated a two metre square rock known as Rolland’s footsteps. Medieval sources regard Charlemagne and Rolland as discoverers and defenders respectively of the Apostle’s tomb and the pilgrim route to Santiago even though there is a difference of more than 200 years.
The Camino descends towards Zubiri, however, the actual Camino does not cross the River Arga into the town, though most pilgrims do. It is a good sized town with a few bars and cafes, (there is also an outdoor swimming pool near the municipal Albergue). Many pilgrims stop here rather than continuing to Larrasoana, however, I carry on wishing for more time in Pamplona the following day. The worst part of today’s route is just after Zubiri where we pass some garish factories while climbing out of Zubiri.
3.6km, Cafe, bar, food shop, pharmacy, water
Albergue de Peregrinos de Zubiri, Municipal, Av Zubiri, €8, 52 beds, K, V, @, Bike, Tel: 628324186, Open March to October.
Zubiri is Basque for Village of the Bridge; it was believed that this Gothic bridge over the River Arga was able to rid animals of rabies by driving the livestock three times around its central pillar – this is why the bridge was also known as the Bridge of Rabies. This power to ward off the disease was attributed to the relics of St Quiteria which are buried in the abutment of the bridge.
It is 5.5km to Larrasoana where there are many services, including cafes, bars, food shops, pharmacies, and water.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.