From the bridge at Sangüesa
, take the road to Pamplona and then take the turning off to Rocaforte
. A few metres along the road turn off once again onto a path that goes around the site of a paper factory. The old road heads up to the centre of Rocaforte, which is on the brow of a mountain range, hanging over the valley. This town, called "Sangüesa la vieja" (Old Sangüesa), with the beauty of its streets and old houses, provides a contrast to the industrial landscape found immediately below.
From the lower part of Rocaforte the path is flat until it reaches a steep riverbank along which it climbs, leaving behind (on the right) the impressive building of the Oratory of San Bartolomé, now in ruins. A little further ahead, it passes by the Fountain of San Francisco
, a welcoming spot that is ideal for taking a break. At the end of the climb the traveller comes faces to face with a wide open, shallow valley, bordered by two mountain ranges, one of which - the Salajones mountain range - is crowned by wind turbines. The route continues through vineyards and fields of grain and past old farmyards that have deteriorated over the years through lack of use.
After leaving Aibar we come to the Cañada Real (sheep trail) that runs from Murillo el Fruto to Salazar, perpendicular to our route. There is a rest area with a fountain at the crossroads, from where the valley gets narrower and the route becomes more 'rustic'.
The route easily climbs the valley along a country path, passing by a river-less poplar grove. Almost at the top of the valley, cross under the road via an underground passageway and climb the last slope along a stony path. On the other side is the town of Lumbier and its surrounding basin and at the end, on a clear day, is the impressive silhouette of the Pyrenees.
The path on the northern side heads down between young pines planted for repopulation, which are close to the road at the beginning. On reaching the small hill of San Babil, the path enters a repopulated area of mature black pines and goes down to a ravine where you will find a gravel path, from which the route soon veers onto on a narrow path. The path goes along the hillside for a long time through a mountain of wild pines, oaks and boxwood, where the outlines of old farmland can still be seen. This path leads to the small valley of Olatz, which you will climb up along a dirt track.
A small archway along the route leads into Olatz, the name of a medieval town that was abandoned, like so many others, at the end of the 15th century, possibly due to the plague. Nowadays, it is a small valley whose lower part is filled with a narrow slither of farmland and hillsides populated with dense forests. The route continues along a dirt track up the valley until it reaches a metal gate, where you will find a tarmac track that you leave after a few metres for a smaller path into a pine grove. Once more, the route leads into a new valley, this time at Ibargoiti. As you emerge onto farmland, a track takes you on a pleasant walk to Izco.
From Izco another farm track leads to the most direct path to Abínzano. On the left, along the Izco mountain range, the giant blades of the wind farm turn and turn. Once you have crossed the centre of the small village of Abínzano, the path carries on out of the village on a farm track alongside some large livestock sheds. This hilly route involves continuous ups and downs between large grain fields, small interspersed oak woods and frequent streams, which, along with their rows of poplars, make the landscape more pleasant. A landmark on the route rises ahead of us - the mass of mount Elomendi (otherwise, and more popularly, known as the 'Higa de Monreal'). On the other side of the valley stands the less graceful mass of mount Izaga, on whose crest stands the chapel of San Miguel.
After crossing the Puente Grande Bridge over the river Elorz, the next village is Salinas de Ibargoiti. Before reaching the church, an earth track goes down to the river Elorz, which you can cross by the bridge. On the left bank of the river the path disappears into a shady wood of pines and then oaks. Almost in Monreal, the path crosses the Elorz again, this time over a footbridge, and enters the village's paved streets.
What is there to do and see at the end of the stage?
- Walk through Monreal: Calle del Burgo, a welcoming slab stone street with carefully-tended houses
- Visit to the church of Our Lady of the Nativity (in summer, open from 10.30-13-00 and from 17.30-20.00. In winter, only before Mass
- Swimming pool of Monreal in summer (June-September). No special discounts for pilgrims
- Lunch and/or dinner in the Parish centre (village club): 9.50€ average price for pilgrims' menu
You may also be interested in...
- For more information: Pilgrims' hostel and Parish centre
- To stamp your credential: Pilgrims' hostel and Parish centre