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LIVE from the Camino From the Ebro to the Duero and on to Santo Domingo de Silos

2020 Camino Guides

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Tudela to Tarazona

If coming from the south, most of the few people who walk the Castellano-Aragonés go from Gallur to Borja to Tarazona. I was coming from the north, and took advantage of the vía verde that goes all the way between Tudela and Tarazona. It's a lovely walk, once you're clear of the sprawling suburbs of otherwise beautiful Tudela. The Moncayo massif is straight ahead, slowly getting closer and more dauntingly huge. About half way is Santa María de la Caridad, the oldest Cistercian nunnery in Spain, partly 12th century, but all closed up when I went past.

Tarazona, nestling in Moncayo's foothills, is a delight - although the fast flowing Quieles, which bisects the town, was about half the size of when I went through four years ago. I was soon settled in the Galeón restaurant, where the menú included conejo de monte. Although sceptical about its provenance, I ordered it anyway and was just thinking "this is really good rabbit, but I still bet it's farmed", when I nearly broke a tooth on a piece of number 6 shot: so they weren't lying. It was washed down by a DO Borja Macabeo, quite oaky, very tasty, the first time I've ever had a Borja white. At 13.5%, rather strong for lunchtime.

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
And one more question from inquiring minds — are you going to figure out a way to walk through the first half of the Cañón de Río Lobos? Maybe you’ve already had enough cañones on this year’s walk, but that one near San Leonardo is spectacular. I would also like to know if the Yagüe has been removed.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Laurie channelled my questions...especially about the Cañon.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Tarazona to Ágreda

I remembered this as a glorious day from four years ago, and wasn't disappointed. An hour or so steadily upwards through pretty woods takes you to Los Fajos, where there is a big dam for the reservoir and no coffee. It's then about five rather long km until you finally get to the end of the reservoir and meet up with the friendly, gurgling, dancing, unfettered Río Val, with its rapids occasionally gilded by the sun through the trees. With poplars always the first to change their leaves, and with the temperature having dropped ten degrees since leaving the Ebro, it was beginning to feel - and smell - like autumn in the uplands. Further up you pass dozens of giant walnuts providing a generous and tasty elevenses break. Some had been heavily pollarded a century or more ago, but were now being left to grow freely. Towards the end of the woods is a small but spectacular waterfall, and then quite suddenly, after the only really sharp rise of the day - assisted by a fraying rope - you are up on open heathland, definitely in the highlands, and an eagle greeted me. You're now in Castilla-León, having left Navarra for Aragón less than 24 hours before.

From a couple of workmen in Los Fajos to reaching Ágreda five hours later I didn't see a single soul. Becquer, who loved this area, wrote "la soledad es el imperio de la conciencia", and I wonder slightly if he wrote it up here.

You enter Ágreda by a moorish gateway, then pass a synagogue on the way to several churches. The tourist people are not lying when they call this the "villa de las tres culturas".

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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Ágreda to Pozalmuro

It rained in the night, the first since I arrived in Spain a fortnight earlier. It was due to be a short day, and the forecast said the rain would stop at 10, so I had a leisurely late breakfast and was just getting ready to set off when, at 9.30, the clouds lifted slightly, although Moncayo was still allowing "the basest clouds to ride with ugly rack on his celestial face and from the forlorn earth his visage hide". You leave Ágreda by an impressive km long double avenue of horse chestnuts, dripping a little, but forming a beautiful tunnel. And then out into the wide open plain, gently rising and falling, and mostly following the Roman Vía XXVII that joined two of Augustus' cities, Zaragoza and Astorga, passing yet another town formerly named after him, Augustóbriga, now Muro (no coffee, but a very pretty Roman fuente with delicious cool water). At this point, and for about half of the trip between Tudela (Ebro) and Soria (Duero), the Camino coincides with the well-marked GR for the Roman road and the Camino Natural del Agua Soriano, which for some reason detours Ágreda.

If the previous day had been solitary, this was positively sociable, as in 20-odd km I passed a farmer out with his muck spreader, and a shepherd and his dog out with a 100+ flock of sheep.

This is Machado's "campo undulado", and one of the pleasures, when you reach a high point on the rolling path, is seeing the way ahead laid out like a relief map. There's Pozalmuro directly beneath, so that must be the Masegoso Berber tower in those trees just beyond, and that table topped mountain ahead must be the Sierra del Almuerzo. Very beautiful, with clumps of trees like oases in the desert showing where there are springs and the sources of some of the Duero's tributaries. At one of these heights you are on the watershed between the Ebro and the Duero, with water behind heading down to the Mediterranean, and ahead eventually on to the Atlantic.

About 20km brings you to Pozalmuro, permanent population 57, down from 68 last time I was here four years ago and from over 500 a century ago (https://www.foro-ciudad.com/soria/pozalmuro/habitantes.html). There is an excellent albergue (donativo) in the old school building. There is also a bar, where I met around a quarter of the residents, raucously enjoying a Friday evening game of cards, women on one table, men on another. I had hoped there might be bocadillos or something else to eat, but there wasn't, so I finished up my emergency supply of cheese and fuet back in the albergue, after a dramatic sunset turned the landscape to blood.

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
What?! No platos combinados in the Centro Social? Were the people running it Brazilian? (At least the wife).

I remember that the Albergue was cold cold cold when I was there. I went back to the Centro Social to warm up and the woman came back with me, told me to pull a mattress out to the front (a medical office), and she turned on the heat. About 20 minutes later the doctor and some patients arrived and just asked me to pull the mattress out of the middle of the room. No one seemed to be in the least bit surprised by my presence. Loved that place.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Pozalmuro to Soria

No plato combinado, sadly, no Brazilians: I think their daughter - although she said she was from Zaragoza - was holding the fort for them. Leaving shortly before dawn with my last handful of raisins, it soon became painfully clear that this ageing engine needs much more fuel in its tank to get the almost 40km to Soria.

At sunrise I was at the imposing border watchtower of Masegoso, rising stark above its little oasis in the campo. Then 5km of wide open empty countryside gets you to the despoblado of Pica, with its almost more stark lonely tower standing high amidst the ruins of a once thriving village and Romanesque church. It was there that I made my only social encounter of the day's walk, a pensioner out looking for mushrooms. None yet, very late this year, they need more water. I don't, but he thinks I'll get some soon.

Another rise, another dip, and you reach Omeñaca, with its almost too perfect for words portico with seven arches providing shelter to the south side of its twelth century Romanesque church. Allegedly, very allegedly, the seven infantes of Lara slept here on their way to their doom

A daros gracias vinieron
Los Siete Infantes de Lara
Y encontraron, cosa rara,
Que siete puertas se abieron

Sadly, it seems unlikely that they slept here, as they all had their heads chopped off over a century before Omeñaca's Immaculate Conception was built. If the seven princes didn't sleep there, I think Luís, the energetic hospitalero of Cuenca probably did - he crossed this empty quarter one August and described sleeping in a church porch half way between Ágreda and Soria, and I think it can only be this one.

Another hour on, another fine Romanesque church at almost depopulated Tozalmuro, this one with a fine, weather worn tympanum. Hunger was beginning to overcome eagerness for the Romanesque when I remembered that buses ran through nearby Fuensaúco (whose church is, anyway, only 13th century, and heavily restored at that), so I jumped on one to Soria where I was soon eating my first hot food in 46 hours. I've had better meals in my life, but seldom a more welcome one.

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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Soria is a great place to have a rest day. I think it's probably my favourite small city in Spain, or certainly up there with Mérida, Zamora and Cáceres. The cloisters of San Juan del Duero, with its wonderful interlocking arches, and the beautiful capitals on the concatedral of San Pedro, also the astonishing, four tiered tympanum of Santo Domingo, all well worth a pause. It's a lively, bustling place, with a great paseo, even on a drizzly Sunday night.

Soria to Abejar

This day, an the next, has been hugely improved in the last four years as they've turned the old railway line (part of the Santander-Mediterranean line) into a vía verde, so it's much flatter and significantly shorter than it used to be. The local amigos have clearly embraced it, as there are numbers of yellow arrows and shells marking the new way. It takes you slowly up to the imposing bulk on the Pico Frentes, visible from central Soria, and then alongside its high range, with occasional distant views of the Picos de Urbión far to the north. Partly through Soria's famous deep mushroom-rich pine forests, and partly by fertile fields of cows, with an occasional huge transhumance water trough. I detoured to one village just off the railway line in the hope of coffee, but the bar was only open at weekends. The villages here are a lot less depopulated than to the east of Soria, and a lot less poor, but many houses are clearly only used for weekends or holidays.

The vía verde now goes all the way from Soria to Hontoria del Pinar, slightly over 60km. And previously some of the camino went on the old railway tracks, over horrible, sole destroying (sorry) aggregate, and now it's all on a beautiful dry compact dirt track, with occasional picnic tables for a break, and information panels, and distance markers. Huge improvement, not that it was that bad before.

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Oh, I remember walking on those horrible stones in the railbed. So glad to hear that it’s been improved.

WHY don’t more people walk this route???!!! Reliving it vicariously makes me want to go back. And I totally agree about Soria, it is a wonderful, yet almost totally unknown, city.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Itchy feet, oh my...
I'm not sure I should be thanking you Alan, or begging you to stop posting such tempting accounts.

WHY don’t more people walk this route???!!!
So many caminos, so little time.
I suspect that if this camino ended in Santiago rather than Burgos, there might be more traffic.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Abejar to San Leonardo

More of the vía verde, almost all of the way, unfortunately bypassing Cabrejas del Pinar, which I seem to remember last time had coffee, and a Roman fuente. Didn't matter much as it was pouring with rain and I was getting the first use of my waterproofs since crossing the Pyrenees. Nothing like the rain they were getting in Catalonia, fortunately for me, but certainly no views of Urbión.

San Leonardo has a very nice albergue attached to the local Red Cross, two bunks and a sitting room with microwave, as well as showers and lots of hot water. 7€, apparently I was the 10th person to use it this year. The town still illegally retains several memorials to its local war criminal. I assume there was no intentional irony in the banner hanging from the town hall "contra la violencia de género" next to the sign honouring the carnicero de Badajoz.

And I also really can't understand why more people don't pass here - even a relatively dull day like this one is still pretty good.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
San Leonardo to Hontoria del Pinar

Last time I only did the upper part of the Cañón del río Lobos, which can be reached quite easily on foot from San Leonardo, mostly off tarmac on the Senda del río Arganza. But having read the description of the canyon further down by @peregrina2000 I determined to see for myself. It's a 26€ taxi ride from San Leonardo to the entrance to the Natural Park - as far as I can see there's no public transport.

Definitely worth the detour: thanks Laurie, it was a belter of a walk. The lower part is much more dramatic than further upstream, and that's saying something. Near the park entrance is the mysterious, pretty thirteenth century chapel of San Bartolomé, just on the transition between Romanesque and Gothic, and possibly of Templar origin. After the chapel, every twist and turn of the river leads to more delights, with vultures occasionally circling hopefully overhead in case you fall off a cliff and create an ad hoc tower of silence, and beehives in old tree trunks high up the cliffs. Even on a dull but dry day like the day I walked through, it was fantastic; in bright sun it must be even more amazing. I still think the Caracena canyon, on the Lana a little south of here, has greater sustained beauty - and ends, rather than starts, with an outstanding piece of church architecture - but it's a close thing. I was especially thrilled to see they've developed an elm which is disease resistant and are busy replanting here. Do hope it works elsewhere: it would be wonderful to see them again back home after 50 years.

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Glenshiro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - León, Camino Frances (2012 - 2019)
The trouble with reading this blog is that it prompts you to Google many of the references and so you spend an hour in front of the computer rather than 10 minutes.
Thanks, Alan, I enjoyed every word. And I appreciate the reference to Yague,
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was worth the 26€. I remember that day so perfectly, an absolute highlight of my 20 years walking caminos!

And about the Yagüe. I went to the ayuntamiento to get a sello, mainly just to see if the Yagüe was still there (it wasn’t). But I was very surprised to see very new official road signs using it.

I remember reading an article about the name debate in Pozalmuro when I was trying to stay warm in the Centro Social, and it seemed that though there is no doubt that retaining the name is illegal, the popular opinion is kind of mixed. Many of the “older” generation focus on his having brought electricity, medical care, library, etc etc to town, which of course he was able to do because of his butchering. Most of the younger generation could care less about him and want the name gone because it is a distraction. I was also surprised to see that Dr. Zhivago was filmed here, and to read that the year of the filming was an uncharacteristically warm year, so they had to import the snow somehow. I am also assuming that the Yagüe connection was responsible for bringing the filming crews to the area!
 

PastrygirlLisa

Cali girl that lives in Nashville
Camino(s) past & future
(2007) 300 miles before injury & Nov 13th (2019)
I arrive on the Camino Nov 13th 2019 ...so excited!
12 years after I had to leave from breaking my foot on the Le Puy route. I will be back hoping to take up where I left off .....wondering are you having a hard time finding paces to stay? ...so much of what I have read says how everything closes ...Alan your photos are stunning and I can't wait to get there
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Oh, I remember walking on those horrible stones in the railbed. So glad to hear that it’s been improved.

WHY don’t more people walk this route???!!! Reliving it vicariously makes me want to go back. And I totally agree about Soria, it is a wonderful, yet almost totally unknown, city.
I, too, rejoice that the railbed has been improved! In ten caminos, this was up there among the three worst stretches. It would have been a lovely serene walk without the terror of the prospect of a twisted ankle every 5.5 metres.

Soria is a great place. The Machado museum is well worth a visit, although it is sad that they won't let us use the splendid Numantina Social Club-- I would surely become a member if I were resident there.

The innkeeper in Abejar told me that this camino was "muy duro," and she was right, but I have great memories of it. @PastrygirlLisa, accommodation is there but will not automatically fall into your lap. Alan Sykes' and Peregrina's accounts, as well as my own, will give you very good hints on what is there.

I think that veterans of this Camino should rate their own special tattoo.
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Hontoria del Pinar to Santo Domingo de Silos

The vía verde finally ends in Hontoria, but the camino continues mostly on agricultural tracks, mostly on pretty highland paths with lovely views north to the Sierra de la Demanda. From Mamolar you follow the route the monks took when they hid Santo Domingo's body from Napoleon's troops up in the mountains, and brought it back down in 1813 once it was safe again, pausing to give thanks when they were within sight of the monastery at the Berrocal del Santo, where, for the third time, I kissed a stone and added it to the now huge pile there.

And then an hour in the magical cloisters, still a delight despite being buffeted by a Friday afternoon crowd of selfie-sticks.

Fray José-Alfredo remains the brother hospitaler and soon had me installed in the luxurious albergue, which he thinks is static at around 100 pilgrims staying a year, almost all from the Lana. While stamping my credencial he noticed that I was born on St Thomas à Becket's day, so we had a brief chat about him - "un gran santo" - and he mentioned that one of Henry III's daughters was buried at Burgos. And then to Vespers, always a pleasure despite the huge weekend congregation, two of whose mobiles went off during the service. Luckily there were only three of us there in the dark for Lauds the next morning.

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
That photo....just wonderful.
So...four days from Soria to SDdS makes seven days from Soria to Burgos. Hmmmmmmm.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
That photo....just wonderful.
So...four days from Soria to SDdS makes seven days from Soria to Burgos. Hmmmmmmm.
I'd say the bit before Soria was even more special - either from Tudela (lovely city) taking 4 days to Soria, or 5 from Gallur vía Borja, whose DO wines are far from poisonous.

And thanks to the vía verde, you could now do Soria to Santo DdS in three days, but why rush? - especially when río Lobos' canyon calls.
 

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Where is the best place to find info and detailed maps of the via verde? (this one and others).
 
Thread starter OLDER threads on this topic Forum Replies Date
peregrina2000 Camino Castellano Aragonés 38
OLDER threads on this topic
From the Ebro to the Castellano-Aragones

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