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Last thoughts on the Aragonés

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
A couple of weeks ago I finished walking the Camino Aragonés. It's not a very popular camino, but I enjoyed most of it very much. In theory it starts at Somport, on the French border, but I started walking a few days earlier, at Pau.

The French side is nothing spectacular except for the views of the Pyrenees getting steadily closer and more daunting. I had heard bad things about the Somport crossing, so decided to go over on the Haute Route Pyrenées, a little bit further east, taking an extra day. If you've got the time, I highly recommend it, going up the spectacular Chemin de la Mâture cliff path, and on up past the lovely Lacs d'Ayous, staying in a mountain refuge at nearly 2000m up, with the brightest clearest stars ever.

On the Spanish border, on the Col des Moines, at 2150m, where for centuries monks welcomed pilgrims coming from Arles and southern France, you have amazing views back over France and Midi d'Ossau, and down into Spain. You also very quickly pass the source of the Aragón River, not looking like something to give its name to a kingdom.

You rejoin the official camino down at Somport, near the hospital of Santa Cristina, according to the Codex Calixtines the third largest in the world.

By the time you get to the huge, formerly international, station at Canfranc, the Aragón is already big enough for its first hydroelectric plant.

As well as the ever-present beauty of the Pyrenees, there is some world-class man-made beauty on or near this route, in particular the royal monasteries of San Juan de la Peña and Leyre, the fabulous collection of Romanesque Wall paintings and sculpture in the museum at Jaca cathedral. The camino joins the Francés near Eunate Church.

Accommodation is pretty good. I stayed in two mountain refuges, four municipal albergues, two private ones, a monastery one and three pensións/hotels. The albergues were all fine, with between three and six people in each. I liked Lescar's and Sangüesa's the most, and Oloron St Marie's the least. Sadly I didn't get to Arres, which everybody says is wonderful, as I was heading up to Leyre on the other side of the reservoir.

As with much of upland Spain, the depopulation of the area was sad. It made headline news in the Alto Aragón paper one day I was there that Undués de Lerda, on the camino not far from Arres, was celebrating the village's first baptism in 29 years.

The Foz de Lumbier gorge is another of the natural beauties of this route, and the early autumn glory of the deep woods around Leyre. Oh and sunrise over the monastery and its valley after coming out from Lauds.

Giono wrote "c'est de vents, de pluies, de neiges, de soleils, de montagnes, de fleuves, et de forêts: les vraies richesses de l'homme". You can find them all on the Aragonés.



DSC_0482.JPG
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Thank you for the follow-up. I’ve done it twice but your postings make me believe that a third time is in my future! Maybe yours, too, so that you can stay at Arres? 😀
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
I have walked it twice from Lourdes and once from Somport. I disagree about the French side - the scenery from Lourdes is beautiful and in particular, climbing up to Somport Pass is stunning. I would not have missed it for anying. It is the road less travelled but from Arres onwards there are quite a few pilgrims. I can highly recommend this route.
 

fransw

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
I walked that route from Oloron on because of the highpoints you mentioned. I wanted to see Canfranc station because of the history during WW II and of course San Juan de Pena.
Unfortunately I had bad weather and I did not like: the Frances can be overcrowded but this route is an exercise in solitude, so not for me!
 

SusanMB

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Camino Portuguese (2014)
Camino Via de la Plata (April/May2016)
Norte (2017)
I have walked it twice from Lourdes and once from Somport. I disagree about the French side - the scenery from Lourdes is beautiful and in particular, climbing up to Somport Pass is stunning. I would not have missed it for anying. It is the road less travelled but from Arres onwards there are quite a few pilgrims. I can highly recommend this route.
Totally agree the only issue I faced in August-September this year was the 30 - 32 constant daily temperatures not usually experienced in the French Pyrenees.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Totally agree the only issue I faced in August-September this year was the 30 - 32 constant daily temperatures not usually experienced in the French Pyrenees.
I joined the Aragones to avoid the 39 deg temperatures in France 😁
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
I have walked it twice from Lourdes and once from Somport. I disagree about the French side - the scenery from Lourdes is beautiful and in particular, climbing up to Somport Pass is stunning. I would not have missed it for anying. It is the road less travelled but from Arres onwards there are quite a few pilgrims. I can highly recommend this route.
I also enjoyed the whole route, once I got home and reflected upon it. I walked in June and it was a little warm, and quite empty. If I do it again I would do so in Spring.

By the way, who is this Giono chap, and why does he think everyone can understand his native Sanskrit?
 

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)
Thanks to you, Alan, this one has definiely moved up on my list. Thanks for this recap!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
I intend completing it next year mid June. Will walk from Jaca. I intend walking from albergue to albergue. Doing it really slow. I hope there will be people on the route.
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; lisboa-muxia; norte+bayonne; vdlp; le puy; voie d'arles+aragones; geneva to ales
It is a great trail. One of my favorites!
 

Beeman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo,2017,Argonne and salvador,sept.2019
Alan. I enjoyed your post. Especially the part about the alternate path you took. I walked from Lescar this september and went over Puerto de Pau down to the Hecho Valley and on to Berdun(which had no restaurant open and no longer has an alberque. I share your feelings about the gite in Orolon,I went out to eat at 7:30 and when I returned at 9:00the door was locked! I had to make serious noise to be let in.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
I intend completing it next year mid June. Will walk from Jaca. I intend walking from albergue to albergue. Doing it really slow. I hope there will be people on the route.
Still the plan, Doc?
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
Still the plan, Doc?
No / yes. Between Xmas and New Year I broke my fibula. I was immobile for 2 months. I came out of the moon boot last week. I am now able to walk 4 km every morning but I am so unfit. My orthopaedic surgeon says I should be ready to finish my walk in June. I am wary. Will make a decision nearer the time. Have spent most of my savings in medical expenses. Need to build up my reserves.

Maybe the virus will make the decision for me.

How did I break it? I took my two small pugs to the dog park where all dogs are OFF leads. I called my dog. My dog came plus a 60 kg American Bulldog who jumped on my chest, kissed me and sent me to ground. He continued to lick me with me screaming in pain on the ground.

I am not really keen on walking in the Santiago area in 2021, it being the Holy Year.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Ugh! docpam, I know what you are dealing with! I hope you are able to make the walk. I walked three stages in the California Mission Walk in July after my ankle replacement The previous Thanksgiving. That was all pavement walking. So I say think positive. You will be amazed how fast rehab goes. And, if you postpone your walk until September maybe we will met on the Aragones ... just saying!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
Ugh! docpam, I know what you are dealing with! I hope you are able to make the walk. I walked three stages in the California Mission Walk in July after my ankle replacement The previous Thanksgiving. That was all pavement walking. So I say think positive. You will be amazed how fast rehab goes. And, if you postpone your walk until September maybe we will met on the Aragones ... just saying!
I do not think we will meet as I have to walk in June/ July as that is my break from university. I cannot go in September.
My rehab is going well but the issue is my head. At the moment my words are 'go with the flow' and that is what I am doing. One day at a time.
PS Thank you for the wonderful guide to the Primitivo.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
No / yes. Between Xmas and New Year I broke my fibula. I was immobile for 2 months. I came out of the moon boot last week. I am now able to walk 4 km every morning but I am so unfit.

I am not really keen on walking in the Santiago area in 2021, it being the Holy Year.
Shocking news, and sad! I've had my own aches and pains, but nothing of that magnitude.

Like you and many others, I'm a bit daunted by the dreaded Holy Year of 2021. No way I'm going anywhere near SdeC!.... 2021 might be an ideal year to re-walk parts of the Aragones! I'd like to walk with my son, who like you, has academic-calendar limitations, and is likely to be free only in June/July/August. So keep me posted. Might be able to coordinate a Camino meet-up!
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Summer on the Aragones must be brutal! Having walked it twice, you definitely need to be able to make the distances between albergues (which are few and far between). It’s a spectacular trail, but lacks the frequent cafes, taxis, and water fountains of the CF
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
Summer on the Aragones must be brutal! Having walked it twice, you definitely need to be able to make the distances between albergues (which are few and far between). It’s a spectacular trail, but lacks the frequent cafes, taxis, and water fountains of the CF
For me it is from Jaca to Pamplona.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes, Aragonese May-June 2018 incomplete
Shocking news, and sad! I've had my own aches and pains, but nothing of that magnitude.

Like you and many others, I'm a bit daunted by the dreaded Holy Year of 2021. No way I'm going anywhere near SdeC!.... 2021 might be an ideal year to re-walk parts of the Aragones! I'd like to walk with my son, who like you, has academic-calendar limitations, and is likely to be free only in June/July/August. So keep me posted. Might be able to coordinate a Camino meet-up!
Now I am feeling much more positive.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Summer on the Aragones must be brutal!
When I walked it in May 2018 I thought the very same thing! In the hot high summer those after-Jaca sections could be killers! ... I think, if I ever do go back, summer or not, I might just quit at Sanguesa and bus on to wonderful, decadent Pamplona.

'Cause, shucks, I'm not walking as a penitent! ;)
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
We took an alternative 3 day route from Sangüesa to Pamplona via Lumbier (somewhat following the old electric train route), but the bus certainly is faster! 😎
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
I definitely know the tyranny of the academic calendar — my September camino is only possible because I retired last June.

stay positive. I was so worried and hurting — thinking my New ankle might just end my walking days. And one day I realized that I hadn’t thought about my ankle pain in a couple days. The days between discomfort got longer. Stay positive!
 

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