Stage 41: From Estella to Los Arcos

In the last jumps of Navarre


Navarre is a fairly composite country, at least where the path goes. After crossing the beautiful beech and pine forests at the start of the track into valleys and high hills, the landscape has changed in recent days. We are now very far from the Pyrenees and Navarre extends in the Meseta, this huge plateau that covers more than half of Spain. This is obviously less stimulating for the vast majority of pilgrims, who see this change as an evil eye. The stage of the day is a little sister to the previous one, but the stages are not all alike. It depends on the height of the hills and the extent of the forests, when there are any. For the rest, it is a monotony that will become usual, endless grain fields, a complete lack of life outside the villages. When you’ll cross the villages, you have the feeling that they are there only for pilgrims, local people mostly absent, probably caulked in their homes, because during this cold and rainy spring, we did not meet any peasant in the fields for three weeks!!!

Today, you’ll drink gratis at the cellars of Irache. All pilgrims have spoken extensively about that in the “albergue” at night. The life of pilgrims is often made of little things. Then after a day in the Meseta, arriving at Los Arcos, it will still be necessary to occupy his spare time. There is nothing to do, except to sip a drink in the square, or hurry to find the only grocery in the village, to refuel before others. When you are told that the life of pilgrims is sometimes made of little things.

Slope variations of the day (+387 meters/-366 meters) are light. There are only two passages where you will be asked a slight effort, first at first the gradual climb to the Monastery of Irache, then especially the passage to Villamayor de Montjardin, where the slope is tough , uphill and downhill. All the rest is just a ride on wide pathways that often look like highways.

In this stage, the course is almost entirely on dirt roads. The passages on the paved road are only in the villages. In Spain, apart from villages and towns, paved roads, for the most part, have grassy strips or dirt on the sides. Thus, the Camino francés is above all a true pathway, compared to other tracks of Compostela in Europe, where the courses are only halfway on dirt roads:

Paved road: 2.9 km

Pathways: 18.4 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

To help you recognize trees, refer to the Botanical Summary in the general introduction to the track (in the menu in French, to be developed in English).

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use. GPS watches, whether measuring barometric pressure or altimetry, are hardly more convincing than estimates based on mapped profiles.

There are very few sites on the Internet that can be used to estimate slopes from maps (up to 3). Since these programs are based on an approximation and an average around the desired point, there can be large variations from one software to another, depending on the state of the art or the variation between two points (for example a hole followed by a bump very close). Do you want an example? On the GR36 along the coast of Brittany, the altitude is rarely more than 50 meters above the sea. But the path only goes up and down. For a course of about twenty kilometres, a software will give you 800 meters of elevation gain, another 300 meters. Who says true? For having made the course several times, the legs say that the difference in altitude is closer to 800 meters! So how to proceed? We can rely on software, but, we must be careful, ignore slopes given, but only use altitudes. From there, it is only elementary mathematics to deduce the incline, considering the altitude and the distance travelled between two points whose altitude is known. It is this way of doing things that has been used in this site. Moreover, in retrospect, when one makes “in real” the course estimated on cartography, one notes that this way of doing is quite close to the truth of the ground. When one walks often, one has quite quickly the degree of slope in the eye.

We divided the course into sections to make it easier to follow. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the path and the state of the GR track. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live. For this stage, here is the link:

Click here to start the stage on the first section. Avant

If you are not interested in the course, and you only require details information about lodging, you get enter this item.

Click here for details of lodgings. Avant