11 July 2021 – 24 July 2021
(Yeah! We’re going to walk a camino!)
The Camino Aragonés probably dates back to the 11th century, when the kings of Aragon decided to rebuild and improve the travel networks within their territory. They repaired Roman roads, built bridges, and added shelters and baths along their routes; the modernisation was possibly driven by the arrival of pilgrims as the appearance of religious relics increased the number of monasteries and sanctuaries and led to the creation of new routes for pilgrims. Whilst the route was very popular for a several centuries, by the sixteenth century the golden age of pilgrimage had passed and the route fell into decline.
The Camino Aragonés officially starts at Somport and runs westwards through the provinces of Huesca, Zaragoza to Navarra. The scenery is dominated by the mountains to the North and rolling hills to the South. Somport, or Summus Portus as it was named by the Romans, is a Pyrenean mountain pass on the border between France and Spain, at an altitude of just over 1,600 meters. The route merges with the camino Frances near the Navarran town of Puente la Reina at Óbanos, just after the often missed Ermita de Santa María de Eunate
The Aragonés is 166km long but we’ll be adding a further 60km to this by starting our journey on the Arles camino at Oloron Sainte Marie. The route is very much quieter than the more popular northern routes but it is said to be remarkable for its spectacular and varied terrain and mostly unspoiled trails as the wooded slopes of the Pyrenees give way to the steep limestone hills of the valley of the upper river Aragon.
Oloron Sainte Marie to Puente La Reina
Our reasons for starting in Oloron in part was because we wanted to enjoy the mountains for longer. The Aragonés starts at the top of the Somport Pass and heads away from the mountains, we’d read that the route from Oloron along the Aspe river is also very beautiful. Also, we booked our accommodation many months ago and had no idea what the COVID situation would be. Starting in France (where we live) meant that we could stay in France and walk in the mountains if crossing the border into Spain wasn’t possible.
Whilst we have 12 days, which should be ample for walking this camino we’ve decided to do what we did last year on the Lebaniego and centre ourselves in a holiday apartment and drive each day to the start of the stage. It means that we have to walk ‘there and back again’ to the car but whilst this restricts us with how much ground we can cover, it does means that we get to walk the trail twice… so we make the most of the amazing views!
We have one week in Oloron and a second week between Jaca and Puenta La Reina. We know that we won’t be able to walk every step, as we don’t have time, but we’ll try to cover as much as we can!
And of course I’ll blog whilst I walk… and I hope you’ll be joining us as we wander along this most beautiful trails!