Camino Day 6 – Estella to Los Arcos, plus a few random thoughts

Monday 21 August 2023 – Well, here it is, 3.15pm, we have arrived, showered, stretched and rested and I would appear to have some time to write up the day.  As a day, it shared many features with yesterday – an early start after a limited breakfast, much walking through Big Scenery,

feeling the heat increase to quite oppressive levels after midday, and arriving some six hours after departure, significantly sweaty.

A pattern in the days is that towards the end, particularly in the heat, progress seems to slow as we get nearer our destination.  Some of the Camino signposts have the distance to the next town on them, but it increasingly feels like Spanish kilometres are longer than anyone else’s. Jane says they must have expanded in the heat…

You can see the pictures and route via Relive, as usual.

The stats: distance – 21.6km, bringing us to a total of 136.1km (84.5m); and we went up 423m and down 393. There were a couple of steepish gradients, but nothing to write home about, which is why I’m not writing about them.

So, what stood out about the day?

The schedule

The hotel served breakfast from 0700, and were point-blank resistant to the idea of preparing a takeaway snack for us in advance (basically the only minus point). So we thought we might have a very quick cuppa and bite of something as early as possible before moving on, thinking perhaps they might start the breakfast informally a little early.

They didn’t.

So at 0650, we decided just to Get On With It, as the forecast for the day was scorchio.

Other pilgrims

We followed, for a short while, a matched pair.

These two constitute the first couple I have seen so far who are kitted out identically from the waist up.  This is not normal, and was somewhat charming to see.  It put me in mind of another pilgrim fashion statement I wanted to cover, which is the power of branding. We saw this with another pilgrim as we departed Zubiri for Pamplona

Check out those socks!

Seeing that photo reminds me of another general point I wanted to make concerning solo pilgrims, I have been surprised by the number of pilgrims travelling alone who are female. I make no point from it; it’s just something that interests me.

The socks also remind me of another thing I have pondered as I make my way, which is the yellow painted arrows that, alongside the formal posts displaying the cockle shell, you can find making it very difficult to miss your way, The Camino (in fact all the Camino routes) is (are) a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so I wonder:

  • Is the yellow colour a standard across the Camino routes?
  • What’s its pantone number?
  • Is there a single approved supplier of the right shade of paint?
  • If, so, how did he land the gig?

Anyhoo…back to today

The Wine Fountain

Yes, there’s a place (Bodega Irache) where you can bowl up with your bottle and fill it with their wine, free of charge,

Neither Jane nor I drink wine these days, and in any case it was 0730 at this point, and we didn’t have any receptacles handy. But we had a quick slurp, and it was not too bad. Tradition dictates that you should use, as your “glass”, the cockleshell that you can get anywhere to wear attached to your backpack to show you’re a sucker pilgrim.

I couldn’t be arsed to detach mine, so a cupped hand had to do.

The Blacksmith

Just before we got to the wine fountain, we passed a very engaging scene – a real, working (and open) ironworking forge.

The smith was charming, and stamped our Credentiales del Peregrino – the fanfold document which you use to collect evidence of where you’ve been and when – essential to get the all-important Compostela certificate at the end.


As I say, there wasn’t much else to mark the day out from others – nice and cool to start, horrible and hot by the end, when we made it to Los Arcos, a small town in Navarra that simply couldn’t be more different from Les Arcs, the French skiing resort, if it tried.  We are staying at the Casa de la Abuela and Jose, the manager was very helpful as we arrived – taking our bags upstairs, arranging for us to join a pilgrim’s dinner at the hotel later today and – this will be important, I think – telling us that breakfast starts at 0500. Given that tomorrow could well be hotter than today, I think a very early start could well be on the cards.

The hotel is an albergue, a simple hotel, but we have private facilities – not all of the other residents do.  It shares one characteristic of every hotel we’ve stayed in so far – you only get one (long, thin, bolster-type) pillow. It seems to be A Thing.  All the other hotels share another characteristic in that Jane has so far found the beds to be uncomfortable, which is tiresome for her. We’ll see about this one, but I’m not, frankly, sanguine.

One other thing that has interested me is the language. We are in the Basque region, and I had mistakenly thought that the language would be a mixture of French and Spanish.


This is a roadworks sign I saw in Pamplona.

I think this gives a clear idea of how much Basque has in common with the romance languages that we western Europeans are familiar with. The language is known as “Euskara” in its own tongue, it is an ancient language that predates the arrival of Indo-European languages in western Europe. Its roots are somewhat mysterious, and the language’s origins remain the subject of ongoing research and speculation.

So I’ve learned something today, and so have you. Who knows what further insights you may get by staying in touch with these pages, eh?

9 thoughts on “Camino Day 6 – Estella to Los Arcos, plus a few random thoughts

  1. Ian Burley

    I don’t think I can upload a photo here, but I have a photo of a Jakobsweg sign on Pottsdamer Platz in Berlin that is in the same yellow colour on a blue background, indicating Compostela at 2968 km.
    Another tip I forgot to mention for the feet, although you may probably know this already, is to stick them in cold water every chance you get. On our hikes in Austria and Germany, we often came across Kneipp baths, which are basically wading pools of ice cold water for hikers. A few minutes in there and we felt good for an extra 15 km.

    1. Steve Walker Post author

      Jane rumbled that one a while ago!
      Personally, I’m a bit worried that bathing my feet would get my socks wet, particularly since I had such a strong recommendation for them

      Does cooling the feet help with cooling the rest of the body? My feet aren’t uncomfortable in the heat. It’s the rest of me

      1. Ian Burley

        The idea is to take the socks off before you put your feet in the water! Then let your feet dry in the sun. Consequently, no wet socks.

        Karin is right about putting your arms in cold water. A Kneipp bath in Germany often has a tub to soak your arms up to mid-bicep. It does a power of good.

        And I often stick my head in the water of a fountain on a hot day, then wet my cap too to wear as I carry on.

  2. Karin Wennas

    To put your wrists (is it called wrists, between hand and arm?) in cold water for a while cools the body. Many people wet their towel or similar at a water fountain and put on the head, under the hat. You might have seen that?
    Another thing – but never mind it really, is that you only need the two stamps/day for the last 100 kms. But it’s nice to have them collected for the whole way, so I did that. Meaning, no worries if you forget.
    The socks – and other essentials – can be bought at the pilgrim shops. In general, good, well-recommended brand name socks such as Darn Tough, and Wright etc are essential. They’ve padded and whatever (too tired to think in English right now). Pilgrim shops that I know of is in Viana, Leon and Astorga, but there are plenty of course.

    1. Steve Walker Post author

      Thanks again, Karin. Always good to get tips from Someone Who Knows. We’re good for socks, and we’re collecting one stamp a day until Sarria, then two so that we can get our certificates

      1. Karin Wennas

        What I meant is that you don’t need to collect them before Sarria. Only if you stay at albergues, they always want to see the pilgrim passports.

  3. Katharine Burridge

    Well done again! I have no hiking advice to offer, but I will make sure to have 1 long thin pillow for your next visit (lol).️❤️


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