1 May: Pamplona to Zubiri


The bells pealed 8 o’clock across the valley. We had already been walking an hour.
Later the bell at Zubiri would dong once, coinciding with our arrival at a quarter past an hour. We would take photos of bells, we would hear cowbells announcing the presence of animals we could not see.
But best of all we were invited into a church with two bells, both large and both allowed to be rung.
We had sat in the pews reading an informative handout about the village (29 residents, divided by main road into two separate districts, homes built with semi-circular arched doorwarys) and aspects of the thirteenth century church; Romaesque arches, baptismal font, renaissance carvings, a painting of Mary clearly influenced by the icons of Middle Eastern churches and the magnificent seventeenth century altarpiece attributed to Juan de Gasteluzar (who we must confess we had never heard of). Favourite statues on the altrpiece included the archangel Michael in his fine armour, Saint Francis of Assisi and the apostle James as a pilgrim.

pic: altarpiece (sorry – will insert later when we find computers)

The old lady who had invited us in had given such a warm welcome. She had spoken slowly so we would have more chance of understanding her, she had shown great patience as we answered her questions about ourselves and our journey, she had told us much, she had given us the English-language handouts and pointed out the important bits, she had encouraged us to take photos…..and then she opened the narrow wooden door to the bell tower and indicated we could go up. We stepped cautiously, perhaps even reverently, up the steep spiralling stone slabs. Around and around they went.
At the top we advanced tentatively on the thick wooden planks and looked in awe at the view from beneath the bells. A sign on an overhead beam granted permission to ring once or twice. Levi yanked the first rope, the one attached to the smaller bell (smaller, but still half his height). A very satisfying beautiful tone rang out. After offering me the privilege of ringing the second bell, Micaiah tugged at the rope and a deep solid heavy dull dong sounded. Ever a tactile lad, Micki reached out to touch it as the sound faded. Although thirty seconds had passed, it still vibrated.
Downstairs again The Lady handed us pens and post-it notes: the twenty-first century meets the thirteenth. We wrote out our prayers and pressed them onto the wall, joining the community who had done the same before us.
Firmly holding both me arms The Lady drew me close, planting a kiss on each cheek and wishing us well on our journey.

pic: shell sign

Destination: Zubiri
20.1km (should have been 18km, but wandered the length of the town looking for the albergue and the way out tomorrow), 631m elevation gain
Cumulative total: 28km
972km to go
Weather: rain threatened all day, but didn’t fall. Unsure of temperature, but not warm and we got cold when we stopped for a rest.

pics in small size





3 thoughts on “1 May: Pamplona to Zubiri

  1. Hey Mum!
    Sounds like you’ve been having some pretty awesome adventures! I am in awe of how far you and the little boys are climbing and walking day after day. Good luck with tomorrows walk.
    Praying for you all 🙂

  2. So pleased the lady in the church gave you such a wonderful welcome. I love the sound of bells in churches in France and Spain too.

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