Browsing through our Google Photos, as a distraction from the raging storm outside, I soon found myself basking in the reflected sunshine of my trip to Navarra last October-November. To my surprise, I discovered a batch of photos I’ve overlooked in posting about that trip. It was the first Sunday in November, and as it turned out, the sunniest day before I returned to Scotland four weeks later. To be fair, it was a cold day : as in the Outer Hebrides, the clearest skies are associated with cold winds from the north-west. But it was sunny and dry, and I’m used to wrapping up against the cold.
I really didn’t fancy driving to somewhere else to start a walk, and as I’m a firm believer that the best things in life can be found from our own doorsteps, I decided to take a circular walk starting and ending at Casa Los Fueros, albeit setting out from the front door, and returning at the back! My walk would take me through vineyards and natural woodlands to the summit known as Chuchu Alto – which watches over the pass between San Martìn de Unx to the west and Lerga to the north east ; then across largely bare undulating hills to historic Ujué, then back through the woods, vineyards and allotments to San Martìn de Unx and home.
At 930m above sea level, Chuchu Alto is not remarkably high – the villages down in the valleys below are at around 600m. In fact ChuChu Alto barely features in guides to hill and mountain walks in Navarra, probably because it’s something of an outlier from the main hill ranges to the north, and it doesn’t stand out much from its immediate neighbours. Nonetheless, like Eiseabhal, a hill that is even nearer to our own home here in Uist, and which is only 246m above adjacent sea level, the views are 360degree panoramic and absolutely breathtaking. The only qualification is that wind turbines – which Navarra has in greater abundance than perhaps anywhere else in the world – are a very major feature of the view in every direction. (That said, Denise and I are of the opinion that, as they follow natural features, not simply dotted in their hundreds across a level plain, they make visual sense ; and the huge contribution they make to fighting global warming makes even more sense!) In any event, the natural views, turbines or not, are absolutely stunning. So too is the wildlife!
From the summit of Chuchu Alto, an extraordinary panorama, the views extending as far as the sierras of Aragón in the east, La Rioja to the south, Alava to the east, and the Cuenca de Pamplona (Pamplona basin) in the north.
Zooming in to the far east – towards Estella and beyond, there are the ragged edges of the Sierra Andia and Sierra Urbasa.
Around the summit of Chuchu Alto, Griffon Vultures soared and cruised effortlessly on the rising air currents
But with the sun declining in the south west, it was time to push on towards Ujué. The direct route entailed a precipitous descent into the shadows, and a stiff climb again. I chose instead to take an alternate route along a sun-lit ridge, curving to the right. But that route was longer and slower than I anticipated, so as I at last approached Ujué, the day was already well spent – and my energy too. Reluctantly, I turned away and took a direct route back to San Martín de Unx, through the carascal (upland heath dominated by the carascal pine), along the track past the allotments, and one last steep slog up the hill to Casa Los Fueros.
This was the best day out of my trip to Navarra!