Rioja is a fertile region of farms and vineyards, but it is also a crossroads for ancient civilizations and for modern pilgrims. Ancient Celtic peoples, some of the first inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, lived in these regions, and over time, the Roman, Visigoth, and Muslim civilizations also touched this place. Nowadays, it is a crossroads on the Camino Santiago, and you will see many pilgrims passing by you, honoring St. James, on their way to Santiago. Some of these pilgrims will be wearing a ‘scallop shell,’ the distinctive symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago.
If you are passing through Rioja in hot weather as a pilgrim with a backpack, it is probably not so advisable to indulge in a too-heavy meal. But please be sure to treat yourself to at least some of the wonderful cuisine and wine of this region: after all, you will have ample exercise to burn away the calories during the many more miles you will walk to Manresa!
We leave this beautiful town descending towards the Laguna del Prao de la Paúl. We descend to the road and follow straight ahead along the dirt road that begins just in front of us. We head straight to the lagoon. When we get to it, we go around it taking the way to our right. At the end of the water, we take the dirt road away from the lagoon and toward the road. Our destination is the lagoon known as Carravalseca. We turn to the left and then right making a Z to reach the A-124 road and cross it. A few meters to our left, there is an asphalt road and a sign written «Bodegas Ubide» and «Laguna de Musco». We take that road which will continue over the next 3.3 km.
We pass on our right Ubide Wineries and we keep always straight ahead on our asphalt road, without taking any other deviation. Another asphalt road joins ours by our right, but we continue straight. A dirt road crosses ours. We always follow the runway that goes to Carravalseca Lagoon. We border it. At 500 m from the Lagoon we find a fork. We take the right (a house is on the road to the left, which we don’t take). At 1.5 km we reach another fork and this time we leave the asphalt and we take the dirt road to our right. From here we will always follow this road without taking any side way crossing or going out. Within 3 km we see the town of Labarca and we head for it.
We carry straight on our way, which is wide and well-defined, until we reach Lapuebla de Labarca. We go through the village until we reach the church which is near the River Ebro. We go down the road beside the river because we are going to cross over the bridge towards the industrial area of La Estación.
After the bridge, we continue straight on the LR-251 road which rises towards the train tunnel, but before we reach it we take a dirt road on our left that runs parallel to the train track for about 600 metres. We cross the tracks and continue straight. We are on the old road connecting Lapuebla with Fuenmayor. Once pilgrims had to cross the River Ebro by boat. Ignatius must have crossed the river and walked several times along this road that goes up the creek and runs right beside the old town of El Tormenal. At the first fork we turn right and then take the second left. We continue straight on. We reach Fuenmayor still walking on the same paved road, arriving at the main square and the church of Santa Maria.
We cross the town and find National Road-232 where it meets the road to Navarrete. Go straight on and after crossing the N-232, we turn left and try to find a dirt road close to us (it starts 150 metres from this point) that runs parallel to the Navarrete road, but avoids the traffic. We recognise it because it is beside a canal. We take it turning right and we follow it always straight ahead. A signpost says “Camino Viejo a Navarrete”.
We are walking with the canal on our left. When we reach the end, in front of us the AP-68 road forces us to turn to our right, to reach the asphalt road to Navarrete. We pass under the bridge and after 250 metres, we take a dirt road on the left that takes us close to the toll booths of the motorway. We pass the barriers on our left and we continue straight on the dirt road.
We pass a canal and at a fork, keep right. We continue straight ahead and go under a bridge which carries the A-12 overhead. We walk on, getting closer to Navarrete. Finally we reach this town, so closely linked to the experience of Ignatius.