Today we leave the Camino de Santiago Francés and continue on the Camino de Santiago del Ebro, always “against the current.”
From the shelter of pilgrims at Rua Vieja 32, we head to the streets of San Francisco, behind the Hospital of La Rioja. We continue straight on the street of the Mother of God. After passing under the A-13, turn left and then right to cross the park and approach a bridge over the River Iregua. Having crossed the river, we turn left and follow the River Ebro which flows along on our left. We are in the neighbourhood of Varea.
Varea was the site of the old Roman port for boats which used the Ebro as a transport route. We walk straight along the paved road, with no deviation at all. We follow the GR-99 signs. As we reach an intersection with another paved road, we will see a cattle ranch on our left. We cross through the intersection by continuing straight ahead but shifting a few meters to the left.
We do not leave the paved road until reaching an obligatory curve by an irrigation canal. We will have passed a store on our left. We follow the GR-99 signs. We cross the canal without a problem and continue on the paved road which will take us near the train tracks in a short while, after going under a highway. We cross another tunnel under the highway and turn right. We reach the road which we take to our left, leaving the climb to the bridge behind us. Here we stop following the GR-99 signs.
We approach a military base: we continue on the road just 400 meters, and turn right to cross the train tracks on a level crossing in order to get onto N-232, which we will take to our left. Unfortunately, we cannot take any other route, and this national road is unpleasant. We have to walk approximately 2.6 kilometres, until we reach the bridge over the Leza River. We enter into the town of Recajo, walking along the N-232.
After crossing the bridge on the Leza River, we at last leave the national highway. Right after the bridge we take a paved road to our left, which leads away from the N-232. This road takes us under the train line. We continue straight along the same road until we come upon the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Since we are going “against the flow,” the main door is not on the side along which we are walking, and the Saint James’ arrow reminds us that we always have the Camino de Santiago at our back. Again we find GR-99 signs.
We enter Agoncillo and walk along Calle de La Ermita. As we reach the centre of the town, we make a 90-degree turn to our left to find ourselves before the majestic Castillo de las Aguas, completely restored with a broad plaza which brings out all its beauty.
We pass by the church of Nuestra Señora la Blanca on our left, and we turn to the right onto a wide avenue behind the church. We continue in the same direction until reaching the end of the town, where we will find a trail, which we will take to our left. As it winds among farms and field, the trail twice crosses other roads at a right angle: we continue straight ahead at each crossing. About 3.5 kilometres after leaving Agoncillo, the road ends at another one. The town of Arrubal is just in front of us. We pass over the bridge and go up to the Church of Arrubal.
We walk through the town along Calvario Street. We leave the town on a paved track which runs parallel to an irrigation canal, which we can see at about 60 meters to our left. We follow the track, which bends to the right to take us to the train line. Later we pass some houses and a tunnel on our right, always traveling straight ahead.
The path continues parallel to the train line, which is to our right. We come near the Ebro River at one of its frequent bends, so that we are walking between the river on our left and the train line. Right at the point where the river seems to want to run into the train line, we find a bridge across the line and end up with the Ebro and the train line both on our left. Walking parallel to the line, we reach a paved track which bends rightward at a right angle, and after 100 meters we see above us the white Chapel of Aradón. We will almost certainly see the huge vultures that nest in the Peñas de Aradon cliffs.
At this point we descend to pass under the railway line. For a while we follow the GR-99 but after a well-drawn curve, when the GR signs go straight on, we continue walking along our road that keeps us close to the railway line. From this point, we will always travel with the railway on our right until we reach the Alcanadre train station, which is also a refuge for pilgrims.
Once in the station, near the first road up to the village, after some metres there is a fountain and going straight ahead, we come to the church.