Ujue (Navarre), Spain June 2024 (Tour 9)

Continuing south in pursuit of hot sun, we arrived late the next morning at the hilltop village of Ujue. Still part of Navarre, Ujue is a ‘Pueblo mas bonitos de Espana’ located a few miles to the north of the Bardenas Reales National Park (and the Park’s wide range of geological features including the Castildetierra Rock Mountain). We were never going to get to the Bardenas Reales this tour (Logrono always takes precedence with us) but, next time…?

We parked the Van at the northern entrance to the village, hitched Nala up to her wheels (she suffers from hip displacia and cannot walk/stumble more than a few yards without the wheels) and made our way up some fairly steep streets toward the top of the village.

Being a hill top village Ujue was always going to be a test for Nala but, she has coped admirably since we bought the wheels (managing up to five kilometres a day) but; we have to watch she doesn’t over extend herself. As it happened, she did really well. We bypassed a few steep staircases but she was happy to keep going until, near the top of the village on Plaza Mayor, we thought it best to rein her in and let her rest. The Villar Cafe-Bar is on this little square and we were all happy to pause for a drink. Thereafter, Vanya and I took turns to explore the rest of the village. On this occasion, Vanya was absent far longer than I was but, by her own admission, that was because she kept getting lost. For all the time she was away, I think she saw much less of the village than I did.

The hill top village is crowned with a gorgeous 11th century church, the Iglesia de Santa Maria. It’s the highlight of the village. An earlier 9th century church was demolished so that it could be erected. Walls and walkways were added during the 14th century by King Charles II of Navarre (aka Charles Malo or Charles the Bad) and these make for a most interesting building which became the principal place of worship in the area through the late Middle Ages to the 19th century.

Inside the church is a small chest which is said to contain the mummified heart of Charles the Bad. The rest of his body is interred in Pamplona Cathedral but he wanted his heart to rest in this particular sanctuary. I did some research on him and he was a most interesting and very colourful character, dying horribly in 1387 at the age of 54. Trust me, he is perfect material for a Netflix mini-series.

Ujue is one of the best preserved medieval villages in Navarre and it is a joy to wander. It’s a small stone village and it doesn’t take long to walk it all (unless you adopt Vanya’s approach and go round in circles). It has a couple of decent restaurants (or so I have read) where the speciality is migas al pastor. We didn’t have time to stay for dinner but I popped into the Meson las Torres restaurant, up by the church, and the views from the dining area are superb.

There was just time enough to look for a couple more photo opportunities before we drove on to Logrono in La Rioja. It’s very rare that we visit Spain and don’t stop off at Calle del Laurel (and the pinchos were calling).

Sunbilla (Navarre), Spain June 2024 (Tour 9)

With the weather in France showing no sign of improvement, we crossed into Spain and headed for a small campsite (Camping Ariztigain) just 15 miles or so over the border near Sunbilla. At 36 Euros for the night during low season, the campsite isn’t cheap by Spanish standards but, it proved value for money. The welcome was friendly; the facilities were all we required (bar/restaurant and copious hot water in the showers); Sunbilla is within easy walking distance; and the weather was warm and sunny.

I took a walk into Sunbilla before we took dinner at the restaurant. It’s a small mountain village and there isn’t much to see; especially with the local church, Iglesia de San Juan Batista, being locked up during my visit but I very much enjoyed my walk up the hills at the back of the village.

I didn’t get up above the tree line (I’m not sure these particular foothills of the Pyrenees are sufficiently high for that anyway) but there was plenty to keep me interested on the animal front including, a wild boar, a herd of wild goats, two Pyrenean Mountain dogs, a herd of Shetland ponies (or something similar) and numerous donkeys (including 3 quite adorable foals).

Despite the fact that there is not a great deal to do in this particular area, I would consider using the campsite again as a stopover. The best news is that the fine weather appears to be holding in Spain .