** This stage deviates for visiting SAN MILLÁN DE LA COGOLLA in order to enjoy a visit to the monasteries of YUSO and SUSO ** (highly recommended visit: http://www.monasteriodeyuso.org)
We are already in the lands of Rioja. We left the city through the urban park of Grajera, which leads to the swamp of the same name and from here we begin the ascent to the modest top of the same denomination (of the Grajera) that leads us along the road and next to the fence where pilgrims hang wooden crosses to mitigate the contrast of the dirt road with asphalt and the progress flowing across the fence.
Once across N-120 and A-68. 200 meters from the latter reference we passed by the ruins of the ancient pilgrim hospital from San Juan de Acre, whose facade was moved and attached to the village cemetery.
After there we guide our steps to Navarrete which is located on top of a hill. In Navarrete, in addition to a beautiful and peculiar porch, we can admire one of the most beautiful cloisters of the whole Camino de Santiago.
We leave Navarrete after passing by its cemetery, take multiple tracks near the road and then we go through a bit nasty construction zone, we pass Ventosa and go back to the path and in a slight rise we cand find the curious mounds produced with pebbles of the river that pilgrims throw there.
In the top we can see Nájera, from which we are approximately 8 kilometers far in gentle descent. In the approach to the city we find a grocery store where we can stock up for the rest of the stage. Najera's side street is a bit long, and we leave the town after passing the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real and going up a steep hill.
Once past the small mountain pass between hills, we reach the open spaces of the plains and after passing a crop area we access Azofra.
In Azofra we can and I think we should take the detour road (13 Km.) And with good strength head to San Millan de la Cogolla (Cradle of Castilian), an impressive monastery where a guided tour will leave us impressed of its history.
From San Millan de la Cogolla we head to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, as directed by the road that will retrace our steps and, after going through a crossroads passing Cirueña, leads us on a long and scenic straight road that lets us see in the distance a beautiful view of Santo Domingo (where the chicken sang after roasted).
A soft and comfortable descent takes us to to the town that looms on our horizon, which is none other than Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
We leave Santo Domingo by the bridge the Saint built himself over the river Oja, and following the path near the road we get next to a beautiful landscape adorned with the presence of the "cross of the brave". Following our route soon raises a question as we see a sign where it says: To Grañón, 1.9 km through road, 3.2 km following Camino de Santiago. (I personally prefer the tranquility of the Camino). When we arrived at Grañón and crossed the town we missed the yellow arrows, it is a confusing point so we asked a villager. We were told we had to go right onto a path that descends and that once again would bring us back to the road.
Through local roads and paths always near to traffic on the main road, we crossed several villages such as Redecilla del Camino, Castildelgado and finally after the long mileage caused by the detour to San Millan de la Cogolla (was worth it) we decided to end the stage at Vilora de Rioja.
In this area there are various towns with hostel, the more recommendable being Belorado. In Belorado you can stay in a hostel affiliated to the Bicigrino's hostel network:
A SANTIAGO HOSTEL:
Camino Redoña S/N
Tlf: +34 947 562 164 (Miguel)