Winter is almost here! At least it certainly feels that way at the moment. Now that I live on the Costa Blanca, snow is unlikely to feature too heavily in my life, but when I lived in Pamplona there was plenty of white stuff just up the road, and far too often in the city itself! This report was originally written in March 2013.
Roncesvalles is a great place to head to if you want snow but not a skiing break. You suddenly hit the snow line and it is impressive. Huge banks of snow line the road where it has been swept to one side and enormous piles can be seen between the houses.
Last year several of the villages in the region were completely cut off due to the volume of snowfall. A glimpse inside the courtyard of the Real Colegiata de Roncesvalles can show you exactly why. When we went it was full of snow as you can see from the photos. Many people had parked up to get a closer look and to supervise their children sliding down the small slopes on their toboggans.
We continued up to the small chapel at Ibaneka. We had been there before to visit the bird information centre. Parking space was at a premium and we abandoned our car by the road in the company of many other cars. The main area we could see was packed with kids sliding down but we wanted to go walking somewhere miles away from them! On the opposite side of the road we found a footpath just as a guy was coming down towards us in his snow shoes. We asked him if it was possible to continue without snow shoes and his reply was simple: “There’s a lot of snow!”
We carried on regardless and were rewarded by some amazing views and tranquil scenes. Toboggans hadn’t made it onto the virgin snow where we sat to have our lunch. The path through the trees was narrow and we occasionally had to stand aside to let people through on their snow shoes or langlauf skis. It was an incredible experience but in retrospect we might have been better off investing in some snow shoes to clip onto our boots. It was a bit slippery in places and disaster awaited any mishaps as there was a steep slope downwards through the trees. Nevertheless, we safely negotiated the footpaths and had a wonderful day. The trek back was a little more difficult because the sun had started to melt the snow. It gave way underfoot far easier than it had just an hour or so before. So, be careful, but have fun!!