Cadavo Baleira to Lugo 31.1kilometers

Again we were afforded the rare luxury of breakfast at our hotel, so we had no worries about looking for coffee from the start. We were soon out of the town, for what it was, and walking in open countryside.

It is fairly steep uphill to start but we are promised a day of down hill today. Although it is mainly true, we still have a few uphill sections, but it is generally easy and pleasant walking through mainly woodland. We meet Robert the German again on the road and we pass and re pass all day.

After 6.5 k we arrive at Vilabade and apart from the church there is little here to see, certainly nowhere to get refreshments. Fortunately after another 2k we arrive at Castroverde and as well as the fountain there are some great places to eat and drink.

Again after this refreshments become rare. In Santa Maria de Gondar there is a fountain said to make anyone drinking from it fall in love. I gave that a miss.

It is another 13k to Lugo and after about 5k it gets horrible. There are detours and we often have to follow the road. We pass through Bascuas and it has another of those vending machine stations. We grab a kitkat and a stamp, have a rest and are joined again by Robert. He is another struggling with injuries, but will not take a day off. We probably will not see him after today so we decide to say goodbye next time we see him.

Then as we get nearer the roads themselves become the problem. We have to detour for the footbridge and we are led through an area of desolation. The remains of demolished buildings and factories scar the landscape and we are glad when we take an underpass and start to climb towards the city. It is good going however and we set up a fantastic pace, making the outskirts by three o’clock.

We cross many roads and climb quite steeply the streets of the outskirts. We spot a launderette and hope we stop not to far away and just up the street we find a bar that is open despite this being siesta time. We order two beers and tortilla. Now normally you would get a slice, but they brought us what must have been a six egg omelet, despite our exertions we struggled with it. We sit outside watching the street, but despite being on the Camino route, we see no further pilgrims and we never see Robert again. We wish him luck in absentia, and hope his injuries do not stop him.

It was only a short walk now into Lugo but we struggled to find anywhere to stay, although many places are listed they are well hidden. On the main street as we came out of the city walls and back towards the Camino we found Pension 511. It was a bit of a dump, the sort of place you would rent if you had just been thrown out of your home, but it had a kitchen, a small dining area and a large balcony.

We were long overdue for a rest day, I could not convince Viv that the 11k to Tineo counted as one, so we were staying here two nights.

We got all our clothes washed in the Launderette and we could air everything outside. Finally I got rid of the old dog smell without resorting to the cheap deodorant. The old Roman town of Lugo gave us a good day of exploring and we managed to grab some provisions for our onward travelling.

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The rest day did us some good as well as a chance to get some decent food. Unfortunately the rest did not do my joints any good. Standing in a shop, not carrying any weight my knee suddenly gave out. I was unable to stand and started to wonder if we would manage to finish.

I had not brought my knee supports with me and to add to our woes, I discovered I no longer had my sleeping bag either. So I would struggle to walk and could not take refuge in any alburgues. At least I had the high strength ibuprofen that I bought on the last Camino. This would be the one thing that saved us.

I limped around for the rest of the day, beer and ibuprofen, the only cure. At least we managed to replace the water bottle we lost, that’s two now  and we can ill afford to be without them.

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A Fonsegrada to Cadavo Baleira 26.1kilometers

The walk out of the town is quite direct but when we arrive at the main road there is a diversion and deciding to follow the book we stick with the road. Trouble is which way? The filling station comes to the rescue again.

We follow the road for about 2k then turn off and start climbing steeply uphill again. The path then roughly follows the road and after another 4k we pass through Vilardongo. After this we turn again uphill on gravel and eventually we arrive at an opening, a clear grassy area and on our right is Hospital de Montouto. Considering it has not been used for maybe 90 years it is very neat and well kept. Only one building is complete with roof and on close inspection would be totally uninhabitable, but the courtyard is a pleasant place to sit and eat a bit of fruit and just rest for a while.

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After another short up hill it is downhill from here to Paradavella. The “fantastic Bar” in the book never materialized, we had to travel another 5k to A Lastra before we got a welcome drink.

After another 7k we finally arrived in Cadavo Baleira or Lancara as it calls itself. First impressions were not good but eventually we found a center of sorts and even a bank. The machine here refused to accept my card and a girl stuck her head over the window “no funciona” she said “sera aproximente una hora”. Resigned myself to waiting but then found a Caixa Rural next door but one. I will not do that again, it limited me to 300e would not give me a balance and on top of everything else, charged me 3% commission.

A little further around we found the Hotel Moneda. Good room with a balcony so we could air some things and maybe tomorrow I would use a bit less deodorant. I took everything out of my bag and hung up what was not being washed, put the boots out and took out the insoles. While on the balcony airing the boots I saw Suzanna and Mikel going in the supermarket. We exchanged greetings again, but this would be the last time I saw them. It was a shame, they were the only ones we have consistently met with all the way from Irun.

We also took an opportunity to stock up for the next day and then went looking for food. There were a few bars on the next street but we went for the one that had a menu in the window. Same old standard dishes, same stock photos. By now I was expecting nothing, maybe just one or two things to be on the menu. “Que hay?” I asked “todo” he said.  “Hay ensalada verde?” “Si” This was too good to be true so we had a barbecue pizza and salad to share.

Again we meet Robert at meal times. We invite him over but he is quite happy to sit alone, but he enjoys his food and we are finished anyway.

Just shows though, you go to a big town and the food is abysmal, then come to a dump like this and hit the jackpot.

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Embalse de Salime to A Fonsegrada 27.8 kilometers

Another early start but we are not the first. As we leave our keys in the box, there is already a set in there and we can see pilgrims up the road. The hill is telling straight away. We start to gain on those ahead of us, but before long any advantage we have is lost as we to succumb to the drain on our legs. We follow the road and pass the turn off for Salime. It would have been a short cut yesterday had someone not put a lake in the way. We are taken off-road a few times to cut corners but the extra climb negates any advantage. It is nearly 6k to Grandes de Salime and we are ready for breakfast when we arrive. The first  two streets were full of bars all closed. I was not impressed so we carried on. Further through the village we finally came to an open bar, seems this is just past the alburgue, so that is why it open.

We sat surrounded by early morning pilgrims all knowing it was a shorter day today, except for those of us who had already done 6k. The long and The Short were here as well and at last we had a chance to talk. They were Suzanna and Mikel from Croatia, so I was not that far out in my estimation. Because they were mostly camping they were able to go the Hospitales route and had camped on the top. I must admit to feeling slightly envious, they had a shorter day yesterday as well as the great views. Compensation, I suppose for carrying the tent everywhere.

The German shadow appeared here as well, his name is Robert and he had not been waiting for anyone he was travelling alone. We had been gradually gaining on him since we left the hotel and now we were destined to travel together more or less for a couple of days.

6k down the road we came to Castro and a chance for another coffee and sit down. Then we have more climbing up to the windmills, I have seen too many now and am not enamored to climb to see any more. After a short descent we arrive at El Acebo and Galica. The book says no food, but there were pinchos and beer good enough to keep us going.

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As we leave another bar full of pilgrims we climb again, now I feel genuine sympathy for Don Quixote as we ascend just to see more windmills. We have climbed and descended so often today I am surprised we arrive at only 5:30. We stop at the first place we pass Casa Manolo. Good clean room with a view of the cattle, not much space to dry washing, but hey ho.

They only do menu here and we have eaten quite well today so a big meal is not what we want so we explore the town. Did I say we did not see the French couple again? Well we saw them once crossing the street, they did not see us and we never spoke. We walked past the alburgue and the church but we never saw them again.

We walked down the street and found a place where we could get a salad. The next table was full of Italians they were the life and soul of the place. Now we seem to be surrounded by pilgrims at every turn.

 

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Pola de Allande to Embalse de Salime 30.1 kilometers

In the morning we returned to Café Victoria for breakfast. The girl serving was from Romania and her Spanish and English put us to shame. She served us with a smile despite having to be there from 6 am. With fresh coffee a pastry and a smile she made our start seem easier.

Ricardo had warned us about this. Now we had to climb 600metres in 6k a stiff climb when you are already tired and carrying 10kilos. We headed out of town on what we thought was the right road, but there were no arrows or shells. After about 400yards we passed a filling station. The guy inside was not the most talkative but he did point us straight up the road.

We left the road and followed a dirt track, it was not the climb that bothered me most to start, but the spider silks. Light and invisible they were plaguing me at one point I carried my pole in front of me like a processional cross.  We passed a picnic area but it was too early to stop, some fast walkers passed us at this point, but then decided to stop here. We were out early but it was not long before younger legs from the alburgue caught us up and overtook us.

I was relieved now, as someone else was breaking the spiders webs for me. After about 3k we took a break in the woods. No sign of another break area, we just put our seat pads down, ate an apple and watched them all go by.

The average one in ten of this first 6k is misleading, as we break out of the woods the gentle climb stops and the real climbing begins.  We scramble over rocks as the path ascends at an angle to the hairpin road. After 4k of hard climbing and another one of more gentle climb we reach the top Puerto del Palo, don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is anything here though, it is just a mountain top. Fortunately one enterprising soul has a van here, complete with generator, fridge and coffee machine.

The two tables were full of Germans, but this being the Camino they made room for us and we exchanged stories of out travels to this point and beyond. As we sat there the Long and The short passed us (remember? eastern European gorgeous girl an tall guy). They went straight passed without stopping and did not see them again that day. Although when we set off we were gaining on them we lost sight after we diverted.

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After we crested the hill we had a steep downhill to a Road. The arrow pointed to the left and we blindly followed it, missing the almost immediate turn off down the next hill. What we found however was a building, without roof or floor with a huge picture window. It gave a fantastic view and I posted it on my facebook page the same day.

Now we had to backtrack, a hateful thing for walkers to do, and rejoin the camino. Another 1.5 k of mainly downhill gorse covered hillside and we pass Montefurado. I say pass, we could see the sign on the road but there was no sign of any habitation. Another 4k and we pass Lago, you are supposed to be able to see the lake here where they stored water for mineral extraction. We saw nothing but scarred hillside, but there was a bar on leaving. We had a sandwich and drinks, the place was full of pilgrims mainly German but The Long and The Short were there as well. (Must find out their names, we have crossed paths all the way from Irun). This was the first time we had come across a place that realized they had exclusivity and they priced accordingly.  Still we were refreshed and we had our water filled, ready to go on.

Berducedo was the next place on our list, another one horse town but it did have a Pension and a bar with San Miguel Selecta. I wanted to stop here we had only done 15 or 16K but it was all hard going and it would be a long walk to the next available lodgings. I don’t think Viv believed me when I said 15k so we carried on. We would regret that decision.

We followed about 4k and came into a wooded area as we emerged we passed the alburgue of La Mesa,  another with the hospilalero waiting outside to grab weary pilgrims. There is no food here and nowhere to buy provisions, our meager stock would not be enough. On the exit of La Mesa was another alburgue this one locked, you need to phone for the key. There was a picnic area outside so we rested and ate what we had. There was no tap or anywhere to restock our water the worrying prospect of running out faced us, but not yet a while.

This was not just 10k, it was 10k of steep downhill on loose shale for the most part. When we passed through pine woods I set the GPS to give us some idea of how far we had to travel. Embalse de Salime was not on the map but Salime was. This was a big error on my part.

We were now extremely tired and the water had run out, at this point my judgment must have also been impaired. It looked like Salime was behind us, we had come too far on this track. 600meters back and we could not find the track. I expanded the map to find Salime was an abandoned village flooded by the dam. We had to double back again. I think this was our lowest point of the Camino. If we could have given up right here we would have, but there was no escape. We simply had to keep walking or lay down and die.

After we reached where we had turned around we carried on downhill, then the track hair pinned on and on down. Eventually we reached the road. Again the book was out, it said 1.5k from here. We followed the road through a scarred landscape, unlike Porto Marin this place had been built with no thoughts of tourism or beauty. Across the dam and we could see the hotel, but it was still tantalizingly far off and uphill.

Hotel Las Grandes was not just a hotel but alburgue also. Right now I did not care, it had beer. My throat was so dry I was unable to speak, so I pointed at the pump and put up two fingers. “Grande? ” he asked. I just nodded enthusiastically. Viv,  who had fallen behind joined me then as a woman tourist walked out. She waved her hand in front of her face in the universal gesture that said “you stink” Fortunately I did not see or I would have responded “at least we still have manners”

We got a comfortable room overlooking the lake. It certainly looked better from here.

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The food was good too and most welcome. A few of the people we had seen were here as well but mostly in the alburgue. The German who had shadowed us was still doing it, but now I just wanted more beer followed by sleep.

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Tineo to Pola de Allande 25.7 kilometers

We have to make another decision; if we follow the official Camino Route there is nothing for us for 39k and on top of that the weather is bad. So we must take the low level route. Something we will regret later, but for now it looks the best option.

Again we are blessed with breakfast at the hostal. Only pastry and coffee but we are fit for nothing without it. After this we walk back to the market square. The Camino turns sharply uphill from here through the town. Then when we leave the town it continues uphill on a dirt track. We start gaining on an oriental looking couple, but we stop to look at the House of El Ultimo Pilipino. Normally a stamp is available here, but for whatever reason not at this time.

We pass through more woodland and gain on the Orientals again. They have split as the woman walks more slowly and the man waits. They are very friendly and keen to practice their English. The reason he seems so tall is he is carrying a child on his back, so she must carry most of the luggage. They are from Korea and must complete the Camino in a finite time in order to catch their flight home. We pass and re pass them for most of the day.

There is another diversion here to Santa Maria de Obona Monastery, the book says it is optional so we ignore it.

When we reach road again it is wet and slippery. When we turn, my boots can get no purchase and I go skidding down. Fortunately I fall on my back and my fall is broken by my rucksack. I am not hurt but I was shaken and tried my best to avoid the tarmac while it was still wet.

After 12k we arrive at Campiello. There is more here that it states in the book and we stop at Casa Ricardo, an alburgue bar and shop. To rest and refresh. After we had our stamp and were sat with our coffee Ricardo himself came over to talk to us. He gave us a history lesson and much good advice: Spain was divided into two kingdoms and the king of the southern kingdom invited the moors to help him defeat the king of the north. Unfortunately the moors decided that they wanted it all and after defeating the northerners killed the king of the south. Now Asturias was particularly difficult and stayed independent, but their King Alfonso had other ideas. Alfonso11  did the first Camino on the route we now know as Primativo, it crossed all the highest mountains and at the top of each he set up refuges or Hospitales. he appointed lords from the francs and allowed them land and tax free status in return for defending them. This is where we get the term “Franchise”. He invoked the name of St James, who was supposed to have arisen and helped drive back the moors, while riding a white horse. So it was from here that the Reconquista started. All pilgrims at that time needed a stamp from  Santa Maria de Obona to allow them to stay at the hospitales.

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From here we passed through some beautiful countryside for 2k until we reached Borres. We were not ready to stop yet, but for those taking the Hospitales route this was the last chance. It looked a horrible place and only one alburgue, we could not even see the bar. So we moved on knowing we had missed our chance to change our minds and go the hospitales route.

After another kilometer we saw a big sign, there was no chance of missing this one. Straight on for hospitales and left for Pola de Allande. The book makes little sense here we follow the arrows for about 2k then we hit the road. Not a sign here and the book appears to send us straight across. There is no straight across only a left followed by a right a hundred yards further on. There was a bus shelter at this junction a good place to stop, have a drink some fruit and check the GPS. As we thought Pola de Allande was to the right. So we about turned and followed the road. We found out later we were not the only ones to make this error.

There is a footpath running parallel to the road and slightly below it. It is a comfortable place to be, following the road, but apart from it and cutting off the big corners. We gained on a woman who was walking in a dress, she stopped and we passed her by with enough distance not to speak. Later down the road we found a bar. It was beer time so we stopped for a rest and got talking to another woman, she was a companion of the woman in a dress. Seems they walk apart together a lot. They are from Canada, does that explain it? Anyway her friend (in the dress) had made the same error as us up the road.

We left the bar as did the two women, separately again. We left the road again for 3k of dirt tracks boulders and streams until we hit Pola de Allande. In the town we spied a bar, it was closed, back tracked and found another at the cross roads.

We had a drink and pincho and sat by the street. One of the two Canadians and told us she was in the hotel around the corner. Sounded a bit pricy to me the disadvantage of booking ahead.  We crossed the road to Hotel Lozano 10e cheaper and looks a bit better to me. Later we tried the hotel for food but the kitchen was closed as was the kitchen in Café Victoria. So we again returned to our bar on the corner Pizzaria Café El Centro, well the clue is in the name. We just had to have the Pizza Diablo. The waitress said “Es muy picante” I told her it’s ok we’re Welsh. It was a joy to have something with that much taste, loved it.

We saw a lot of pilgrims in there that night, the two Canadians, the German who had shadowed us and a few others we had passed over various days and hailed with “Buen Camino” it was almost like an alburgue dinner.

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La Espina to Tineo 11.3 kilometers

There are some big stages ahead, so it was time for some decisions. We should be taking a rest day today but from here the next stage would be 37k so instead we are doing a short stage instead.

Early morning in La Espina we were surprised to find one or two bars already open, so we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before we had gone too far.

The way out of town was easy for a change. There was only one road so we took it. Soon though we were travelling through thick fog and unable to find the arrows we followed the road. This was a mixed blessing as the traffic was getting worryingly close, we had to wave our torches about to ensure we were seen. But the advantage was after  about 5k we passed another bar and were able to have a second coffee.

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At about the 10k mark the sun had broken through and the fog was starting to lift. Knowing we did not have far left to go we stopped at the picnic area we passed.  We had some yogurt and fruit and relaxed.

The last kilometer is often the worst, but not today. Although it was all main road and foggy we had made good time. As we walked into Tineo we passed many places, but somehow it did not yet feel right. We were rewarded for our perseverance by a gorgeous market square alive with people milling around and haggling for the best prices.

On the road to the square we found Pension Corono overlooking the market street and with a view across a scenic and verdant valley. The only downside was there was no Laundromat. There was a tinteria where they will do a wash for you, but that would involve us staying an extra day.

The sun was now out and we sat in the square with a beer just soaking it up. This was the first real sun we had since arriving in Spain and I was not about to miss my opportunity. First time we came across the Spanish custom of pinchos as well. This place had pieces of bread with boiled ham on, very nice it was too, although Viv did not like the excessive fat.

Later we set off looking for food. We bought some provisions in the supermarket, but without cooking facilities we could not make a meal, so we wandered around the town. The local alburgue was in a four star hotel, their menu was way over our price range. Everywhere else, the kitchens were closed. As we wandered around we noticed we were being shadowed by another guy obviously a pilgrim and also looking for food. The quest was having little success, so we tried the bar at our pension, nope. He did however point us down another street where we did get menu of the day and of course wine. We did not see the guy shadowing us again and assumed he had found food somewhere else, but a few other pilgrims did find this place.

 

 

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Santa Eulalia de Doriga to La Espina 21.3 kilometers

In the morning it was difficult not to bring mud inside our shed. The boots had been outside in a box, but we could not put them on outside as it was again raining. We were out before Luis and never saw him again, so it is on the Camino.

Behind the bar the road went steadily uphill. We followed a mix of gravel paths and minor roads for 3k until we came to the outskirts of Cornellana. Here we had a choice, we could follow the official Camino route or stay on the road and go through the town. We had no breakfast yet, the choice was easy. About 300 yards along the road we saw a filling station with a café. The thing with Garages is they are more or less 24 hour and so it was we were lucky. The seats were outside and the rain had not quite stopped so we sheltered under a canopy with our coffee and cheese and bacon roll.

Refreshed we carried on and re-joined the Camino after about a kilometer. More minor roads and footpaths, but we were diverted on what seemed to us a strange route. Then we saw more European money at work. We were diverted to avoid the construction of another flying road. Giant cranes lifted sections onto huge pillars that reached into the sky and scarred the beautiful valley. Men crawling up the side of the pillar like ants on the forage. All this to divert traffic from the minor roads that weave through the valley. Roads that carry maybe a dozen cars an hour. I reflect on our own roads, overcrowded and potholed, and the fact that it is our money paying for this abomination.

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As we follow more footpaths and minor roads we keep passing junctions and roundabouts where it says the road is closed. All this in preparation for another new road to nowhere. After another 10k we arrive at Salas. We come in along a board walk that goes over a flood area. It is like a big park where you can relax or when the river is in flood it takes the water before it hits the town. Halfway through the town we stop for a beer and some food. A lot of the local trade seems to revolve around feeding pilgrims but not much else.

At the top of the town there is a sewing shop and I can finally get some decent needles and thread.  The woman asks if it is for Viv or me to do, I have no idea what difference that makes. Do women use a different needle than men? Then we have an argument about the colour, “grey” she says, “no it is green” says I. She is quite insistent, but I am the customer and my pants are green. If she is colour blind she is in the wrong job.

We have another 7k of mixed road and footpath, before we arrive at Bodenaya again the end point of the stage, but there is little here. Only another kilometer to La Espina where we arrive on a top road that seems to run parallel to the main road. There is a sign pointing to the left for food. We follow it down but it is just another of those places with vending machine’s. We get a stamp and a chocolate bar, but the flies are to bothersome so we do not stop.

Just down the road we find Hostal Dakar, double room and menu of the day, and to top it they have a large screen TV. After we had washed and rested we explored the local supermarket for tomorrows lunch. We get some bread fruit and yogurt, and some cheap deodorant, hopefully to kill that wet dog smell. Of course all our gear is back at the Hostal and we get caught out by the rain. The heater is on some sort of complex remote control, so we have no way of making it work. We just have to hope our stuff dries in the bathroom. At least I can now repair my pants, you find what is really important on the Camino.

The food is good as is the wine. I just love this giving you a whole bottle with your meal. I sat drinking it as I watched Wales finally knocked out of the European Cup. It was great while it lasted and at least now many Spaniards know where it is. Instead of “I know Wales, Londres” now we get “Wales, si Gareth Bale” we are taking small steps.

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