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.
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.