Not a good night’s sleep. It wasn’t cold in the room at all, in fact it was too hot. Consequently I was tossing and turning all night and adjusting my sleeping bag. Sleeping bags rustle when you move so I try to change position as carefully as possible to avoid making too much noise. I also don’t really do well with the restrictions of a ‘mummy’ shaped sleeping bag – I like to move my legs around and usually end up tying myself in knots. There is also a fear of bed bugs in the albergues, so I have a specially treated under sheet that lies over the mattress to form a barrier so that the little buggers can’t get to me. I am therefore cocooned by various layers of synthetic fabric which I really hate, although I do have a silk sleeping bag liner. I don’t actually sleep that well at home in the comfort of my own bed, so it isn’t surprising that I don’t often get a good night’s sleep in these primitive conditions.
So far, 6:30 am I have been up for forty minutes, but the rest of my room mates have not yet stirred, so I cannot start packing yet. I like to make an early start because I am so slow at getting my stuff sorted out with everything in its correct place. I have awful problems getting my sleeping bag into its compression sac – it needs to be rolled up extremely tightly and eased into the undersized bag, but my arthritic thumb joints make this really difficult. However all are now stirring so I can get started.
This albergue is not very charming, very basic and not well maintained, but the hospitalera (the woman who runs the establishment) is lovely, greeting us with hot sweet tea, and in the morning serving breakfast, all for a discretionary donation. I feel quite cross when one of the pilgrims, a woman who was boasting the previous day of buying only the best for her trek and paying £200 for her wet weather trousers, helps herself to as much breakfast food as she can stuff into a couple of serviettes and takes it for her journey.
When we left the bar last evening it had just started to rain and it seems it has rained quite a lot during the night, and is still coming down, although only lightly, when we leave this unattractive little village and head off for the day’s trek, starting on the country road and passing over a pretty river, before diverting onto a sand track leading to the next village only 2km away, a really pretty place which would have been much nicer option to spend the night.
The weather soon clears and becomes lovely and bright, although quite cold. Perfect for an early morning walk.
Sometimes and way markers are very difficult to find, and sometimes they are impossible to miss.
We are now back to rolling countryside and walk 10 km before stopping for breakfast in Hornillos del Camino. We set off again along a good track with the weather remaining very fresh but bright and don’t stop again until we have covered 20km and I feel the need to free my feet from boots and socks for five minutes.
With feet once again ensconced in my boots we set off for the final third of our journey and the sun becomes stronger and the wind drops and we stop to divest ourselves of our outer layers. The path returns to a quiet road and just as we approach the ruins of an ancient monastery it begins to hail, quite hard so we stop in the shelter of the ruins to quickly attire ourselves in wet gear.
The hail continues, harder and harder and I cover my face with my buff just leaving enough room to see where I am going. We walk through the storm for 45 minutes and accumulate a considerable amount of ice about our persons, more than enough to populate a few gin and tonics! It finally lets up just as we reach our destination, a sizeable town called Castrojeriz, having covered a total of 30.5 km.
The first accommodation we try is full so we walk further into the town and find an albergue with beds available in a very old characterful building, but having been allocated beds, and greeting the Hungarian girl we met yesterday, we realise how very cold it is in the building, so quickly shower, arrange for our laundry to be washed and dried and rush to the nearest bar which happens to be lovely and warm and where we devour a hearty and tasty bowl of ham and potato soup and down a couple of glasses of wine. Whilst we are in the bar it starts to snow very heavily, with flakes swirling around the street outside, but by the second glass of wine the snow stops and it begins to brighten.
We search out a supermarket and buy some meagre provisions to make some more soup which Ella does with aplomb.The albergue has comfortable communal areas, although the dormitories and facilities are rather basic.
Current injury toll:
toes – blister free;
right heel – compeed still doing its thing (whatever that is) plus new small blister yesterday in new position;
left heel – new small blister today, trying sheep’s wool;
right knee – rash improved with less sun and long trousers, but also problem with swelling and soreness not related to rash;
wellbeing – 100%;
satisfaction – 100%;
self esteem – pretty damn good.