Day 23, 8 May 2013, Villafranca del Bierzo to La Laguna de Castilla, 26 km

The day started badly. Firstly it was raining, only softly, but enough to warrant a raincoat. Ella was suffering badly with her poorly feet and the going was extremely slow. We set off on the road, alongside a river and after a couple of kilometres came to a very long tunnel running through the mountain. We trudged through, keeping close to the edge -it was the low point of the camino, it felt dangerous even though there was very little traffic. We finally emerged and came across a bus stop where we saw a group of ‘so called’ pilgrims waiting to be transported to the next stop on the camino. We crossed a bridge over a river and it dawned on us that we hadn’t seen any camino signs for a long time. We consulted our guide and realised that we had made a mistake, we turned tail and had to walk back through that awful tunnel and then turned onto a track that ran alongside a river. We kept looking at the mud on the track to see if we could see any footprints and eventually saw some pilgrims on the other side of the river. We retraced our steps and finally found the signs that we missed about 3 km earlier.

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The walk was entirely on the road, mostly alongside a main road, that wasn’t actually very busy, and sometimes taking a diversion through a village. All day we were within sight and hearing of a fast flowing river, which helped to lift the spirits. But is wasn’t a very inspiring walk.

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We stopped for breakfast in a charming bar and ordered omelette rolls that were sufficient for breakfast and lunch and then continued along the roadside for a total of 21 km at which point we started our climb, initially on a country road and then on a mud and rock track. This was a real climb, rising 500 metres in 5.5 km, but once agin I found that the change of scenery and improved weather lifted my spirits.

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The mountainsides were coloured a wonderful pinky mauve -with vast areas swathed in pink gorse. At times we had to share the path with some four legged friends, but they were very well behaved – I hope they thought the same about us!

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Although the climb was extremely severe and my lungs were complaining at every step I found that I could keep going with relatively few breaks, on and on and up and up for over 5 km until we finally reached the place were stopping for the day, leaving a further 2.5 km climb to reach the peak in the morning.

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We were greeted by the American guys we shared a room with the night before and discovered we were to share with them again tonight, together with a couple of cyclists (they didn’t say much so I couldn’t ascertain where they were from). We had a bathroom between the six of us again, although I have decided I much prefer the facilities to be away from the dormitory.

We ate a good dinner with the yanks, Bill who is 67, a Vietnam veteran and now managing investments for a few clients. He says this will be his last big adventure. He is from Dallas and has an accent just like John Wayne and is finding difficulty finding hamburgers or pizzas to eat every day. He told us that he has never eaten lamb – doesn’t know what he is missing! He is travelling with Julian, a Mexican who moved to the states as a young child. He is probably around forty. They hardly knew each other before starting their camino. They are an odd couple but great company – and they don’t snore – great room mates.

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Including our early morning diversion we probably covered 30 km today. I could have gone further. I am a great deal stronger after three weeks of walking. I never ache at the end of the day and my backpack seems lighter with every day that passes.

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About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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6 Responses to Day 23, 8 May 2013, Villafranca del Bierzo to La Laguna de Castilla, 26 km

  1. Sue & Keith says:

    After your long trudge yesterday (day 22), hopefully the sun was shining for you today and you had a much more pleasant walk. Love K&S

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  2. helencarverthefirst says:

    shit Maggie that was some climb!!!!! good job you live at a high altitude or you may have found it harder. And as for that tunnel, that looks SO really scary. I hate tunnels. i think about you when i am out doing my gardening etc. walking! walking! walking! I am following you on my map and some of the villages are so small there are not on it. love from Helenxx.

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  3. Maureen Gillespie says:

    Maggie, I’m so proud of you and I don’t even know you!

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  4. Maureen Gillespie says:

    Btw, I used to work with Peter Murtagh. Is his book worth reading?

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  5. George W May says:

    I was enjoying reading various blogs on the Camino experience, and was surprised to find our picture on your blog. We enjoyed meeting you and your daughter on the trail. I did not know I sounded like John Wayne. Say hi to Ella for us.

    Bill May

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