Firstly, thank you very much for all the lovely comments I have received. I have seen them all but haven’t been able to respond yet. I will try to answer any questions over the next few days. It all depends on the wifi situation. We left the albergue at a leisurely 08:00. George popped his head out of the door first and reported that it was raining, so on went my pack-cover-come-shoulder-Cape. George was a bit more thorough and donned wet-weather trousers. The walk out of Villanueva was sooo steep and I felt an ache in the back of my thighs from yesterday’s weight-lifting efforts. It was a tough climb out of the town, onto a country road and ever more upward. I think the Mozárabe amigos must have been running low on yellow paint because the arrows today are few and far between, with some difficult choices to be made at junctions. However we didn’t seem to get lost. Not getting lost was quite an achievement today because visibility was much reduced due to a heavy mist which reduced our view to 30-50 metres. Once we left the road and started to walk on tracks I was glad to see that the soil was sandy and gritty so not a problem with mud. Unfortunately it returned to being a bit clayey and we did pick up a fair bit of mud, but nothing like yesterday. Today actually involved climbing over El Torcal. Anyone who has been to this magnificent rock formation will have deep sympathy and amazing admiration for us. It was hard, and then it got harder. And we didn’t even have a view to alleviate the pain. But with many brief breath-catching breaks, we made it to the top, at which point the cloud lifted a little and we could actually see further than the next fence post. The middle part of the walk was on a narrow track of grass and wild flowers and was quite wet in places. There was a very chill wind and I put my gloves on for a while. I was only wearing a short sleeved t-shirt and the arms from my fleece under my rain jacket and was a bit worried about getting too cold. For the most part I would rather be cool than too hot, which is why I don’t wear too many layers, but in the bitter wind it would be easy to get chilled. I put my hood up to keep my head warm and that was sufficient to keep me just on the cool side of comfortable. We actually walked through the pass of El Torcal that is known as La Escaleruela, an extremely challenging trek, and although it was a difficult descent, I was very glad to be going in that direction. I have walked on some steep paths, but this one was just ridiculously steep and uncomfortable underfoot. But the good news was that the sun had made an appearance as we looked down onto antequera in the distance and once again the landscape was rolling fields of grain and gentle hillsides of olive groves. Take a look at the photos here showing the ‘Indian head’ rock. I have by-passed Antequera several times, but only visited once nearly twenty years ago. I had totally the wrong impression of this large vibrant town full of beautiful ancient buildings with an impressive castle standing guard from the hill-top (yes, of course there is a hill-top). It is a lovely place and well worth a visit – in fact there seemed to be lots of visiting tourists enjoying the environment. We had originally planned to walk through to a town called Cartaojal, a further 11 km, but when George suggested we stop in Antequera I was very happy to agree and spend a few hours in such a nice environment with bars that have wifi. I have been using my ‘mifi’ unit for internet access, but having checked my Yoigo account today it seems that this will be an expensive way to log on. The albergue here is attached the the church of Santiago. There are two sets of bunks, and a lovely sunny courtyard across which is a set of rooms that includes a bathroom. If I find another shower on this camino that is so enjoyable I will think myself very lucky. Endless hot water – wonderful!
We checked out the castle and wandered around town for a while before George returned to the albergue for a siesta and I found somewhere to drink a tinto de verano whilst posting yesterday’s blog. I tried something new today – a tapa dish called porra – made of tomatoes, red peppers and I would imagine a lot of bread and oil. It was served with a small amount of strong tuna and was quite delicious. Distance according to – wikiloc 17.3 km, mapmywalk 20.3 km, fitbit 18.7 km and 26,452 steps. So an average of 18.8 kilometres – a bit of an easy day. Total distance walked 65 km, number of steps 92,950 Once again, the image below shows the pace of the person who recorded it. George bought drinks on arrival at Antequera. I paid for drink and tapas later on (a bit expensive) 9.50€, drink at bar whilst I posted yeaterday’s post 1.50€, replenished nut supply and bought fruit 2.25€, dinner 10€, donation to albergue 7€. Coffee whilst posting this post 1.5€. Total 31.75€ Three days total spend 74.95€