Day 12, Camino del Norte – Santa Cruz de Bezana to Santillana del Mar 25.2 km

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Total distance 327 km
Daily average 27.3
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 216 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 183 m

I set off after a good night’s sleep for a day’s walking entirely on road. Most of it was through pleasant countryside and a little through uninteresting towns. Mostly I walked alone, but towards the end of the day I walked with German Gunter.

Gunter stayed in the donativo albergue last night and it sounds as though I should have walked the extra distance and stayed there also. There was a communal meal and wifi and a happy crowd of pilgrims. Whereas I stayed at the private accommodation ‘Nimon’ that calls itself an albergue, but was just an apartment with several rooms available. It was ok and cost 15 euros including breakfast that I didn’t want.

A few km’s into the walk a decision had to be made. The ‘official Camino’ took a long loop around a river at the town of Boo, which added many km’s to the day’s distance. There were two alternatives to this, one legal and one illegal. The legal option involved taking the train one stop over the river via a bridge. And the illegal option was to walk on the rails over the bridge and pray that a train didn’t come during the crossing.

I had decided on the illegal option, but really didn’t want to do it on my own. I am generally a law abiding, risk averse kind of person, but I didn’t want to add unnecessary km’s and I didn’t want to take any form of transport. My good luck held out and just as I approached the point where it was necessary to walk along the tracks, a lovely spanish guy and his dog appeared as if from nowhere. So I had moral support for my illegal and slightly dangerous adventure. It is just under one kilometre that has to be walked along the tracks but only around 100 metres across the bridge. As we approached, a train came hurtling by and almost whipped off my visor with the backdraught. It was close. But I had read that the trains only crossed the bridge every thirty minutes, so we should have plenty time to make it across before the next one. That didn’t stop me walking as fast as I could though. And I was very relieved to reach the other side

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All was well and I enjoyed chatting in a mix of English and Spanish with my new pilgrim friend. His dog, a beautiful spanish pointer is a bit of a wayward spirit. Dashing all over the place, into fields of cows with tiny calves which caused a lot of agitation. Into every garden that we passed which caused pandemonium as every dog in the neighbourhood (and there were several in each property) asserted their ownership rights and barked as loudly and ferociously as they were able. It was a rolling pattern of raucous dog noise over and over again. Not conducive to a peaceful Camino, so I put some distance between us, although the noise bounced back at me until they were a long way ahead. Dog and owner were charming, but completely oblivious of the chaos they were causing to others.

Earlier in the day I found a rare opportunity to take some dew-drop pics and am rather pleased with the results.

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I came across a herd of cows with a couple of tiny calves that were shackled with wooden yokes with chains dragging from them. The only reason I can imagine for this unnecessary treatment was that perhaps they were doomed to be fighting bulls and their necks needed to be strengthened. Any info to the contrary will be happily received.

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I arrived at my stopping place of Santillana del Mar (although it is not on the coast, it is not far from it) at around 14:00. The albergue does not open until 16:00. We are now a group of twelve pilgrims sitting in the sunshine waiting for the hospitalero to arrive and allocate the beds.
7 French
1 German
1 Italian
1 Colombian
I spanish (with dog)
And me

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As one of the fist to arrive I was quickly into the shower before a queue formed. The albergue has sixteen beds over two rooms with two showers and two loos. Spanish dog man was allocated a bed in my room which caused alarm bells, as he had told me he is a champion snorer (roncador). But thankfully he said he would sleep outside with his dog. The cost is 6 euros and we were given a nice cotton sheet and pillowcase to put on the rubber covered mattresses and pillows.

Clean and changed, I wandered out into this charming largely renovated medieval village. It really is quite beautiful, but marred by herds of tour groups. There are an abundance of touristy shops, and many restaurants which seem reasonably priced – I might try one later – watch this space! There is even a Parador (but I won’t try that) That was a lie – I am currently in the parador uploading this post.

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I had read that this Camino entailed a lot of road walking, but slightly dismissed this info as pilgrim whinging. But it seems thus far that for every glorious day of cliff top/ beach walking, one has a price to pay in the form of pavement pounding. But I am only on day 12 of 40, so things may well change – let’s hope that change is for the better!

Oh, and by the way – it occurred to me yesterday as I walked through Santander that it took me three hours to get from the city to Irun on the bus, and ten and a half days to walk back again. But I have seen so much more.

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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31 Responses to Day 12, Camino del Norte – Santa Cruz de Bezana to Santillana del Mar 25.2 km

  1. Derek says:

    Hi
    I am enjoying your posts immensely, I walked the French Camino in 2012 and loved it. You are tempting me to walk your route, keep the wonderful news coming.
    Quick question, are you all getting a bed easily enough every night.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Derek. I have not had a problem with getting a bed so far, except at the beginning of my journey in April when some albergues were not yet open. There tend to be 10-15+ pilgrims each night as I progress.

      Like

  2. Enjoy that town of three lies 🙂 (Santillana del Mar, not plain, no saint, and no sea ;)) I’ll probably risk the bridge myself when it comes down to it. Buen camino!

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  3. As always, your post is pleasantly chatty but informative, illustrated perfectly, and overall a good read! Thanks!

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  4. Kai says:

    Fighting bull? Oh my god, ja, ja no, is not a future fighting bull. This calves are Tudanca. ” Tudanca is a primitive breed of cattle from Cantabria, Spain, which resembles the wild ancestor of cattle, the extinct aurochs in several respects.[1] The cow takes its name from the village of Tudanca in the Cantabrian Nansa valley.[2]” (wiki)

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks for your response Kai. It seemed odd to me that it was just the babies that had the yoke and not the adults. I think from what others have said that the yoke is used in relation to restricting feeding.

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  5. rba says:

    Great posts, Maggie! I so much enjoy reading and seeing the pics especially since I recently completed the Camino Del Norte and it is much fun to relive it from the comfort of being home.

    Buen Camino,
    rba

    Like

  6. ingridfolkers says:

    So loving your posts Maggie, and the photos.. especially the raindrops… wow. Ultreia

    Like

    • the2geordies says:

      Hi Maggie, well done again, i continue to read yr blogs, Bob & i started our Camino today & done the Sjpp to Roncesvalles leg, the Way went up&up(as you probs recal) we’re both tired, & now waiting in the que for our
      Pilgrims meal.
      Buen Camino
      Barbara& Bob

      Like

  7. marie healy says:

    Hi Maggie I am contemplating going it alone in September I am unfit and grossly overweight so it all sounds a bit scary. I obviously need to do some serious dieting and training it was great reading your blog comforting some what x enjoy!

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  8. Curtz says:

    Tudanca Cattle is not for fight; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tudanca_cattle

    No fighting bulls runnig free in the north

    Is not a Yoke; cantabrians names it “cebilla” http://www.artesaniaiberica.es/2013/07/07/la-cebilla-cantabra/

    Like

  9. Susan Harris says:

    Hi Maggie, thinking about you and reading your blog with interest. Looks like the weather Gods are still with you. Thought I had been energetic at CParcs the weekend, but nothing compared to your journey. Just keep that dress in mind xx

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  10. lynharrison4wind says:

    Wonderfully illustrative photos of your tale today, particularly of the village and of pilgrims in the sun waiting for opening hour. And best dew drops yet. Loved the sound of the willfully unsocial but beautiful dog. Poor calves. David and Roly are here watching the football with JK. I’ve left the lads to it, but they are making a lot of noise! A whole shoulder of slow roasted lamb has been demolished and watching both dog and man munch thorugh copious cloves of roasted garlic in the process I think you’re choice of odour d’albergue tonight is likely by far the best option! Sleep tight and lots of hugs.

    Like

  11. kay parkyn says:

    Maggie, re the harnessed calves – we actually saw this on a Spanish news station the other night, not sure if it was “Aqui La Tierra”, but apparently the harness is just used to tether the cattle in their stalls. It is supposed to make feeding easier etc. Maybe the chains give the calves more freedom to maybe suckle from the cows? If anyone knows differently then I will stand corrected – my Spanish is not that good and I was translating the captions with my dictionary whilst watching the article lol.
    I’ve said it before but I simply LOVE your photographs!!

    Like

  12. Nadine says:

    I think I wrote nearly the same thing about that bridge crossing!! We had identical experiences: finding others to walk with, waiting until a train passed, hoofing it to the other side as quickly as possible. Very glad to hear that your adventure went smoothly, and thanks for the continued updates on your blog… so, so much fun to read!

    Like

  13. OMG that bridge. Glad you had the timing just right. Whew, about the back draft. Scary. 🙂

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    • Margot Collins says:

      I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. In addition to your great photos, writing skills etc – you are a super storyteller. I followed you last year on the Camino from Malaga – your stamina baffled me. At the end you were in Santiago wearing a black number looking like you had just been to a health farm or something for weeks – certainly no signs of exhaustion! “My husband and I” walked the Camino from Lisbon to Santiago last June and used your blog as our guide book. It was so informative. Thank you very much. You mention a lot of road walking on The Norte Camino – how does it compare to Portugal? I found the traffic very scary and, very few places to sit if one wished to rest awhile which I like to do!! Take good care of yourself and your feet. Enjoy! I look forward to checking your blog every night. Thanking you!

      Like

  14. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I have enjoyed every posting, each morning. So sad about the cows. I cringe at how they are treated and know the Spanish are not animal friendly or respectful in general. Keep up your inspiring trek and thanks…
    Cathy. Bend, Oregon

    Like

  15. Edina says:

    🙂

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  16. mary lynch says:

    Another gem Maggie. I’m loving the photos and the way you tell a story. Buen Camino xxx

    Like

  17. keith889 says:

    I am glad that you did not meet any trains Maggie. Lovely photos xx

    Like

  18. Nati Gómez says:

    Hi Maggie, is Nati from Cudeca, amazing pictures. Take care, and have a very nice trip around the north!Thanks for your support!

    Like

  19. Hi Maggie, is Nati from Cudeca Hospice. Amazing pictures, wondeful blog! Take care around your trip! Thanks always for your support!

    Like

  20. sandyleone2404 says:

    Maggie, I love how you throw in such great little details such as the train running every 30 minutes and the bus time of 3 hours for Santander to Irun. Thank you so much for thinking to mention these little things. I am gobbling up all your details and as usual I will be following in your steps asking “What did Maggie do”. I also would have been bolting across the train bridge. Also good to know about the abundance of road walking. According to your elevation charts you haven’t had a flat day yet. Hope the legs and feet are holding out well. Safe travels as always!

    Like

  21. Charleen says:

    Following your posts daily….makes me want to be out there walking. Beautiful pics and interesting stories. Thinking about your feet….hopefully they will endure without too much pain

    Like

  22. Angie says:

    What an absolute delight reading your posts! LOVING those dew drop pics!! fantastic…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Robin Inglis says:

    I have just found your blog. I walked from Santander to El Pito (beyond Aviles) in April 2016. I arrived at the infamous bridge at Boo in the dark as I got out of Santander late after arriving on a ship from the UK and I had a booking in Mogro! I waited for a train and then walked easily over the bridge. As your photo shows there is a path beside the track which is quite wide enough so one does not have to struggle on the track itself But like you I walked as fast as I could!! It really is safe if one waits for a train and then goes over immediately. Very nice blog; it brought back some great memories of people and places. I’m back to finish the next 300KM to Santiago in 2017. The Norte is wonderful!
    Buen camino

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Robin. Opinion was mixed about the bridge – I’m glad I walked, but not sure if I would be comfortable about recommending it. I agree that the Norte is a great walk, except maybe for all that hard road surface.

      Like

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