Total distance 475.2km
Daily average 27.9
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 335 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 317 m
There were around 20 pilgrims in the albergue yesterday, but the night passed surprisingly peacefully.
Gunter and I set off around 7:15 and once again, although heavy rain was forecast, there was no sign of it and it remained that way all day.
Camino friendships are strange relationships. They just seem to happen – or not. I can’t remember when Gunter and I started sharing eachother’s company. I remember passing him on the way out of Bilbao (on my day 7) and speaking briefly, when he told me that was his first day walking. Coincidentally, although I was totally unaware of it at the time, we both stayed in the same hostal in Pobeña and he was at the albergue that depressed me in Islares when I moved on to the camping ground. But I don’t think I saw him to speak to until we both stayed at Guermes on day 10 and I think we walked some time together on day 12. And we have since spent five days on and off in eachother’s company. Nothing was ever planned that we should do this and there have been lots of other Germans on the trail that he would have found it easier to communicate with. But we just seem comfortable in eachother’s company, mostly in amiable silence but occasionally sharing a thought or a tale from a previous Camino. I will lose him as a walking buddy tomorrow and I will miss his quiet company. But that is the way of the Camino. Pilgrims come and pilgrims move on.
Tomorrow the trail splits. I will continue on el Norte, but Gunter, the French guys and lovely Zelinda will all peel off onto the Primitivo. I think many others will follow suit, which I think will make me happy – it seems we have caught up with some of the big wave of pilgrims who have been walking a stage ahead of us, and I really don’t like to be amongst so many. So although I will miss my friends, it will be the start of a new adventure for me. I may meet others that I get on with, or I may not. Vamos a ver!
We stopped for breakfast at the first opportunity about 4 km out of La Isla in a town called Colunga. There were six or more pilgrims already having breakfast at the cafe, and it was apparent that they had stayed the night in the hostal above. It seemed a good place to stay, a vibrant small town with plenty of eating opportunities, unlike La Isla which had one cafe and a restaurant that was a long stretch out of the village.
The next major town was Villaviciosa, something of a centre for the sidra (cider) trade and an area with an abundance of apple orchards and sidra distilleries. A nice town with a bit of a buzz on a Sunday afternoon, with everyone out for a stroll and lunch. We walked on through because yesterday Marina had told us of a new albergue that was not yet in any of the guides. Situated 2 km outside Villaviciosa and called Albergue La Ferreria. It is a donativo, there are ten beds, two bathrooms, nice garden, communal dinner and breakfast, and laundry is done in a communal wash.
The trail today was probably around 75% paved, broken up along the way with tracks, some through woodland, some very muddy and steep. I took my time carefully picking my way through the slippery parts. Definitely don’t want a repeat fall. The fresh smells in the woods after the rain were lovely.
I also took the wrong way today for the first time in this Camino. I strode to the top of a very steep hill to a T-junction at the top. There was no indication which way to go, and as the signage has been so very good, I felt sure I had taken a wrong path. I knew there was someone walking 100 metres or so behind, so I waited to see if he turned up. He didn’t, so back down the hill I went and at the very bottom saw a very distinct arrow telling me to take a turn onto a track. I have no idea how I managed to miss it, but it was only a diversion of 300 or 400 metres so not much harm done.