Total distance 703.6 km
Daily average 29.3
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 118 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 99 m
I had an easy start to my new Camino this morning – turn right out of the albergue and follow the walkway around the point past the lighthouse and there were soon be signs to direct me on my way.
In fact there were a plethora of signs, mostly relating to the ‘Camino Natural de la Ruta del Cantabrico’, and initially pointing the way to AsCatedrais which was high on my list of wonders to see. These signs state the distance to the destination and there are also kilometre stones increasing with each stone, and in between small red-topped posts, initially scruffily painted, and later much more posh.
But there was also a yellow arrow with the initials V M (via del mar, perhaps?) and one or two Camino style yellow arrows, none of which I was expecting.
I had downloaded Camino forum member Alan Sykes’ wikiloc route and was following it on my iPad. So all in all there was plenty of signage.
It was once again grey and misty, but not at all cold and no rain. I set off at a good pace, firstly on quiet roads and then onto sandy tracks leading directly to the cliff-tops. And that is where I stayed for pretty much the whole 17 km’s to As Catedrais beach. Even under a grey sky it was a wonderful walk. Just what I had niaively been expecting all along el Norte. The trails followed the coast line religiously passing cove after sandy beach after craggy inlet, one immediately after another. There were plenty early morning Sunday fishermen up and about and the spring flowers were absolutely stunning. But the mist persisted and the sky and sea remained steely.
I passed a couple of interesting huge holes in the ground, presumably made by the sea coming underground. There were information boards, but I can’t remember what they were called, not the bufones (blow holes) that we passed much earlier on the Camino. These beautiful lilies were clinging onto the wall of the hole.
There was also a yellow arrow with the letters CS presumably for Camino de Santiago.
It was obvious when I was approaching As Catedrais because there was a lot of traffic around and a few coaches. A shame, as I would have loved to have the place to myself. But my timing just wasn’t great. The tide was on the way out but too high for me to access all the huge rock structures (Wikipedia – As Catedrais beach translates as ‘Beach of the Cathedrals’. It is the turistic name of Praia de Augas Santas – ‘Beach of the Holy Waters’…… Its name is derived from the formations of its cliffs)
I stopped by the cafe above the beach for a cola cao and was charged an outrageous 2.5 euros for the pleasure, I made use of the facilities and went on my way. Soon after the sun struggled through the cloud and although the sky remained dim and sea turned a beautiful blue. I guess if I had hung around for an hour the tide would have receded and the sun would have been shining and I could have taken some fab photos. But I didn’t arrive at my destination until 17:30 as it was, so it was probably just as well that I moved on when I did.
A short distance after As Catedrais Alan’s wikiloc route turned away from the coastline, but I was keen to keep following it, so I did a quick search and found a route that followed the Ruta do Cantabrico. I had already walked 17 km and following the coast would entail a further 21 km, rather than 14 km if I continued to follow my original wikiloc route. But I felt strong and I thought that I had been disappointed not to have seen more of the ocean on the Camino del Norte, and here was my chance and I should jolly well take it. It was a good decision for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk which from this point on was mainly on paved surface, but I found it very comfortable. There was some, but not too much, crazy paving, but with large pieces of stone that were not umncomfortable, and the rest was made of large slate tiles and was really easy to walk on. The track wound between cliff-top houses and followed every curve of the coast. I passed beautiful beach after beautiful beach. I took so many photos that even I got fed up with taking my camera out in the end.
I was very excited to see a new direction sticker about halfway through the walk and they were very much in evidence for a while and then ran out of steam. But there definitely seems to be a movement to promote this trail as the Camino de Santiago coastal route.
I stopped for a picnic of stale bread, very well travelled Brie (I have been carrying it for about 80 kms, but at least I like it runny), some fruit and tomatoes. Even the stale bread tasted ok in such wonderful surroundings. The trail is very well provided with benches and picnic areas and the paving must have cost a fortune. It really is a huge project to follow the coastline so truly.
I appreciate that I walked a very long stage today and that not many people would want to do this. But there was the option of catching the train (Feve) from just after As Catedrais either back to Ribadeo or on to Foz (I presume there is a station here). Then you could return to where you left off the next day.
After I had walked probably around 28 kms the buildings of Foz came clearly into view, across an estuary. They weren’t far away – that is if I could have somehow travelled directly across the water. But that wasn’t going to happen. The bridge to cross the river was 5 or 6 km’s away, and I have to say that some of this walk seemed to go on for ever, although plenty of it was through pretty woodland. I was glad I was following a wikiloc trail because there were a couple of points in the last stages where the signage wasn’t immediately clear and I could refer to the gps and save myself making mistakes. I am very pleased to have my new (second-hand) iPad with sim for lots of reasons, but for this one in particular.
This new adventure is going to cost me considerably more in accommodation than normal on Camino, because there are no albergues to stay in and the stopping points are holiday resorts so are more expensive anyway. I had found a hostal for 18 euros, but when I phoned yesterday to book, I was told that it was closed. So I have ended up having to pay 48 euros for the night. And I don’t like it one little bit. I am staying the the Hotel O Norte which is rather (very) old fashioned but it had piping hot water for my second bath in a week and I haven’t actually moved from the room since arriving.
Hopefully the wifi will be good enough to load the photos into this post and I can get if off before going to sleep. It will be good to catch up on my blogging. Lack of company has its compensations!