Total distance 791.6 km
Daily average 29.3
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 593 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 607 m
I am writing this first part of my post whilst whiling away time before the shops open, which will give me a very late starting time. But as I’m not expecting to find any means of refreshment on my journey I need to make sure I have good supplies of food and water.
Today I really am about to be brave (or quite probably stupid). I am not only walking ‘off camino’ but ‘off the Ruta do Mar’. At the time of planning this adventure, my new friend and neighbour who writes for Lonely Planet just happened to be travelling in this area and posting a few highlights to Facebook. This inspired me to want to visit Punta de Estaca de Bares, the most northerly tip of Spain. In order to do this I am today heading for Porto do Barqueiro. I have found a wikiloc route that pretty much follows the coastline, with a couple if inland climbs. I have checked the author of the trail who has a lot of activity in the area so I am fairly confident that the trail will be safe. I suppose my main worry is that if I have an accident no one is likely to find me, but that would also have been the case yesterday. The whole day I only saw two cyclists on the track. Wish me luck. It is a far far bigger thing I do than I have ever done….
Well, if you’re reading this, then you will know that I arrived safely at my destination. I did think half way through that no-one knew where I was which was really rather stupid, so I emailed David with my start and end point and details of the wikiloc route that I was following (which if anyone is interested is wikiloc reference 4914061). David is not the sort of person to worry so was quite surprised to receive my email.
I joined the wikiloc trail about one km out of Covas and proceeded on a quiet country road steadily gaining altitude. After about 3 km I took a single lane side road towards Pardiñas. A couple of km’s further and I passed a series of large unchained barking dogs, but they posed no problem when I continued innocently on my way.
When I had completed 7 km I realigned with the Cantábrico red way marks (at this point the red way mark showed a distance of 3.3 km’s travelled, so my track was 3.7 km longer. I could happily have done without this extra distance, but the walk was pleasant enough. The trouble with the Cantábrico way marks is that there is no prior indication of the route they are taking. It turns out that I could have followed these directions all the way today, but I couldn’t have known that in advance. There must be a website for the route, but I haven’t managed to find it yet. Someone needs to post the individual stages to wikiloc or some other system so that someone like me can look up the entire route and decide whether or not to follow it.
Then came the rain, not heavy, but persistent drizzle forcing me to put on my pack cover and raincoat. It persisted for about an hour I guess, but nothing too unpleasant.
At around 9 km I took a zig zag through a eucalyptus forest on soft ground for 3-4 kms and then on to the N642 for around 1.5 kms before turning onto a quiet country road. As I was passing through a small village my GPS informed me I was off-track. It does this by making a disgruntled whoop whoop sound which triggers a quick look at the App and when I have returned to the fold it sounds an appreciative jolly bell. On this occasion I had missed a tiny narrow track almost indiscernible, with long (very wet) grass and weeds. Now anyone who walks will know that long wet grass will soak the boots and pants of anyone walking through it much faster than a downpour of rain can achieve. Not only was this track overgrown, it was downright bog-like and I was sinking into terrain resembling black quicksand that soon enveloped my boots. It was not the first time that I thanked my luck for leather boots, even if they are wearing down at the heels.
I had now picked up yellow/white trail marks, so we were all singing from the same hymn-sheet.
Having left the bog behind, I crossed the N642 again and passed back onto a eucalyptus woodland track. I had been wishing for a suitable picnic spot for an hour or more when I came to my first ‘WOW’ moment of the day. I was so glad I hadn’t been tempted to make do with a bench alongside the road. At the very moment that I was wowed by this fabulous view, the sun put in its first appearance of the day, albeit rather half-hearted.
Up until now, I think around 17 kms, the walk had been most enjoyable, but from this point onwards it improved by leaps and bounds.
The walk high above the beach of Xolloi, on a narrow wooded track a few inches from the sheer drop down to the turquoise waves was just magical and the last few kms through woodland around the headland were absolutely delightful.
I arrived in O Vicedo at 16:30, having walked 24.5 km’s, and stopped at a port-side bar for a glass of wine. The Cantábrico route finishes here and I am continuing for a few more km’s to O Porto do Barqueiro. My track clocked up an additional 4 or 5 km’s but I have enjoyed a fabulous walk and don’t regret a single footstep of it.
I am staying at the Hostal Marina and have a very nice, if rather small, room with very modern bathroom, including state of the art shower which I found it very difficult to leave. Cost 20 euros. This is a tiny coastal village, very charming. So much nicer than my experience in Covas Yesterday. Apparently I should have stopped a couple of km’s short in Viveiro where there is a hidden gem of an old town. If only I had known!
And tomorrow my friends, I have decided to give myself a holiday. I’m sure you will have heard of a ‘busman’s holiday’ (perhaps only if you are a Brit). Well, I am giving myself a pilgrim’s holiday. I have decided to stay here for two nights and walk to Estaca de Bares without my backpack. How about that! I have found a wikiloc circular track of around 20 kms. My back is due a rest as it has been aching the last few days, and I even resorted to taking a painkiller today. No trouble with the feet though.
The planning and anticipation of these last few days gave rise to great anxiety for this trepidatious traveller, but it has all gone without a hitch. So far an amazing experience. I saw no-one on the trail today, absolutely no-one. It was great. I am finding it totally relaxing, walking with no pressure about when I will arrive or if I will get a bottom bunk. I think I am a fairly laid back pilgrim – I don’t go in for the bed-race mentality. But this is something quite different – more expensive for sure, but oh so relaxed.