Total distance 791.6 km
Daily average 29.1
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 672 m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 672 m
Oh dear, my day off dawned with a heavy downpour. So I just stayed in bed like any sensible holidaymaker would. When I finally left my room at around 09:30 it was drizzling…persistently. I did, after all, take my backpack, but with most of the weight removed. I needed to take food and water and it is just easier with the pack. But it was a treat to have it weigh so little.
Again I was following a wikiloc route. It started on the road which after a few km’s led to a beach. I had read the notes of the guy who had posted this walk in December 2015 that there was a problem with a landowner having put up electric fence right on the edge of the cliff above the beach so that walkers could no longer use the path. These things change from time to time, so I thought I would follow the route and take a look. But true enough half way along the beach there was a very steep (hardly discernible) track that was indeed blocked by electric fencing and to add insult to injury a bull had been installed behind the fence.
So I retraced my steps and studied the GPS to see how I could reconnect with the track. There seemed to be a path that would do the job, but the only way I could access it was through an unlocked gate with no ‘private’ sign. I fought my way through brambles and on the other side of the gate found waist high vegetation, dripping with rainfall. So I thought ‘haha’, I have gaiters that will help keep my boots from getting quite so wet. And they did seem to do the trick, although my shorts were soaked through. I eventually made it out the other side of the field and passed through the front garden of a thankfully unattended house, but could still see no quick way to get back on track, so followed a road until I once again coincided.
Then there was a lot of walking through eucalyptus forest. But some of the trail led through entirely overgrown areas where I couldn’t at first glance even see there was a track. I had meanwhile removed the gaiters and as a result got thoroughly soaked. The tracks became less and less distinct and without the GPS I would have totally lost my bearings. I eventually found that I was high above the sea, still on the edge of the forest, when I came to a place where there had been a logging disaster and a huge pile of tree trunks had tumbled down a steep hill and had obscured the path. It seemed obvious to me that these huge logs had been there for some time, certainly before this track was recorded, but there was no way that I would contemplate trying to cross them. Way too much possibility of a broken leg, if not a broken neck. But there had to be a way around. The GPS showed that the guy had been very close and I wandered up and down looking for a possibility (rather than retrace my steps for untold km’s). The land below my path was very steep, but I eventually saw where someone had passed through the vegetation a couple of metres below the track.
My common sense head made lots of arguments against trying to follow this trail, but my ‘I can do it’ head won out and I very carefully picked my way through undergrowth, brambles and spikey twigs, all the while conscious of how stupid I was being. I could see that I had now bypassed the log jam but in order to regain the original track I had to climb over a considerable hump of eucalyptus waste, thin branches and bark piled waist high and a couple of metres deep. I worried that it wouldn’t take my weight, and that my foot would sink into the branches and I would be stuck – but I did it anyway and here I am to tell the tale. It wasn’t big and it wasn’t clever – it was actually very stupid. If I had had an accident, no one would ever have been able to find me, and I actually seriously frightened myself. And I shall probably be equally stupid another time. I have quite a few scrapes and scuffs to my legs, but nothing that won’t heal in a couple of days.
I eventually staggered out of the forest and down onto the long curved beach at O Porto do Bares and enjoyed walking the full length on the firm sand.
As far as I can remember the way was then on road for quite some km’s. I took a diversion to visit the area known as Semáforo, where there are granite boulders and an amazing view (including to the lighthouse I was heading for). There is a hotel just a bit further up this road but didn’t think they would welcome a tramp calling in for a drink so I went back on my way towards the lighthouse.
I had been increasingly feeling that I needed to sort out my feet/boots situation. I could just tell that my feet were soaking, but because I had emptied my backpack of so much stuff I didn’t have any dry socks with me. I did however have a spare pair of insoles. So when I eventually found a place where I could sit down (surprisingly few and far between) I discovered that indeed all was swimming inside my boots and my feet looked as though they were about to dissolve. I pinned my socks to my pack in the unlikely hope that they might dry and replaced the insoles with new, but what about socks? All I could do was wrap my toes with the ‘Hikers’ Wool’ that I was carrying in my pack and hope for the best. I have never hiked without socks and was rather worried that I would get terrible blisters with 10-12 kms still to walk. But luckily all was well when I returned. The wool is brilliant and I would highly recommend having some available for emergency and preventative use.
Once I set off again I was only a short distance from the lighthouse at Estaca de Bares, the most northern point of Spain. I had wanted to visit this place since hearing about it and I was very excited to arrive, and as my luck would have it, the sun arrived at the same time. I was very pleased that the coach I had seen from a distance had now departed, but there were a couple of vehicles in the car park. I walked past the lighthouse building and made my way down the steep ridge behind. There was one other guy in the vicinity, a German who obviously liked these places as he told me he had spent the night at Cabo de Fisterra a few nights ago. The sea was turquoise, the gorse was bright yellow and the view was astonishing. I put some distance between myself and the very nice German guy and just sat and contemplated the surrounding beauty for quite some time.
When I finally moved on I faced a steady climb along a single track road and was delighted to come across a small stone building with several benches at the summit. I could look back down at the lighthouse and treasure the moment all over again. Whilst there a couple from New Zealand joined me and we had a nice chat for a while before I hastened their departure by making an inspection of my feet. Well foot, actually. My left foot felt fine, so I left well alone. I put a bit more hikers’ wool around the toes of my right foot and removed the Engo patches (shiny patches that stick to the inside of your boots to stop friction and therefore stop blisters forming ) that had fallen off because of the wetness.
I finally tore myself away from this idyllic spot and the majority of the walk from here on was on a dirt track along a high ridge at the centre of the headland that gave stunning sea views in both directions.
Surely a day to remember for many reasons. And luckily the feet seem to have survived amazingly well.