We rendezvoused at 07:00 and took ourselves across the road to the train station cafeteria for hot drinks and pastries as there are no opportunities for refreshment along the way.
Once again I thoroughly annoyed myself by forgetting to turn on my gps (for those interested I am using Wikiloc). I remembered after a couple of kms and then did something soon after to interrupt it. So we had gone some way before realised and turned it on proper – around 7km – just before our huge climb up the roman road.
My grandson Mikey facetimed me at the beginning of the walk, still in his pyjamas, probably before his parents were awake. I introduced him to my fellow travellers and took a screen shot of us all saying hello.
Other than the initial few kms along the road out of town, it was a stunning walk, albeit with a steady climb of varying degrees.
There were a few selfie opportunities along the way and lots of wild horses to admire. We crossed a Roman bridge at the start of the long climb on the ancient stones that the Romans had laid down all those years ago. As you might imagine, they were no longer flat and smooth and the going was quite tough, but the surroundings were beautiful, through natural pine forrest.
I had anticipated that it would be cold and had put on my arm warmers and jacket and wore my runner’s tights for the first time. It was still cold, even with gloves my hands were frozen, but my body warmed up with the effort of the climb.
There was a bank of cloud sitting on top of the mountains, just as I am used to seeing over mount Maroma at home. When we reached the summit at 1,790 metres, it really was cold. We quickly posed for a selfie with Carsten and Ralf who had now joined us and then strode out along a beautiful flat green track through the trees. But soon, as we started our descent, we were walking through the clouds and I became very chilled. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t feel them and eventually had to put first one and then the other under my armpits to try to regain some feeling and movement.
We stopped for a quick picnic and I put on some extra layers – my fleece and walking skirt, but was still freezing. I pulled my neck buff up over my head covering my ears, mouth and nose and put my raincoat hood up, which all helped a bit. It was a shame the cloud was so low as the views were very restricted. And I was tense with the cold, rather than relaxed. In clear weather this walk would have been absolutely amazing, rather than amazingly cold.
Around ten kms from Segovia there was a parting of the ways. Eli, Carsten and Ralf continued on the ‘official’ Camino route directly to the city, whereas Marylin, Paul and I took a right turn and headed towards the village of Valsaín and onwards to La Granja de San Ildefonso.
The walk was largely on quiet country roads with no passing traffic. Valsaín is a charming small village and we stopped for a warm drink. I opened the door of the only bar in town and felt as if I had stepped into heaven. It was so warm and cosy, and the hot chocolate that I ordered went down a treat. Refreshed and thawed, we continued on our way to the fabulous town of La Granja which has obviously been a playground for the wealthy in the past and is tourist attraction now. And during the last few kms of our walk the sun came out and I needed to strip off some of my extra layers. La Granja boasts an impressive palace with beautiful manicured gardens and a series of intricate fountains. We were treated to a fountain show at 17:30 and it was quite spectacular.
I had chosen this diversion from the camino because I didn’t want to arrive in Segovia tired after a long day. I wanted to stroll in mid-morning and have the time and energy to enjoy the sights. By staying in La Granja we have only around 10 km to walk in the morning, plus we had the treat of discovering this picture postcard town.
We are staying in the Albergue Hostel Camino de Lis. It is a lovely place with 32 beds sufficient facilities, and an excellent kitchen and dining room and costs 10 euros for pilgrims. They don’t open until 17:00, but when I phoned the hospitslera and appealed to her good nature, she agreed to open up half an hour earlier. When we arrived, we found Dave waiting and he joined us for our tour of the palace. Afterwards Paul offered to cook us a meal of lentils and veg and I made a salad to compliment it (and supplied a bottle of cava to aid digestion).
We hope to meet up with Eli tomorrow, and perhaps Carsten and Ralf along the way.
Today’s distance 28 km
Total distance 104 km
Average per day 26 km