May I just say that the clever nuns at the Convento Clarisas have designed the albergue bathroom facilities to perfection. We don’t want state of the art facilities that can only be used by one person at a time. What good is that when there are 6 plus pilgrims jiggling around whilst some thoughtless person spends forever with their ablutions? The convent bathroom consisted of a central area with a washbasin and on one side were two lavatories and on the other side two showers. Well done the nuns!
We made a fairly leisurely exit this morning as the albergue we were heading for doesn’t open until 15:00. We girls stopped for breakfast and then set off through the absolutely beautiful town of Medina de Rioseco towards the canal. What a treat we had in store. Almost 10 km walking along the tow path. The trees planted all along both banks leaned towards each other giving the effect of a guard of honour. The paths and the water were covered in fluffy seeds from the trees and formed a snowy carpet for us to walk on. Every now and then there was a sluice gate that fed the irrigation channels that watered the crops on either side of the canal. The birds were singing their hearts out and I made very slow progress stopping every few minutes to take photos. It was absolutely delightful.
We eventually reached a lock where there was a huge ruin with the water flowing at various speeds in various directions. So interesting and so magical.
We then continued a further 3 km along rough track to the first village of Tamariz de Campos where our guide told us we would find a ‘friendly’ bar. No such luck. They weren’t feeling so friendly in the mornings and didn’t open until 13:00, so we stopped off under the shady veranda of a municipal building for a boots-off break.
We then had a slog of 10 km along the road. A narrow road with no shoulder, but I only counted around half a dozen cars that passed us. I plugged in, first to a comedy programme (The Frank Skinner Show – always good for a giggle) and then to my energising camino playlist. Now listen up – I can only advise you to do as I say, and not as I do. Do not use ear phones whilst walking on the road. It is extremely dangerous if you cannot hear what traffic is approaching. On this occasion I made an appraisal and decided I would be safe enough walking along a straight road, facing the traffic when I could see for miles, but I couldn’t recommend that anyone else follows my very bad example.
There was an alternative route along, what I assume, is a stony track. But however much I don’t like road walking, an extended period on stony track can be very uncomfortable and slow going, I made great time along the road marching in time to my music – a pace of between 6 & 7 km per hour…I wouldn’t have done that hobbling over stones!
The next village was Cuenca de Campos. What a beautiful village with overhanging buildings and many structures made of adobe, some in ruins and some faithfully restored. I love these villages. There is no way I can imagine taking in all this history and culture, other than walking through the countryside. The albergue in Cuenca de Campos looked huge, way oversized for the few pilgrims currently passing through this route.
Eli and Paul ordered a menu del dia. Marilyn walked on by without spying the restaurant where we had stopped. I decided not to indulge in a menu as I still had 5+ km to walk and didn’t want to do it again with a full stomach. So I ordered what I considered to be a ‘healthy’ option – a starter of cauliflower cooked with garlic and spice. It turned out not to be so healthy – swimming in oil and so over cooked that I could have sucked it through a straw. I was very jealous of Paul’s leg of lamb, but left them to it and continued on, this time along a fine gravelled former train line. Comfortable walking. Fine gravel is good and soft underfoot, stony tracks not so, with much twisting of ankles and stones digging into the balls of one’s feet.
I finally reached Villalón de Campos after the 15:00 opening hour. Marilyn had already arrived, as had Spanish guy from yesterday. Villalón is a fair sized town and the walk to the albergue felt as though I was being sent in ever decreasing circles, on and on through the streets.
But the albergue, when I finally reached it, was worth the effort. Beds for 14, good bathroom with two showers, two basins and one loo, excellent sitting/dining area and very good kitchen. 5 euros, including sheet and pillowcase, but no wifi and the phone signal inside the albergue was poor, hence late posting of this report.
Today’s distance 29.4 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 39 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 4 m
Total distance 310 km
Average per day 25.8 km