Stage 18 – Buiza to Pajares, 23.9 km

I didn’t sleep well last night (not much new there!) but this was due to concern over the weather for our ‘up and over’ stage. We were both ready to leave early this morning and were out of the albergue well before 07:00. As expected the cloud was low and the air was fresh, but the rain held off for the most part. Almost as soon as we left the village I realised I needed to strip off a layer. I was wearing almost all my clothes and the exertion of a steep climb soon had me hot and bothered. So after dispensing with my fleece I was wearing a sleeveless merino top, arm warmers, leggings, skirt, long scarf and raincoat. In anticipation of cool temperatures in the mountains I had purchased an extra pair of gloves in León, a size too big so I could wear them over my lightweight pair. Icy hands had caused me to be really chilled on my previous encounter with low temperatures and I didn’t want a repeat experience of that.

So I was well wrapped up but not likely to overheat. It was a little daunting to be walking into the cloud, but it wasn’t too dense and the mountain scenery was rather ethereal, with jagged rocks jutting into the misty sky. We walked ever upwards through a guard of honour of bright yellow broom and pinky-purple heather.

Within the first few km we reached a pass and were surprised that the valley beyond was clear of cloud. The scenery was spell-binding. We were surrounded by 360 degrees of jutting peaks, green valleys, purple heather covered hillsides, an incredible array of wild flowers, babbling streams, tiny stone villages, hard stony tracks, soft muddy tracks, slippery gravel tracks, steep tracks up and down. A total of 833 m uphill elevation and 949 m down.

A relatively short distance at just under 24 km, but a stage that tested our strength and endurance. We felt rightly proud of ourselves when we finally reached Pajares after being on the move for over nine hours, and discovered that the other six pilgrims at the albergue had walked from Poladura, a mere 15 km.

It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding walks I have made and all the better for such good company.

It is strange to be sharing an albergue again after a couple of nights on our own. Coincidentally we are sharing a room with a French/German couple whom we met way back in Zamarramala just beyond Segovia. We haven’t seen them since, but when we walked into the shared room, Marilyn noticed that they had a torch that she had left in the convent albergue at Medina de Rioseco. They had picked it up and were very happy to reunite it with its rightful owner. What are the chances of that happening?

No shops in Pajares so we needed to book dinner at the village bar. Acceptable but not great. The albergue has 12 places, two loos, three showers, a sitting area, but absolutely no kitchen facilities, not even a sink! My water flasks don’t fit under the bathroom taps so there is no way to refill them here. Luckily there is a potable water fountain close by. 7 euros. As we were last in there was only one bottom bunk left. I graciously opted for the top bunk as Marilyn had taken one previously. At least there is a chair to aid my ascent!

Marilyn returned from the shared bathroom and commented on a guy parading in very brief underpants. I told her that we referred to them as ‘budgie smugglers’ which caused a certain amount of giggling. When said budgie smuggler walked into the bar we both fell about giggling in a very childish manner. What a way for a pair of grandmothers to behave!

Today’s distance 23.9 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 833 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 949 m
Total distance 472.3 km
Average per day 26.2 km

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
This entry was posted in Camino de Madrid, Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Camino del Salvador. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Stage 18 – Buiza to Pajares, 23.9 km

  1. Heather Coffin says:

    Hi Maggie
    Happy to be following your latest adventure and am enjoying your writing and photos very much. Once again, huge admiration for your tenacity! I did laugh at the thought of you two grandmothers giggling at the “Budgie” guy. Love Heather xxx

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  2. David Wolfe says:

    The pictures show the fantastic views you describe in the text. I hope that you sleep well tonight and have an easier day tomorrow Buen Camino xx

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  3. stevebarry4sympaticoca says:

    Way to go, Maggie! My backpack finally caught up with me in Madrid 6 sunny days later. Tomorrow I set off – in the rain.

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  4. Laurie says:

    Buiza to Pajares has no equal, not on any Camino I’ve ever been on. So glad the weather was good for you. I guess you won’t be staying in Bendueños, so that leaves you some great places to go next time! Abrazos.

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  5. sixwheeler says:

    That’s the ONLY way for a couple of grandmothers to behave.

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  6. I remember one young thing parading around an albergue on the Camino Frances in her g-string and push-up bra. Yes, she looked good, but it was totally unnecessary and very awkward having to step over all blokes’ jaws laying on the ground! 😉 Some people are just so vain when the rest of us are just tired pilgrims! At least it provided a good laugh! Mel

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  7. Pat says:

    What a beautiful Camino this section is! Your pictures are wonderful. Scenery like this is what sells it for me. Have a great walk tomorrow!

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  8. maxpatbuch says:

    Have been enjoying your adventure. I love the “budgie smuggler” comment! Well said.

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  9. What a hike you have had!!! It sounds beautiful and challenging…So happy you get to be grandma’s laughing…Love your pics of the Wildflowers and scenery…Thanks for sharing…

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  10. Steve Ford says:

    Loved your description of the walk, and the pictures were outstanding! Always feel I have walked part of the journey with you when I read your blog. Thanks for posting!

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  11. Mary Lynch says:

    Wonderful photos of the wild flowers Maggie. Weird that an Albuergue wouldn’t have as much as a kitchen. Yesterday’s trek sounded wonderful and I enjoyed reading about it almost as much as you two enjoyed walking it. Loved the budgie smuggler strutting his stuff. Much love and Buen Camino. xx

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  12. Dave says:

    Glad you had such a fun day. Mountains can be hard work if they are in a bad mood! It’s an exhausting stage but very satisfying, and such great views everywhere you look.

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  13. hahahaha how lovely to read your blog. budgies smugglers made me laugh out loud…that’s how we referred to them as well back in South Africa where I grew up. too funny. How lovely that the German couple returned your torch. 🙂 True Camino spirit. Your photos are amazing. I must confess I’m taking the easy route for my first camino along the Portuguese Coastal Route – because it’s mostly flat ;). I may well do the French route in years to come. Buen Camino and safe travels.

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    • Charleen says:

      Loving this blog….I’ve got to look up your route as I’m not quite sure where you are but fascinating scenery and fellow pilgrims. I’ve only walked the Portuguese Coastal Route and not sure if I’d call it easy…beware of cobblestones….and long days as you can’t always find places to spend the night before walking a long long day. But beautiful scenery and lovely people.

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  14. Alan says:

    Enjoying this camino with you Maggie. Thanks for the blog.Stay safe.x

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  15. lynharrison4wind says:

    Great to read that nature rewarded such stupendous effort with equally stupendous views. Some climb! Lots of animals. Those ARE interesting horses. I’m wondering about their history and purpose.

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