The day started on very pretty tracks and almost immediately our hearts were melted by a floppy, lollopy, huge-footed mastin pup who had somehow managed to escape from his enclosure with mum and dad making half-hearted attempts to reprimand either him or us, we weren’t quite sure. He absolutely lapped up the attention and when we tore ourselves away he just tagged on behind. I had to pick him up, open the enclosure gate and pop him back in, and then listen to his cries as we left him.
We walked for 4 km through woodland tracks above the Rio Bernesga, a wide and fast flowing river that accompanied us at various distances most of the day.
We emerged onto the road at the village of Cascantes. The houses in this area are made of flint-like stones with brick trim around the doors and windows – quite charming.
Towards the end of the village we were presented with the option of following the original path of the camino along the road for 5 km towards La Robla where we would find an interesting monument, or taking an alternative 6 km route, bypassing the monument and the road. We opted for the alternative. Mistake. What started as a very pleasant country track with a few farm animals to keep us distracted turned into a hard newly-compressed drivable gravel track which ran between a rail line and what looked like a power generating plant. Hard walking and hard viewing. One quarter pleasant and three quarters not so.
We found our way back onto the camino proper at La Robla and stopped for our first drink of the day after walking 10+ km. Another 5 km on the road before diverting alongside the railway line for a few km including a lunch-break at a picnic spot by a very pretty Unesco listed church. We were then on and off the road until we reached the town of La Pola de Gordón. We failed to reach this town by 14:00 before the supermarket closed. We were too busy talking to animals and snapping flowers. No facilities at our end stage again and we need to take food with us. We stopped at a bar and were given a fabulous plate of tapas and I had the brainwave of requesting the barman pour two glasses of white wine into my spare water flask so that I could enjoy my end of day in the style to which I have become accustomed. And then we popped across the road to a restaurant to request some food ‘para llevar. A huge tortilla Español was produced and a portion of salad which we strapped to our packs for the final 5.5 km.
This last stretch was also pretty much on the road, but by now we were walking through a gorge where we were dwarfed by the towering cliffs on either side – truly impressive and truly daunting, as we have our biggest climb tomorrow.
There was a point at which Marilyn pointed to a silhouette of an animal standing on the point of a cliff. It looked like a dog, but seemed too big. I zoomed in with my 30x camera lens and true enough, it was dog shaped and looked very much like a wolf. We trod carefully hoping not to disturb it before I could get a better shot. It didn’t move a hair. It took some time before it dawned upon us that the wolf was in fact a metal sculpture. I wonder how many pilgrims are as gullible as we short-sighted 60-somethings!
We reached the albergue at Buixa after 25.5 km which should have been a doddle, but in fact had certainly taken its toll on me. Having remained blister-free for two weeks, I picked up a few minor, but still uncomfortable, blisters yesterday. Very annoying, especially with our hardest day looming tomorrow.
The albergue at Buiza is another gem. 16 places, decent well equipped kitchen, two bathrooms with lashings of piping hot water, plenty of seating indoors and out. No wifi, but pretty good mobile coverage – 5 euros.
We’re rather concerned about the weather in the coming days. We have been promised rain which will be a big blow for tomorrow’s hike. We shall have to wait and see – the sky isn’t looking particularly threatening as I write this.
Today’s distance 25.5 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 233 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 0 m
Total distance 448.4 km
Average per day 26.4 km
Thank you for all the photos dear Maggie. It brings your journey alive for me. Love that gorgeous puppy and the sculpture of the wolf was very convincing to my eyes also. How resourceful of you to have a take away dinner with wine. I just love your style. Sorry to hear about the blisters but I’m sure you’ll nip the problem in the bud. I hope you don’t get the bad weather you are expecting. Much love and buen camino xx
Morning Maggie. I hope you escape the rain. Keep dry and look after those blisters xx
I hope your blisters recover quickly and tomorrow’s walk is in good weather after all. I did smile at your resourcefulness and was glad you found your evening meal para llevar! X
I so enjoy your blogs and the pictures are awesome. Wishing to be out there too! Good luck with the blisters hope they heal quickly.
You are traveling one of my very favorite stretches of Camino in the world… the next couple of days are superb. And you were smart indeed to get your dinner at Cafe Buen Sucesso — they are great cooks. And that chapel — I hope you popped in. The Virgin there is supposed to give you amazing luck with lottery tickets.
I am totally falling in love with the Mastin breed and so is your much beloved pooch Roly. He was with me on an eight person, six dog hike high above Sedella today. One of the four footeds, Mastin-cross Polly, immediately took charge of the dog pack and dealt out severe reprimands to the others when they got too boisterous with Roly. He soon ran to her rather than me for help! She also gently marshalled both dogs and humans whenever required, including guarding our rucksacks in a temporary pile, warding off raiding snouts. I was totally taken with her pack leader techniques. And on return from all that your adorable Mastin puppy pics . . . I was also struck by the resourceful management of evening dinner, just as Mary was. Sorry to hear about the blisters. I’ve been wondering how the “100 kms boots” were faring? We did 11 kms and 600 m elevation today. Very modest compared with your daily accomplishments, yet I’m knackered!! Certainly sets your achievements in relief, along with those of Marilyn, too, of course. What a walking phenomenen the two of you make!
I think your blog is fabulous!
You have inspired me to walk the Camino. My favorite one of yours so far has been Mozarabe.
Which camino would you recommend for a first time walker who also dislikes big crowds?
Also, what happened to Tess? (Let’s cut the crap) the lovely day who used to post comments on each of your Camino’s. I haven’t seen her post any comments on this one.
Hi Ida, many thanks for your kind comment. For me, as someone who had no trekking or hostal experience, the Camino Frances was the perfect place to start, although I certainly wouldn’t want to walk such a busy route again. The Camino Mozarabe would be a very long and very lonely route to walk alone, with little chance of coming across others, unless you plan to start with them. The Norte was less busy although those diverting to the Primitivo will notice a big surge in numbers from Oviedo. Although I haven’t walked its entirety I think the Via de la Plata would be a good option. A long walk but not too busy, and with the prospect of meeting up with others regularly. I loved the route from Mérida, many really interesting towns to pass through and stunning countryside. I shall be walking a section of it again next year and am really looking forward to it. Let me know what you decide.
As regards the lovely Tess, I think she over-committed and decided to cut back on her online time. I do miss her entertaining and very regular comments.
I just wanted to pop in and say that the option along the road was not a great option from Cascantes to La Robla…you probably had the better of the two options 🙂
Sorry if I gave you duff information. But I can still remember walking alongside that power station for what seemed like a few km and it really was quite horrible.
Buen camino if you are still on the road. I must catch up with your blog.
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All your information was brilliant and helped me a lot when I was planning, especially the Via Verde between the Primitivo and Norte. Thanks so much for the blog.
That power station was just horrid and it looks like both options ends with it..