The day dawned a little rainy and overcast and with gusty wind. We are due to descend over 1,000 metres on this stage and I reasoned that downhill walking required great care but little exertion, and so I wouldn’t be getting too heated from within. I therefore decided to wear even more clothes today. Almost everything I have with me, including fleece and gaiters.
And I have to say, I’m really rocking this “wear all the clothes you’ve got”
look (ie…I look a total idiot but don’t actually give a toss).
Immediately on leaving the village the descent was extremely severe – 250 metres in the first 1.7 km. then we gained 150 metres, and then we dropped another huge amount – and this set the pattern for the day. Down a lot, (i) up quite a bit, certainly enough to get the lungs working overtime, down another ridiculous descent…repeat from (i) many, many times. A total rollercoaster of a walk. Much of it along narrow woodland paths on the very edge of a steep drop to the bottom of the bottomless valley, some of it along very quiet country roads, most often with the views hidden by the trees, and occasionally opening up to a breath-taking view of the surrounding mountains.
The rain actually held off and we received no more than a light splutter for a few brief moments. But I wouldn’t want to walk the trail if there had been substantial rain – I imagine it would be alternately very slippery on wet stones, or very slippery in wet mud. As it was, there were frequent muddy sections where animals and mountain bikers (I resist making a connection!) had been in evidence and there were several narrow streams to cross.
I was delighted to see more wild flowers today, including many roses, geraniums, aquilegia, gypsophila, clematis, honeysuckle and best of all, wild strawberries which we were very quick to put to good use.
We came across a few gates that had openings suitable for very skinny children, and not at all suitable for grown-ups carrying backpacks – a lot of squeezing and tugging was involved before we could make our way into the next section of trail.
We took our first wrong turn today – I guess not bad over 500 km of walking – but unfortunately it happened on the steepest imaginable descent so we had to turn around and climb back up and retrace our steps for quite some way, adding a total of around 1.5 km to the stage.
The first refreshments available after leaving Pajares are in the town of Campomanes, some 16.5 km (or 18 + if you make the same mistake that we did), so it would be prudent to have a snack available en route. And then it is a further 8-ish km to Pola de Lena where we are staying the night.
The albergue here is situated in a municipal building and has 36 beds, more loos and showers than I could be bothered to count, but no kitchen or sitting area. Very clean, wifi available, 7 euros.
A hard day, but extremely pleasant, and should have been around 25 km rather than the 28 km we walked, as we didn’t pay attention to our guide regarding the whereabouts of the albergue and almost walked out of the far end of the very long town of Pola de Lena before we realised our mistake and doubled back (yet again)
Today’s distance 28 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 366 m (but it felt like a lot more!)
Accumulated downhill elevation 1,043 m
Total distance 500.3 km
Average per day 26.3 km