Today’s distance 25 km
Elevation gain 499 m
Elevation loss 563 m
Total distance from Almería 269.5 km
I have been asked several times what app I am using to provide the above information, and I apologise for not responding sooner. I use Wikiloc. I find it the most accurate of the various apps I have tried when directly compared to a dedicated GPS unit. It gives the information as shown below, but not the total distance walked from the starting point – I work that out for myself.
Today’s stage began with a very steep loose gravel track down out of the village, with olive trees on either side and into the distance as far as the eye could see. Then came some rolling fields of rich green cereal crops.
High up on towering outcrops of rock we could see a series of lookout towers. Add to the mix sunshine, blue sky and birdsong and the day was off to a great start.
We were on a fairly quiet road for a while maybe 2 km then back on track through olive groves. There was quite a bit of climbing after the road and my legs were telling me they’d already had a mega workout yesterday.
At 9 km there is another stretch on the road. This time much busier and faster but with a wide shoulder, but still rather unpleasant to have huge lorries and coaches hurtling towards you at 100+ km per hour.
But 1.5 km later we were back on track until we reached the small town of Ermita Nueva at 13 km. Nina and I had walked ahead whilst the others stopped off for breakfast in the village where we started. We were expecting the bar to be open for a snack and a drink at this half-way village, but were told it didn’t open until mid day. Meanwhile the bread van stopped and beeped its horn to alert any customers, so I went across and bought a delicious sweet roll stuffed with walnuts and sultanas. Luckily there was a small supermarket in the town and I bought some supplies to see us on our way. I put my rather handsome tomato on a bench whilst I organised my pack and must have knocked it off, and watched in amusement as it rolled down the hill, gathering speed as it went. I finally caught up with it and was pleased to see that it survived unscathed, if a bit dusty. But a hardy pilgrim can’t worry about a bit of dust.
The fields surrounding the track on on the next section look very drab. From a distance all that can be seen is beige coloured soil. But we can see teams of workers bending low to harvest asparagus – it must be back-breaking work. They grow at different stages so whilst some shoots are plump and tall, others are still just peeping through the ground. The pickers have a U-shaped basket, one end open the other end closed. The spear end of the asparagus is placed into the basket towards the closed end, then when it is full the picker cuts all the stalks to the same length, binds then with an elastic band and leaves them standing upright in the field. Then someone collects all the bundles together in piles and then presumably they are taken to the distributor. All this effort makes one of my favourite foods seem very good value for money.
The rest of the stage was mostly on tracks with a couple of streams to cross and our final approach to our destination at Alcalá la Real was on an old asphalt road and then a cycle track.
Where we entered the town it seemed rather drab and modern but as we walked towards our accommodation for the night it became much more charming and characterful with older properties.
Once again there is no albergue available and we are staying in a guest house. Marilyn, Nina and I are sharing a triple room for 55 euros. The owners also run a micro brewery from the property which is a stroke of luck, and even better we are in an elevated position directly opposite the castle that sits on the hilltop at the other side of the town. Mirador Tierra de Frontera reserved via booking.com
So it was boots off, a glass of specialist beer, and a view to die for.
We also have use of a washing machine and as we are the only guests at the property we have free range of the kitchen, lounge and two bathrooms. Result once again
We didn’t manage to find the heart of this town. There were no inviting bars or restaurants that we came across, so Nina and I enjoyed a home cooked veg-fest and a bottle of wine.