Today’s distance 23 km Elevation gain 93 m Elevation loss 143 m Total distance from Almería 493 km I apologise for not saying this earlier – thank you for all the comments I have received, the one-offs and particularly the serial commenters. I really appreciate each and every one, but as you can imagine, don’t often have time to respond. Please keep them coming. This morning, after an extremely good night’s sleep, we walked out of town straight onto a wide compacted sand track, through true farmland with herds of dairy cattle munching their breakfast, and I had to squeeze past a milk tanker that was almost as wide as the track. After 3 km we reach the village of Villanueva del Duque and stop for a morning drink and pop into the ayuntamiento for a stamp for my credencial as I forgot to get one yesterday. The very nice woman behind the counter gave us each a mini bottle of olive oil, for which I would be very grateful later on. We walk past herds of sheep quietly grazing, and goats doing what goats do when a couple of billies have a point to prove. Past lush green pastures of giant holm oak trees. These magnificent specimens must be ancient. They are dotted amongst fields of cereal crops and I think they must be protected by the government, because they will be a real nuisance for the farmers to tend their fields, and I’m sure they would be felled if they could be. I can’t resist taking photo after photo of the stunning poppies and other beautiful wild flowers. Everything looks so marvellous against the bright blue sky. At 10 km we pass through the second village on this stage, Fuente la Lancha and outside the church a woman is struggling to clothe a stone cross in a crocheted cloak. It is an exact fit and takes quite a lot of persuasion to sit in the right place, but the effect is fabulous. What a work of passion it must have been for the local women to put that together. We left as it was being sewn into place. We weren’t sure if it was for Mother’s Day which will be on this coming Sunday or for another festival which was advertised throughout May. Whatever the reason, hats off to those ladies! It is difficult to convey in photographs how huge these old Oak trees are, so powerful against the green of the crops and the blue of the sky We stopped for a break at 17 km and sat on the grass for a boots off and snack break. I ate some white asparagus that I had purchased yesterday and decanted into a pot, and an orange. The last few kms into Hinojosa del Duque are rather less pleasant than the rest of the walk, through an industrial area and a trek along the very long street that leads to the main plaza where the albergue is situated. It is necessary to call into the Policia Local office alongside the ayuntamiento to register and receive a key. The albergue has four bunks, sleeping eight, a decent bathroom, no kitchen but a room with a microwave and a large table. It also now has wifi. There is no charge, not even a donation is required. Thank you Hinojosa del Duque! Oh my goodness, I found a Mercadona in Hinojosa del Duque and bought everything that took my fancy. I shall have to stuff myself to the gunnels this evening and carry the rest of my precious cargo tomorrow. It will be another long day with no facilities. I bought quinoa (again – it’s packed with protein), fresh asparagus, mixed mushrooms, all of which I have cooked up in the microwave for dinner tonight and lunch on the road tomorrow. Plus cherry tomatoes, a mango, blueberries, hummus and two of my favourite seeded rolls. I got a bit carried away in a supermarket that I am very familiar with. Thank you Mercadona! And just to finish off, here is what will probably be the first of very many stork photos.
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