Today’s distance 28 km
Elevation gain 180 m
Elevation loss 316 m
Total distance from Almería 671 km
As we left our accommodation and retraced our steps towards the EX-208 we walked towards the sunrise – most unusual on the Camino when the sun usually rises behind us, or to the right.
We had walked a couple of hundred metres from the village when I noticed a gravel track to the left. I checked maps.me and saw no indication until I increased the image size and then I could see the track marked, which eventually linked back into the main road. It is always a bit of a gamble to go off piste and there could be unseen interruptions on the track ahead but we made an uneducated judgement and went for it.
We made very slow progress because of all the opportunities for sunrise photos and close-up animal encounters.
We eventually came to an imposing gate but we were able to unlock it and pass through. And then as we made a right turn in the direction of the road, we crossed a cattle grid and, unsurprisingly, found ourselves close up and very personal with an enormous herd of cattle – of both genders – all with very long and very pointy horns.
Marilyn was extremely uncomfortable but I attempted to assure her that they would be far more scared of her than she was of them. I’m not sure she was entirely convinced, but I tried to put myself between her and them when a close encounter ensued, not that I would have provided a very efficient barrier. The cattle are largely pure black and very impressive beasts. We walked past hundreds of perfectly calm cattle for probably one km before reaching the road and discovered on the gatepost that we had been walking through the property of El Terzuelo de Miramomtes. We have covered 6 km on track and it was a most enjoyable diversion from the asphalt.
But as sure as day follows night, asphalt followed the track and there we stayed for the following 22 km until we reached our end point of Torrejón el Rubio.
The road is for the most part entirely straight with a few bumps and dips and we could see it stretching out for miles ahead. There was one long descent into a valley, over a river and a long slog up a hill on the other side.
We stopped by the side of the road a couple of times for a brief sit down and munch on our supplies. Our hostess at Aldea del Obispo had supplied us with bread, biscuits and fruit for the journey and I enjoyed a peanut butter and marmite butty sitting at the entrance to a dehesa – google description…
The dehesa is a landscape of beautiful harmony. Holm oak and cork trees, grasses, and aromatic plants thrive in an ecosystem maintained by humans for many centuries as a foraging ground for cattle, sheep, fighting bulls and Ibérico pigs.
The weather has been kind to us. There was good cloud cover and the heat of the sun was kept at bay for most of the time. Towards the end of our journey I soaked my scarf and wrapped in across my neck and shoulders for protection.
The road was not over busy, but being very straight meant that without exception all vehicles exceeded the 90 km/h speed limit, but also without exception gave us a very wide berth. But nevertheless, walking on asphalt for 22 km is very wearing, even with beautiful pastureland on either side of the road, and fantastically pretty flowers lining the way.
Tonight we are staying at the Hotel Carvajal. Señora from the Casa Rural warned us that it wasn’t a very clean establishment and she wasn’t wrong. The bar was littered with discarded napkins and wrappers and the terrace outside wasn’t much better. The room is ok. I was very annoyed at being charged 2.50€ for a small beer and so wasn’t prepared to give them any more of my business. We found a delightful little bar in the corner of the plaza mayor where the helpful bar lady was not at all fazed when asked to provide supper for a vegetarian and a vegan and cooked us a delicious fresh vegetable soup and I had a plate of fried veg for seconds.
I may have mentioned in yesterday’s post that this area is a twitcher’s haven with many rare birds. We met a group of Austrians en route today who were very excited at spying a very rare vulture. I must say, to see so many large and powerful birds soaring overhead all day long is a great treat, even if I don’t appreciate how rare some of them are. I just wish it was easier to capture them on camera.
Tomorrow we return to track through the Parque Nacional de Monfragüe. I am expecting a lot of beauty so be prepared for plenty of photos tomorrow.