Today’s distance 31.5 km
Elevation gain 591 m
Elevation loss 303 m
Total distance from Almería 778 km
It starts with about 6 km on road with a very narrow shoulder. Then we are directed onto a narrow rocky track running alongside and above the road for a km or so, then swap between road and track until we reach the spa town of Baños de Montemayor after 9.5 km, where we stop for a drink. Marilyn says there is a very nice albergue here and I imagine it would be a good place to stay. There is a steep climb out of the town and then we are on a mix of track and road for a short while until we are back on a good track at 13 km. There are some issues with small lakes on the track which can’t be negotiated but luckily there is a very minor road running alongside, and on several occasions it is necessary to use it to bypass the bogs.
The next village is La Calzada de Béjar at around 23 km. This is a typical stage end for those setting off from Aldeanueva, but we have both stayed here before (in the albergue Alba – Soraya, which was fine, if a bit cramped in the dorm). There seem to be many more options of places to stay in this village than when I was last here, but the facilities don’t seem to have improved. The single grubby bar charges top whack for a soft drink with a deficit of service (although if you are a seafood lover the tapas looked good).
This time we want to shake things up, so continue another 8.5 km to the tiny village of Valverde de Valdelacasa. On the way we are walking on mostly comfortable sand track with extensive pastureland on either side. Lots of cows and calves and some hefty bulls. We both remember a tricky water course that needed to be crossed. I particularly remember it because I slipped on one of the granite blocks used as stepping stones and almost came a cropper. But we were very pleased to find that the slippery blocks had been replaced by a bridge and we both tripped across without fear of ending up in the water.
Valverde is possibly not a place where you would want to rest the night alone. There is one bar, which is also the only place to eat. There is no shop. We are staying in the Albergue Santiago Apóstol. There is a dorm with seven single beds and several private rooms. Dorm with bedding and towels provided is 10€. The info I have tells me there is a washing machine and tumble dryer and a kitchen – none of which are in evidence. There are two bathrooms, but one shower has a broken spray head and can’t be used and the other one, which has a shower with corner doors, has one door missing. Nevertheless with careful hand-holding of the spray head, a lovely long hot shower was had, with minimum spillage of water. The place is clean and tidy, if not entirely ship-shape and Bristol fashion! And it is actually very cold – I hate to think what it would be like in winter! We have the place to ourselves. There is also another albergue here, but I can’t imagine either of them get much business.
The weather has been clear blue sky, sunny but still with a very strong headwind. Good for drying our hand-washed clothes!
My left foot is still presenting problems – some sort of strain I think, but no blisters as of yet.
Supper was salad and chips. Salad consisting of lettuce and tomatoes! Marilyn was presented with the addition of two fried eggs. Sufficient after a nutritious lunch closely resembling last night’s supper!