Today’s distance 31 km
Elevation gain 487 m
Elevation loss 320 m
Total distance from Almería 809 km
We slept well and woke quite late this morning but still managed to leave by 07:30. There is a bitter, biting, gusty headwind that threatens to freeze us as we walk, even though the sky is clear and the sun is shining. It seems the coldest start to the day we have thus far experienced and I quickly put on gloves and buff headband over my ears. For me it is essential that hands, arms and ears are protected from the cold in order to operate normally.
After 3.5 km on road we reach Valdelacasa (not too much imagination with village names hereabouts). My info tells me there is a bar and Marilyn is desperate for a coffee…but the bar is closed. We ask a local if there is another bar and he points us in a direction off camino. We find it, but hey – it is also closed, as is the third bar in the village. Off we toddle, knowing there is no chance of refreshment for a further 8-9 km. But we stop on a handy bench sheltered from the wind to eat a belated breakfast. Mine consists of bread, peanut butter and marmite followed by an orange that I peeled a couple of days ago, but still tastes oh so good.
We have walked 6 km on road before we come to a track. I don’t remember walking this far from the village previously, but maybe walking different stages has muddled my memory (which isn’t very good at the best of times). I feel the route has changed since I walked in 2015, and when I get time I will compare my Wikiloc tracks.
We walk along comfortable wide tracks with rolling pasturelands to either side – not many animals in evidence, and we put our heads down against the wind and stride out.
We reach Fuenterroble at 12.5 km and pop into the village supermarket, stop for hot drink and tostada and visit the albergue for a sello for our credenciales as we didn’t get one last night. We have another km or so on the road before rejoining a track and I immediately recognise the splendour I have previously witnessed, although it seems quite different when walking later in the morning. Last time I walked this route at sunrise with shafts of sunlight slanting through the trees and low mists rising from the pastures – a magical experience.
But whatever time of day, this route is beautiful and fairly easy underfoot. There are huge pastures laying empty – no herds of cows for many kms. The whole of the route that I walked last time to San Pedro de Rosados is a real treat, but we wanted to ring the changes again and chose an alternative route that kicked in at 24.5 km from Valverde de Valdelacasa and headed towards Pedrosillo de los Aires.
It took us through magnificent farmland, beautifully maintained and with very healthy looking animals – cows, pigs and horses. There was a fair bit of up and down, but all on good track. We finally reached our destination at 31 km.
There is a donativo albergue here but not one to write home about. There is room for 11/12 pilgrims, in bunks and beds, very few pillows, a couple of blankets that you wouldn’t want your dog to sleep on, and a bathroom that apparently has a good shower but I wasn’t prepared to try it. I shall be one of the great unwashed tomorrow and not at all ashamed of it!
There is a bar next door that reeks of stale tobacco but it was lovely and sunny outside so we sat on the terrace, and with the permission of the bar woman, made up and ate our own food at her terrace tables. Apparently the bar at the entrance to town serves very good and very reasonably priced food, but we had been carrying our own supplies in the deluded expectation that we could prepare our food at the albergue. I ate a salad of courgette, avocado and tomato sprinkled with the faux Parmesan I bought from home – very tasty. Meanwhile Marilyn fed the surrounding animal life with her left-overs.
This dog was very sweet and really reminded me of this YouTube video which you may well already have seen, but it’s always worth another look – https://youtu.be/nGeKSiCQkPw
We had originally intended to take a short stage tomorrow to another off standard stage, but have really had our fill of tiny villages with not great infrastructure, so have now decided make another long stage tomorrow and head straight into Salamanca and have a rest and relaxation day whilst we wait for the rest of our party to arrive.
I have already shared that we are meeting with Aurelio, a kind and generous guy who Eli and I met when we walked from Lisbon. He and his wife kindly gave us a very enjoyable tour around their home city before we started walking the Camino Portuguese in 2014. Last year Eli joined our little gang of camigos who walked from Madrid to Santiago and beyond. And the great news is that she has been persuaded to join us again this year from Salamanca. Marilyn and I are so excited to meet up with her tomorrow, freshly arrived from Australia, to start another camino adventure on a lesser walked route.