Today’s distance 36 km (including boat trip across the Rio Miño
Elevation gain 151 m
Elevation loss 110 m
Total distance from Almería 1,321 km
The youth hostel in Viana is situated at the very far end of town and it is quite a trek to join the camino starting point. We see our first arrows and follow them, but as we reach the top of a hill I stop to look at the track I have downloaded on maps.me and see that it is in a completely different direction – hugging the coastline. We consider our options and decide that if we are walking the coastal route, then we should be walking along the coast, so we turn around and head back down the hill and find a good path right alongside the beach.
Our group seems to have split. Eli likes to do her own thing and prefers to walk alone. Aurelio has sadly been called home to attend to family matters. So that leaves Nina, Paul and me as the new team.
We are not 100% confident that there is a path all the way to our destination but we are going for it anyway! What is life without a bit of an adventure?
It is not pleasant weather. It starts with very light drizzle and varies between this and a heavy downpour all day. Very occasionally it dries up, but no sooner have we stashed our umbrellas and slipped our hoods back, than it starts all over again. But nothing could spoil the beauty of our walk along the coast.
We walked along comfortable paths made of some composite material that was quite giving underfoot. Horrible stony paths. Beautiful paths through woodland. Very wet tracks alongside a field that was overgrown from both sides and caused us a severe soaking.
Eventually we came to a cafe at around 10 km. Unfortunately it was closed, but we were able to rest under some umbrellas and have a bite to eat. I put on my ‘magic gaiters’ – the ones that are guaranteed to make the rain stop…and they worked, but sadly, only very briefly. But I kept them on anyway. They provided some extra warmth and kept my boots from soaking up too much water.
Our next stop was at 18 km just before the resort of Praia de Ancora, where we found an open restaurant. We supped our drinks outside (under cover) and cheekily ate our own food. The waiter was not at all perturbed and refused payment for the pot of hot water he served me, even when I tried to insist on paying.
We really enjoyed a walk on the beach before joining with the ‘official’ route onwards to the town of Caminha.
The long walk into this resort was interminable – a real slog after the joy of the coastline and we were expecting to have a long wait in our wet clothes in order to catch the 5pm ferry across the Rio Minho. After arriving in Caminos we walked to the ferry terminal to acquaint ourselves as to where we needed to be, and discovered that there was an alternative crossing in the guise of ‘Taxi Mar’ which would whip us across the estuary almost immediately. We paid 5€ each for the trip (rather than 1.50€ on the much bigger ferry that couldn’t cross until later due to the tides). Well, it was an experience I don’t particularly want to repeat. A small boat that thought it was a speedboat, whizzed us across at a slightly scary speed, without the benefit of any safety equipment and a captain that looked a bit like an evil elf in his orange waterproofs.
But we reached the other side two hours earlier than we expected and really enjoyed the walk towards A Guarda, through a eucalyptus forest with soft ground underfoot. Then it was back onto a busy road to reach the town.
Having crossed the Minho we are now in Spain – with no fanfare, no ‘bienvenida a España’ sign, and we immediately lost an hour! We are staying in the Junta albergue. Not sure how many beds, but plenty. There are wet clothes and boots adorning every surface and more than twenty pilgrims I would think. The welcoming hospitalero is delightful, the beds sturdy with ikea mattresses, but the bathrooms leave s whole lot to be desired – as do many Galician Junta albergues. In the women’s bathroom there are the dreaded communal showers, and only one toilet which doesn’t even have a seat. But on the bright side there is a very good, well equipped kitchen, so we buy supplies to cook. I enjoy quinoa and vegetables whilst Paul and Nina eat scrambled eggs with various veg. All washed down with a bottle of cava.
Tomorrow should be sunny. A brief respite before the rain is due to return the next day.