Today’s distance 23 km
Elevation gain 589 m
Elevation loss 331 m
Total distance from Almería 1,443 km
Although the rain held off for all of our walk yesterday it started in earnest as soon as we arrived and didn’t stop before we retired for the night. So unfortunately we didn’t take a good walk around the beautiful old town of Pontevedra.
The weather forecast tells us that it should be fine in the morning until 11:00 so we rendezvous at the Puente del Burgo at 06:30 in order to get s good start before the rain sets in.
We reach the parting of the ways at 2.7 km, Variante Espiritual to the left, CP Central Route to the right. Our first track was just after 4 km. Some tracks are very narrow, through fern and tall grass and I am happy to be bringing up the rear as the other two have been dispersing the dew and raindrops. Nothing gets you wetter quicker than walking through wet foliage!
Then we are walking through a eucalyptus forest and the aroma is delicious, but the amount of waste these trees make is incredible They shed strips of bark and their leathery leaves and small branches litter the track, waiting to trip you up. Apparently they suck all the goodness out of the soil and give nothing back.
The route is very well marked with a very pretty sign, plus the usual yellow arrows.
We pass through several villages between sections of track and at 8 km we reach the monastery and town of Poio where we stop for a drink. Whilst we are in the cafe it starts to rain – it was forecast to start at 11:00 but turned up at 08:30 – so much for our plan to miss most of it.
It came down in some style, and although I stopped to put on my gaiters they had no effect on the rainfall. Consequently there were almost no photos or notes of the walk for the rest of the stage.
We were on the road most of the time from Poio until we reached track at 15.5 km. The road between Poio and Combarro was busy and fast and quite unpleasant trudging along with my head down against the slanting rain, but after passing through the town we were back on country roads, constantly climbing, walking between eucalyptus plantations and pine forests. After a brief stop to take in the view over the estuary from on high we started to walk on soft tracks through the woods, still climbing until we peaked at around 19 km and thereafter dropped steadily on narrow muddy tracks with tree roots protruding to try and trip us up.
And suddenly we emerged from the undergrowth to find ourselves at our stage end in Armenteira. It had continued all this time to rain hard and my only thought was to reach the albergue and dry off and warm up. The albergue is situated about 1 km from the bars and monastery in the town and we were now also contending with a strengthening wind. I arrived at the albergue to be confronted by a notice announcing that it opened at 14:00, but it was only 11:45. Bugger! So back we traipsed to the bar to sit it out. There are two bars and we tried them both before the allotted opening time.
But the albergue was worth the wait. Situated in a modern building with 32 beds, excellent separate bathroom facilities, kitchen with only a microwave and fridge, but plenty cups and utensils. Lovely dining area and plenty of outdoor space which would be appreciated in warmer weather. We are about 12-14 pilgrims here for 6€, and more are staying in the monastery (around 25€ per person).
After settling in and showering, Nina and I decided to go back to visit the monastery – and received another soaking in the process. There is a lovely cloister where we watched a monk walk round and round the perimeter – maybe his daily exercise, or maybe some penance? There is a shop that sells soap, presumably made by the nuns. A charming nun tried to tell us the legend of the monastery but I didn’t entirely understand. I googled it later – you can read it here if you are interested. We also obtained a lovely sello for our credenciales. Later, back at the albergue, we joined forces and supplies to hash together a rather tasty supper.
Only two days to go, and I fear they will both we very wet. I have never been so unlucky with the weather on any of my caminos. I am extremely glad of the company of Nina and Paul. Being soggy in good company is bearable.