Distance, 28.5 km
Elevation gain, 262 m
Elevation loss,172 m
Total distance 117.5 km
Daily average, 29 km
We leave at 07:00 in the dark and are instantly bombarded with a vicious bitter wind. Normally the weather doesn’t present it’s true colours until you reach open land, but today the wind was howling around the town leaving us in no doubt about what was in store for us.
After a short spell on a quiet road led us to agricultural service tracks – wide, gravel, flat, monotonous tracks. Although there was plenty to take my interest during the first stage – a backdrop of the biggest marble quarry I have seen, the regular features of the stepped terraces gave the impression from a distance of a small city built into the hillside. The rising sun bounced off the marble and gave a stunning colour, enhanced by a line of wind turbines on the ridge above.
But the wind was so strong, and so cold, that we had to lean into it in order to remain upright.
The rising sun always provides good photo opportunities and so I happily clicked away for the first 8+ km, although it entailed countless removal and replacing of two pairs of gloves. I normally walk in shorts – my legs don’t get too cold on brisk mornings, but this camino has tested their endurance. My knees were bright red this morning and in need of protection from the elements.
At almost 9 km the track took a left turn and instead of a side wind we were once again ploughing through a full-on headwind, and to add insult to injury the track was closely adjacent to a motorway, so the noise of the wind was supplemented by the noise of vehicles rushing past. Nina and I had agreed to take regular rests, especially on a stage like today’s when there are no services between start and finish. But when it is so bitterly cold and there’s no shelter, there is no inclination to stop, even when you are feeling tired.
We finally spied a cluster of trees a 100 metres or so from the track and sheltered from the wind whilst we removed our boots and ate a snack, and I changed into my merino leggings under my shorts.
At some point the motorway was exchanged for s rail line and then back to the motorway until finally we leave the traffic behind us at 18.5 km, but still walking across flat land with no wind-break and absolutely no shade at all on this stage. I wouldn’t want to be walking the start of this camino in the hot months.
After another hour or so we spy a well placed haystack and we find some shelter to eat our lunch before setting off again for our destination.
We have passed by much uncultivated land, some ploughed ready for planting, some cereal crops, many newly planted almond saplings. And I see a team of men bent double planting something. It is a huge field and they have only planted two rows into perforated plastic sheeting. I take a closer look and have no idea what it is that they are planting. They are thin sticks with shoots emerging which look like the shoots that grow from aged potatoes. Who can tell me what they are?
Almansa is another big town with all services. There is an albergue run by the nuns of the Convento Esclavas de María (telephone the day before, 967 341 557 / 620 856 934, 7 euros, no facilities, nowhere to hang washing, but lovely hot water). There are three or more rooms each with two single beds and a bathroom. Far from luxurious, but very welcome. The next stage is another with no facilities en route, so we have shopped for a picnic lunch and are hoping that it won’t be so very cold tomorrow.
We have been wandering the town, taking advantage of every showing of the sun and soaking up its warm rays, whilst drinking a glass or two of wine. We went to visit the castle, but sadly it was closed (maybe I wasn’t so sad as I didn’t have to climb any more steps). Almansa is famous for a battle in 1707, look it up if you are interested. Our walk today led us directly past the field where it was fought.
And here is a treat from yesterday…street art Caudete style
Oh Maggie that sounded like yet another very hard day. I hope the wind drops soon for you. We have been having a lot of VERY COLD nasty wind as well. I don’t like it very much and I’m not walking like you. Go girls you are doing brilliantly. Bon Camino and much love xx
Oh you poor things – fighting that icy wind is really no joke and no villages in-between – so sorry – lets hope that tomorrow is a good day. What a stunning castle – pity it was closed but yay that you had an excuse not to climb steps!!!! Really chewing up the kms darling in true Maggie style. So lovely to chat last night – took me till 2-30 this morning to wind down and go to bed – lots of warm hugs and keep warm and safe – love alwaysXXXX
Great story And pics Maggie,love the street art.
I’m intrigued by plants, it couldn’t be cotton?? Never heard of it being grown in Europe- and it is very thirsty.
Cotton is indeed grown in Spain. But as far as I know this is not the way cotton farmers usually begin the season. But Spain might be different.
Nice pictures, very nice, but the weather should be a bit more pleasant.
Bon camino! Henk
You are such a great writer and adventurer Maggie, I am so excited each morning to see your emails. Your weather sounds like ours in southern Aust as we go through autumn into winter. We are just getting a touch of the southerly winds to come. Do hope there are some little villages soon.
Superb pictures, Maggie. I feel embarrassed to be enjoying this journey without any legwork!
Looks to me like a grapevine nursery, similar to what we have here in California. The vines will be grown closely spaced for a year, then transplanted into a new vineyard at normal spacing.
Very useful info. I can’t find the convent albergue on either maps.me or Google maps. Any pointers before tomorrow evening gratefully received! Ringing ahead is causing problems – no Spanish no English no understand. I need to do an online course before the next Camino. After 3 days, getting a bed seems quite a trial on this Camino, more than the others, or maybe I’m one year older ….
Hi Dave, I have emailed you my spreadsheets for the Lana which include addresses and lots of other info. The address of the convent is Calle Campo 2. The convent is behind a large wooden door, but this is not the tradesman’s (pilgrim’s) entrance. Walk past the convent entrance (door to your left) to the next corner and turn left – Calle Miguel de Cervantes, there is a tattoo parlour at the end of the short street, take another left at the tattoo place which will place you at the back of the convent. Ring the bell on door No 7 and you will soon be shown to your room.
Maggie- I would also like a copy of the spreadsheet that you emailed to Dave and am sure that I will find it useful. I had commented in another post that I will be walking the Ruta de la Lana in September and October.
P.S. I was sorry to see that you had to cut your camino short due to the hip problems. I know that you will recover from that to walk more caminos in the future and I look forward to following you on your blog at that time!
Hi John. I have sent you copies of the documents and have edited your comment to remove your email address.