Ruta de la Lana, stage 13, Cuenca to Villar de Domingo García, 30 km

Distance, 30 km
Elevation gain, 371 m
Elevation loss, 364  m
Total distance, 381.5 km
Daily average, 29.3 km
As predicted, it was dry when we left our cosy hostal this morning, but quite cold with a brisk wind. It didn’t take long to exit the city and we were walking along quiet country roads for 16 km, passing through several villages .  The scenery is very pleasant – passing by crop fields, sadly for the most part freshly ploughed, showing the deep red colour of the clay hereabouts.  I think this camino would be better walked several weeks later than our 7 April start, when possibly the bitter winds might have died down, the cereal crops will have grown and the vines be sporting bright green new growth.
However today the sky was grey and we covered the ground on asphalt at an average of 5.4 km per hour.  We passed through Nohales at 4 km; through Chillarón de Cuenca at 8 km (where we stopped for hot drink and toast).   Chillarón is the only village we pass through with facilities.  The hostal we called into was buzzing with locals looking for their coffee and croissant fix. We passed through three more villages, but no more opportunities for refreshment.
For much of the way we were escorted by dozens of soaring eagles. A magnificent sight.
Our first track was perfect – freshly laid compacted sand. Easy to walk on and not at all sticky. It changed soon enough to dirt but still was not a problem.  

Bottom right, the point at which the camino divides (but meets again on the next stage)

After the last village at Noheda there were a few kms on a busy stretch of the N-320 with cars whizzing past at tremendous speed.  We were glad to get off the shoulder onto another track.  But our pleasure was very short-lived. This track proved to be of the very sticky clay variety that instantly clung to our boots.  We tried walking on the sparse shrubs that lined the track, but they kept disappearing and the mud was thickening on our boots.  We decided that we couldn’t bear to trudge over another 5 km of this stuff and crossed a crop field to regain access to the N-320.

At the exact point that we reached the road the Spanish pilgrims that we had lost sight of a week or so ago were walking along the road with pristine clean boots.  They had sensibly taken the road for the whole stage on the good advice of Luis from the albergue in Cuenca.  We were a bit miffed that we hadn’t received similar good advice.

We reached our destination and found the Bar Goyo to collect the keys for the albergue.  The bar was rammed to the gunnels with locals out for an Easter Saturday drink and tapas.  The noise was something to behold. Way above the acceptable safety level for healthy hearing. We stayed for a drink and then continued to the albergue.  As expected it was very small and rather damp and had been left in a very dishevelled condition by the previous occupants – beds left with rumpled bedding in situ, no attempt to make good their mess.  What bad form!  There are two bunks in very close proximity and a very basic shower/lavatory.

When the spanish guys arrived they told us of a feast at the end of town being presented to neighbouring villagers.  We were all invited.  The alcalde welcomed us and offered us a wonderful array of food.  All types of meat, apparently from local animals, rabbit, lamb and pork.  And luckily for me a very nice bowl of salad and the best bread I have tasted in a long time.  All washed down with beer and wine. Such a nice welcome at the end of a camino stage.

We returned to the Bar Goya to warm up. It is the most lively, noisy, buzzy bar I have ever entered. Packed with happy people, playing cards and other games, laughing, drinking and eating delicious tapas. We get the impression that this is a very happy town. We sampled their local drink which tasted a bit like anis. Sadly there is no shop and I have completely demolished every edible item in my pack, so the first 12.5 km of tomorrow’s stage will be walked on fresh air!

We visited the church for the changing of the virgin’s clothes, which I think involved adorning her with a black veil. They have a small statue of Christ on the cross dating from the 16th century and a very lovely backdrop to the altar.  All the villages we have passed through, even those tiny ones that seem almost deserted, have huge churches.

We were lucky that the day was dry, but it has now rained again so the tracks will remain hard to walk.  Our friends Javier and Pablo advise taking the road again tomorrow.  We shall see what the new day brings.

We have seen many protest signs hanging from the windows of local houses. Apparently complaining about the practice of intensive pig farming. The official banner says…”for a sustainable livestock that preserves our environment”. And the hand written one…”you take the water and leave us the sh*t”. Heartfelt sentiments and I wish them luck with their endeavours.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue
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7 Responses to Ruta de la Lana, stage 13, Cuenca to Villar de Domingo García, 30 km

  1. Jeannette says:

    Oh Maggi this was a very happy ending of your walk for today, nice to find happy people to welcome you, yeah!!!


  2. I had been thinking the same as you, that starting a few weeks later might bring a radical change in landscape. But there will never be anything that will top last year’s wildflowers on the Mozárabe! Looks like a very fun festival, Maggie, reminds me of your description of a similar event the year you walked from Lisbon. Enjoy!


  3. Colleen says:

    Happy Easter pilgrim! I’m back in France and dreaming of Spain ❤️


  4. M3 Mary says:

    A great stage with a very happy ending. That fiesta sounded like good fun. Shame about the Albergue being left in an untidy state. Usually (in my experience) Pilgrims are caring people who clean up after themselves. I hope you have mud free trails tomorrow and some food. 12.5 kms sounds like too much with no sustenance. Buen camino and much love. xx


  5. Katherine Paterson says:

    How lovely to find a happy town!
    Hope the intensive pig farmers are stopped, they have caused huge pollution problems especially in the USA.
    Hope your inadvertant intermittent fasting this morning was not too difficult and that now, on Sunday morning, you are enjoying a tasty desayuno somewhere.
    Happy Easter.


  6. Tony Rice says:

    5.4 kilometers per hour! you’re cooking. Maybe, at the end of your day, you could make pots with the mud on your boots then sell them to support your Caminos.😁 Great story and pictures Maggie. Sounds like you need to buy and pack more vegan food stuffs. Buen Camino

    Happy Trails. Tony


  7. Marilyn van Graan says:

    Oh my gosh that mud must have been horrible – I bet you get to a point where your boots are sooo heavy they are hard to lift – been there and done that one!!! Lovely pics as always and such a good piece of writing – enjoying your journey so much XXXX stay safe always


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