Total distance walked 15 km, + 5 km ferry trip
There were more than 50 people at the albergue last night. The very welcoming voluntary hospitaleros at Güemes provide lunch for any pilgrims who arrive in time, and also serve a communal dinner. I tried to cry-off the dinner when asked my dietary preferences, saying that I had a healthy supply of food with me that needed to be eaten, but I was made to feel that I had to participate, even though I knew I wouldn’t like the food. Not wanting to rock the boat I complied.
I sat at one of the very many large tables alongside a very pleasant German couple and a group of Irish women. The food was as I expected – I hate to sound churlish but I really don’t like mushy pasta, although the yoghurt and the red wine were very welcome.
After a reasonable night’s sleep I set off alone this morning, because that’s actually what I like best. It felt wonderful striding out on my own – nobody asking me any questions.
I am a planner – I like to know that I have everything in order before I set off on any journey. I’m not one to just take things as they come, I like to know what to expect. As such I had prepared a detailed spreadsheet of stages, accommodation, possible variations, distances, etc. I happily share this information with my amigos, but that has put me in the unwanted position of being the ‘leader’. I don’t want to be the leader. I could never be a tour guide – my people skills are rubbish and I get very impatient. This is not to say that I do not appreciate the company of my friends, which I do a great deal, but it is sometimes really good to be solitary and to think only of myself.
So today I walk out unencumbered into the misty morning, for the first time without my fleece – just arm warmers – and I have a big smile on my face, I’m loving the solitude
After about 5.5 km of ever quieter roads and country lanes I finally reached the cliff top path that would lead all the way to Santander.
From the very start it was stunning, with cove after cove of sandy and rocky beaches. Breathtaking with the early morning sun sparkling on the waves below. The path was very close to the edge and most of the way there were crop fields alongside.
Eventually the track dropped onto the beach and I didn’t hesitate to take off my boots and walk the next 2+ km along the waterline. The beach is busy with Sunday morning walkers and groups of surf school pupils, and not a few dog walkers, until it was eventually time to leave the sand and walk the short remaining distance to the ferry pick up point for the 5 km boat ride to Santander.
I have been told by both my walking companions that my stride is a little odd. My right operated leg is swinging out before being placed back on the ground. I’m not aware of this, I can’t feel it and I don’t think I can do anything to stop it. But when I was walking on the road with the sun directly behind me I could actually see it in my shadow. I wonder if this is because that leg is now longer and perhaps my heel riser in my left shoe isn’t high enough. Maybe I will play with it tomorrow. I really should have got orthotics made before caminoing, but the likely cost put me off !
We have decided to take a short day into Santander and have booked an Air B&B for the night before taking the coastal alternative tomorrow, which involves a much greater distance than the official route.
After a plate of chips (the Spanish make exceedingly good chips) we wander around the streets of the old town, take a ride up the funicular for the fun of it, and call into the church below the cathedral for a stamp for our credenciales.
After returning to our room our delightful host Nadia offered us food. The meat eaters have stuffed peppers and she makes potato fritters and salad for me. So very kind. Paul and Renate then go out for a drink whilst I stay in the room to write my blog when Nadia knocks on the door and asks me if I would like a massage. It seemed churlish to decline and I was treated to a very thorough full leg massage. All rather weird, but extremely kind and much appreciated. Thank you Nadia.