Another big day, 29kms! We breakfasted at 7.00am and were on the road by 7.30am. The day was overcast, which was good for walking – no hot sun to sap the energy.
The first few kilometres followed a Roman Road. They were quite flat, with fields to either side, nothing particularly interesting. This gives a view of the road ahead and of the weather.
But before too many kilometres, we were again on a steady climb. A cross, one of many marking the way up a steep climb. My guidebook says one is added each Good Friday, and eventually there will be 14, for the 14 Stations of the Cross. Beside it is some sort of camp?
The road went on steadily upwards for about 10kms. Did I mention that it was upwards?
At a certain intersection, there was one road off to the right and another track up to the left. There were arrows pointing in both directions!! Bound to confuse!! Which one to take? I was pondering this dilemma when I caught sight of movement to my left. It was a pilgrim who was ahead of me making his way steadily up the track. That was a good indication. Also, my guide book had forewarned me that there was a steep climb expected, and this certainly conformed to that. Besides, when I did take the track to the left, I found there were quite a few boot prints, which provided added confirmation that this was the way to go. It was a steep, stony track! Did I mention that it was upwards?
Eventually we arrived at Pico de la Duena, the peak of the mountain. It is the highest point on the Via de la Plata (does that mean that it is all downhill from here?). A St James Cross has been erected on the peak, and will eventually be the 14th of the Stations of the Cross referred to previously.
The guide book also says, “spectacular views on a clear day”. Today, wasn’t clear, but we could get an impression of the views for 360 degrees all around.
South – if you zoom, you can see the snow-capped mountains in the far distance that I passed a couple of days ago.
As you can see, the weather was overcast, so the views were not clear. However, I didn’t mind. I had an impression of what I would see on a clear day, and I still had another thirteen and a half kilometres to walk, and I’d rather walk in overcast conditions than in the burning sun. Besides, I can get photos of the views from my brother, James, who has been here before me!
And evidence that I was here too (it is not photoshopped!):
Like many others, I had a break and a bite of lunch (biscuit, banana, apple) at the summit for about half and hour and then continued on.
5.5kms and an hour and a half later, we passed a pig farm. I thought the pigs had the right idea!!
A couple of days ago, the hostal driver who picked us up at Capparra had said, “Peregrinos, todos locos” (Pilgrims, [they’re] all crazy). Having walked 30kms in the heat of the afternoon, we all agreed with him! Hence, I thought today that the pigs shown above had the right idea. I vowed that tonight I will eat, bacon, ham or pork!! [and I did!! I had pork as the main, and it was very tasty and rested!!]
The rest of the afternoon was a long, steady, uphill walk for 8kms. Did I mention it was uphill?
It was along the shoulder of the road for some of the time, and otherwise along a track/path besides the road. I tended to choose the latter whenever I oould, on the theory that the earth, and especially the grass, was a softer platform on which to walk, more padded, more forgiving, than the tarmac. It was a long slog. With the stamina I have built over the past weeks which surprises even me, with the rhythm of the legs and the walking poles, and with the mantra, I managed to keep going along quite steadily. I covered the 8kms in about 2 hours i.e. 4kms per hour, which is not bad after a steep climb up and down around midday and coming at the end of a long day’s walk.
Even so, it was a great relief on coming over the brow of a hill to see the destination in sight. At first, I could only see a couple of houses, thought they were a farmyard, so felt disappointed that I still had a further way to go. But as I came more over the brow of the hill, there was the village nestled in the valley below, a very welcome sight.
I found the albergue and settled in. I discovered I had left my bath soap in the albergue of the previous night, so had a shower using laundry soap, then did my washing.
A couple of the Italian pilgrims asked me if I would say Mass. I happily agreed, as there is no Mass in the village here except on weekends. So about a dozen of us gathered for a simple Mass, again, in the bar/restaurant, using a glass of red wine and some bread. This time I said the prayers of the day in English (as before) but prayed the main parts of the Mass in Italian (on my i-pad). I think it is the first public Mass I have said in Italian. The congregation included Spanish, German, Belgian and Italian. It was very much appreciated.
Then from the Misa (Mass) we went to the Mesa (Mess) and had dinner, where, as I mentioned above, I chose pork for the main, in memory of the resting pigs I had seen along the way.
Now it is off to get ready for the morrow when I hope to arrive in Salamanca.