Another very big day! At least 31.2kms on foot, and due to unavoidable circumstances, another 11kms by bus, for a total of at least 42.2kms.
I had a great sleep. I was first in bed in the albergue, fell asleep, did not hear the others come in, woke at 5.00am when someone was snoring like the proverbial chainsaw, continued resting until around 6.00am when there was a lot of movement of people getting up and ready to go. Most were on their way by 6.30am, and I followed shortly after.
I nearly got off to a bad start. When I came to the bridge I had thought to turn right, but I caught a glimpse of movement of a pilgrim heading left, so I followed. When he disappeared from sight, I asked a local who assured me “straight ahead and to the right”. Luckily, some German pilgrims were coming out of a hostal and getting their bearings. They asked someone else, who said there was no passage to the right, but that we all had to go back to the bridge and go right from there. Sure enough, before long, we saw the arrows and camino signs. The others drew ahead, so I had another day walking on my own.
Sorry, there are no photos today. I had not charged my camera battery for a couple of days. As punishment for this neglect, when I tried to switch the camera on, the screen message showed “Charge Your Battery” and nothing else happened. I was disappointed, as there were things I would have photographed and shown you, but now you will just have to take my word for it. (The battery is now being charged for tomorrow!)
It was another sunny day, a bit chill in the morning air, but walking soon warms me up!
The first part of the morning was along the valley, following the river. It was wooded in part. There was a couple of lovely, shaded archways of trees through which I passed. At one stage, the path was the stone bed of a gully. It would be a torrent after rain, but fortunately for me, was dry.
The thing that struck me this morning was the stillness. It was peaceful, calm, still, birds singing, verdant green grass and trees, all very lovely.
I thought it was poorly signed. There were very few arrows, and sometimes at junctions or diversions, one had to use one’s instinct. The basic direction remains West. I was glad at times to be able to follow in others’ footsteps. I remember one path in particular, barely discernable in the grass, but what made it a little bit clearer was the fact that the boots of those who had gone before had knocked the dew off the grass. So the lack of regular signs, as I had become accustomed to in the recent past, made me a bit more nervous and also careful. I knew I had a long 30kms ahead of me and didn’t want to waste time and energy getting lost and having to find the way.
However, I arrived at Terroso (9.5kms), including a steady incline, safely at 9.45, more or less the two hours of regulation time.
I continued on to Requejo de Sanabria (2.5kms) over the next forty minutes.
After Requejo, we left the forested valley, the flora became more scrubby, and the long steady climb up to the peak started, arise of 1,300 metres over about 10kms. There was some construction work going on, so the Camino path was diverted from its usual rural mode to the shoulder of the highway. I didn’t mind too much, as it meant I did not have to worry about finding arrows, just follow the road. But walking along the shoulder of the road is a bit boring. Nearer the top, I was glad to follow the camino path off the road and into the rural setting, even though it was a fairly stoney path. I had thought the whole day was to be an upwards climb, so was relieved when I studied my guide more closely to discover that we ascended to the peak around the 20km mark and the remaining 10kms were downhill.
I eventually arrived at Portillo de Padornelo (13kms) at 1.00am, completing the climb from Requejo in 2hrs 40min, which is not bad for a senior citizen climbing uphill!! I took a break on the top and had a snack. This is where my vanity would have loved to have shown you photos of how high I had climbed, of how steep the ascent was, of the views from the top. But you will just have to take my word for it! Actually, as the time shows, it wasn’t too bad, certainly not as bad as I had feared.
From then on, it was downhill. I passed the village of Padornelo just 1km later after 20 minutes.
Just under an hour later, I bypassed the village of Aciberos (3km).
There was more construction on this side of the valley (a new road, rail line?) so again the Camino was diverted from the rural path to the side of the highway.
As a cruel taunt, when the town of Lubian was in sight, the highway followed a gully – I knew I was actually walking away from my destination! – before it eventually crossed the Rio Pedro which flowed down that gully. Then the road did a u-turn and came back along the other side of the gully. I reckoned that gully added another 4kms to the walk! I actually passed through another village which was not mentioned in either guide. The original camino path crossed directly through the valley and did not follow the gully. And of course, the road descended down one side of the gully and climbed up on the other side of the gully, adding another little ascent to the challenge.
To add insult to injury, when I had climbed out of the gully and back to the main valley, there was a road to the left which I was sure would be the road to Lubian, but it turned out to be the road to the Station of Lubian. There was no guarantee that the station would lead to the town, so I continued on the main road. Which again went through another gully, admittedly much smaller, but still adding a couple more kilometres to the day’s journey.
It was at this time that I was overtaken by another pilgrim. He had set off from Asturianos that morning, which I had left two morning’s ago, so his day’s total was some 48kms. I felt I could not complain that my intended 30kms had blown out to maybe 35kms!!
There was roadwork going on and the road was new. The last stretch was a 1km descent down an 11 degree slope (according to the road sign), which demanded caution. But I eventually arrived in Lubian at 4.00pm, looking forward to a wash, a rest, a meal.
But the final insult was yet to come! The albergue was full. The Casa Rurale was full. The accommodation in the local bar was full. There was no room in the inn!!
What to do?? I called at the Town Hall but it was closed. I considered the Guardia Civil (local police) who are supposed to help but could not find their office. I even considered the local parish priest, but then decided I would not subject myself to begging, especially if the outcome was an awkward night of my non-Spanish having to engage with his Spanish. What to do? I did not want to sleep out? So I did what the Gospel recommends: “If anyone will not welcome you …., shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.” (Mt 10;14)
I rang the local taxi and arranged to be taken to the next large town where I had phoned ahead to ensure that I had a booking in the hostal (this course of action was actually suggested to me by the manager in the bar).
Hence I arrived in Vilavella, another 10-11kms along the way. I have room to myself, bed, sheets, ensuite, towels!! I have also avoided yet another steep climb that I would otherwise be toiling up tomorrow morning. I have put myself that little bit closer to Santiago, which I realise is still another 210kms from here, which is another 8 – 10 days walking, and I hope to make it in less than 10. So every km counts.
I had a shower, a meal, have done this blog, and must now to to bed to make the most of the luxury accommodation, so different from the pilgrims’ albergue that would otherwise be my lot!!