Another four layer day – still raining this morning as we left the mill but it wasn’t really bad. The wind had dropped and the rain was little more than a drizzle. And I only had 20km to walk – easy 🙂 And the distance was broken up by towns every now and again. Walking a little with Denis, the first 4 kilometres passed easily after leaving shortly after 8am.
The first place the Camino passed through was Hospital de Órbigo – presumably it housed a Pilgrims Hospital in earlier times. A nice village notable for its Puente de Órbigo – its 13C bridge built on top of an older Roman bridge. Legend has it that a spurned knight, Don Suero de Quiñones, defended this bridge crossing as a matter of his honour (i.e. to restore it) for months against all comers from Europe, until 300 lances were broken and his honour was restored. Some think that it gave birth to the tale of Don Quixote, but perhaps a better fit is the Monty Python skit.
I stopped at a cafe in the third town after about 9km for a drink, and got lucky. The rain had picked up by the time I reached the village and I was glad to be inside for a bit. They had free wifi and that caused me to stay half an hour or so until I caught up with email, What’s App, etc. And while I was there the rain cleared.
I was able to get up the longest section of the day over the only real hill and over a dirt track for 6 kilometres without any rain – climbing up first through some farmed country and then through some rocky patches and beech forest plantations.
And finally the cross at the top was reached and the sun came out briefly to allow a nice view of tonight’s destination – the old city of Astorga and beyond the mountains that must be crossed over the next few days.
Five kilometres later I was in the hotel and it was still only 1:15pm. Time to catch up on the blog posts.
Astorga is where the Camino Frances is joined by the Via de La Plata – the Camino bringing pilgrims up from Andalusia and Sevilla. In older times it was the town junction where the main Roman Road, the Via Aquitana, was joined by the Roman Silver Road from mines to the south. It has always been an important market town.
In the next few days, the last two high passes on the Camino must be traversed. I’m at around 900m now, and by the end of tomorrow should be in Rabanal del Camino at 1,160m before reaching the first pass and the Cross of Iron at 1,500m the next day. Two or three days later, I should cross into the final province, Galicia, at O Cebreiro at 1,330m. It will be challenging, but it is not regarded as being as tough as the first day in the Pyrenees. There are definitely some steep climbs though. Will just have to take my time and stop as many times as I need.
With any luck, after that it should be (mostly) all downhill to Sarria and the last 100km into Santiago de Compostela