Camino Stage 26: Villafranca del Bierzo to Herrerias

Today was a much easier day than the last two. Climbed another 200m up into the hills but the climb was gradual over 20 kilometres, and reached the little mountain town of Herrerias. I am now positioned just below he final pass into the last province of Galicia.

It was a beautiful walking day today but now in the evening a thunderstorm is underway. Apparently this particular area gets lots of thunderstorms as these mountains are the first high points that the weather coming 5000km across the Atlantic. I’ve read that as you cross the mountain everything changes – the weather, the culture, cuisine and the people. Galicia is an old Celtic province with its own culture and language.

There is still a little tension as to whether these mountain villages on this side of the pass are Castilian (essentially Old Spain) or Galician. There was a dispute over one village centuries ago which required the intervention of both the Pope and the Spanish Monarch to settle. I noticed on the way up the valley this morning that some of the town name signs had been painted over with their Galician spelling – shades of the Basque Country some weeks ago.

I took it easy, stopping more than I needed, walking with Angela from our group for a while and arriving early afternoon – just in time for a siesta! It was mostly along a road alongside a mountain stream as it poured down the hillside. If you couldn’t actually see the river, you could still hear as it rushed and bubbled along. And there were lots of delightful little villages on the way up.

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And finally reached Herrerias and a really nice Casa Rural just before the village itself. A room with a view of the cows in the field next door and tomorrow’s pass in he storm – and the owner’s lovely dog. The climb tomorrow is about 600m in 6km. Interesting – I’ll be happy to just get to the top! After that I should be about 160km from Santiago.

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