You can get an idea of today’s climb from the altitude profile above. By reaching Herrierias the previous evening, I was just under where the steep ascent began with about 2 kilometres of fairly flat walking to warm up and get all the creaky bits of the body moving again.
But now my smartphone has failed completely and is restarting on a continuous loop until the battery fails. That means I’ve lost the ability to easily take photos on the go – today I was having to stop, take off my pack, get out the iPad, take a shot and put it all back in and on in reverse. So there won’t be as many photos from now on in this blog, and they will probably be from places where I could stop.
The total climb to the hamlet at the top, O Cebreiro, was 650m over 8km from Herrerias including the flatter sections at the bottom. And there were 3 sections – a 215m climb to La Faba at 920m over about 3km, a second stage to Laguna de Castilla at 1150m (the last town in the province of Castilla, hence the name) climbing 230m in 2.3km, and finally the last 150m climb to O Cebreiro at 1300m over 2.5km.
Slowly climbing out of Herrerias to get to the first section, it was quite chilly. Normal for here, I think. The trees were covered in lichen.
The first real climb was tough and it took me about an hour and a half to reach La Faba which is billed as a bit of a village for ‘alternatives’ at the Refugio Vegetariano
I must have looked beat when I arrived dripping sweat everywhere, still gasping for breath. I wasn’t allowed to order Coke Zero (‘we don’t sell soft drinks because sugar is bad for you’), but I was offered a massage and two cans of Gurana drink from Brazil – which turned out to be a lovely cherry flavoured soft drink containing 8% sugar!
But then it got easier with the second stage not as hard as the first and the final stage to O Cebreiro easier again (I should really be describing these as ‘less hard’). And from Laguna there were nice views back down the valley.But some people ‘cheated’, taking the easy way out and hiring horses to walk them to the top (that’s why there was so much manure to avoid on the way up). One of these riders was a guy I’d meet lots of times and had had dinner with – Jack, the Ukrainian/New Zealander.
And O Cebreiro was a lovely little stone village at the top
These bigger photos below are of the shop billed as the village supermarket or supermercado. You have to walk down off the other side of the entrance road to get to it. I guess if you are the only shop in town you can call yourself whatever you like, but it is the prettiest supermarket I’ve ever come across.
But O Cebreiro was booked out and while Denis and his family and Angela settled in, I had to hurry on another 8 kilometres to get to my accommodation for the night in the village of Sagudo, itself about 2km off the Camino before any rain arrived.
On the the way I had to climb a couple more times and over the Alto de San Roque with its giant statue of a pilgrim bracing against the wind.
And finally I was on my way down to Sagudo (only 4 houses) and the Casa Rodriguez. I was cursing my travel agency by the time I had walked 2km down hill to the bottom of another valley after so much climbing. Thank God then that the señora who ran the house introduced herself by saying she would drive me back up to the Camino in the morning!
A siesta in the late afternoon, some blog catch ups, and then a really friendly evening. It turned out that there were two French couples staying over as well. The marvellous señora (women seem to be at the front of lots of these places with any husband clearly in a secondary role) produced a lovely meal of traditional Galician vegetable soup, and then a slow cooked meat and vegetable stew suited to the chilly wet local climate, red wine and there followed lots of friendly broken French and English conversation. I had a lovely night and we have greeted each other in different places several times since.
A long, fairly hard but ultimately very satisfying day on the Camino.