The large Municipal Albergue in O’Cebreiro started to come to life by 5:00am in the morning. Pilgrims were trying to be as polite as possible – a virtue they cared not much for the night before, and after a few quaffs of the local brew. Now, sleepy-eyed pilgrims were humbly setting their packs in good order and dressing themselves and their infirmities for the anticipated journey ahead of them. While the leg to O’Cebreiro was the ‘big show’, this leg would have its own challenges. Continue reading O’Cebreiro to Triacastela – Day 26
Well, let’s just say that I did it. I managed to push through 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) today to reach O’Cebreiro; just inside the region of Galicia and leaving the Castilla and Leon region. Lulling one to a sense of relaxation, the first 22 kilometers were a slow, but constant ascent on a path that paralleled the Rio Varcarce. With the forest tracking your footsteps up on the surrounding hillsides, and the Rio Valcarce running alongside below, the peaceful nature of this countryside could not be ignored. The coolness of the gentle breezes and the clarity of the sun only added to the sense of well-being that this beautiful land gifted one’s spirit all the day long. Continue reading Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebreiro – Day 25
Ponferrada is but 6 kilometers away from Molinaseca. I imagine I could have pushed onto this small city yesterday, but when you set a goal – Molinaseca – and the effort took most of what you’ve got stored up, you relax in the accomplishment of the goal.
As it worked out, for my feet, I found Ponferrada so pleasing that I decided to stay the night at a local hostal; La Virgin de Encina. It is located directly opposite the amazingly large, medieval castle, “Castillo de los Templarios, a Templar castle which covers approximately 16,000 square meters. In 1178, Ferdinand II of Leon donated the city to the Templar order for protecting the pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo on their road to Santiago de Compostela.” WIKI Continue reading Molinaseca to Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo – Day 24
I left Rabanal de Camino early and reluctantly, and as I encountered the paths beyond that wonderful village, it became apparent that I had truly entered a mountainous region of Spain that equaled the Pyrenees. I found the trails narrow and twisting with a fair amount of plant growth intruding in upon the paths. Little was flat anymore, and the path varied widely from dusty clay to jagged rock and gravel.
It was evident that horses and their riders used these trails quite a bit; not only from the “road apples” present, but by the frequent water troughs that I passed with some frequency. You’d have to be a patient and experienced rider to take on these narrow trails. Continue reading Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca – Day 23
Leaving Astorga was a pleasant walk on good path. It took me past a small Ermita, where I was able to have a bit of prayer time in a most humble setting. For that, I am most thankful. In fact, the entire day seemed to be quite personal, quite relaxing. The landscape has truly changed now. I was into the foothills of the mountains that will predominate the landscape for the next week. This may be my last day of a relaxing walk. Harder trails are ahead.
Town by town I worked my way. The weather was pleasant and I was most preoccupied with the gorgeous landscapes and the quant villages that I passed through that seemed to bear a considerable amount of Maragato influences; the ancient ethnic people who still populate this province. In good order I reached my destination of Rabanal del Camino by noontime and settled into a most agreeable Albergue. Continue reading Astorga to Rabanal del Camino – Day 22