My distances are not huge – I am taking 3 days to do what “most” people would do in 1 or 2. However, today I feel that I have earned my dinner. Plus dessert!
I bid farewell to Guty at 8:45 am and by about 10:15 I had arrived in Villavieja. Don’t know why it took 1.5 h to do 4.5 km, but it did. I didn’t bother to go the extra 100 m to check out the albergue – rather lazy of me, so early in the day. Two pilgrims passed – Victor from the Basque country and another fellow who wasn’t chatty. Walking on pleasant well-marked woodland paths, admiring the chestnut trees, some of which are reputed to be as much as 600 years old.
Onward to the Castillo de Cornatel, where I spent an hour.
After leaving the castle, there was asphalt walking in 30°C but not too far and virtually no cars. At the village of Borrenes I took another 30 minute rest at a nice little park. Two more pilgrims said hello and Buen Camino, and they headed to the bar in the hotel there.
From Borrenes I was leaving the official Camino to go to Orellán where I had booked the night. I had a KML track on my phone for precise directions, so off I went. My route wasn’t waymarked of course, nor was there any signage indicating “suitable for grandmothers.” The first part was easy and level on fields and open terrain, but I was still relieved to see the hamlet of Chana and to reach the road that reassured me that it was only 3.4 km to my destination of Orellán – by road, and my intended route was clearly shorter.
Hmmm. The track I have on my phone goes across country in the middle. What to do? The track was a vehicle track and looked good so off I went. As I walked, I pondered… It occurred to me that the highway designers might have placed the highway where they did, for good reason. I also noted that I had not looked at topographic maps for my route. I then noticed words like “arroyo” (often at the bottom of a ravine) that I would be crossing. The path was now single file. As I started down a steep rocky slope, I realized that I was passing the point at which I would consider turning back. I was “all in”. Did I mention that it was 30°C, and I didn’t know what was ahead? But I had water, food, and a phone with reasonable charge. I was careful with my footing, so as not to break my leg and require helicopter evacuation. 😉 [Later edit: I would not recommend my shortcut route to someone walking alone. I didn’t check, but would not be surprised to find there was no cell phone reception in the ravine. I also don’t know if, at times, there might be too much water in the stream/river to cross at the bottom. For me, there was just a stream with a few stones to step across.]
As one might expect, what goes down must go up, and it did both. I stopped frequently in patches of shade. For a sitdown rest, I sat on a large rock on the path. The steep slope allowed my legs to stretch out downhill. Unfortunately I had lost interest in carefully documenting the path, so my photos are inadequate.
Finally I emerged from the hillside to a road in Orellán. I proceeded the last few hundred meters very slowly so as not to alarm anyone with my flushed and sweaty face. Today I walked up 300 m, down 250 m, and up 250 again, over 15-20 km.
Here I am in lovely lodging – O Palleiro do Pe de Forno, which I had booked on Booking.com. Fabulous shower.
Now I am seated, waiting for dinner. I can’t even remember what I ordered, because they didn’t provide a written menu and I had to select without careful study! I don’t even know the price, but I guess I’m “all in” again today.