Day 2. Santalia del Bierzo to Orellán (15-20 km)

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 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.

4 thoughts on “Day 2. Santalia del Bierzo to Orellán (15-20 km)

  1. As always I like living vicariously by checking out the local sites as you travel. Will you be passing by the Mirador de Orellán tomorrow? It seems to be the local highlight.

  2. You know you’ve had a hard day on the Camino when your words of praise for your lodging focus on the quality of the shower. Enjoy your dinner!

    We should compare tracks — I wonder if we walked the same route up to Orellán. Glad you avoided the helicopter evacuation, only irresponsible fools get into that kind of a mess. 🙂

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