Camino Day 27 – Astorga to Rabanal del Camino: start of the climbs

Thursday 14 September 2023 – Today’s task: get to Rabanal del Camino, some 21km away and halfway up the first of two hills we must climb in order to reach Galicia, the province wherein lies Santiago de Compostela. This first climb is not a particularly steep one; that comes in about five days’ time, but we will have a rest day to gather our energies beforehand. For today, with cool but sunny weather forecast, there didn’t seem to be a need to rush out early. Accordingly, we took advantage of a decent breakfast buffet and left at about 0815, with an extra layer to keep us warm in a temperature of around 11°C.

As usual, you can see a summary of the day – route and photos – in a Relive video.

A short distance from the hotel we came across another wonderful mural.

I suppose the technology to put this kind of display up must be digital in some way – I can’t imagine an artist painting it by hand – but however it’s done, it looks spectacular.  Just by it was another trompe l’oeuil mural, much smaller, but nice to look at and quite possibly hand-painted.

The Camino route took us past the Cathedral, where I managed to get a photo of the whole building, in a lovely morning light.

So when I said yesterday that it wasn’t possible to get far enough away from it to take a photo of it, I was wrong; what I should have said was that I wasn’t paying attention because I was distracted by the Gaudi Palace which is just to the right of the picture above.

As we walked out of Astorga, we passed a modern church building, Iglesia de San Pedro de Rectivía.

When we travelled around Iceland, we collected photos of many Interesting Churches there, and the architecture alone of this one qualifies as Interesting; what is more Interesting is that the front is decorated in mosaics – possibly a nod to the Roman roots of the city.

It’s fantastic piece of work and a delight to see.  I suspect that the interior is Interesting, too; the side windows looked as if they had modern stained glass in them.

We moved on into open country, with very clear visibility,

emphatically not a usual characteristic of Walker holidays, passing the Ermita del Ecce Homo

and stopping for coffee in Murias de Rechivaldo, whose church had a stork’s nest fit to bring down the church bell tower.

The main Camino route carries basically along the road, but we took a detour, as suggested by both the Brierley book and our WalkTheCamino online map, so took a side track

that led to Castrillo de los Polvazares, a village that has been rebuilt by artisans in the traditional Maragato style.  It’s very photogenic, so I, erm, took lots of photos. To save you from having to look through them all, I put them in a Flickr album, which you can view by clicking this image.

Castrillo de los Polvazares

Here’s a little taster for you.

It’s photogenic and it’s attractive; but it was also stone dead. There are loads of restaurants but nothing open for the thirsty pilgrim, and there’s a largish car park outside, so I guess it’s a destination for meals out and tourists. So it felt a bit weird; slightly fake in some way, even though the buildings are real buildings and people really live there.

As we carried on, we could see the next village, Santa Catalina de Somoza, in the distance.

Whilst not as pretty, it was not unattractive, and also exhibited the Maragato style,

but, more to the point, had a (open) coffee stop

in an albergue which had an attractive courtyard inside.

Refreshed, we carried on on a track which basically followed the road to our destination

and was littered with pilgrims and various retail opportunists.

The official Camino route led round the periphery of the next village, El Ganso; but we Jane had read that this was a crumbling village that was gradually being brought back to life on the back of Camino business, so we instead walked through on the road in search of refreshment and an opportunity to spend our tourist Euros.

Indeed there was a shop and bar there and we treated ourselves to a proper tourist ice lolly of a sort not dissimilar to, and just as messy to eat as, a Magnum. That’s four whole Euros in the pocket of the lucky proprietor and we felt better for our support for the local economy.

The track passed a section of wire netting which pilgrims had adorned with makeshift crosses, just as we had seen some three weeks ago as we headed into Navarrete.

There was a short, sharp and rocky ascent at one stage but for the rest of our walk we followed the roadside track to our destination, which is an attractive place, albeit quite a steep walk up the main drag.

Our accommodation, El Refugio,

offers a restaurant as well as decently-sized and organised bedrooms, so we availed ourselves of a lunch there

which was not only enjoyable, despite being quite simple, but also gave us Jane an idea or two of culinary things to try when we get home.

Which is in less than three weeks, by God! We have the first climb to finish, which we will do tomorrow as we head to Molinaseca, the longest of any of our Camino segments, at around 26km, with a further 400m to ascend and then, probably more demanding, 900m to descend. After a few days we do the Difficult Climb to O Cebreiro and into Galicia, at which point we will be less than150km from Santiago.

For today, though, our stats. We walked 22km and climbed nearly 340m.  Our total distance covered so far is therefore 550.8km, just over 340 miles. Our knees and quads will likely be suffering at the end of the next stage, so please feel free to come back and have a laugh at our expense once I report in these pages, won’t you?



6 thoughts on “Camino Day 27 – Astorga to Rabanal del Camino: start of the climbs

  1. Judy

    When you mentioned churches in Iceland, of which you saw many, it made me realise just how big a part religion plays, and has played, in the world.
    Keep well! Xx

  2. Karin Wennas

    I liked Rabanal, but mainly because it was there I stayed at the cutest guesthouse on the whole camino.
    I’m impressed by all the details you see and take photos on. I just walked by soooo many of them, I guess I saw other things. I “drank” the landscape, and took photos of animals I met etc. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the buildings. But the murals I saw! They’re really amazing!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.