Tag Archives: Calzadilla de la Cueza

Camino Day 20 – Calzadilla to Sahagún: The road less gravelled

Wednesday 6 September 2023 – Here I am, once again addressing myself to the critically important things in life. Yup. I’m blogging from the launderette. We noticed it on the way to a Nice Lunch and so, having stuffed myself, I’ve now stuffed the washing machine.

Today has been a good day, generally – including doing the washing.  As my brother knows, getting the washing done when one is away from home for an extended period preys on the mind – these things are important, you know – and so the chance to have clean knickers and socks going forward is as much a contribution to the quality of life as a nice walk.

Which we had, today. If you’re in a bit of a hurry, you can watch the Relive video instead of reading on. Your call.

Still here? Oh, good. OK, then…

Our eccentric, somewhat threadbare and slightly charming hostal in Calzadilla de la Cueza provided an eccentric, somewhat threadbare and slightly charming breakfast (toasted croissant, anyone?) which we supplemented from our stock of Twining’s finest Earl Grey, and then departed some 15 minutes before sunrise; the forecast was for a dry day and temperatures not too hot – upper 20s Centigrade – but a prompt start in the cool seemed a good idea.

By and large, the Camino Francés route is unambiguously signposted.  However, the onward journey towards our destination, Sahagún, some 22km away, had several options.  The company who have organised all our baggage transfers along the way, walkthecamino.com, have also provided us with a personalised Google Map, showing our route and our hotels.  The map for this area looks like this,

with the hotel we had just departed bottom right.  Jane had, as ever, done her homework and reckoned that although the most straightforward route was simply walking beside the road, an alternative route through the countryside seemed a more attractive proposition, provided that it wasn’t too unfriendly to a sandals-and-socks approach. So it proved; the official Camino signposts pointed people along the right fork, on the route beside the road; so we struck out on the left fork across country. And were very glad we did so, too.

At first, the path provided a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an Autumnal walk in leafy Surrey

but soon returned to more familiar scenes for the area, meaning sunflowers, mainly.

Some of the sunflowers looked extremely dead and ready to harvest

and, given that there’s apparently a 90-120 day cycle from sowing to harvesting, I wonder whether we’ll see some harvesting action later in our walk, as we’d both like to see how it’s done.

We came across a handy stone map, which showed the various routes and reassured us that we weren’t off on a wild goose chase.

The landscape contrasted sharply with the flat, unvarying scenery that had accompanied yesterday’s walk. We had nice patterns in the harvested fields

and nice views as the path rose and dipped. We saw not a single soul (although we did see a deer).

Before long (well, about 7km) we saw our first coffee stop, in a village called Ledigos,

where, after the caffeine injection, we saw that the route bifurcated again.

We chose the principal path, as it seemed that the pilgrim’s path would simply continue alongside the road.  The morning light was lovely as we passed another dovecote

and we very soon reached the next village, Terradillos de los Templarios, at one stage a calling-in place for Knights Templar, but now lacking any of the historical buildings of those days. The only reminder now of those Good Old Days is a rather fine statue.

The significance of the place for us was that it’s recognised as the halfway point along the Camino Francés.  We’ve got a long way to go, but Look How Far We’ve Come!

We didn’t stop for a celebratory libation, but instead pressed on, as we still had some distance to cover and the day was warming up.

The various routes now combined and led us on through two more villages on our journey to Sahagún, and both were delightful, each in its own way. En route, we passed an unusual sight.

This is the first large-scale use of solar panels we’ve seen on our time in Spain so far, and we wonder why?  There’s so much sun, one would have thought it would be extremely cost-effective to set up solar farms all over. But no, apparently. Maybe just not yet?

We also passed the first evidence of farmers at work.

Bear with me on this; its relevance will become clearer later.

The first village we reached was Moratinos.  As we approached, it looked as if it had its own slag heap,

but as we got closer, we noticed what looked like chimneys sticking out of it.

A passing Spanish pilgrim explained that these were bodegas – cellars; there were several entrances around the mound, some in disrepair, but some in good shape.

The word “bodega” is firmly associated in my mind with wine; but there are no vines hereabouts.  In front of the mound, there was a sign which explained more. At one time there were vines around and these bodegas were used for the preparing and storing of wine – a perfect environment as, like a wine cellar in France, the temperature is unvarying. However, many owners moved away to work in the cities, and there are no longer many grapevines around. Apparently about three families in the village still make their own wine, but other bodegas are used for storage of food such as ham and cheese, or as party venues; or, sadly, are disused and hence dangerous to enter.

Just outside the bodegas is a refreshment stop,


but we decided to crack on, and turned the corner into a village square which was a delight.

Local ladies have crocheted or knitted many of these flags, but others have apparently been donated by women in Ireland, Portugal and the USA.

Outside the village there’s further evidence of the various versions of the total distance of the Camino, as these two signs were within a few metres of each other.

No matter – we’re over half way there and still enjoying every day.

En route to the next village, San Nicolás del Real Camino, we passed this charming sign.

This is something we’ve talked about with other pilgrims: the first bar in a village is the favourite to get the pilgrim business.  This chap was clearly taking pre-emptive steps to give his establishment a chance. The village appeared in a fold of the countryside

(and one of the houses had more bodegas outside it)

and so we deliberately passed by the first bar, outside which was this sign

and went to the second one.

Which was lovely.  We had coffee and juice (Jane) and beer (me – I needed the electrolytes) and the manager was very charming and gave us great service.

As we moved on, I realised that the countryside was gradually changing colour, from gold to brown

as more and more fields where the crop has been harvested are ploughed over.

We soon caught sight of Sahagún in the distance,

but still had a few kilometres to go to get to our hotel.  The path led past an Ermita, the Ermita de La Virgen del Puente

which had outside it a pair of statues.

At about this point the day had become quite hot and we were walking in the sun, so the rest of the journey to our hotel was a bit of a test of patience.  I tried not simply to wish that I was there, but to be patient and keep walking, in the certain knowledge that I would get there. I did, but not before tripping over a lump of concrete and skinning my knee. Patience, hah!

We checked into our hotel, the Hostal La Codorniz (so nearly some Cava) and got into one room before they realised their mistake and ushered us into another room (larger, fortunately), which we again vacated soon after for a neighbouring room because of an ominous sound of dripping water coming from behind one of the walls.

Then we went for a walk. Obviously.

Actually, the idea was to go for a Nice Lunch, at a restaurant called El Arco, recommended by a Swedish friend of ours who walked the Camino last year, and who is partly responsible for us doing it this year.  When you reach the restaurant, you realise, if you look to your right, why it’s called El Arco.

We did, indeed, have a Nice Lunch, and then walked back to our hotel via some of the various sights in the town.

The arch belongs to the (now ruined) Benedictine Monasterio de Santa Cruz

and the route back led us past the Plaza Mayor,

other principal churches,

as well as many murals.

It’s a bit whistle stop, but it was nice to see the extent and variety of buildings, architecture and artwork in the town.

Stats, then.  24.2km was recorded by Relive today.  It should have been a little less, but a small lapse of concentration led us off piste a short way.. However, 413.2km it is, just a smidge under 257 miles, and definitely over half way along.

Tomorrow sees us taking a shorter walk, about 13km to another Calzadilla, this one being of the de los Hermanillos variety. We’ll probably aim for an early start to get the best of the cool, even though temperatures forecast are not oppressively high – upper 20s again – and rain should not figure.

OK, I’ve done the washing now. time to close this entry off. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about today and will come back soon and read about tomorrow.

Camino Days 18 & 19 – Boadilla to Calzadilla: Carrión up the Camino

Tuesday 5 September 5 2023 – The observant among you will have noticed a missing day in the reporting.  This is the consequence of a trip down a Rocky road (see later) which left me unable to report on yesterday, Day 18.  Fortunately, Day 19 has been a bit short of notable content, so I can describe both days in a single post.

You can bypass the commentary by watching the Relives, if you’d like:

So: yesterday.

The weather forecast was not one to inspire great joy at the prospect of walking 26km.  Neither was looking out of the window at the driving rain at 7am. In Accuweather’s view of the world, the rain was due to ease after 8am, so we took a decision to delay our start in the hope that this would be the case, despite facing one of the longer walks in our Camino schedule. In the end, at 0845 we decided we shouldn’t delay any further, so we bade farewell to Eduardo, who had looked after us and everyone else with a charm that added greatly to the enjoyment of our stay in Boadilla.

As it happened, the rain ceased exactly as we left the hotel, which made our decision to walk in sandals and socks seem less like lunacy.  The town’s water tower wasn’t impressed, it seemed, though.

Wot? No Umbrella?

Eduardo it was who told us what yesterday’s mystery object

had been.  It was a dovecote, as were the other buildings surrounding it. We saw more as we left Boadilla.

These doves serve as a natural insecticide and fertiliser, hence the number of dovecotes.

Our path showed clearly the evidence of how much rain there had been.

The rain had thus far held off, which made our socks-and-sandals decision seem not too insane after all, even if some special effort was occasionally necessary to try to keep the feet dry.

There was even a little weak sunshine.

Our luck didn’t hold, though, and it started to rain as we joined the Canal de Castilla which took us towards Frómista, our first town and coffee stop. It seems that one can actually catch a boat from a boat stop to get along the canal,

but, even more so than the buses which run past our house into Woking, it’s not a frequent service.

There were a few things to see along the canal path: batboxes

carefully labelled so that any passing bird wouldn’t get the wrong idea about moving in;

infrastructure for using water abstracted from the canal for irrigation;

and, at Frómista, a lock.

This was quite a substantial affair,

though, looking at it in detail, it’s difficult to see how it could possibly be operational any more.

My main interest at this point was coffee; I’d been promised a Frómista coffee stop.

Jane’s main interest, however, can be seen in the background of the first of these pictures.  Frómista features a beautifully restored Romanesque church, San Martin de Tours.

Inside, there is a model of how the church looked before the restoration started,

and there are some beautifully-carved details, both restored

and recreated.

After spending some time looking around the church we carried on our journey towards Carrión de las Condes, crossing the motorway

and embarking on a straight path beside the road.

You can probably see where we’re going, here.  The rain had left the path dificult to navigate with dry feet, particularly if wearing socks and sandals.

In the end we abandoned the path and actually walked along the road; the traffic was very light and the surface was a lot less problematical to walk along.

There’s a decision point after a while; one can continue slogging along beside the road or one can take a path that follows a river. We decided on the latter, which led us through a town engagingly called Población de Campos

which has an enormous church.

The Camino then turns on to a path that goes bolt-straight for about four kilometres alongside quite a sophisticated irrigation system for the fields it borders.

There was a scent in the air which led us to believe that this path had recently been resurfaced. It was certainly easier to walk along than the roadside path.  As we walked along, the rain, which had been light but persistent for the last while or so, started to come down quite heavily.  So we were glad, at the end of this path, to find that the place for a planned lunch stop, El Chiringuito De Villovieco, was open, so we could sit and watch the rain for a while.

The place featured a (rather squalid, but reasonably functional) kitchen and we ordered some food,  Jane had a chicken salad sandwich which was OK, but my pizza was a very bizarre affair.  You’ll be glad that I don’t post photos of food, because it was an extraordinary combination of ingredients. I ate some of them and the place served gin, so all was not lost.

The rain eased back to light-but-persistent after a while and so we started out again, only to find that the nice surface we’d enjoyed was no longer available.

Walking along this in socks and sandals merely resulted in wet and muddy socks, but, to my surprise this really wasn’t a problem – OK my feet were a bit wet (all right, sodden), and somewhat heavier than I’d been used to.  What was a problem was the slipperiness of the mud, so when we had an opportunity to get back to the road we took it, past a couple of things that clearly had stories to tell, even if we couldn’t fathom them.

So we rejoined the straight path beside the road, which actually wasn’t too bad at this point; and it had even stopped raining.

It seemed to be appropriate only for vehicles if they had a very good ground clearance.

It led past a town called Villalcazar de Silgar, where we’d planned a final coffee stop to refuel for the last 5km or so into Carrión. This village also has a colossal church,

so big that it has double porticos.

Sadly, both of them were closed, so we didn’t get a chance to see what it was like inside – a real pity, I feel sure.  Having had our coffee (me) and smoothie (Jane), we walked past the village’s pilgrim statue

and rejoined our path which eventually became a dual carriageway just outside Carrión,

which seemed to be organising a “guess the monument” competition.

The town is quite a substantial one, and features an inordinate number of religious buildings, many of which are too big to photograph adequately.  We found our way to our hostal, feeling not too drained, despite having walked a distance which we had found very tiring when we covered it into Burgos.  Improved fitness and an extra coffee stop might be posible explanations; but it’s good to know that we can cover the distances without too much trouble.

Having settled in, we went for a walk. Obviously. It was somewhat curtailed by having to avoid moaning Minnie, who was out and about. It led us to explore a tapas bar, Bar España, which is where the wheels came off the day. In the bar was a Aussie lady (shortly to become a naturalised Brit) called Rocky, whom I had briefly chatted with back in Boadilla, when she bought all the pilgrims in the hotel bar a drink.  Of course I had to return the compliment, didn’t I? And, somehow, one drink didn’t seem quite enough, and so we had another.

And another.

And so on until it was time to try to get some sleep. This is why I didn’t write up the day.  It’s All Her Fault.

And so on to today.

After yesterday’s long kilometrage – 27.2, taking us up to 370.6, or 230 miles – today was light; just 17km, taking us to Calzadilla de la Cueza.  “Calzada” means “road” in English; “Calzadila” translates to “shoe” and “Cueza” to “cook”, according to Google.  So our destination is the cook’s shoe. Furthermore, the 17km is along an almost entirely straight and flat path. My expectations were thus set that, photographically speaking, the pickings would be slim. They were, it has to be said, largely met.

The forecast was for sunny weather, which meant that we had to apply sunblock for the first time in several days; the expected temperature was in the mid-to-high twenties, which is perfectly fine for walking in.

The route out crosses a major bridge

called, logically enough, Puente Mayor, past one of the principal religious buildings in Carrión, the Monasterio De San Zoilo

which is now the basis for a very posh hotel and which has a very fine portico on its side.

Soon, you leave the road for the Camino path

which is substantially bolt-straight and dead level for the next 15km.  There are highlights:

Excitement – a bend!

More excitement: an Abbey!

(still exciting, even though you can’t really see it). And then, sarcasm apart, something of real interest.

The next 12km are actually walked on an original Roman road, some 2,000 years old and untouched except for being surfaced with gravel.  It’s a real causeway, built up from the surrounding land.

and, again, pretty much bolt-straight, in the finest tradition of Roman roads, for the 12km.  Someone got out a fag packet once and, using the back of it, calculated that underpinning the surface is 100,000 tons of rock and stones. Given that the surrounding land is wetland, and devoid of stones, ths means that all of that rockery had to be brought in from elsewhere – a staggering logistical exercise.  I suppose that having a slave-based labour infrastructure helps, but it’s still an amazing piece of work.

It is dead straight.

The surrounding countryside is flat.

Very flat.

But walking along the path is not boring, even though there’s not a lot of variety in the scenery.  Simply making progress is quite satisfying, and one is out in nature which is accepted as being a Good Thing.  There were a few things that leavened the routine of quiet walking:  we were passed by a couple of guys on monowheels;

there are a couple of resting places

and a food truck;

and, eventually, a hill!

You need to be within a kilometre or so of Calzadilla before you notice any signs of habitation

and then

all of a sudden

there you are.

We found our accommodation, Hostal Camino Real, and Rocky almost simultaneously and there was quite a lot of comedy going on as we tried to check in while simultaneously explaining to the staff that Rocky wanted to put a drink behind the bar for us, a concept that I’m not sure exists in Spain.  The net of it was that we had one more drink with Rocky, who then had the strength of character to move on before the whole thing degenerated.  It very nearly did; the lad serving us didn’t understand the concept of a gin and tonic and seemed about to fill a sizeable glass with just gin before we managed to stop his pouring and diverted the excess into a second glass. Oh, how we laughed!

It was good to chat with Rocky again, and with luck we’ll meet her later on in our Camino, but who knows?  That serendipity is one of the things that marks walking the Camino out from other long excursions.

Today’s stats – Relive counted 18.4km passing us by, which might be a little high. But it’s what I’ve been using so far. That takes us to 389km – 241 miles plus a few yards.  One of the official figures for the length of the Camino Frances is 780km. This means that we expect to hit the halfway point tomorrow.  However, there are many different assessments of the overall length, so don’t get too carried away, OK?

Tomorrow we head for Sahagún, about 23km away, with prospects for decent weather again, which makes a nice change.  I’ll report on that when I can, at which point I hope I will once again have your company, dear reader.