Tag Archives: Castrojeriz

Camino Day 17 – Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino. A short one before The Long One

Sunday 3 September 2023 – We exploited the facilities at Emebed Posada mercilessly to make many, many mugs of Twining’s finest Earl Grey before retiring for a comfortable night and a relaxed start this morning, given that we have a shortish walk of “only” 20km or so. Margarita was as charming as ever, despite having been awake since 3am to see whether her son’s girlfriend – Miss Bogota! – had succeeded in her quest for election. Sadly, no, but still Margarita oversaw a nice breakfast – excellent croissants – and, of course, more of Twining’s finest. So it was 0800 before we started out on a cool morning.  Yesterday we had worn shoes (Merrills) for the walk because of the threat of rain, and neither of us found them as comfortable as Tevas, so we decided to revert to sandals and hope that any rain would not be overwhelming. (Spoiler alert – it wasn’t).

Having done our homework, we knew that the route today involved a reasonably stiff, albeit not overly long, climb.  It wasn’t long before we saw what we were in for:

and, indeed, it was quite steep – 12% –

and it was quite gratifying that neither of us found a couple of kilometres of this gradient to be particularly challenging.  The views on the way up were decent,

and it was interesting to note the terrain; it looks as if at one stage the escarpment was terraced.

We reached the top, as one does if one keeps going,

and could just make out the castle on the top of the Castrojeriz hill.

There’s a short level stretch at the top leading to a mirador.  We wondered if we could see a decent view from  it, and the answer is, of course, “Yes. We. Cairn.”*

The descent, at 18%, is even sharper than the ascent

and leads down to a trail across a level plain

which, I suspect, is going to be the default scenery for the quite some distance as we head towards Léon. In a previous post I questioned whether this might be boring, but our experience so far is that, while the scenery might be unvarying, it’s not dull; furthermore, walking in it is not tedious, as we get pleasure from just the exercise and mental benefit from being outdoors. I should also add that our preparation for the Camino involved us walking the same 10km of Surrey roads and paths multiple times, so we’re accustomed to unvarying landscapes whilst still enjoying the exercise.

The winding path ahead gave me a chance to attempt more photos to convey the idea of “the path ahead”

but it wasn’t all unrelieved wheat and sunflower fields. We found alfalfa and turnips, too, for example.

OK, yes, there were other landmarks, too:

Ermita San Nicolás

Puente Fitero, a nine-arch 17th century bridge ordered by Alfonso VI of León

Nice view from the bridge

Shortly after the bridge one approaches a possible coffee stop, Itero de la Vega. (This prompted me to wonder what “vega” translates to in English; the answer seems to be “meadow”, which means that possibly the most ironic city name in the world is Las Vegas.)  You can tell in the Meseta when you’re aproaching a village, as the landscape changes – in this case, to woodland, some of which is not wild, but a formal plantation.

We were walking past this with a Canadian chap we’ve encountered and chatted with on occasion; he declared that he was going to whizz his drone along the lanes between the trees, in an Ewok kind of way. We wished him good luck and left him to it!

We had another encounter with Moaning Minnie on the bridge, where she was sure to tell us all about the art gallery she was going to be staying in that night in Frómista, and again in the coffee stop, where she managed to gather no fewer than three other people around her (including Jane whose generosity of spirit is to be commended) to help her with a foot problem. She’s beginning to sound like Louise the Limpet, a similar sort of character that another hiker and kayaker that we know has promised to Tell All About Soon.

As well as a bar, Itero de la Vega has a couple of interesting corners.

As we entered the village, some pale sunshine was beginning to throw our shadows in front of us.  When we left after coffee, however,

it had clearly rained quite heavily and was indeed still raining a bit, so we adopted rain jackets for a while until it became clear that life would be more comfortable without them; the wind had changed from foe to friend, in that instead of being uncomfortably chilling in cool termperatures it was now nicely cooling as the day warmed.

We were passed on the next stretch by another Pilgrim Under Sail,

though the wind direction and strength meant that this chap was heading downwind and was therefore in danger of an accidental gibe, which, as any sailing person will know, can be very uncomfortable.

Other notable sights included:

evidence that no-one really knows how  long the Camino Francés actually is or how much of it still lies ahead – this sign occurred about 4km after the one saying 455km; a canal,

the Canal del Pisuerga, part of a network of 18th century canals which helps feed the immense agriculture of the area; and the occasional Nice View.

Soon after that we saw our destination for the day, Boadilla del Camino,

a small village which might be more extensive than San Juan de Ortega (almost everywhere is) but still boasts (apart from the inevitable church, of course) only one bar, one hotel and one albergue – and they’re all basically the same place.

At a distance, we were a bit puzzled by the construction second from left in the above photo. It turned out to be some kind of ruins of a mud construction,

perhaps the forerunner of the buildings that now surround it.

Boadilla looks like a fairly random collection of ramshackle buildings as you approach,

mainly because it is, largely.  It has its quirks, though,

a charming Ayuntamiento (Town Hall),

huge church

with, engagingly, at least one stork’s nest on its tower

and a rollo which is definitely in the lead for the prize of Top Camino Rollo 2023.

Our hotel, “En El Camino” – “On the Camino” – is behind the rollo.  It also encompasses an albergue off to the left of the picture; together these comprise the entire eating and drinking  Scene of the town.  I had expected of the hotel something a lot more basic, but we have a comfortable room, were able to have a decent (not Nice, but nice) lunch, and could get gin and hot water for tea at the bar. What more could one ask for?

There was one moment of abject terror, as I sat in the hotel bar to start writing this page – Moaning Minnie Checked In!!! Maybe her foot problems had meant a change to her original plan for the day. Whatever, I was reduced to the Very British Problems approach – keep the head down in the phone and tablet and hope not to be clocked. It seemed to work, and I think she’s in the albergue. I know I’m being craven but I simply can’t face the idea of talking having to listen to her.

In the restaurant over lunch we saw today’s mystery object.

I’m tempted to run a quiz, but I’ll save you the agony.  It’s a horse-drawn threshing machine; sharp fragments of stone embedded in a wooden structure to be dragged over a harvest crop, it collects the wheat and allows the chaff to blow away in the wind.

The stats for the day: we covered 20.0km, therefore 343.4 in total, or 213 miles. We climbed 238m and descended 274m, by the way.

Tomorrow is the most challenging day since our 27km walk into Burgos. We have to cover about 26km to get to Carrión de los Condes. The challenge is longitudinal, not vertical, and it would be good to get there without being quite as tired as we were on reaching Burgos.  The weather prospects are uncertain – as I finish writing this a thunderstorm is thunderstorming outside! For the morrow, Accuweather says that rain will die down from 8am, others are less sanguine. So I suspect we’ll see what’s actually happening outside the window when we wake to decide how to handle the day. In any case I will report back; I’m just not quite sure when.  Stay in touch and you’ll see how things develop.


* Sorry, Mr. President. Couldn’t resist it.

Camino Day 16 – Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz. A grey day turned golden evening

Saturday 2 September 2023 – As we retired after yesterday’s lovely sunny day, the prospect of rain seemed distant.  At 0430, with the rain stuttering down on the velux in our room, less so. It was clear we were in for a Wet One. The forecast included high winds and storms, but not starting until later in the day, so we hoped that by leaving reasonably promptly we would reach Castrojeriz and that le déluge would be après nous.

If you’d like just to see the summary and some photos, you can watch the Relive video. Otherwise, read on….

Accordingly, at 0740 we donned rain jackets for us and rain covers for our backpacks and set out.

It was raining, but not heavily or unpleasantly; and it was quite cool.  We had a long, steady but not too steep climb for about 3km until we reached a plain, across which the wind fair whistled.

It became clear that wind was, indeed, the third crop of the area alongside wheat and sunflowers. The wind accompanied us for the whole of the first half of the walk, together with brief and fairly light rain showers, as we crossed this plain, being overtaken by someone who was slightly better equipped than us for the conditions

being, apart from anything else, under sail. His heading along the path was approximately a broad reach, which anyone familiar with sailing will know is the fastest bearing.

The scenery over the plain was pretty much unvarying and devoid of many photography-worthy instants, so I was reduced to trying to find interesting studies of the ubiquitous wind farms

and generally making the most of thin gruel, photographically speaking.

A cross

More crosses

Maltese Cross

At least we have less than 500km to go

We passed an isolated albergue, San Bol, which is in the middle of nowhere and apparently a really sought-after stop on the Camino, presumably for people who like to Get Away From It All,

and it turned out that it was just as well that we hadn’t planned to stop at the first coffee bar indicated on the map.

However, the second possible coffee stop, at Hontanas (the only village on the route) turned out to be a goer. The village is in a valley,

which gave us a rest both from the relentless wind and the sameness of the landscape.

The rest of the walk was in more sheltered conditions and led past some noteworthy landmarks.  First up was a ruined tower

and this was followed shortly after by a ruined convent, the convent of San Anton, which is altogether a more dramatic affair.

It was owned by a community of monks of the little-known Hospital Brothers of Saint Anthony, or Antonines, a Roman Catholic congregation founded in the late 11th century, with the purpose of caring for those suffering from the common medieval disease of ergotism, or Saint Anthony’s fire.

I particularly like what they’ve done to disguise the water tank and the vending machine.

Very shortly after leaving the convent ruins we caught our first sight of Castrojeriz, with its hilltop castle and the Museum of the former Collegiate Church of Santa María del Manzano seen on the right-hand side of the picture.

The collegiate museum is a substantial building

with an important collection of cultural and religious artefacts and an imposing interior.

There is some early printed music, which I find particularly interesting to see.

And then we were in Castrojeriz, a sizeable and, for the most part, handsome town.

The cross on the left, above, is a Tau Cross, which was a variant of the traditional version adopted by the Antonines.

Our accommodation is the delightful Emebed Posada, located on the Plaza Mayor. We were welcomed by the charming Margarita, who let us check in despite the fact that we were early, showed us around and provided the makings of a Nice Cup Of Tea, which was extremely welcome. The hotel is a refurbished 19th-century lord’s house, and has some original furnishings and a lovely lounge with a spectacular view, where I currently sit writing this.

Margarita also recommended a local restaurant for lunch, based in a hotel, El Mesón de Castrojeriz. We got there and it was clearly very full.

We actually arrived at the same time as moaning Minnie and a compatriot, and somehow or other managed to simultaneously (a) avoid having to talk to them and (b) score a table to ourselves in an overflow area, where we were served a Nice Lunch with excellent and brisk service.  We’ve been very well looked after everywhere here; it’s-a nice-a place. The promised storms didn’t materialise and it turned into a lovely golden evening.

Here’s the stats update.  Today was 21.6km, bringing the total to 323.4km – 201 miles. Crikey!

Tomorrow we have a slightly shorter walk of about 19km, to Boadilla del Camino.  It looks rather as if it will be somewhat tougher going than today; once again the weather is forecast to be pretty rough tomorrow afternoon, so we hope to get there before we get a soaking. Poles out, rain jackets at the ready! Check back to see how we got on, won’t you?