Tag Archives: Countryside

Camino Finisterre Day 9: Muxía to Quintáns – Normal service resumed

Friday `10 May 2024 – So, the burning question was: would I feel I could cope with a 10km walk?

Actually, I did.

Our hotel room was very warm, so we didn’t have a particularly comfortable night. Despite that, however, the auguries were good that I was recovering from my digestive meltdown: I was hungry! Breakfast was at 8am, also the time we like to make our bags available for collection, and so we headed down for a leisurely, and in my case, quite sizeable breakfast.

The lack of a way to cool the room was the only significant detraction from my view that this has been the best hotel so far, particularly for being well-organised. The breakfast room was no exception, nicely laid out in a way that allowed for a decent buffet whilst still feeling spacious for those at the tables.

A couple of noteworthy points: firstly, there is a rather shocking picture on the far wall.

It depicts the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Boat, the one at the headland that we saw yesterday, in the 2013 lightning-strike fire that destroyed it.  It’s been rebuilt remarkably well, as we saw yesterday.

Secondly, the background music took a trend that we’d previously noted to an extreme.  The trend is to play cover versions of well-known pop songs, usually in a totally inappropriate style, often sung in English by someone who clearly doesn’t understand the words. We’ve heard a bossa nova version of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, for example. But the hotel absolutely took the biscuit today by playing a smooth, salon-jazz version of Pink Floyd’s Time. It was so incongruous that it took me ages to work out why I vaguely recognised the words but couldn’t place the piece.

For walking, the forecast was great – sunny and about 19°C – so I decided to undertake the walk and we thought that we could have a lesisurely departure, since the distance was short, there was little point in arriving early and we wouldn’t have to worry about overheating.  So I used the time before our departure to sort out my walking poles, since the profile of the day’s walk was somewhat up-and-down.

It’s not too extreme – the ascents are only 100m or so – but the slope is 1 in 10, I was recovering and out of practice at hills; so sticks were the order of the day, for me at least.  I checked mine over to make sure that the little plastic pots, the “ferrules”, that cover the spikes at the bottom of the poles, were still in place.  I’d once carelessly lost one on some ascent or other, and Jane (who, of course, had organised some spares) was grudging in her willingness to hand out replacements.  So I took care today to ensure that I wouldn’t upset the Ferrule Godmother. [One?? Hah! Several!! – Ed]

And so we set off.  It was almost immediately clear that the extra layers we’d donned were going to be unnecessary; there was a cool breeze, but hot sunshine as we bade goodbye to Muxía

and started the first climb.

It led past the Capela de San Roque de Moraime

which didn’t look interesting enough to detain us, and on, through some interesting-looking pines

and past a Fonte which looked like it was also once a lavadoiro,

into a village, Moraime, where we’d notionally planned to have our first coffee stop.  Sadly, La Taberna was Spanish Open, so we didn’t get our coffee. But we did get a chance to look around the monastery there,

which is from the 12th Century and which is a very fine place to pop into. It has an impressive entrance portico

and a splendid interior.

A very significant item of interest there is the frieze which runs all the way along the north wall and which is in remarkably good nick.  Here is a stitch of three photos covering it; it’s not perfect but I hope it gives you an idea.

and here is the official explanation – it represents the seven deadly sins,

from left to right: pride, greed, anger, lust (my personal favourite, ever since Raquel Welch), gluttony, envy and sloth, with death awaiting them on the right.

Our next port of call was Os Muiños, which thinks enough of itself to have erected a Town Name

and which is appealing enough

but, most importantly, had a café which was Open Open, and which served us coffee, juice and beer, all of which were very welcome.

We carried on, along a path with some nice views

which led into woodland, through which we could have seen a beach if it weren’t for the trees in the way.

At about the point where we could see clear across the bay to Camariñas,

and I was busy taking photos of a nice flower arrangement,

we noticed a line of something in the water.

It seemed to stretch a long way,

almost across to where we could just make out the Muxía lighthouse, and we wondered if it was some kind of fish farming frame.  Nothing shows on the satellite picture of Google Earth, but on the other hand the town from which it stretches, Merexo, is home to Stolt Sea Farm, an industrial-scale purveyor of turbot.  Maybe the two are connected?

The countryside around there is very attractive, particularly on a sunny day

and, as we passed the scene above, we wondered if we could catch sight of the bonkersly-large horreo de San Martin that we’d seen on our day trip last Autumn. In the distance, we could see something that might be it.


Yes, that thing.

It’s clearly a big horreo, but we couldn’t see it clearly enough to count the legs. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the one we were looking for, but read on anyway.

The village of San Martiño is home to a substantial church, the Iglesia de San Martiño de Ozón.

As with many of the churches we’ve seen, it has a cemetery around it, and I went to have a look whilst Jane panted quietly in the shade for a bit.

It’s an impressive sight, with quite a contrast between the older memorial markers,

which are decoratively weathered, and the more modern ones

which are identical, but look less interesting because they haven’t weathered at all.

The rest of San Martiño has some very attractive little corners

and the utterly huge 16th-century horreo de San Martiño de Ozon. I posted a photo or two of it last Autumn, but it’s impressive enough to be worth showing again.

It is one of the largest in Galicia, running to 27m in length and having no fewer than 22 pairs of legs. Its large size is because it belonged to the clergy, which imposed a tithe of the crops of the farmers of the parish -10% of the total harvest – and thus they needed a large place to store it all. Apparently, it now “stores” volunteers working in the community. It’s a great photographic subject.

We were by this stage quite close to our destination, the village of Quintáns. The final surprise the walk had for us was this snack vending machine, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

I think it’s linked to a nearby albergue. Anyway, this brought us to our pension for the night,

the Plaza, which, despite our arriving at about 2pm, wasn’t going to offer food until 8pm.  Still, it has a bar, and where there’s a bar there’s gin and maybe some crisps or something. The view from our room is rather nice

and we’re hoping for a comfortable night before heading on tomorrow. The forecast is for cooler, cloudier weather, but no rain; hopefully an ideal day for covering the 13 or so kilometres to Dumbria, our next port of call.


Camino Finisterre, Day 8: Lires to Muxía – Mainly Jane Again In Spain

Thursday 9 May 2024 – I was feeling better than yesterday, but discretion, valour, you know?  So once again we formulated a plan whereby Jane would do the hard yards on foot while I would do the easy kilometres in a taxi.  The weather prospects for the day

seemed similar to yesterday’s, which made a prompt start desirable (for her, at any rate), and so she departed at about 8.30am, leaving me to skulk first in my room and then in the hotel bar, which, for some reason, features a counterintuitively massive meat fridge.

I skulked until it was time to catch a taxi (and, it must be said, see what fallout there might be from eating moderately for breakfast, something of a novelty for the last days. Spoiler alert: no fallout; phew!). As yesterday, I have nothing to add about the journey, so here’s Jane….

It was much cooler and lightly overcast when I started out, leaving Lires and heading off on woodland and farmland paths of varyingly good going…

There were some striking sights along the way

and much evidence of spring planting and preparation.

I walked for a while behind this interesting variation on a horse-drawn carriage…

I wondered if the farmer was taking her to be shod, as she didn’t appear to have shoes and he was positioning the tractor very carefully as he drove so that she could walk where possible on the grassy verge, and avoid areas of broken road surface. [Not shoddy treatment, then – Ed (temporary)]

The way was unremarkable in many ways, although there were some great photo opportunities…

until the steepish bit up to the high point of the walk on Monte Lourido.

What goes up must come down, and the views opened up all around as the way descended (with what appeared to be a forest fire in the distance).

There were abrupt changes in the quality of the surface –

not so much of a problem for me on foot, but a bit of a sharp intake of breath for these Italian bicigrinos!

At a spring on the outskirts of Muxía this chap was doing his keep fit exercises, before filling his water bottle and passing me on his way back into town.

The descent into the town skirts the beautiful Praia de Lourido, with the less then beautiful (IMHO) Costa da Morte Parador on the slopes above.

The town is not particularly noteworthy, although there are some interesting murals

and the harbour area is quite picturesque.

I reached our hotel before Steve wafted in, so was able to check in and await his arrival.

Ah – here he is now!

The taxi ride passed without incident, except the one which happened before it started.  At 1235, I asked the nice lady behind reception at the hotel to request a taxi to take me to Muxía, and she told me it would be there in 20 minutes.  Accordingly, at 1255, I was sitting outside the hotel, ready to depart, and a taxi rolled up.  He looked grumpy when I approached and said, in my best Englishman-abroad-attempt-at-communicating-with-the-locals, “Muxía?”  I was disconcerted when he simply replied “no” and walked off into the hotel.  I thought at first he was going to, as it were, pick me up inside the hotel, but actually he’d just rocked up for a coffee. I sat back down, somewhat disconsolately, wondering if there’d been a cock-up, when another taxi turned up, and it turned out to be mine. The journey proceeded at Spanish taxi pace, i.e. slightly faster than is (a) legal or (b) comfortable.

Once we were both safely ensconced at the Hotel a de loló, we could relax for a while before going out for lunch.  For a change, there was no worry about finding a meal, as María, on the front desk, had pointed us at a restaurant, A Marina, whose kitchen was open all day.  The room was one of those excellent, well-organised hotel rooms which are not expansive, but which are beautifully designed to have all that’s reasonably needed, all reasonably within reach.  That included a kettle! We were thus able to treat ourselves to a Nice Cup Of Tea. When we were in Finisterre, Jane had spotted some local Earl Grey,

so, in order to conserve our precious stocks of Twining’s finest, we tested out this “precious black tea” and found it to be satisfactorily restorative, giving us the energy to go to lunch. Then we went for a walk. Obviously. (It’s so nice to be able to type that, as today is the first day I’ve felt capable of walking with any degree of pleasure, dignity or pace since Monday.)

Lunch was also an opportunity to reintroduce my digestive system to proper food (OK, and gin), in an experiment which – so far, writing some hours later – seems to have been a success, or at least not a noisome failure.  Before we embarked on the walk, we picked up our Compostelae Muxiannae, our certificates for completing what, in our case, is Phase II of III.  And I suppose it’s somewhat cheating for me to claim a Compostela, since I didn’t actually walk the whole way.  So sue me.

Our objective for the walk was to go to the “0 km” post which marks the Muxía end of the Camino, by the sanctuary dedicated to the virgin.  As with Finisterre, we visited last Autumn, but by bus.  The site is quite impressive, as you’ll have noticed from the video I shot last year.

Last year we had approached the site from the coach park, which, obvs, is designed to show the whole area to its best advantage, and I was very taken with the charisma of the place, and left with the impression that it was somehow on a remote promontory.  This year, though, we just walked 10 minutes up the road from the town, and discovered that it isn’t.

You just walk up the road and there you are.  It’s still a lovely site, though.

On the way there we passed the Igrexa de Santa María de Muxía, which is the site of a yearly pilgrimage every September,

and, rather less spiritually, drying rails for conger eels,

which are arranged in a square, rather than the conger line I’d expect.

We spent a few minutes at the site reacquainting ourselves with its Camino-related aspects, but particularly, of course, the “0 km” marker, to show we’d completed this stage.

There are other decent views across the site, too,

including the “sail rock”, which was part of the stone boat supposedly sailed there by the virgin Mary to reassure St. James that his work was successfully completed.  The Camino is full of symbolics like this.

We walked back into town round the other side of the headland, past dry stone walling which we at first thought might have been the remains of ancient habitations

but, it soon turned out, were simply allotments.

One final conger eel rack

and we were back at the hotel, getting ourselves outside more of Sir Winston’s finest.

The morrow?  Too soon to be certain, but the omens are favourable; tonight will be the acid test, possibly in a literal manner, as to whether my digestion really was ready for that meal.  If it turns out that it was, I think I might be ready to rejoin Jane on the road as we walk the 10km or so to Quintáns. If she’ll have me, that is. It’s a short walk and, one hopes, not too arduous. The current forecast for the weather is (whisper it) good, with cooler temperatures but no rain. So, stay tuned and see how the day unfolds, OK?

Cami de Cavalls day 4 – Arenal Lane*

Thursday September 16 2021 – Yesterday’s walk combined two stages and was quite long; designed, presumably, to break our spirit so that we were less likely to be a nuisance over the fortnight. Today’s, Stage 3, looked to be shorter and easier, running from Favàritx to Arenal; and we would end up at our overnight accommodation, so didn’t need a pick-up at the far end and therefore had no particular constraints on our schedule. We had, however, rashly decided, when we met the Cami360 team on Tuesday, to start the day at 0730, since that would get us out walking before the heat of the day established itself.

(As yesterday, by the way, if you want the tl;dr of the day, you can watch it in about 2 minutes on Relive.)

So it was that the 0600 alarm woke us with something of a groan, particularly when we saw that the forecast was for a much cooler day than yesterday and one that featured rain. (In the end, though, an early start was a good idea – see later.) The breakfast, like other aspects of the hotel, was workmanlike rather than fancy, but at least we managed some decent tea (because it was ours) and marmite on toast (because the marmite was ours).

David from Cami360 turned up on a schedule that the Spanish would call prompt but which we wouldn’t, quite; but given how torturous it is to navigate a big van through the tortuous narrow roads in Mahón, I guess we should cut him some slack. Anyhoo, just before 0800, in a drizzle that one hardly noticed, we were at the start – not quite at Favàritx, as the Cami360 team spared us a couple of kilometres of yomping along a boring road. So we actually got going on the track.

We passed a hedgehog plant, which is apparently a thing here in the Balearics

although it doesn’t look like a hedgehog anything like as much as something we saw yesterday which is not, apparently, a hedgehog plant. Go figure.

Generally the scenery was pretty wild

but, as yesterday, varied considerably during the day. We passed some old fortifications

and the first part of the walk generally led us up and down from cove to cove over headlands.

We saw more evidence than yesterday of the work that goes into maintaining the trail. I found this little vignette rather amusing.

I mean, it makes sense, but just looks a little odd to have a horse prohibition on a horse trail. The other end of that duckboard was even more amusing

as I couldn’t imagine getting a horse to walk on the blocks under any circumstances. These blocks were actually not uncommon today, and provided a way to cross dips which were dry, but I could imagine being difficult in wet conditions.

Other things we passed: a well;

a distant view of the substantial hill in the middle of the island, Monte Toro, Menorca’s highest point;

further evidence of track maintenance work;

and some nice views, as the landscape changed quite dramatically to salt marshes.

The rock here is very obviously sandstone, and in places has collapsed quite dramatically

and been eroded into odd shapes that look as if they’ve been artificially extruded from some giant tube.

In places it was very clear that we were right beside a river

(we were glad to find a diversion round that!). The river debouched into an inlet and we climbed a little, which gave us a nice view over the scene.

The sun even came out (we’d been lucky in that only a few drops of rain had fallen on us thus far).

And we came across the first evidence of civilisation on today’s section of the trail as we reached Addaia.

Our interactive map mentioned a cafe on our path, and we’d been quietly looking forward to a coffee and/or a beer, even though we weren’t too far from our eventual destination. Sadly, it wasn’t open. We think that’s because we were too early – it was around 1045 at this point and 1100 seemed to be the popular opening time in those parts. Serves us right for starting too early, I guess.

So, perforce, we pressed on. The official Cami route from Addaia to Arenal is entirely on paved roads and is only about 3km. Our booklet suggested a “hiker’s diversion” and the map showed a path that veered from the road towards the coast before rejoining the official Cami on the outskirts of Arenal. We decided to try this, and so ended up blundering about looking for a path in some very random scrub.

We did make it to the coast

but the path that led us back towards Arenal suddenly vanished beside a wall, so we scrambled about in a very undignified fashion trying to find a way through the scrub, and, to our credit, managed to find a way through, though a machete would have been a handy tool to have at our disposal. And so we rejoined the main Cami and got to Arenal, which is a significant town with a significant beach and a significant tourist presence to match.

We passed our overnight accommodation, the White Sands Beach Club, on our way to the official end of today’s stage. Having completed the stage, we took a sneak peek at the start of tomorrow’s walk

before retracing our steps the short distance to the White Sands.

We had something of a frisson of apprehension when the nice Dutch lady on the reception of this frankly enormous resort disclaimed all knowledge of Jane, me or Fred Holidays. It turned out that there had been some confusion in bookings and Jane’s name had been included with someone called Charlotte Hayward. Well, I hope that’s the story, otherwise Jane and I Need To Have A Conversation About This. The frisson nearly went away when the names thing had been sorted out, but then returned as it transpired that check-in time was 4pm and it was barely one o’clock at this stage – another penalty accruing from an early start. But Hiske, the receptionist, was very helpful and sorted us out a room that was immediately available, much to our relief. And the room turned out to be a suite; I have no idea where it stands in hierarchy of luxury here, but it suited us very well, with lots of room for everything and – bliss! – a kettle. With some handy little milk containers in the fridge we were able to make a Nice Cup Of Tea, which was wonderful.

We were also able to shower and change, and eventually headed out in search of lunch and a supermarket, the latter necessary because our accommodation is room-only, so we have to forage for our own breakfast. As we stumbled about trying to read Google Maps in bright sunshine to locate the supermarket, Jane spotted a restaurant called the Good Bridge Cafe, which looked to have a terrace with a great view. It was also just by a supermarket, and I notice that it’s rated #2 among restaurants in Arenal on Tripadvisor, so it was a nice piece of serendipity that took us there. After a good lunch and a couple of drinks we felt sufficiently restored to risk a trip to the supermarket, and thence back to our room for a siesta.

And that brings you up to date so far. We shall feast tonight on the ham and bread that we bought in the supermarket, and tomorrow on the bread and banana that we also bought, supplemented by copious supplies of Earl Grey tea with supermarket milk. We drain the cup of life to its dregs, we really do.

Before I go, here are the stats of the day:

  • Mileage covered – 9.62 (Garmin), 8.6 (OutdoorActive)
  • Vertical ascent 187m (Garmin – I don’t trust OutdoorActive on this)

Tomorrow’s part of the trail is going, if the booklet is to be believed, to be a little easier than today’s; and once again the trail ends at our planned accommodation; so the day will be our oyster. Thank you for reading this far; and do come back tomorrow to see how we got on?

* I thought this was quite a witty title until it got an Old-Fashioned Look from the distaff side. I explained that it is a pun on an early Pink Floyd song, “Arnold Lane”. It didn’t seem to go down that well, so I thought an explanation here might help. On the other hand, having to explain a joke rather ruins it. However pathetic, it’s the best I can do.