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:
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),
a 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.