View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Via de la Plata, to Montemarte

A far more interesting day despite the first few grim kilometres of tarmac needed to exit the town. 
Route advice from the Cicerone guide book, waymarks and helpful locals all added to the, er, interest. 
There were far more Milarios and other features today. One garden I passed had been converted into a shrine of sorts - with all manner of garden-gnome type stuff.  Actually very impressive! 
Roadside water taps were more apparent, these were not only water supplies for the villages but also as very important  supplies for thirsty Peregrinos. 
I'll re-post with more photos when I get home, most of my photos were taken on my camera rather than my phone. 

Via de la Plata, to Granja de Moreuela

After leaving the Albergue in El Cubo del Vino in the company of Frank from Frankfurt we headed north to Zamora - but not before  visiting the local bar for a quick beer and some tapas.
It was a very hot day and a hard slog into Zamora. This was once again an unremarkable journey - in stark contrast to the Cacares to Salamanca section which was very interesting indeed. 
Zamora is a fascinating city, one that really needs more than one day to explore properly.
That will have to wait for another time though. 
Frank and I shared a small room in the excellent Albergue close to the centre of town. 
The two Hospitaleras, Seranella and Maria, made all the Camino Pilgrims very welcome, feeding and watering us to within 2.54cm of our lives. 
There was no charge for this hospitality, just a request for a donation.  I hope I was generous. 
There were around 16-18 staying that night,  cyclists,  walkers and one runner who had set out from Salamanca earlier that day - a distance of 68 of yer foreign kilometers. He was only a bit tired when he got there.
The Hospitaleras had been warned he was en route and so had saved him a substantial meal - he made short work of it! 
Frank from Frankfurt headed off route today, he's fractured a bone in his r foot. The doc has advised a week off walking so he's probably going to Porto in Portugal for some R&R.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Via de la Plata

To Cubo de Tierra del Vino
This village takes it's name from it's vine growing heritage.
The hospitalero has vines growing around the front door of his Albergue. Last night at dinner the Camino Pilgrims staying at Albergue Torre de Sabre were treated to the local wines. Although I enjoyed a small glass of the stuff it was wasted on me - I'm not a great wine buff.

Back to the beginning of the day - where I should have started: 

I left the cozy Albergue in Calzada de Valdunciel at 7am in the good company of Patrice & Christina from Paris. Our joint plan was to visit the local eatery to grab some brekky before hitting the trail.

The sign on the door of the restaurant advertised an opening time of 7am - but it was not to be. The place was in total darkness. no desayuno or coffee for these hungry Peregrinos.

Although it had rained the previous night and the start of the day was quite cool, by 9am the sun was quite warm. It made for pleasant walking. 

It was 20km later before we found  refreshments and we took full advantage of it. An excellent little bar with a very flustered-looking barman who somehow managed to feed and water us whilst keeping the rest of his many customers happy. 

The day's route had been a mixture of quiet tarmac and Camino de Tierra - footpaths over rough ground. 

The only exciting thing we passed was the local High Security prison - and a just released prisoner hanging around outside hoping for a lift.

As we approached the village we were met by the hospitalero.  He was no doubt looking to make sure that any Camino Pilgrims went to HIS Albergue rather than the other ones in town. 

The Albergue was very comfortable and was really more of a Casa Rural. Huge meals of lunch, dinner, bed & breakfast were had for a whole €33. Beer and wine were included in the price. Pretty damned good value. 

8 Camino Pilgrims stayed the night: 2 Danes, 1 German ( the very entertaining Frank), 1 Spaniard, 2 French ( Patrice and Christina )..and me. The Spaniard was the only Peregrino cycling the Camino, the rest were walking. 

We all somehow managed to communicate using a mixture of sign language,  phrase books,  and in my case,  speaking slowly and loudly whilst waving my British passport. It seemed to work. 

A very pleasant evening followed with much jolly multilingual conversation. I think we all understood one another! 

Anyway, I am invited to a walking festival in Denmark next year. It's immediately prior to the Nijmegen 4 Days Marches ....and I'm seriously considering taking up the invitation. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Via de la Plata: To Calzada de Valdunciel

Afterwards a very bad night's kip (due to me listening to Jim Naughtie's 'Scotland Decides' on t'interweb wireless most of the night) I surfaced around 8am to the sound of hissing down rain lashing against my window.  

Unlike my first leg of the Camino two years ago, this time I had a proper waterproof and a rain cover for my pack. Both were put to good use. 

I diverted to the local Decathlon to buy a very lightweight fleece (€5!) because it had suddenly got much cooler. The weather was much nicer back in Timperley. 

Leaving Salamanca by the Bull Ring, the next 5-6 miles were on roads. Norralot of fun. 

My original plan was to leave Salamanca by bus in order to avoid the roads and the ugly outskirts of what is otherwise a beautiful city. I wish I'd stuck to that idea. Oh well. 

Once off the tarmac the route followed splodgy field paths and dirt-tracks to eventually arrive the little village of Calzada de Valdunciel: 1 shop (closed), 2 bars (open) and most importantly,  1 very cosy Albergue - my bed for the night.  For the princely sum of €5 I have a bunk bed, a simple kitchen and a hot shower.  Magic.

The village has a Casa Rural (a sort of B&B) but that was closed for the fumigacion. Lovely. 

I'm sharing the Albergue with a French couple who started their Camino in Saville where it was a cookingly hot 44degC. 

I could do with a meal but there's nothing to be had here until the morning.  I've got a couple of bread rolls so I'll tuck into them when I finish typing this up.

Today's walk wasn't particularly inspiring,  but I knew that was to be the case. I should have used the bus!

I just hope that the walk tomorrow will be more interesting. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Spanish Spain, in the beginning.

This trip so very nearly tripped at the first, second, third, fourth,
.... hurdles :

Hurdle 1: On Tuesday my debit card was comprised so I needed to get a replacement pronto. I managed to get a replacement card later that day.

Hurdle 2: On Wednesday, the day I set off on my trip, I found that my replacement debit card had been blocked by the bank. This delayed the buying of my tram ticket which made me miss a tram to Manchester. Oh, and an 'incident' on the tram network was delaying all the trams. A lot of buggering about later and I got to Manchester by the skin of my teeth to catch the express coach to Liverpool. 

Hurdle 3: There was no coach. 

An accident on the motorway. They said. 

There was a 20 minute delay. They said.

Hurdle 4, part 1: The coach arrived one hour and ten minutes later....only a bit longer than the 20 minute delay.  

Hurdle 4, part 2: The journey was scheduled to take 50 minutes and there would be no delays. They said. 

1 hour 20 minutes later the coach arrived at Liverpool Airport. 

This left 10 minutes to clear security and run to the departure gate. Easyjet don't wait for anyone.

Fortunately I'd booked priority boarding which sped the process considerably. I got to the departure gate in time and boarded the plane. Others weren't so lucky. 

Things can only get better, eh?

The 3hr journey from Madrid aeropuerto (that's foreign for airport) to Salamanca passed without incident - things were getting back on track.

The weather is pleasant,  around 25degC and a bit overcast. 

The Revolutum Hostel is excellent,  more a hotel than a hostel. 

I unwound with some beer last night and then just crashed out. 

This morning I had an enormous breakfast of cereal,  toast,  cheese, croissants, coffee, juice and other stuff too - magic! All is rather better this morning. 

My good mate John Mc is under the knife this afternoon, he's having a hip replacement. This will be on my mind today.

Rather than set off walking today I've decided to explore Salamanca, it really is a beautiful city that just oozes history out of every pore.

Tomorrow I head north.  I'm not sure how far yet, it all depends.....

Pics are taken at low res to speed upload times.  I've duplicated the photos with my proper camera and these images will be replaced when I get back home. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Wednesday 17th Sept, off to Spain on an aeroplane

Via de la Plata – a bit of a walk

Arco de Caparra on the Via de la Plata

Later today I’ll be flitting off to Spain, on my ownsome, for some serious brain-straightening and a goodly amount of walking.

The Plan (Ho-ho!) is to fly to Madrid then travel by bus to Salamanca where I’ve booked myself into the flashy Revolutum Hostel for the night. I’ll set off north-ish the next morning.

I’m only over there for a couple of weeks so I won’t get to the end of the route at Santiago de Compostela but I’m not particularly mithered about that – I want to spend some time doing the culture-thing as well as the walking.

I’ll try to blog en-route although it depends whether I can get WiFi connections – mobile internet is an expensive do over there.

The Via de la Plata is one of the Camino pilgrimage routes and whilst it’s not terribly popular it’s an interesting route, there’s all manner of Roman remains to gawp at. I must buy extra film for the camera.

Watch this space.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday 1st September 2014, Legalise Wild Camping


There’s an e-petition on the go at the moment – the idea is that it MAY just persuade our government to allow wild camping in the UK.


Wild camping is currently allowed in Scotland, subject to sensible guidelines and limitations, but the only place where it’s possible to wild camp in other parts of the UK (as far as I know) is on Dartmoor.

Not being able to wild camp is a bit of a bugger. We have loads of really nice long distance paths in the UK, many of them are just crying out to be backpacked – yet there a few place to camp legally. Just check out the Dales Way.

Presently there is only one way to backpack many of these routes, and that is to stealth camp – and that’s illegal and quite a faff. Trying to pitch your tent as it’s going dark and then packing up before anyone is about subtracts considerably from the journey.

The Backpackers Club provides lists of camps spots to members but it’s very subject to change and is difficult to keep up to date, in spite of that it’s an incredibly valuable resource for UK backpackers…..and membership is VERY cheap.

The petition is aimed at the responsible department, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and states that:

The law should be made similar to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 covering open land & national parks in England & Wales. Wild camping enthusiasts are not a threat to our national parks & open spaces.
Current legislation is ineffective & prevents teachers & leaders educating the young / interested on how to preserve & treat the environment with respect. As a result, when people do ignore the current law & wild camp, they have no concept of what to do & often leave large amounts of mess / litter. Genuine outdoor enthusiasts are put off by fear of 'getting into trouble' leaving our green places the domain of those who don't care about the law. This is unjust.
Current legislation prevents the people who could & would have a positive, voluntary impact on the environment from enjoying it. It is unpoliced and is ignored by louts, teenagers & drunks. It keeps the good out while the bad ignore it. Current legislation needs to be changed.

So if you feel you can support this e-petition and want to sign it just click here to take you to the website.

Socially distanced music session. 24th June 2020

…with cake! Ed kindly offered the use of his back garden to sit and play music whilst maintaining a safe and sensible distance from one...