View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Via de la Plata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Via de la Plata. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Secondly: Via de La Plata, 16th–21st April 2018

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The Via de La Plata is one of the many ‘Way of St James’ Camino pilgrimage routes that have become extremely popular in recent years.

This particular route is the longest of the pilgrim routes in Spain, starting from Seville in Andalucia, and running northwards through the provinces of Extremadura and Castilla y Leon to Salamanca and Zamora.

I’ve been walking the route in sections and I thought it was about time I got on with it. Details of my route so far are here, starting off from Caceres in 2012.

Monday 16th April 2018: Manchester to Puebla de Sanabria

I didn't get to bed until stupid o'clock that night.... it was actually the following morning. I was quite nicely knackered. I had to be up and out of the door for just after 4am to walk to Manchester Airport for 4.30am check-in and my 6.30am flight to Madrid.

Rob, who had foolishly agreed to come along (he believed my tales of dancing girls, cheap food and free beer) was already at the airport, he lives further away and walking really wasn't a sensible option for him - he travelled by taxi.

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The Ryanair flight was uneventful and after an interesting journey on Madrid's tram system we hopped onto the very comfortable high speed train from Chamartin to Puebla de Sanabria - the point at which I'd left the Camino in September 2014.

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We were surprised that all baggage going onto the train had to go through airport - type security checking. A sad sign of the times..... one that is unlikely to change any time soon.

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We spent the night in dormitory accommodation at the Albergue Casa Luz, €12 a night. It was good, I didn't snore once... which is more that can said for the other occupants. <koff>

Tuesday 17th April

Puebla de Sanabria to Lubian

Next morning was cold, frost had formed overnight and I was glad of my Velez, although this was the only time I got to wear it on the trip.

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We left Puebla de Sanabria at around 9am (=8am in real money) and wandered off westwards... ish. Much of the Camino had been diverted along this section due to railway works, we were forced to follow a lot of tarmac. This wasn't as bad as it sounds, there was very little traffic to contend with. We met up with a good number of peregrinos, all headed towards Santiago de Compostela.

It soon warmed up, a strong sun and very little wind had us, er, perspiring. Just a little.

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We lunched in a small roadside cafe / bar in the tiny village of Requejo de Sanabria. Bocadillo tortilla was the order of the day. They're very nice and all that, but the bread crust is hard as blazes....they probably contribute significantly to keeping Spanish dentists in business.

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The distance between Puebla de Sanabria and Lubian via the Camino is reckoned to be 29km. With all the route closures and diversions it was getting on for 37-38km. At least the walking was fairly easy. The route is hardly high altitude but there's a goodly amount of up and downery, today we hit the highest part of the entire route, around 4,500 ft. There was still a lot of snow around although we managed to avoid walking through it...mostly. Not many snowballs were hurt in following this route. Not many at all.

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Lubian, our overnight stop, has a small Albergue, at €3 a night it's certainly cheap enough. It's well hidden down a little street but was fairly easily found. It had all that a pair of British chaps needed whilst exploring these far-flung foreign lands....apart from damned kettle. It seems that kettles are not popular here. This raises the question: how on earth do they make a decent cup of Yorkshire Tea? The answer, dear reader, is that they don't.

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I ended up boiling water in the Albergue's microwave oven. Hardly satisfactory. Still, beggars can't be choosers. A Plan will need to be planned for the next planned visit. Obviously.

The night was hot. Very hot. I hardly slept. Everybody else hardly slept either. It was just too hot.

Rob bailed out of the dormitory around 3am to sleep outside. This option seemed to work well until the local doggies found him and started sniffing around him. He ended up sleeping in the kitchen / dining room where there was a vacant bunk.

It was a kitchen, after all.

Wednesday 18th April

Lubian to A Gudina

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Doggy eyeing up Rob’s brekky

Next morning, after an early breakfast of bocadillo and coffee, the dazed and quite knackered not very dynamic duo of peregrinos continued their journey westwards, A Gudina being our next overnight stop.

This was another hot day. A call to Lubian's Pharmacia was needed in order to stock up on Factor 50 'crema solar'. My forearms were burning from the previous day so protection was desperately needed.

That was so very well.... except that the local Pharmacia didn't open its doors until 10.30am. This was 9am in rural Spain.

An ingenious plan involving a buff provided protection for my left arm. My right arm was mostly shaded by my rather ample torso, long trousers protected my legs and my trusty Tilley Hat did the rest.

Some more tarmac followed….but there were nice views too.

This was the day we entered Galicia.

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Any idea?

At A Gudina we couldn’t face the idea of another night in a hot and sweaty Albergue – the last night’s sleep didn’t involve much rest. Hostal A Madrilena came to the rescue: a twin room was €35 a night – so we booked two nights. There was a good reason for this.

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The local gym

A Gudina’s Pharmacia was open so I was able to buy myself a tube of Factor 50 – bloody expensive at €15 for 50ml.

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Bonkas coffee

A pleasant evening in the local bar ‘Bar Peregrino’ ensured we were suitably relaxed and very well fed for not very much money at all.


Thursday 19th April

A Gudina to Campobecerros

Back to Bar Peregrino for a good breakfast of lots of coffee and a strange sort of pie (filled with fishy bits, tomatoes and other stuff) set us up for the day.

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This was another day with tarmac, but this was real country lane stuff, cars were few and far between.


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A few miles out of town, and in a very localised area, we came across ‘caravans’ of caterpillars crossing the road. These may well be the dreaded processionary critters.

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Rob came up with the theory that this was their technique for avoiding attacks by birds – from a distance they looked like snakes. We were quite intrigued.



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The views and terrain were very easy on the eye.

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The launderette

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The area was sparsely populated which meant there was very little in the way of shops – as the day wore on we became quite peckish and we ended up breaking into my emergency supply of Alpen bars. Washed down with lashings of Corporation Pop we lasted as far as Campobecerros…just.


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Get your ferrets here


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The first cafe / bar we came to wasn’t a cafe, just a bar – we were starving by now. After a wander throught the ‘strangely mediaeval centre’ we came upon Casa Nunez, good food (and lots of it) although some of the staff seem to have other things on their minds.

After a damned good feed the very helpful man behind the bar (he may have been the owner) called a taxi for us and we were transported back to A Gudina’s Hostal Madrilena…and a shower.

This was to be our last night ‘on the trail’ – the next day we were whisked back to Madrid on the Renfe very fast and very comfortable train. My GPS displayed our maximum speed of 257kmph…around 160mph.

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Such was the smoothness of the ride I’d have guessed we were travelling at maybe 80mph. The fares were cheap too – very cheap indeed. Rail travel in Spain is affordable.

One more night in Spain, this time at a very strange AirBnB, supposedly owned by an attractive young(ish) lady. Not too sure about that – but it was somewhere to lay our heads before flying home next day.

‘Twas a good trip, one that I certainly needed. Rob seemed to enjoy it…well he didn’t complain (too much), but he’s one of the good guys and is polite.


The next stage on the Camino will hopefully see us finishing in Santiago de Compostela in September. The route’s going to be rather busier then, not only because of the time of the year, but because we’ll be getting to the points where other Caminos join the to make it one busy trail. Accommodation may be a problem.

One whinge: I took cheap walking poles, Rob took rather pricier examples. No problem getting them on the plane in Manchester, no problem getting them off the plane in Spain.

The return journey was a different matter: our poles were confiscated as we went through security at Madrid airport. We were both a bit miffed.

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20 minute delay from Madrid – not too bad

Oh, and another whinge: Ryanair is a bit of a cattle waggon transport system, but it’s cheap and they do what they say: provide cheap air transport.

Madrid airport however….has the most disgusting toilets in the whole wide world. And I’ve been to India and Rob’s been to Pakistan so we know about these things.

Buen Camino!

Lots more photographs are here.








Monday, 23 April 2018

Blog silence…and De-stressing, April 2018

A particularly stressful 7-8 months (just one cause of the recent silence here) demanded some very serious space and time to straighten my head and to come up with A Plan. …so that’s exactly what I did.

Firstly a trip with TH to Glaramara in Borrowdale, where there was much running up and down hilly stuff in the finest of company, eating far more than is good for a chap, then possibly over-rehydrating by way of lots of nice beer followed by more than one brain-straightening session with good mates, all helped set me on the road to recovery.

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Next came a trip, perhaps a more spiritual trip than I expected, along a section of El Camino Via de La Plata in Northern Spain (should 'Northern' be written with a capital 'N'?). I was joined on this trip by Rob, who apart from being a chap made of The Right Stuff, proved to be an ideal walking companion: not once did he complain about my smelly feet, my whinging, or anything really.  Rob's one of The Good Guys. And he takes wonderful photographs.

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Then there's a short backpacking trip to That Yorkshire... well,  the Yorkshire Dales atcherly. This hasn't happened yet, but it's going to happen, next week. I know this because I've now booked my train tickets to Clapham. No, not that one, the real one... in That Yorkshire. This has been arranged by Lucky the Dog and his kilted Dad, The Pieman. Also in attendance will be Dawn, Chrissie Dixie... and maybe a doggy or two.  There may be more attending, I don't know, I'm just very grateful to have been invited along.

Firstly, Glaramara…

I was most fortunate to be able to squeeze myself onto this little trip although I wasn't able to spend as much time there as I'd have liked.

Arriving on Friday evening I was greeted by the rain and the general greyness that only Cumbria can provide. The gloom was soon lifted: I was sharing a room with Rob (no that one, the one that runs up and down hills at lightning speed), and the bar in Glaramara served Coniston Bluebird and the seriously excellent Loweswater Gold (a new one on me). The usual suspects were already in residence, having arrived either early that morning or even the previous day. My late arrival only raised a few eyebrows,  but there you go.

A very convivial evening followed, excellent food, good conversation, and maybe a beer or two more than was wise.

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Dinner at Glaramara

Next morning,  after a huge breakfast, I set off in the company of Ding Dong,  to follow the sawdust trail set by Doggy Burston. The trail was reputedly 10.5 miles, up Langstrath to Angle Tarn, over the tops of Allen Crags and Glaramara, then eventually back to our digs.

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We came upon Big Ian who had, perhaps wisely, opted out of running and decided to walk the route.  Ian has long and powerful legs, he was round the route in quick time.

Approaching Angle Tarn we spotted Wells the Elder coming up behind us. He didn't fall into the beck once, unlike someone else who shall remain nameless (Ding Dong,  seeing as you asked). Paul stopped for a quick chat before powering off over Allen Crags and the glories of Glaramara's 783m top.

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An un-named runner not quite falling into the beck

The next lot to catch us were the Fast Pack of McHarry, West-Samuel, Whitehead and Biker. A minute or so later Old Ruddock appeared and declared that he'd had enough of this nonsense and decided to join us on the descent by Grains Gill.... but we didn't see him again.

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A fast(-ish) moving Wells the Elder

Next up was Potter, sporting his usual grin - he also trotted off in the direction of Glaramara.

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Potter (unusually) in recovery mode

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Posing by Angle Tarn

Jenkinson, Murray & Co were next on the scene - Murray sporting the latest hair style that has become so popular among high-speed fell runners. I don't know how he keeps it out of his eyes.... maybe he just runs so fast the problem doesn't arise.

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Jenkinson leading the way

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The arrival of McHarry & Co

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The departure of McHarry & Co

Fast Taylor was next, running alone.  He tells me he's the strong and silent type.....well he's strong anyway.

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Fast Taylor en-route to Allen Crags

David and I,  along with some others, had realised that the trail might be a tad longer than the stated mileage. We took the executive decision to bale out at Allen Crags and trot down Grains Gill to return to Chateaux Glaramara via Seatoller. This proved a good move, even with our short cut the route was still 12 miles, quite long enough.

The day was warm but there were still signs that the area had been very recently splattered with lots of the white stuff:

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On our return to base we discovered that Burston had taken a tumble whilst laying trail. This necessitated a trip to Keswick's Minor Injuries clinic where he was treated by Nurse Whiplash.... and a satisfying outcome involving 4 stitches. Both nurse and patient appeared to have enjoyed the pain.

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Post-op Burston

More good food, a damned quiz (I escaped to the bar, along with other quiz cowards), then lots of good conversation, laughs and a few tears for those recently lost, and maybe a little more of the Loweswater Gold, all conspired to keep us going until well past midnight.

Next morning, at 7.30am, and after overnight rain, those daft enough to feel competitive took part in The Fell Race. The trophy,  the Side Pike Bottle, has quite a history to it. Presented to The Club in 1930-something by the Bass Brewery, it has become the subject of some derision. It's hardly a thing of beauty, but everyone wants to win it.  Apart from me.

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The Side Pike Bottle….and minder

The race is handicapped, I strongly suspect that the winner is chosen in advance and the appropriate handicaps are then dished out.

This year's worthy winner was Fast Taylor who's living room is now adorned with the winner's trophy.  His wife will be very pleased.  So he tells me.

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Fast Taylor, first in on The Fell Race

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Murray, sporting That Hairstyle


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Fast Taylor in Pose Mode

After breakfast I left the guys to continue their Cumbrian Adventure whilst I scooted southwards and home. I'd managed a much needed quiet and stress-free break, but there was packing to be done for the next adventure.