Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend
Puebla de Sanabria was an important strategic site and the scene of a great many battles throughout history. It has an historic old town and an amazing castle… but it was raining all day and all night so sadly these pilgrims decided to view these delights from the comfort of our warm, dry Parador.
We enjoyed a complimentary Parador Amigo wine in the bar and then dinner in their restaurant. After which we retreated back to our room and I passed a happy twenty minutes or so chatting to Gerry, thanks to the excellent parador wifi. We talked about the last few days and laughed and laughed again about a village called Entrepenas.
We had the heat so high in our room that at bedtime had to turn it all off and open the windows. We went to sleep listening to the rain and sadly we woke to the same rain . But we had slept well and decided to get on the road and have breakfast partway along… at a promised bar in Requejo. We followed the N-525 out of town and up the big hill. The weather forecast yesterday had promised cloud and sun today… it seems that overnight it had been revised to more rain.
Our breakfast stop brought a welcome relief and we bumped into the Canadians as we were leaving. They were going to take the camino path… they’re pretty hardy walkers. We were going to follow the advice of the locals and stick to the road.
We’re climbing all day today. Up and up to a little village called Padornelo… high in the Sierra Segundera. We had booked a bed in a hostel at the top of the mountain so we knew that we could take our time if the going got tough.
Partway up we saw the Canadians again behind us… they had been diverted back to the road. There is a new high speed train construction site cutting through the region and it has been cutting through the Camino Sanabré too. They ended up on our path for a while but they walk fast so they soon disappeared. We then noticed two new pilgrims coming up the road. We had stopped to check the route as arrows were suggesting we head off the road and back onto the trail. One of them, a Spanish guy, stopped us and told us to stick to the road… too much construction and too much rain and badly marked… So we decided again to heed the advice and carry on as we were. We did not want to get lost in these mountains.
Road or trail we didn’t care as it was so beautiful. I loved the walk and didn’t notice the climb… I guess after 800 kilometres on the road we should be feeling pretty strong!
But inevitably we hit a problem. I say we but in reality it was just me.
There was a bridge. You know the sort I mean… huge towering pillars of concrete rising out of the valley floor… allowing the road to span the gap. Brilliant if you’re in a car but if you’re on foot and you are afraid of heights then it’s pants.
I looked across… only 500m. ONLY! HALF A KILOMETRE ACROSS A GAPING HOLE! Only is not a word that belongs in that sentance. I started to walk a few paces forward. And just as I had done with the bulls… I chickened out and I ran back… away from the blue barriers that edged the bridge. Oh my word.. I can’t do this… but what then? What’s the alternative? Walk back? Call a taxi? Just as with the bulls there was no alternative… I had to walk. I walked forward in the middle of the road… holding onto Maggie’s arm (I might have cut off her circulation as I was holding on so tight). Please God… don’t let there be a car… please dont let there be a car…I cannot leave the centre line… please don’t let there be a car… ARGHH NOOOO…F*** A CAR. Oh god oh god oh god oh god.. at one point Maggie said it was safe to look up… she was wrong… it wasn’t safe… more swearing… more praying… more swearing… more arm squeezing.. Maggie said were almost half way…. ALMOST… ALMOST…she quickly reassured me… more than halfway now… more than half way…no cars… no cars… dont look up… I left Maggie and headed for the safety of a point beyond the blue barriers. Maggie, relieved I suspect to be free of her burden (me) slowed to enjoy the views and take photos.
I have no idea why I’m afraid of heights… but the fear is very real… and I prayed that there were no more bridges to cross.
Once the excitement was over we carried on as if nothing had happened. The rain got heavier and it got colder but it wasn’t as bad as yesterday because there was no wind.
We passed a cow… one lonely cow… standing there chewing the cud beside the barrier… was she lost? We asked her but she never replied.
After the cow came a tunnel. That was odd… there was a pavement and it was well lit and it was dry so not too bad at all for pilgrims… we remarked that it was a shame there was no bench as we could have had a nice little rest.
After the tunnel there was some kind of depot. It was open but deserted. There were no seats but there was shelter in the form of giant eaves… so we stopped and had a few minutes out of the rain and munched on biscuits.
Then there was another bridge… but this one did only cross the motorway below. It was higher on one side than the other so I ran across looking just one way… with my little mantra… look this way… it’s ok… you can do this… you can do this… you can do this. Maggie applauded as I reached the other side. .. I think she was just grateful I’d managed this one alone 🙂
It was getting cold now so we were very very happy to see our village come into view. We stopped in a bar for a coffee and I chatted to a local chap who had lived in Paris for 6 years and spoke good French. We were surrounded by local hams and wines and liquors… I could have enjoyed a few of those liquors but instead we donned our ponchos once more and headed off in search of our hostel.
We found it 1km down the road. It’s not a Parador but it’s toasty warm and we have an amazing view of the alto. We have more hills to climb tomorrow and more rain is forecast but I don’t care… I’m here and I loved our walk in these misty mountains.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!