Thursday, 8 September 2016

Part five

Photos at Facebook public page entitled.          Photos from the English Camino

The hostel was a delight. In a large granite building that was as pristine outside as it was in. The man in charge showed me to my bunk. I shook my head and pointed to one on the lower level near to the door. Two reasons, I would have plenty of space, and there was no way I could climb up a ladder. The knee that I had ruptured three years ago was beginning to swell up so I needed to treat it with respect.

I consulted my friend. 'Get on with it you wimp.' Well, that was that sorted.

I suspect I am becoming paranoid but I am sure I am being followed around Europe by a man who always gets to sleep before me and snores like a train. It's the same snores and if I could track him down I'd put a bag over his head. Still, I eventually got to sleep.

Today was going to be hard. 27 kms over steep terrain with  25C forecast. As always getting out of the town proved problimatical and today was no different. Down the hill and then ask at the newspaper stand seemed a good idea. I was directed up the road and over a small stone bridge. Then I got into a small lane. Above me a bleary eyed lady opened the windows of her second story flat and peered into the darkness to see me scratching me head. 'Camino? It must have been the rucksack that gave the game away. She pointed behind me and to the right. Soon I was climbing the inevitable steep hill into the mist. It was dark and foreboding and the track into the forest did not look that inviting.

As I entered the branches either side of the track seemed to link up and envelope me, but soon I was on metalled road, small but good walking. Then I had a ' What have I done with my wallet? moment. I stopped and turned everything out of my rucksack onto the wet road.  Nothing. Then all the pockets,  nothing. I had visions of having to retrace the ninety minutes I had been on the road! And then, tucked down into the corner of the sack I found it. Crises over.

The early going was good. I borrowed an apple from a nearby tree and chewed on it, that was breakfast sorted. Walking was now drovers tracks punctuated with minor Tarmac lanes. Everywhere the smell of eucalyptus trees pervaded the air. The way marking was good and progress was swift .

In what seemed like the middle of nowhere I came to a bar, coffee and a slice of home made lemon cake went down great.  This was now beautiful walking country.  The sun was getting high and the mist on distant hills was drifting away to reveal their wooded glory. it was so still I could hear the sweetcorn ripening. The only thing to break the  silence was the sound of an unseen buzzard mewing in the distance. The sweet smell of silage pervaded the air and there was not a person in sight. Only barking dogs and sleepy cats kept me company.

And then I came to the hill. A climb that went up 350 meters in three kilometres. The first part was Tarmac. So steep I thought I might slip back down it. Then it became a twisting stone track. Even steeper. There was no respite from the heat. There was no shade. On many occsions I had to resume the recovery position. Hand on knees and gasp for breath. I sat down, I walked in short bursts, but all the time I was taking little bits out of the hill. Marginal gains. After a very long hour I made it to the top.

Betanzos, where I had started is 30 metres above sea level. Bruma, my destintion, is 477 metres up. It was a gradual climb all the way interspersed with steep sections. But this was countryside to savour and the swollen knee became irrelevant.

Deep in the woods I came upon a cross festooned with votive offerings of scarves, boots and ribbon   This seemed an an aappropriate place for my friend to rest also. Just a little to encourage the weary on their way. He would be good at that.

Another two hours and I arrived at my hostel for the night. Out in the country but with a conveniently located  bar nearby.   A large bowl of country vegetable soup, fried chicken and a carafe of cider drew to a close a very satisfactory day.

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