Peter is currently staying in O Cerbreiro, one of the highest points on the Camino Frances. CRTVG (which I gather is the Galician equivalent of the BBC) has a webcam just outside the albergue, so tonight while I was on the phone to Peter he walked outside to wave at the camera. I took a screen-grab for you all to see…
Apologies for the low resolution – outside of my control! There will be much better pictures of the whole trip when Peter is back in the UK, but this is the first “sighting” we’ve had since he departed at the end of May, and it’s very gratefully received by Eileen and I!
As a high point the views from O Cebreiro are said to be stunning…when the mist clears, which is apparently not often! The guidebook informs me that dense fog is the norm, so the weather we see on the webcam looks pretty good by local standards.
The traditional architecture of the region is “pallozas”, round-walled structures with conical thatched roofs, with no chimneys, just hams curing in the eaves! A previous local parish priest, Elias Valina, was a driving force behind the revival of the Camino during the 60s and 70s.
Peter is pacing himself to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on 4th May, spending the 5th doing his Camino errands – sorting out his paperwork and attending the pilgrims’ mass at the Cathedral, before flying home on the morning of the 6th. I hope the good weather here holds, it would be a shame if he missed all of the English summer!
Peter is currently in Villafranca del Bierzo, having walked 24km from Ponferrada (see map above) today. He has been walking slightly further each day (25km rather than 15-20km) than he had planned, and as a result, is well ahead of schedule. He has changed his flight home, and will now be back in the UK on 6th May, not 11th as previously thought. He has walked around 680km of his 865km total, and has 10 days to walk the remaining 185km (average 18.5km per day).
The weather in the region of Spain he has been walking through has been quite wet recently; he cut short one days walking because he was drenched. He is walking through the Cordillera Cantabrica, a region of windy, bleak mountains and sheltered, sunny valleys (making the area excellent for wine growing, but also home to wolves!) Some of the albergues are very primitive – Peter bypassed one a few days ago because the facilities were basic even by Camino standards – no beds, just mats on the floor, and no electricity or running water.
I spoke to him earlier as he was doing his laundry (a daily chore when you carry such minimal kit) and making plans with a Spanish fellow Peregrino to go for dinner. He is enjoying his walking and very appreciative of all the donations to Severn Hospice and British Heart Foundation, and will be looking forward to getting home soon to catch what’s left of the English summer!
Peter has been walking for 23 days, covering a distance of 485km out of a total of 865km (301 of 537 miles). He is currently slightly ahead of schedule, which is really good.
Peter is currently on the section of the Camino del Frances called the meseta, which is a flat tableland with a vast expanse of sky. It is described as “swinging from depressingly monotonous to exhilaratingly infinite in the space of a kilometre.” It is the part of the walk which Peter found most challenging during his last Camino – not physically difficult like climbing the Pyrenees at the start of the walk, but mentally hard work walking through the desolate landscape day after day. He had a little relief earlier in the week, walking down a deserted valley to Castrojeriz, silent apart from beautiful birdsong (the guidebook tells me that these are likely to be larks!). It is getting warmer during the day, but is still cold in the mornings and evenings especially in the higher altitude villages. Last night Peter had to find an extra blanket to keep warm; usually his lightweight sleeping bag is more than adequate.
Today he has walked 23km (14miles) from Carrion de los Condes to Ledigos. This is a relatively easy walk along a track, but there is very little shade and nowhere to stop for refreshments all day. This is one of the few parts of the Camino where the pilgrims must carry everything they need for their day’s walk. I spoke to him earlier, as he went through the daily routine of showering, shaving and doing his laundry, while waiting for his evening meal. Some of the refugios offer food, in other towns pilgrims go to local restaurants for dinner. The typical “pilgrims’ dinner” involves chicken and potatoes (or in Galicia, towards the end of the walk, fish and potatoes). Peter loves his food, as you may know, and he finds the monotony of the pilgrim diet rather tedious. The Spanish coffee is a good compensation for that though! He will be looking forward to a good spicy curry when he gets home, I expect.
Peter enjoyed his night in Ventosa, and set off the next day for Ciruena. It turned into a rather longer day than planned – he walked 28km and didn’t arrive until 4pm after a slight detour to visit a church. (Yes, really!) He said the refuge there was lovely, run by two ladies, one American, one Austrian. The 10 pilgrims staying that night were a real mix of nationalities, Irish, Danish and German among others, and they cooked a communal dinner. Peter was on washing up duty!
Yesterday he walked to Viloria de Rioja, a distance of 20km and another hot day. He starts walking at about 7am, when it is still dark, and the temperature then it usually around 16 C, so you can imagine how warm it is by the time he arrives at his destination in the middle of the day. He has been walking alone for the last few days, which he is enjoying. The refugio in Viloria de Rioja is apparently very luxorious by Camino standards – a single bed (not a bunks) in a room of his own, armchairs, soft background music and a library. He could smell his dinner cooking when Eileen spoke to him and I think he quite fancied moving in permanently! A decent bed is very important after a long days walking, especially when you have to get up the next morning and do it all again. In some of the hostels the pilgrims sleep on mats on a tiled floor.
Peter has settled into a routine of walking around 20km (12-13 miles) per day, this is a good distance for him. In between larger towns, the refugios are in small villages which has few facilities, so arriving too early in the day would leave a lot of hanging around before dinner, which is the main meal of the day, when the pilgrims can get together to talk about their journeys. Some of the pilgrims Dad has met are walking 40km per day (nearly 25 miles), while others prefer not to walk in the heat of the sun and aim to reach their destination at around 11am.
As planned, Paul came back to the UK on Wednesday. I think he would have liked to finish the walk, but sadly had to get back to work. Peter is now on his own, settling into a new routine. There are more refugios on this section of the walk, so he’s setting his pace at about 20km per day, which gives him plenty on choice of places to stay.
I’ve just spoken to Peter, he’s enjoying the walk so far and has sorted out some niggling problems with his pack and is much more comfortable today. He had a few blisters on the first couple of days but says his feet are rock hard now so hopefully won’t cause him any more problems. He is aiming for a small village called Ventosa, from last night’s accomodation in Logrono. He is now about 260km from his start point in Arganon, with approximately another 500km to walk.
Thank you so much for all your donations and messages of support, we are passing them on to Peter and he is very appreciative.
Peter and Paul are currently in Roncesvalles, 116km from the start of their Camino. They are 4km behind schedule due to a slight change in route; some of the hostels are not open this early in the year. They are both feeling well and hope to make up some distance over the next few days, which are all downhill!
Dad is very appreciative of all the support he has received, both the messages and the donations, so keep it up!
I spoke to Peter earlier and he and Paul are making good progress. They walked 20km today and are settling in to a routine. The weather is lovely; long may it continue! Thank you all so much for your donations, they are very much appreciated.