Via De La Plata 2018

September - October 2018
The Via De La Plata is the longest Camino de Santiago route (1000km long) and crosses the whole of Spain from Andalucia in the South to Galicia in the North. Read more
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  • 2countries
  • 36days
  • 294photos
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  • 478kilometers
  • Preparations

    September 18, 2018 in England ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    Tomorrow, I will fly to Seville in preparation to begin trekking the Via de la Plata to Santiago de Compostela. At present, the average temperature is around 32C. Rucksack is packed and weighs 10kgs. I hoped to have it weigh less and have been brutal in terms of minimalism.

    After an early morning flight, I will spend an easy day in Seville by visiting the Cathedral and collecting my first Camino pilgrim stamp. I have booked a room in a small pension near to the Cathedral.

    I will begin my trek on Thursday morning.

    "Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls". Jeremiah 6:16
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  • Day 1

    Arrived in Seville

    September 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    A very early start this morning to join the chaos at Terminal 3 Manchester Airport. A big thank you to my great wife for getting me there.
    Arrived in Seville on time. While paying the bus conductor my fare, he was delighted to show me all his Camino tattoos. He was definitely a seasoned peregrino. We spoke for about 10 minutes and I got to use my poor Spanish. We left shaking hands.
    I got to the cathedral and found the small, very well hidden, office. I got my first Via de la Plata stamp.
    I wandered around the city and finally located my pension. My room is smaller than a cell but clean. It will be an early night and an early start to beat the 30C heat tomorrow.
    Hasta luego.
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  • Day 2

    A Brutal Day Seville to Castiliblancos

    September 20, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    I left Seville this morning at 7am in total darkness. I had a great nights sleep. Finding my way out of the city was difficult.
    I eventually got to the marked Camino path and walked along a river. I walked with a lovely Swedish lady who was also starting her Camino.
    Sunrise brought us out into open countryside. It was one long straight gravel track that went on for miles. To be honest, It was pretty boring.
    My new companion got slower and slower as the temperature quickly rose to the mid 30C. We passed through Santipoce, the birthplace of Emperor Hadrian.
    We eventually arrived in a small town called Guilena. My companion was exhausted and booked into an albergue.
    I was feeling strong and made the BAD decision to carry on another 18km. It is described in the guidebook as a ‘stage from hell.’ I thought that I could knock the distance out in no time. Boy, was I wrong! I got a real kicking. The heat was unbearable. I stooped and had a short siesta under a tree. The heat sucked all my energy. I eventually arrived in Castiliblancos 43km after 11 hours walking.
    The hostel staff were wonderful. I have completed my admin, purchased some energy food for tomorrow and will have an early night.
    I won’t be walking stupid distances like this again....I hope 😬
    Buenas noches.
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  • Day 3

    Castilbanco - Altadena de la Plata

    September 21, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Day2 Castiliblanco to Altadena de la Plata
    It was an early start from the Albergue to the next pueblo 30kms away.
    The only problem was walking 16kms along a road before turning into a national park.
    The first few hours were in the dark but after dawn the temperature quickly rose in the 30C again.
    The trail passed through cork plantations. I had to carry 3 litres of water as there were no facilities.
    There were few peregrines on the trail. As the heat of the day became worse, I got slower and slower. I had to take many water breaks.
    The real sting in the tail came in the last kilometre when I had to climb 300ft over a hill to drop down to the pueblo. I really struggled to get to the top but my roar, when I did get there, must have been heard in Seville.
    I literally staggered into the village 7.5 hours after setting out. Although, I must have stunk to high heaven, I went into a restaurant and ordered the menu of the day.
    The waitress was lovely. I drank 3 litres of water with my meal which really restored my energy.
    I am now settled in the municipal Albergue in this pueblo.
    Tomorrow’s distance will be 14kms to El Real de la Jara. I could walk another 20kms to Monesterio but I am not going to push my luck.
    Hasty luego.
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  • Day 4

    Altadena de la Plata - A good day

    September 22, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Day 3 Altadena de la Plata to El Real de la Jara
    14km 3.5 hours.
    I set off from the wonderful municipal Albergue at 6.45am. There were only 6 peregrinos in the dorm Most were walking to Monestrio 34km. After the last few brutal days, I opted for 14kms particularly as it will be much hotter today.
    The first few hours were spent walking alone in darkness through rural farms.
    Thankfully the dogs, I encountered in the farmsteads, were curious and not aggressive.
    I meet a few of the peregrinos on the path. They had stopped for breakfast.
    I passed through vast areas of goats and black pigs feeding on acorns. The whole area is called the North Sierra National Park. The area is vast.
    After a few big hills, I finally arrived in El Real de la Jara at 10.15am. My day walk was complete. I stopped at the municipal Albergue at the entrance to the village. It was empty. The routine is grab a bed, do your admin and the hospilardo calls at sometime to register you and take the 10euro payment. The Albergue looked very dark, unclean and uninviting.
    There was a private Albergue a few doors down that had good reports and more importantly WiFi for the same price.
    As it’s Saturday, most places are closed. I did manage a sandwich in a bar and to get some fruit. This weight loss program should achieve some results.
    Tomorrow will be 20km (around 5 hours) to Monesterio. As it will be Sunday, I will start early to be in time before the restaurants and shops close.
    Hasty luego.
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  • Day 5

    El Real de la Jara to Monesterio

    September 23, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Day 4 El Real de la Jara to Monesterio
    21km (5 Hours)

    Yesterday afternoon was spent relaxing on the sun terrace of the Albergue charting to the other pilgrims.
    A few exhausted peregrinos arrived late afternoon absolutely broken down by the heat. We all shared our food and fruit with them.
    It was an early night to get up at 6am. That was the intention until my Dutch room partner started snoring. I know that I have firm but my anti-snoring mouth guard seems to be working.😬 I hope....
    I was out the door for 6.30am and on the path. I had an elderly German lady and her son in front of me.
    The path was a gravel track and uninspiring. It meandered across the countryside. As it became dawn, I was almost halfway through today’s route. I walked a few kilometres with the lady and son. She set a quick pace and her life story was fascinating.
    I stopped at a service station for a quick breakfast but didn’t linger as there were lots of coach parties there.
    The path continued through aa eucalyptus forest tunnel between a minor road and a motorway. The last three kilometres was staggering along a dusty road into the town.
    I was first into the Albergue. The hospilardo could speak fairly good english but we conversed in simple Spanish for 30 mins. I really enjoyed it.
    The German lady and son arrived a hour later. She had fallen and badly cut her nose. I helped clean her up and she was taken to a doctor.
    That was my day on the Via de la Plata....
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  • Day 6

    Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos

    September 24, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    Day 5 Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos
    21km (5.25 hours)
    As it was Sunday yesterday, most shops were shut. I managed to get a meal but it really wasn’t very good.
    Spent the evening catching up with email etc. The big bonus was that I had a room to myself.
    I set off this morning in total darkness at 6.45am. It was still very warm (24C).
    The path quickly left the road onto a gravel side road and that was it until I reached this pueblo.
    As dawn rose, I met and walked with couple of Americans, I’ve got to know over the past few days.
    We quickly ate up the kilometres chatting away.
    With about 7 kilometres to go, they took a break and I carried on. The temperature was now 34C.
    I stopped about 2 kilometres out from the pueblo to change my socks. The distance sign put this walk into perspective.
    I joined a fellow Irishman, Rory. We carried on to the Albergue where we checked in. Both of us wanted a simple meal and luckily found a fantastic Casi Supermercado.
    Admin done, I am now chilling in a restored convent. Really strange building and only four peregrinos staying here.
    Tomorrow, I will walk to a large town called Zafra.
    That was my day on the Via de la Plata
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  • Day 7

    Fuente de Cantos to Zafra

    September 25, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Day 6 Fuente de Cantos to Zafra
    24km (5.5 hours)

    Last night, only four peregrinos stayed in the Albergue. It was a very strange place. The Albergue was converted from a convent in 2009 and was trying to be a rural hotel as well.
    We washed our clothes in the sinks and had to flush the toilet by filling a bucket from the sink.
    The positives were that my bed and sheets were fresh and it cost 10 euros.
    I was on the Camino for 7am and as I left the pueblo in the dark; got talking to a shepherd moving his flock along a recently cut corn field. When I say talking, it was more like charades because of his accent. He seemed to pleased to have met a pilgrim that morning.
    The first village was only 6 kilometres along although nothing was open.
    The region, I am walking through, is called Extremadura. It and Northern Andalusia pride it’s black hams. Whilst, the dried, acorn fed ham looks amazing hanging up. The reality of how some of these animals are treated is something else.
    As you pass the pig farms in Extremadura, the stench is indescribable. it is 10x worse than some sudden deaths I’ve been to.
    Thankfully, the terrain started to change today for the better. I walked through vineyards, olive groves and recently cut corn fields.
    I really felt my spirits lift after the depressing sights of the pig farms.
    The temperature rose to 32C again and just as my water ran out, I arrived in a small pueblo called Puebla de Sancho Pérez. I decided to treat myself to a beer and ice lolly.
    I carried on the last four kilometres to Zafra. I stumbled upon the Albergue here by accident.
    Admin now completed. Body restored to some form of semblance so that I can do this all again tomorrow.
    I will try to have a wander around the town. It is recommended, however my feet might decide otherwise.
    And that was my day on the Via de la Plata
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  • Day 8

    Zafra to Villiafranca de los Barros

    September 26, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Day 7 Zafra to Villiafranca de kid Barros
    20kms (5 hours)

    The Albergue in Zafra was wonderful. It was set in a traditional Spanish house. The Mama Hospilerada really looked after us.
    When I came to register in the Albergue, you have to produce your passport, pilgrim’s credential and 12 Euro’s (b&b). I took my straight out of top of my rucksack. She had to fan it as my passport was roasting hot. She immediately went and got me a class of cold water.
    I didn’t go around Zafra last night as I was very foot sore.
    Breakfast was at 6am this morning which consisted of coffee, juice and croissant. I set off through the city with Jacob (Dutch) and Rory (Irish). They set a fast pace out of the city. As we wound through the city, we were constantly greeted by the steeet cleaners wishing us Buen Camino.
    We had a gradual 100m ascent up a hill overlooking the town.
    Our next pueblo, Puebla de Sancho Pérez, was only 5km on the other side of the hill. We were there in 45 minutes.
    After that, we each set own pace and gradually spread out on the trail, in our own physical and mental space.
    The Via de la Plata route was lovely. Sunrise was partially covered by a light cloud which meant it stayed slightly cooler.
    I did meet some locals walking greyhounds?
    The sole of my right foot has a whooper of a blister but thankfully that is not holding me back.
    I stopped a few times to change socks and have some food and water. You normally catch up to the other peregrinos doing the same during the day. There are no facilities so you have to carry everything and replenish every evening.
    I finally arrived in Villiafranca de los Barros around midday.
    Admin completed, I’ve had a few poco beers and tapas.
    Tomorrow is a 27km day....
    And that was 7th day (176 kilometres walked) on the Via de la Plata.
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  • Day 9

    Villafrancia de los Barros to Torremejia

    September 27, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Day 8 Villiafranca de los Barros to Torremejia
    27kims (5.5 hours)

    The Albergue in Villiafranca was wonderful. It has another Mama hospilarda who really looked after us.

    I tried miserably to get something to eat but failed. I resorted to faving my emergency rations. There is not a lot in these Spanish towns.

    I ended up watching an amazing thunder storms racing across the plains as the sunset. It was spectacular, deafening and truly powerful. We, periginos, sat in the balcony in the Albergue as the clouds, wind and rain raced across the plain. Only when there was a HUGE thunder clap above us, did we go in. To add to the thunder and lightening, the Albergue is next door to a church bell tower. So every hour, 5mibs before and after the hour, the bells rang. Every half hour, they also rang, so nobody got a lot of sleep.

    Our little band were out the door at 7am and on the trail. We had to avoid the grape harvesters bringing in the vines. It didn’t stop me grabbing a bunch of two for my breakfast. Today was 27kms long. 13kms was on a Roman road which was straight as an arrow. The entire 26kms was through vineyards. I found very few shaded spots.
    I arrived in Torremejiajust after midday.
    Admin completed. I have had my first descent meal in a few days.
    Tomorrow is a short 15km walk to Mérida. An ancient Roman city. I intend to explore it and will post lots of pictures.
    And that was my day on the Via de la Plata......
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