Ferrol to Santiago on the Camino Ingles
  • Day6

    Betanzos to Meson do Vento

    May 7 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We left Betanzos early and caught the morning light on the town square.

    The remainder of the day was a long long long slog, ever upwards, in blistering heat with little chance to pick up water.

    Not that I'm bitter...Read more

  • Day5

    Pontedeume to Betanzos

    May 6 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We got off to a cracking start with an extravagant breakfast of fresh orange juice, toast, two types of jam, a huge croissant, some cheese and finally several slices of cake! Not the usual black coffee and vamos.

    Even though our lodgings gave us a head start it was still a good slog out of Pontedeume. We met up with two American pilgrims and casual conversation had the miles slipping by. So much so that we completely missed the 3km detour to Igrexa San Miguel de Breamo. Next time ( perhaps )

    For the first time we had extended walking on pleasant earth paths through open woodland. Eventually a steep descent brought us down to Ponte Baxoi and a welcome cold drink at a great cafe. From here we skirted the golf course on the outskirts of Mino then over a 14 century bridge commissioned by Fernán Pérez de Andrade 'The Good'.

    We then descended fairly uneventfully into Mino where we left the Americans. Mino was a busy town and by now the sun had risen along with the temperature. Now the long slog began

    First up alongside the Mino estuary to the oddly named Ponte de Porco. As you'll see from the picture, there was a statue of a pig. We rambled along more tarmac until we came to the medieval Ponte Lambre.

    Then we went up. And up. And up.

    I ran out of water but begged some from an elderly chap doing what elderly chaps do best. Messing about in a shed. He said it came from high in the mountains and I could believe him. Cold and sweet.

    On we trudged looking for shade under anything we could find.

    At last we arrived at Igrexa San Martin de Tiobre. A "beautiful 12th century romanesque church with exquisite corbels, tympanum and motifs". It was shut.

    Just to add to the misery, we now started to plummet down towards Betanzos. We had a chance for a break when we found the church of Nsa. Sra. Do Camiño open. A quiet and cool spot to recollect ourselves before the bustle of Bezantos. An elderly lady began the ascent towards the church. She looked every inch the Spanish widow, all in black with a medal of St. Benedict around her neck.

    Arriving we crossed the Río Mandeo using the handsome medieval bridge Puente Viejo and into the town via an arched gate. Then we went up again. In fact the whole of Betanzos seems to be built on a thimble with roads pouring down from it.

    I was struggling by now and paused to gather myself. Hearing a familiar voice to my left I turned and found Christof tackling a platter of pulpo. At this point we realised we were outside our rooms for the evening. A quick check in and we were sat with our fellow pilgrim dining on a Betanzos tortilla. All runny and gooey, we'd been told in Pazo da Merced that they were some of the best in Spain. I'd not argue with that.

    We had a choice of churches for Mass. The Igrexa San Francisco was at 19:30 but the Igrexa de Santa María do Azouge pipped them to the post with an advertised time of 19:00. There was also the prospect of a pilgrims blessing. That swung it.

    However, come 19:00, we kicked off with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Followed by Benediction. Followed by a continuation of a novena to Our Lady of Fatima. Then Mass. After Mass we had a continuation of a novena to San Roque. Finally we were called forward for a pilgrims blessing. Just to add to the Catholic element of all this, there was a collection. A couple of hours kneeling on hard wooden kneelers. Ah well.

    Back to the rooms for an early night. The Southward march continues tomorrow.
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  • Day4

    Pazo da Merced to Pontedeume

    May 5 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Breakfast was at the civilised hour of 08:30 and was excellent. The juice from two freshly squeezed oranges might not be big on volume but its certainly big on taste. The only dissappointment was not being able to get into the church attached to the hotel. All the more so when the receptionist gave a glowing report of the baroque splendor to be found inside. Apparently its only opened on feast days of Our Lady.

    We found the way easily enough and walked on a pleasant path running parallel to a railway line, eventually dropping down to the estuary again giving us good views across to Ferrol.
    Then the confusion began. We didn't really want to walk along the beach as sand and shoes seldom mix. But neither did we want to walk along the main road as the route indicated. So we freestyled it. What could possibly go wrong?

    As it happened, not a lot. We drifted through the housing estates of Fene admiring the street art.
    After negotiating the N-651 we found ourselves outside the Igrexa San Salvador, which was of course......open! It was being cleaned, so in we went on shiny and slippery floors. As we left we got a sello for the credential.

    Then it started to wrong. Walking through built up areas it's not always easy to spot the arrows. We found a few, then obviously missed one and were heading back towards the big roads. But, just as it only rains on the wicked, only the unjust man stays lost on the Camino for long. A pickup with Xuanta de Galicia written on the side berthed alongside us and gave us direction back to the way. He even went ahead and pulled over to make sure his wandering sheep got themselves back on the right track.

    We started the climb towards Vilar do Colo along quiet roads. I found a fountain and as I was filling my bottle noticed a QR code on it. A quick scan told me I was at a water fountain near Fene. Fine. Then it announced that we were 120km from Santiago! Not fine. That's further than when we started in Ferrol! I'll stick to getting water out of the fountains.
    Up we soared on quiet roads and forest tracks. I'd never had the need to know the collective noun for Jays before as I always saw them in pairs. But today a group of six chased us away with piercing alarm calls.

    Soon Vila do Colo was reached. Then began the epic struggle to get onto the old way which follows "pleasant forest paths". The guidebook gives a vague reference to "turn right at the roundabout". There's three of them. All within sight of each other. After a half hour thrashing through dense woodland we were more or less back where we started. We opted to follow the new arrows.

    In fairness the roads we were on were quiet, but it was a dull old slog. Pausing only for an ice cream we soon had Pontedeume in sight below us. It looked fantastic in the early afternoon sun. Once in the town we walked up to the church to check on Mass times. 20:00 each day.

    As our rooms were out of town we opted to eat first then head for a shower. The first bar-cafe we sat down at only sold shellfish. A niche market perhaps, but it did seem to be flourishing. We moved on. At the second establishment we visited we ordered (and thankfully managed to cancel before chef had got started ) a spicy octopus pizza! The cheese, tomato and ham we settled on was wolfed down in minutes.

    Then began the drag up the big, big hill to our rooms. The Monte in H. Montebreamo should have been a clue. At least we were gaining height we'd have to gain the next day. Our lovely host spoke no English and we had even less Spanish. But it all worked out fine.

    If pilgrimage involves suffering then we're good pilgrims. Back down the hill we went to attend Mass at the Igrexa de Santiago. Inside there's a wonderful statue of St James as Santiago Matamoros. Mean, moody, magnificent. Mass over it was time once again to ascend our Via Dolorosa.
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  • Day3

    Ferrol to Pazo da Merced

    May 4 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Finding the zero mile point in Ferrol was easy, as we'd passed it several times the day before. A cafe con leche and a slice of banana cake fuelled the engine and away we went.
    Initially the way weaves through the town streets before taking a turn towards the front just after the Semana Santa figure. But not right out onto the front yet, as the naval base dominates the area.
    Eventually we arrived at the capella Santa Maria which was, of course, closed. But no matter. It made a nice resting point with views across the estuary.
    From then on it's a bit of a trudge to clear the outskirts of Ferrol. A little light relief being found in a nice tunnel under the railway with interesting street art ( graffiti )
    The next place of interest was at the Chapel of San. Martin de Xubia. Also closed.
    After some steepish inclines we were treated to excellent views across the estuary to Nada. The sun was out by now and after crossing the bridge and giving a little nod to the orange albergue, we settled into cafe-bar La Flor de Mayo where we had a warm and genuine pilgrim welcome, along with good food. What a nice bloke.
    By now the sun was out and we were starting to flag. After a little mincing around we found our place for the evening. The Pazo da Merced. It advertises itself, with justification, as "Tradition and Avant-Garde". I had a great room overlooking the estuary, my only criticism being the lengthy walk from the bed to my en suite. I spent three hours looking out from my balcony watching the tide come in as a gentle zephyr troubled the leaves. Bliss. Another bonus of these upmarket rooms is being able to dry your clothes in privacy. Luxury.
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  • Day2

    Arriving in Ferrol

    May 3 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    The trip out was surprisingly straight forward. Drive up to Edinburgh Airport and park up. Security check in took no longer than 10 minutes. Likewise the boarding check in. We took off at the advertised time and landed 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Finding a taxi was a bit of a parp, but the ride into Santiago was quick and uneventful. The bus to Ferrol was on time and delivered us without any drama. The Hostal Fronterra was easy to find and the rooms adequate given the price.
    The evening was a noisy one as a man shouted and whistled for his dog for a good half hour. This stopped around 00:30. Then at 01:30 the dust bin men arrived and clattered around outside. At half three a couple af chaps had a loud and animated discussion. Then at 05:30 we had a lengthy shower taken by a fellow guest. Ah well.
    Tuesday saw us attend Mass in the Co Cathedral and then present ourselves in the sacristy to collect our opening sello. The remainder of the day was spent tramping round and round Ferrol, with a brief taxi trip out to Decathlon to allow me to pick up a pair of walking poles.
    At some point the advice "don't walk to Santiago before you walk to Santiago" came to my mind.
    Tomorrow will be the first day of walking with a fixed end point in mind. Hopefully the weather will hold
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