Vega de Valcarce

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37 travelers at this place:

  • Day21

    Eighteenth stop - Laguna de Castilla

    May 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Villafranca del Bierzo -> 26km -> La Laguna de Castilla
    Today's walk was not as long as it was steep. We hiked up +700m to end up in a village of 27 people on a hilltop. I think there are more chickens here than people but look at that view! Awesome

  • Day14

    In Which we All Go Downhill Rapidly

    October 1, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Ever since arriving at Roncesvalles, about 9 days ago, we have been walking at relatively high elevations. This had been something of a surprise to me as I had not realised that so much of the Camino would be above 800 metres above sea level.

    We awoke to yet another fine and clear morning. Well actually I awoke to complete darkness, but that is probably due to the fact that my alarm is set to go off at 5.30 am. When the sun eventually decided to wake up as well (about 7.30 am) it revealed a completely cloudless sky. It is worth noting that the only slight drizzle we have seen since arriving in Spain, was the slight sprinkling we got as we left Roncesvalles on day 1 of our walk. Each successive day has been fine and clear, heating up to the low 30s each afternoon.

    Our day began with a short bus transfer to the famous Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). This famous location consists of an ancient iron cross atop a long column. At the base of the column a huge pile of stones has been built up from the contributions of untold thousands of previous pilgrims. The tradition says that you collect a stone from the bottom of the hill and leave it at the base of the cross. The dropping of the stone symbolises a release from whatever problem you had been carrying.

    It was quite poignant to stand at this sacred location and see the huge pile below us, realising that each stone represented a single pilgrim. Many people had also left written notes, presumably detailing their needs and requests. Some of the stones had been inscribed with the name of their carrier.

    The Cruz de Ferro was also the highest point we had thus far reached on our Camino. At 1500 metres above sea level, it towered over the surrounding countryside. It was obvious that the flat plateau of the Castille was now behind us and we had entered the mountains once again.

    Anyone who had not done much walking might think that it is easier to walk downhill than uphill. If you did think that way you would be entirely wrong. Although walking uphill might require more cardio effort, going downhill puts a lot more strain on your feet and leg muscles. It is also in going downhill that the risk of falling is much greater.

    After a few short undulations we soon encountered the steepest descents of our Camino. Not only was the slope very steep, but the path was treacherous as well. With a collection of loose stones, large ruts and exposed rock it would have been so easy to take a tumble.

    As I carefully made my way down I kept thinking to myself "Please don't let anyone break a leg". We had already had our share of broken legs on previous Ghostrider adventures (but that is a story for another day) and I certainly did not want history to repeat itself.

    Whenever you have to drop around 1000 metres you know that you will most likely have sore calves and toes by the day's end. Fortunately we only had one relatively minor mishap on the descent, but we were very relieved when the path levelled out and the day's walk was completed. It had only been around 17 km, but the level of difficulty made it feel much longer.

    We still had a very interesting bus transfer to our hotel at Herrerias de Valcarce. Although it would have been only a few kilometres as the crow flies, the nature of the mountains in this region meant that the actual route was extremely circuitous. Several times we drove over huge viaducts that were suspended high above the valley floor. The engineering was certainly impressive and we all hoped that the constructions had been done correctly.

    We finally pulled into our alpine style hotel. The Paraiso del Bierzo was certainly the most remote hotel we had stayed in so far, although my room was also the smallest. It was tucked on the highest floor, in the roof cavity. There were no windows and a huge sloping wooden beam dangerously traversed the limited interior space, right at head height. I felt certain that I would knock myself senseless on it at some stage during the night, but fortunately I managed to avoid it.

    It had been a long and eventful day.
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  • Day33

    Paths Less Taken

    October 1, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    If offered an alternate route, we take it. They tend to be less traveled, more scenic, and remote ... albeit longer. Today's took us up an extra 600 meters, out of the vineyards and into the chestnut groves with their magestic ambience softened by the fuzzy seed case! Less than 200 km left to Santiago - we climb O'Cebrerio tomorrow. Hoping for clear skies.Read more

  • Day22

    Look, there's a castle. ..

    October 1, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    I love castles.

    Yesterday in Ponferrada we walked the castle walls of the former bastion of the Knights Templar. Great medieval castle with a secret tunnel, turrets and pageantry. I could imagine knights on their mounted steeds, their horseshoes ringing out on the cobblestones, riding off out of the castle gates to fight in the Crusades.

    A boy's dream realized.
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  • Day40


    June 2, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    The oldest church on the Camino, IX th C Iglesias de Santa Maria Real

    And a renovated palloza, the Galician thatched, round, stone house.

    At 1300m it's all more or less downhill to the coast. In fact, on a good day you could see America but usually the westerlies are dumping the Atlantic on this mountain range.Read more

  • Day13

    La Faba - Roasted Peppers and Kindness

    October 1, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    I'm resting now in the hamlet of La Faba a small hamlet on the way up to O'Cebreiro. With little more than a dozen houses. The German Confraternity couldn't be more welcoming (something the English Albergue could learn from - maybe despite my intention to stop I didn't due to an officious English reception). My feet are very sore and I have a real risk of a blister. Couldn't stick my boots today (again) so it was in the sandals (and socks again). Missing fold at home, but non more than my love Emma. X
    Dinner tonight was a delight, just three of us (Cindy from the USA - a hospital pharmacologist , Franz from Germany - I think he's an international Bank Director; and me (Bill) from England - a village idiot 🤤). We passed through enroute to La Faba the hamlet of Pradela (Bierzo) and received at the Albergue Pradela the most beautiful welcome and kindness from the hosts. We had witnessed as we entered the town a small group of people roasting peppers on an open fire in front of a house. We spoke of this at the Albergue, and not only were we shown the store of peppers, tomatoes, and various fruits, we were given a piece of chestnut cake (chestnuts are in abundance and fall on pilgrims heads frequently) and a jar of their roasted peppers to eat. It's safe to say they were delicious and didn't last the impromptu lunch break. Franz is a true gem, frequently producing from his rucksack a feast of breads, cheeses, and meats. His conversations have been a privilege to participate in, thought provoking and incisive. For me he typified why German's are regarded so highly and rightly so.
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  • Day30

    28. La Laguna

    October 2, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    A 29kms day. All uphill through the mountains, very very challenging. But video called Dad at lunchtime from the top of the mountains to wish him a happy birthday, very emotional but lovely just what I needed to keep going. Tomorrow we climb the rest of the mountain.! Buen Camino

  • Day13

    Villafranca del Bierzo

    October 1, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    I have descended into the town of Villafranca del Bierzo, lost the yellow signs and ended up nearly out the other side, nearly being run over just for fun. Villafranca del Bierzo is one of the prettiest towns on the Camino. It is full of narrow streets (along which cars speed!!) that twist and dare a pilgrim not to get lost. No matter your journey very steep climbs are obligatory.
    The feet are beginning to be an issue (my biggest fear are blisters) but it appears to toe box on my boots is a little shallow and I have two (painful) black big toe nails!! So it's on with the Teva sandals today and what a relief. Oh and no mocking me, but I wore my walking socks too.'s continuing to be amazing, scenery is awesome and lifts the spirits at every turning. I may though amputate some toes. X
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  • Day30


    May 25, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 73 °F

    We conquered the Camino Duro (the hard way) today. It's an alternate path that some pilgrims take to avoid the highway walking of the regular route and leads straight up into the mountains. It felt so much like a Santa Barbara hike along Camino Cielo that I was overcome with happiness (and, if I'm honest, a bit of homesickness). We seemed to be the only ones who opted for this more arduous trek and the quiet, isolation gave the experience a very special feeling. All told, we went 16+ miles and gained about 2,800 ft elevation.

    Tucked into the mountain was a tiny village and we stopped at Cafe Lama, which sells hazelnut bread that uses local hazelnuts, (we got extra slices to take with us). They also had kittens. 😻It began raining for the last few miles, but it was a soft rain that helped keep us cool.

    We stayed at the German hostel and when we checked in the German volunteer said there were a lot of Americans staying tonight. He then paused, and, completely deadpan, said "I wonder if you are all running from Trump." Great delivery. 👏🏻 We had dinner at the hippy, vegetarian place down there street (apparently, these two are always paired on the Camino). Then read and cuddled before falling asleep. There were no snorers in our room!!
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Vega de Valcarce

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