The day was damp after last night’s huge storm. I made some breakfast in the small kitchen at the albergue. There was a fantastic earthen pizza oven there – if there had been more people around last night I would have asked if we could have used it!
As I set off I said good morning to an elderly pilgrim who was studying a book with great intensity. He was in his own world so I continued on. Maybe he didn’t want to chat so I respected that. Some on the Way are walking for peace and quiet and most pilgrims respect that. Not many kilometres later I arrived at Terradillos de Templarios where Jasmin, Eva and Hector were sitting outside an albergue. I had a coffee in the morning sun before proceeding. They were in no rush and were going to stay a bit longer at the albergue.
Entering the next village of Moratinos there were some peculiar mounds of earth. A chimney and even a television aerial protruded from the top of one mound with an ornate entrance at its base. I later found that they were used to store wine, cheeses and meats in the days before refrigeration. They may well still be in use. In the village itself there was a delightful church with some ornate decoration. It was cool, quiet and had a lot of atmosphere. I signed the visitor’s book and put a stamp in the credential. As well as the daily stamp from the albergues, it was good to collect stamps from special places, and this was one of them.
It was deserted on the next stretch. I amused myself by filming a snail’s progress in time-lapse. It seemed quite relevant that the snail moved so slowly. It was like the steady determination of the pilgrim to reach the goal.
In San Nicolas del Real Camino so I was relieved to see some people outside the Albergueria Laganares. I had seen a brochure for this stylish albergue a few days ago and now being here it was indeed a great place. One of the few luxury albergues I had seen, it was tastefully decorated and the owners very friendly. They had a blend of coffee called Mayca Blend – one of the best coffees so far on the Camino!
It was eight kilometres to Sahagun where I stopped to buy some food. A lady in the bar opposite the supermarket chatted to me and said that she had spent four months in Edinburgh in 1994. She remembered her time there with affection and presented me with a badge featuring a pilgrim that looked like a leek! Apparently, Sahagun is a centre of leek production and specialises in ‘Pilgrim Leeks’, a high quality leek sent to top class restaurants all over the world. It also used to have the most important Benedictine Monastery in Spain, of which there are no remains. There are however some fantastic churches and its an interesting town.
What followed was a long hot and dusty stretch on the Camino running along the edge of a main road. Soon I passed a painted sign that said it was 315km to Santiago. I was surprised and pleased as I thought it was further. It still seemed such a long way however. Soon the way divided with a route to the north following an old Roman road. I stayed on the slightly shorter Southern route. I had to negotiate a bridge construction site. There was a notice advising of a diversion for walkers …
‘Pilgrim Care – Work Zone – Its certainly not out of the way!’
On the outskirts of Bercianos del Real Camino there was an old hermitage where I rested from the sun. Two Argentinian cyclists arrived. They had just started at Sahagun and were full of energy. Having only arrived the day before from Buenos Aires, they had some home made biscuits their Aunt had baked. I gladly accepted the offer to help finish them!
Large storm clouds appeared as the cyclists left. They were keen to avoid a soaking. I watched in wonder as the dramatic clouds, wind and rain approached rapidly. I continued walking through the storm with the poncho keeping me dry. It was an invigorating walk to the village where a funeral was taking place. The combination of storm and wind, and the subdued sombre funeral procession was saddening. I followed the procession out of town to the cemetery. There was a lot of grief amongst the local people and it affected me deeply. I would keep walking that afternoon.
I walked into the evening and into the dark, and laid down my bivi bag and sleeping bag just outside of El Burgo Ranero. Emotionally and physically empty after 35 kilometres of walking, I fell into a deep sleep under the now clear sky and sparkling stars.
TIP: In the heat of the Spanish day its often a good idea to take a long break in the middle of the day. Walking later in the afternoon or even into the evening and night can provide a wonderful change from early morning walking. With a bivi bag and sleeping bag, there are no problems with accommodation.