Walking without a donkey 15: Camino Francés (Burgos to Castrojerez).

30.10.16 – 31.10.16 Burgos to Hornillos to Castrojerez


This photo looks as if it was taken in the countryside, but is part of Burgos. I visited a number of places where the local councils have provided beautiful pathways in and/or out of their cities, and after 28kms walking from San Juan de Ortega, it eased the weary end-of-day-feeling. 

The next morning, it didn’t take so long to get out of the urban environment I had spent the night in, and thankfully I was back into the countryside before too long, even if there were a few wrong turns to start with! It’s lucky that a friendly walker always seems to be there just as I am standing around looking bewildered, viewing first one, then a second possible turning, and somehow missing the yellow arrow.

Not long afterwards I started traversing km after km beside fields of dead sunflowers. They were a bit creepy, and sad. Maybe, I ponder, the seeds will be harvested later rather than all going to waste? But I discover through research on the web when I get home, that there are situations where this is not the case. Due to EU subsidies the farmers do not actually  need the crop. What a dreadful waste.


We walk through villages where the Camino is their main livelihood, and so some decorate their houses in blue and yellow with the familiar logo,  making sure we walkers feel welcome, and presumably encouraging us to spend money in the bars.

A blurred picture, but you can see the flags and colours of the Way of St James.

We pass delightful churches. Many are very simple with a single tower and entrance, charming in their structural naivety, and so attractive against the blue sky. They are not usually open, and when there is a long way to walk, we don’t often stop and view the interiors. They contribute to the overall spiritual atmosphere, reminding us that we tread in the footsteps of pilgrims through the ages. Their presence encourages silence.


A largeish town, Hornillos del Camino (see that the name reflects its dependence on the Path), is in the region of Burgos, Castille y León. It is a well-kept and sturdy town, with wide streets of grey/yellow local stone, a Catholic church tower, and wooden balconies, and will be full of travellers in the summer months.

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The atmosphere was convivial that evening at the albergue: I shared a ‘pilgrim menu’ (3 courses with wine for 10 euros) with the others, and a good time was had by all!


Hornillos has a backdrop of hills, which does not prepare you for the meseta, the flat and open countryside which follows for several days. Not having to watch for boulders or strive uphill does mean that one km merges into another, and that releases the Mind.

‘Think while walking, walk while thinking, and let writing be but the light pause, as the body on a walk rests in contemplation of wide open spaces.’                                                                                                                                                              p.20 A Philosophy of walking, Frédéric Gros


I only just get used to being able to see my destination an hour ahead, when something very unexpected happens: The sign to the ruins of the Convento de San Antón is unasssuming, suggesting to me that it will be another small religious building. But there is the sound of heavenly music, and it gets louder and louder, until I round a corner to be faced with astonishing flying buttresses right across the pathway.


It is an architectural spectacle! I have to stop and gaze at the most detailed and highly carved archway, replete with stone figures many of whose heads are missing due to the ravages of time, and there, there’s a donkey (or is it a camel?).



In addition, on the right is a courtyard from which I discover the music emanates, together with familiar faces enjoying drinks and a toilet break. It turns out to be one of those amusing tourist interludes where the barman produces a ‘bag’ with a long, thin spout, full of wine, that you hold up high and pour into your mouth (or all over your face if you aren’t careful!).


After these antics, we once again split into various groupings, and make off on the trail to Castrojerez with its idiosyncratic signage, and large shared dormitory for another night of snoring!

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Thanks to Randall St. Germain  for sharing the Castrojerez website

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