Camino Francés – Liñares to Triacastela to Sarria, Spain

16.11.16 – 17.11.16 Liñares to Triacastela 18.2 km; Triacastela to Sarria 18.7km

Wonderful views from the top
The cold of the valley cleared in an hour, and there were spectacular views from the top

In my diary I noted that it was 190 km to Santiago de Compostella, and there was a heavy white frost that Wednesday leaving Liñares. That’s only one more week of this Camino – best not to anticipate the sadness. I was already ‘writing’ about today in my head as I made the first climb. I felt very happy.

It was soft in the morning light when I came up to the San Roque statue commemorating all the walkers who have passed this way through the ages.

Pilgrim bronze statue,  at the top – Alto de San Roque – he’s holding onto his hat against the wind

‘for the walking body… is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.’ p. 6


Because of the height (1,270m) I can see the countryside I will be walking through in the future laid out in front of me.

Moving through Galicia, there are circular buildings of wood, or small grey stones with thatched rooves, for storing grain. So pretty – like miniature Kentish cottages!


We walk through days of tremendous chestnut forests, which of course shed their leaves at this time of year so that my feet shush and shuffle through deep ditches as I walk. In As Pasantes, the locals believe that this tree is 800 years old.


I realise I am walking without a watch now – I barely know the date never mind the time! It is the practice of regularity, of one foot following another, which seems to stop time, or suspend it. And the contemplation of the simple sights is enough, there is no need to check what hour it is.


‘an abundance of beauty that can turn the soul over.’  p.6


Castanea Sativa – sweet chestnut, a substantial, long-lived deciduous tree. It is a valuable cash crop in these parts.

It has been predominantly a downhill sort of a day, and a shorter one than usual. The hostel where I stay the night is on a slight slope, and I have my celebration beer at a table by the roadside next to the wet washing, hoping it will dry while the sun sinks.

‘After a whole day’s walking, the simple relaxation of taking the weight off your legs, satisfying your hunger simply, having a quiet drink and contemplating the declining daylight, the gentle fall of night’ (after Rimbaud).                                     p. 143


It is early afternoon when I arrive at Triacastela

I take a walk around the town, admiring the church and, finding a sheltered corner to sunbathe in, I find some peace and quiet away from the other peregrinos.

Iglesia Romanica de Santiago de Triacastela

 ‘outside is no longer a transition, but the element in which stability exists’ p. 32

It used to be that I went outside to go from home to work, or from work to the shop. Now the nights inside have become the transitions, different every evening, allowing me to get outside once more when it’s light.

8.30am Triacastela
8.30am Triacastela. The special 2016 Autumn moon is still strong at this hour

Today I am aware of the balmy air against my forearms as I climb steeply once again. I watch the butterflies everywhere. I smell the chemical fertiliser and muck. There are white campion flowers, chamomile, lots of types of wild mint, Lords and ladies. Layers, lakes of cloud, hanging above the valley but below the silhouettes of the mountains. There’s a heavy, white dew still lying at noon.


and, in the distance, later in the afternoon too.

Luckily today there was no crisis as feared. Instead, you can see how the day unfolds in this time-line of photos:

as the late year’s light is slow to reach the paths
and, thankfully, the blue sky returns,
the water sparkles between sparse banks,
until the whole gentle vista can be seen laid out ahead
still green and abundant in Galicia.


WITH donkeys…

We are just two in the dormitory in Sarria, and able to take a delicious nap at 6pm before tea, a well-earned rest after a full day’s activity and fresh air.

‘Tasting one’s own presence in harmony with the world’s’.      p.143

All quotes taken from A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros.

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Camino Francés – Pieros to Vega de Valcarce to Linares, Spain

14.11.16 – 15.11.16 Pieros to Vega de Valcarce 21.6km; Vega de Valcarce to Liñares 14.7km

The next day I rose even earlier than usual, and performed my T’ai Chi routine through twice. I relished the exercise in the freezing morning air, teetering on the bumpy slope as the sun appeared.


Coming in from the cold, the dining room was cosy, and I was impressed by the healthy and satisfying breakfast. Afterwards, however, I was summarily kissed goodbye, not once, but twice, on the lips, by the ‘friendly’ hospitalier (see blog 20). I think that behaviour was a sort of unwelcome show for the other walkers preparing to leave. It was uninvited, and something which prompted uncomfortable comments for days to come. Walking in the sunshine undoubtedly frees the spirit, and I witnessed all sorts of happy meetings along the way. Despite that, the men I met were chivalrous, except this one who took advantage.

‘..everything recommences, everything sets off once more, and the dawn banishes the past along with the night.’  p. 98.

If possible.

The snow far off.

Walking out of the Léon region, I admired the multi-coloured vines lined up neatly in the fertile valley below.

Different grape variation, different hue.

By 10am, rucksack on my back and getting into my stride, I passed through Villafranca del Bierzo, with its round tower.


Villafranca is another town heavily dependent on the Camino de Santiago, and it gets a mention as far back as the Middle Ages (791), for its wine producing monastery. Now it boasts at least 4 churches, 2 palaces and a castle!




In Vega del Valcarce, I was happy to take my night’s rest in a private room, available presumably because there were considerably less pilgrims now the year was drawing to a close. The lady of the house was welcoming and generous, offering us eggs and veg from her garden, and I laughed out loud watching the kittens play and sending photos of them to my daughters.



Huerto = vegetable garden. Huevos = eggs.

In my diary for 15th November, I wrote, simply, ‘A beautiful day in every way’. It was a frozen morning. The sun was rising very late now, and I needed a jacket, gloves and hat to keep me warm.


To wake up with nothing better to do than don the backpack, feed oneself and walk out into this. Wow! Fresh air in the nostrils, cheeks reddening, and the best of companions by my side.


The harvest pumpkins were like great, gleaming gems in the frozen patch.


As the day mellowed, the warm sun conjured the grass smell up out of the undergrowth, and produced….da-dah!… sky.


‘breathe and surrender to a well-being  slow as a forest path.’  Rousseau p.72


‘Serenity is the immense sweetness of no longer expecting anything, just walking, just moving on.‘  p.46


‘And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves

Trail with daisies and barley

Down the rivers of the windfall light.

Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas

Heading into nature’s portals.

Oh the beautiful views, vistas of violet blue hills and lime green fields, framing the orange slopes and meadows of Galicia!

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James
This is one of those panoramic shots!
Resting after a gruelling climb.

The guide book said the next place was O Cebreiro, and knowing what was ahead encouraged me to keep going. Stumbling and crawling now, straining thighs, panting up tumbles of rocks, rounding a corner and thinking we were there, no! Passing a woman getting her breath back. And finally, the summit, with noble cross, 9th century church, thatched pallozas (huts), ground-hugging stone and slate buildings, all a mere 150km from the city of Santiago.





Instead of staying in this pretty windswept place, we travelled a little further to Liñares, a very modern hostel of metal and glass with a picture window over the valley at dusk, and another private room. Bliss.


All quotes taken from A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros.

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