Distance to go: 278.2 Kms
We woke at 6am for breakfast was at 6:30. We had a hot drink and some toast, jam and orange juice and set off for our next stop 19.4 Kms away. We bid farewell to our hosts and left.
The first part of the journey was delightful. The path kept us away from the main road, the N-120 that runs east/west to Santiago and gave us some peace and quiet. The path was along grass tracks and farm roads. Some were easy underfoot. Much was rough pebbles and gave the ankles some work to do. But it was rural as rural can be and wonderful. Blue skies and cool temperatures were ideal for walking. The wind of late had gone.
We dropped down into the town of Santibanez de Valdeiglesia. Another place where we saw not a soul.
Then for the next 8 Kms we struck upwards over a small plateau on rough and pebbly tracks through open countryside. Old oaks passed by. Sunflower fields were just starting to show a hint of yellow among the green foliage. The sun was up. The temperatures were slowly rising.
We caught our first glimpse of the city of Astorga ahead and below us. The mountains now were closer and were getting bigger on the horizon.
At the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio a German cyclist asked to have his photo taken on his camera. I obliged and in return he took our photo for us. The view from here was amazing looking down into the flat valley in which Astorga lies.
We had not stopped since setting off this morning. We needed tea. The first stop was down in the valley below which tweaked the knee ligaments on the steep descent. A well meaning local authority had recently paved the descending path which made life easier for us Peregrinos.
The town of San Justo de la Vega is just an overspill of Astorga. We found a cafe on the footpath. It was the sort of place we would not visit in a month of Sundays back home but here it was paradise. A large mug of hot tea and a fritatta later we hit the road again. It was a bit of road and a bit of gravel track from here into the city.
One surprise was a delightful little Roman footbridge over a stream that remained intact and over which we passed. Followed shortly by a modern bridge over the railway that resembled a roller coaster in a fairground. However the well meaning designer had considered us tired Peregrinos as the gradients were very small. Hence the design I reckon.
We entered the city of Astorga through the Puerta Sol up some fairly steep inclines and paused to take a photo of a bronze pilgrim entitled Quo Vadis. Where are you going Pilgrim?
We paused briefly at a sport shop in the city to buy a waterproof shell jacket for ourselves to go over the mountains which was a little galling having sent our coats home on day 8 after a week of scorching weather. We thought we would not need them. Mistake! The cathedral is another beautiful building but was closed when we passed.
The path then leads out through a rather uninteresting course along a road and a concrete pavement which irritated my knees and hips a little before crossing the autopista. Then we walked on a purpose made gravel track to get us off the road and this gave some relief to the joints and weary feet.
We arrived at our first choice accommodation, the Casa Flor, at 13:00. It was closed and in darkness. We went to the albergue Las Águedas. We were given a warm welcome by a lady. I told her she spoke impeccable English. She said she had lived in England for 6 years married to a local man but got divorced and returned to Spain. I asked her where she lived. She said Westbury, not 4 miles from where we live now. This was before we told her that we came from Trowbridge. I was astounded. So we talked about the local area, the nice cafes, the city of Bath and so on. Here we are in rural Spain nattering about home.
We are in a room of 22 beds. We are with the American mum and daughter from last night as well as the same 2 english brothers, Bill and Bob. Bill is a large man that snored for gold in the snoring Olympics. We were so disappointed when they turned up. There will be little sleep tonight. Oh well. More Vino Tinto should help.
Tomorrow we head for the mountains and start the initial climb all being well.
Distance walked today: 19.4 Kms