Today was just stunning and a beautiful sunny day, although with a hint of frost in the air as we left Almansa at 08.10am. What scenery we had today! At one time, all we could hear was the sighing of the wind, the birds - similar to skylarks calling - singing on the wing, the swish of my back pack as I swung my arms walking, the thud of our footsteps and the tingling of the dog's collar discs. It was a long, hard walk with some challenges along the way - so for those who are going to walk this section - read on and take note! Despite the challenges, at the end we were tired but satisfied and felt a great sense of achievement. The 23km may have been slightly longer with a bit of a diversion as there is a new track due to the fact the old route follows a "very" busy main road. This brings our total to 163.4km so far, around 1/7th of the total Camino! It's amazing to find how much ground we have covered since Valencia!
The first part from Almansa, is largely on road and tarred track next to the main road. It passes by some impressive solar panels and heads little by little out into the countryside. Early on in our journey we came across a very helpful directional arrow that meant we avoided crawling through these drainage pipes under the new main road. Without this arrow we might easily have thought that the Camino had turned into an army assault course and have been tempted to crawl on our bellies through them.
|Hermitage of San Antonio|
|Camino (left sign) Prohibido (right sign)|
|Akina at one of the strange hunting|
areas, I think for training. She took
advantage of the dog drinking
bowl set in cement here!
There is a steep cliff rising out of the ground and the arrows appear occasionally along the way - standing out in stark contrast to the natural geomorphology. At the highest point, at just after 10.00, we took advantage of our beauty spot to have breakfast.
|Akina at breakfast - the Robertson Mala on my|
backpack taking in the view!
|As you can see - not a lot of shade!|
This is "the tree" of the day - the only
one of the path!
Along the route, every now and again, one finds these lovely little information signs in both Spanish and English, giving some of the region's history. The first one was as I approached the end of the spur of the Sierra del Mugrón, the cliffs of which we were walking below for the morning. There are apparently cave paintings in some of the caves of the Mugrón and the area is very old, including a path that pre-dates the Romans. There is a website that you can visit on: email@example.com. There is also a bunker at this point from the time of the Civil War that is a short walk from the track. The path we were on is also part of the Camino de Santiago but the "de la Lana" route from Alicante. It soon turns from the Levante route, northwards, and joins the Frances route past Burgos. We later met the departure point of this Camino beyond El Carrascal on today's walk.
|One of the Civil War bunkers|
|One of the caves of the Mugrón|
|Sierra del Mugrón in the distance|
Perigrinos BEWARE and take note - hopefully this will help you with your own walk when you reach this point...
|The way directly after you cross|
the main highway - this railway
bridge is the one "before" the one
indicated on the map and
mentioned in the guidebook
and saves the Pilgrim walking
along the busy highway
|One of the faint directional arrows on this part of the path.|
If the vegetation grows up it may be obscured altogether
|The real El Carrascal|
|Yellow arrow on the wall ahead of you - you can just about|
make it out in this photograph. The obvious arrows are
behind me as I took this picture, but when I turned left,
they become obvious and were then on my left.
|Kaishi at lunch|
Lana Path is the path that followed the shearers livestock, farmers and traders related to the goods of wool and derivatives thereof, and joined the major producer of La Mancha sheep with Burgos, commercial capital of the moon during the sixteenth and XVII. There is a documented pilgrimage route in the spring of 1624 by Francisco Patino, Maria Franchis and Sebastian de la Huerta.
From Atienza Covarrubias (in reverse) matches the path of Exile del Cid.
There is a story in Valencian, L'Espill ("The Mirror") which recounts a trip to Santiago made by its author, Jaume Roig, before 1460.
|Lana Path - showing the towns it passes through.|
There is a route from both Alicante and Valencia
although the Valencian route is apparently not well
marked - it heads north and then crosses to join the
Lana route marked here
|The Wool Way continues in this|
direction and an Albergue is
only 3km from here
You can find more information about the route, pdf's of the route directions and Albergues on Google. There are a number of sites that will help you if you wish to walk this route and at 380km it is quite a nice way to head up to join the French route if you wish to do this. One very nice site is:
http://caminodelalana.cuenca.es/ but there are others.
Once on our way again, the route was easy to follow again and another hour and a half later we were with the support vehicle after another long but gentle incline onto the plains. Windmills litter the skyline, although not the little round towered Molino kind of Cervantes' Castilla de La Mancha - because in Quixote territory we are! I think if Don Quixote saw the size of today's windmills he'd have a bit of a surprise! He'd certainly need a longer lance!
|Today's windmills might surprise Don Quixote!|
|I couldn't resist taking this picture - the autumn colours|
of the vine leaves and the neat rows of vines are just
things of beauty
The day was long and one of the hardest yet, but also one of the most satisfying and with possibly the best scenery so far - although each place has its special places. I'm sure I will find many more along the way! I am due to do my final "single" day walk on Saturday, but looking at the guide and the roads, I might change my mind and to do my first two day walk which will take me through to Chinchilla.
|The Molinos of Cervantes' Don Quixote|