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Monday, 18 August 2014

El Camino (Levante) - Faramontanos de Tábara to a point near Bercianos de Valverde (20km)

In the early morning these trees looked
mysterious and beautiful, but the camera
has washed out the early morning light a bit
Faramontanos de Tábara to Bercianos de Valverde (20km) Saturday 10th May, 2014

Another superb and beautiful walk even if a little confusing with the new rail road construction, but not as bad as we have had!  There are pros and cons to walking in May.  The plus sides are the stunning spring flowers and amazing bird song that fills the air around us.  There are many more peregrinos so it really feels like the Camino and it can be sociable, and this in turn also means there is more accommodation available and food is easy to come by.  The daylight hours are longer, so for those who don't mind traveling in the evening or starting early, quite a number of km can be covered.

The trees have so much flock falling from
them it looks like frost or snow as we walk.
Later on the route I could wade through it
in some places, just like snow.
For me I prefer to start early around 6 or 6.30am so that I get the coolest walk, finishing anywhere between midday and 14.00.  Leaving later, as I was surprised to see many pilgrims do, you can be walking into 27-29C at 15.00 - although this is not hot compared to June or July.  In fact some of the routes, like the early parts of the Levante and up onto La Mancha, or from Seville on the Via de la Plata are not recommended for July walking.  On our return we headed south to Seville and crossed the Via de la Plata a few times, sometimes seeing pilgrims walking in big open spaces with the sun beating down - even now in May.  

An actual apology for the inconvenience!
The down sides are how hot it is even now and the heat is of a different quality.  I much prefer walking in October and November if possible, and prefer to carry the extra layers and warmer gear.  For me, it is much more comfortable.  The fact that there are more pilgrims can actually be more of a downside if you are someone who prefers a more solitary walk, although at this point on the camino, despite different routes coming together it is nowhere near as busy as the Frances!

Looking back towards Tábara from the new diversion
on the Camino.  The way is open and flat from here
for some distance, but pretty and lovely in the cool
of the morning air.  
As I headed out on this morning we met deer, standing beautiful and proud in a clearing.  When it saw us it bounded off and I was impressed that Akina did not follow.  It was the first of many early morning deer I met on this Camino.  The rail way tracks again interrupted our path and there was yet another diversion.  However, for the first time ever we had an apology for the inconvenience!  Both before and after the bridge that took us across.  However, the way is still possible over the newly built surface - yet this time I had taken the bridge and added on a number of metres more to my journey!

Yume accompanied me from
Tábara to our next meeting point
As I approached Tábara, I met two gentleman walking in the opposite direction.  Having just passed an arrow with an "A" I wondered if I had perhaps taken the wrong route, especially as the way was undefined.  They assured me that I was heading the right way and were cheerful.  They were French but we conversed in Spanish - rather amusingly.  They were friendly and I wondered if they had been into the town early to purchase provisions.  The track did seem a tad out of the way, but maybe the "A" stood for Albergue and they were staying there, but did not want to walk along the main road.  I was puzzled but let it go.  I was to meet them again a few times - posing a mystery that was to be solved some days later - they were always walking in the opposite direction!

The dogs chill out while waiting for me to join them for
my doughnuts and coffee
I met the vehicle and swapped dogs, this time taking Yume with me for a shorter stretch - although as usual it ended up not as short as I had hoped for her, but being a high energy dog she always seemed to cope.  I was just a bit concerned with her being so young still.  We again crossed the railway and again there was a diversion which we had to guess at a bit, until we finally found the arrows which directed us on our way!  Thankfully Michael and the GPS confirmed that we were going in the right direction, and this always served as a bit of a confidence boost to know that at least we were not far out even if we strayed.  Gradually the pilgrim starts to climb.  It is a long and at first gentle incline, but as it goes on for some time, it is strangely tiring!  It was also getting warm, so our meeting point at the summit was welcome.  What a wonderful break too - a delicious coffee and a wonderful fresh doughnut!  I sat in the car while the dogs played and told Michael about an amazing and bright green lizard that I had seen.  Sadly too quick for me to photograph.

Better not collect those mushrooms
without authorisation!
The field on the left is the mushroom field!  Beautiful
walking - very tranquil
From here the track heads down and then along a flat kind of valley for some distance and the way is just beautiful, lush and green and welcoming.  It feels remote and lost in time.  The guide says that there can be flooding and puddles to negotiate, although there was very little water on the route and Akina did not manage to find as much to drink as usual as what there was looked rather nasty and I did not want her drinking that.  One can tell that it is wet and perfect conditions for mushroom growing as the area is set aside for farming them.  We found other places similar to this in this region, mainly for Boletus which is the base for a number of the regional dishes here.

Akina on the track leading to the restaurant sign!
Part way along the track after we left the car was a rather curious sign, it looked like it was a restaurant sign and when I got closer I discovered that it was!  In fact, it was for a place on the Camino that is the Sanabres.  I would actually turn right instead of continuing straight on along this camino as the Levante rather combines with and follows the Via de la Plata route.  However, the sign was tempting!

Restaurant and rest stop sign
also offering to stamp credentials
This section of the route really brought it home how busy it can be once pilgrims really get into the walking season.  Signs abound as do restaurants and signs for accommodation.  Sometimes local accommodation owners get quite inventive with their signs and others (as I was to discover later) even built rather elaborate and welcoming rest stops for peregrinos long before they would even reach the owner's bed and board.

The day was heating up and in fact, it became so warm that as I approached a plethora of signs, I stopped to change into my shorts!!  The first time I had walked in shorts since the early days of the Camino back in Valencia.  I was now drinking from my Camelbak regularly and was getting a bit concerned about the lack of water for Akina.  The stretch seemed much longer than I had anticipated and despite the time of year the streams were already just muddy ditches in most places.  Akina is much more able to cope with heat than Kaishi though and is very much a "Ridgeback" that can cope better than most dogs in hotter weather.  She did not seem at all bothered and was hardly panting.

Yes!  Legs!  Finally carrying the shorts in my
backpack paid off and I got the chance
to wear them!  

The crossroads of signs.  I turn right here and the Sanabres
goes straight on

Sanabres Mozarabe direction markers and sign for restaurant with
accommodation - complete with pamphlet holders!

Akina on a bridge - each little pillar
has stones placed by peregrinos
on top 

    The view as we headed down the hill on our final stretch of the day's walk was lovely.  In the distance, I could see the hills we were due to climb in a few days - and this reminded me of how I had seen the hills ahead the last time we had made a trip on the Camino back in the autumn when I headed over hills behind Cebreros.  These are not so high, but imposing all the same.

The day started to get tiring.  Although not far to go the heat (and for some reason "day 4") always give me a low energy point.  I could see the car marked on the GPS and knew lunch awaited me, but it just didn't ever seem to get any closer!  One step at a time!  One foot in front of the other - that's all you can do.  And so we made it.

Michael and the other dogs had walked out to meet us and it was lovely to be reunited.  It lifted the spirits and the energy levels and we got to the car which then took us to a quiet and cool picnic spot under some trees, shedding their snowflake flock.  However, just as we were about to make our own cheese and tomato bocadillos, up popped an old gentleman who decided he would chat to us... and chat to us... and chat to us!  Plenty of Spanish practice today I thought (and more later on when we reached the bar in town where I stayed)... but my brain needed food.  It's impossible not to chat though when someone is so enthusiastic and friendly and wants to share their time and companionship along with their love of their home land.  It's what makes the Camino and the people of Spain a delight.

The church at Rio Negro
We learnt that he was 82 and had just been working on his allotment, a patch of land for vegetables that many Spanish seem to keep often in the middle of nowhere and not attached to anything, seemingly just set up where they fancy.  He proudly told us that he never took any medication and never needed to see a doctor.  He said he had never even had an aspirin in his entire life.  He asked us about the Camino and where we were headed next.  As usual he laughed about Michael taking the car, even though we try to explain about the dogs.  The closer we draw to Santiago and the more popular parts of the Camino we walk on, the prouder the people get of their Camino.

Room at the hostal belonging to Bar Palacio.  Book in
at the bar who serve good home cooked food - in particular ask for
the lentils - they are delicious!!  15 Euros for the night.  
After we said goodbye and tucked into our bocadillos we watched the dogs play and then sleep in the falling flock until we were ready to move on and find that night's accommodation.  I had booked ahead at the Bar Palacio in Rio Negro where I would walk to tomorrow.  We arrived to another set of friendly and welcoming faces and actually a few other peregrinos arriving to take up the accommodation as the Albergue (the pretty and renovated old Pilgrim hospital) seemed to be shut.

The lady who seemed to really run the place a real "madre" was Esther.  We found her in Bar Palacio where the bookings are taken, sellos are issued and food is served.  She was the most warm and welcoming lady and she too captured our attention, chatting to us alongside her friend about how hard work in the fields and good home grown and home cooked food was the success for longevity and health.  Also, not partaking of alcohol! She explained that it gets very cold here and that the Rio Negro is so called because it freezes in winter and you can skae on it.  It was hard to believe sitting outside with a cold beer in 28 degrees, but the road signs displaying snowflakes back up the fact that in winter this is a very different place!  Esther too proudly announced that she was 81... a day for the octogenarians I think!  She showed me to her hostal, which was an old farmhouse in the middle of town with a beautifully kept courtyard where she even offered us for the dogs to stay.  They would have been a bit isolated and worried in a totally strange place outside, so we thanked her but declined.  The rooms were comfortable and simple, and it felt like I was stepping back in time.

With Esther at the Bar Palacio - Rio Negro
The overnight camp spot for Michael and the dogs - a
beautiful location by the river
She asked us what we would like to eat that evening and we told her our love for lentils and she told us that there were lentils and beans on the menu and that they taste best when made the day before.  She's not wrong!  When we came to partake of the fair later in the evening they were delicious and we ate plate after plate until bursting!  As I sorted out my things and went for a shower in the accommodation, more and more people were checking in.  Germans, English and a nice Spanish speaking man who we later discovered was called Carlos and he was from Venezuela.  He invited us to meet up with him in Sanabria (which we did) and he walks different parts of the camino each year.  He was quite a walker and moved at a fast pace.  He just likes walking and apparently each year meets up with a friend who lives in the area.

With everyone discussing their age and it being Michael's birthday tomorrow, we ended up saying that we were going to stay at the cabins for a week and then I would walk a different section each day with the dogs but we could have some "holiday" time together between times.  Everyone congratulated him and we said to Esther that we would return in a couple of days when I finally walked into Rio Negro officially and would have lentejas for lunch!  She was delighted and promised to stamp my credential when I walked in on foot the next time we met.   

The dogs enjoying a good run and play at their overnight camp spot on the Rio Negro itself!  

Sunday, 17 August 2014

El Camino (Levante) - Granja de Moreruela to Faramontanos de Tábara (17.9km)

Granja de Moreruela to Faramontanos de Tábara (17.9km) May 10th, 2014

The most beautiful walk on the camino so far.  Little was I to know that this whole camino was going to be filled with walks like this and just stunningly beautiful.

Today's walk started through the railway workings and already the tractors were out spraying the dusty tracks where the lorries were working and taking their heavy loads back and forth.  Here the camino was directed across the works and I guess this was the way that some peregrinos had come in having worked their way across country on the incorrect route having got lost on the previous leg.  Now were were directed straight on rather than turning right as directed in the guidebook and on the maps.  At least here the arrow had been painted out.  The diversion was to avoid the path of the lorries carrying heavy stone and on the horizon I could see the towers from which the tractors filled their tanks with water.  There are scattered along the entire route and the whole support infrastructure and additional excavations and building works that have gone on just to support the construction must cost a fortune in themselves.

The road ahead
Sunrise over the crops
From the GPS we could see where I would meet up with the camino again so I trusted the arrows and headed off.  The cuckoos were amazing and really calling loudly as the sun started to rise and we paused to have our photo taken at the Granja camino marker.  There is one of these in each town along the route, each with a little message to the pilgrim, different on each one, it's a really lovely touch and reminds us to take time to look around us, enjoy the journey and the path we are on and to learn about ourselves.  Today was a perfect day for this.  The road stretched out before us and although Michael had met a peregrino on his way back to the car, we were alone.  She had also wanted to know if the direction was correct and it was nice that he could confirm this for her.  The sun really lighted up the crops and the smell of thyme was heavy around us.  I love smelling the dogs after they have run through the herby undergrowth as they smell deliciously of thyme, lavender and rosemary.  

Akina looking out over the
wonderful scenery and herby
As we started up a long hill, not steep but very long, I heard cyclists behind us.  I kept Akina beside me and it was lovely to hear them calling out "Buen Camino" as they passed us.  I stopped often to take photographs and just look at such beautiful and peaceful surroundings.  Everywhere there was an oak forest, although the trees are spread out, not closely packed and they provide perfect shade when walking.  The majority of the day was like this, with beautiful trees and birds singing.  The climb took us up above the river - Rio Esla, which we were going to climb above after crossing it.  The steep banks and thick undergrowth make for interesting going but the vistas through the trees over the river and the height of the banks all make it worthwhile.

Lavender lines most of the route
Akina coating her fur in the perfume of lavender
As you come down from the long climb, you come out onto the road.  It is only a short section of tar before reaching the bridge over the river.  Another lovely spot with photo opportunities although there were plenty to come.  The day before when heading out for our accommodation we had noticed the arrow on the far side of the bridge which seemed to point directly into a rockface.  I was a tad concerned about this as you might imagine, as crampons had not figured on my list of equipment to bring and the guidebook suggested using the walking sticks and to go by road if it had been raining as the rocks are dangerous and slippery.  It also says that cyclists must take the road route, which is very sad as it is hot and featureless and a really grim route.  Cyclists not taking this route are missing out on some beautiful scenery and at the top, fabulous cycling.

Another familiar site on this section of the camino
from Zamora - many peregrinos will mark their passing by
with stones
To be honest, if you read this and are a cyclist of some athleticism (and many who cycle these hills and camino routes are) and you have one of those light weight competitive bicycles, then if possible and if you are willing (and the weather is good so the rocks aren't slippery) I can't see why you couldn't carry the bike like on the mountain biking challenges, and head up the cliffs above the river.  It's windy and you have to do a fair climb but it's not ridiculously far and not impossible.  Once at the top, the tracks through the woodlands, the birdsong, the scent of the herbs, the flowers and peacefulness are well worth it.  I just loved every second of this walk and if someone didn't walk any other part of the camino, I would recommend taking a day walk on this section.  It is easy cycling and walking once at the top.  I was however very glad of my telescopic walking stick and I have to say that it was the first time I had ever really used it for walking!  It certainly gave some purchase on the uneven ground and support on the steep slopes.  Mostly I have carried it to ward of any less friendly stray dogs, but I did actually use it for the purpose for which it was designed on this stretch!

The views on the first part of the walk as you reach the river and bridge crossing that will take you up the steep climb and stunning walk through the forested area before heading on to Faramontanos de Tábara.

On reaching the top you look back and can just see the
bridge in the distance.  It's then quite a flat and easy walk
for the rest of the day, and still for quite a distance through

There are no markers at the top, so
pilgrims have built obviously "man made"
stacks of stones, in a sort of Zen like
fashion to help other pilgrims feel
confident that they are on the right track

Arrow at the beginning of the climb - keep the eyes
open for markers indicating the way as sometimes
it is a little unclear, but I do not think possible to get
The lady I had seen walking in a different direction from myself yesterday leap frogged with me a few times.  Sometimes I was resting up for a snack or water and sometimes she was doing the same thing.  She seemed to be on quite a mission and marching out.  Later we were to hear her complaining a bit about the heat - although she had chosen to walk a longer distance and continue on through midday and until 14.00!  I have to say I was glad for an ice cold beer once we reached Faramontanos and was glad to head to the overnight stop as it was a particularly warm day once we were out from the shaded woodland area.  I would agree that the climb up to the top would be a little challenging for someone who perhaps does not have such good balance and there are places where if river rises during flood times, the path could disappear under water.  It is definitely important to check how weather conditions have been and if you would still like to walk it but feel less confident because of age or ability for some reason, see if there is another pilgrim willing to walk with you just on this stretch.  It is so beautiful, it would be a real shame to miss it out and although a bit of a climb it's not really difficult walking, and there are lots of good excuses to stop and look at the view!

The way is peaceful and beautiful and brings tranquility to the peregrino.  There were perfect places to stop and camp out for the night and so I knew that Michael and the dogs would be able to find a peaceful and undisturbed spot.

The last part of the walk was in open farmland and now the sun started to heat up.  Along the last part there was yet another route change and although marked (it looks like someone has just decided they do not want to the Camino on their land) it was hard to say how much further it was going to be.  I had arranged for the dogs to be picked up but of course, now we were miles off the original direction.  I was fortunate in finding a dam that Kaishi and Yume could cool off in and get a drink.  Yume is still young and so I had not wanted her to do such a long walk.

Pretty plants along the way
Thankfully we found a dam for Yume and Kaishi
Soon we picked up the original markers again and found ourselves in Faramontanos for a lovely cold drink and a chat with some people who are building a pilgrim stop.  They offered us accommodation and a courtyard for the dogs - which was so sweet and not the first time on this Camino we have found people more than welcoming of the dogs - but I explained we were already booked at the town ahead and thanked them.
The Levante Route crosses and joins
a number of other Caminos from Zamora
to Santiago

Yume - so grown up outside the bar in Faramantanos

Michael's overnight stop with the dogs..

Apparently I'm at the end of that arrow!  Rather amusingly a big yellow camino arrow... no, it isn't really marking the route in this way!
And here we are - yet another route change,
one of the many, many changes on this stretch
of the Camino through to Galica
The Robertson Mala - on its way to Galicia and the final stages of the Camino Levante.
The prayer of the day comes from Ann: "A safe journey with peace and tranquility" and
it was certainly that - the most beautiful part of my camino so far.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

El Camino (Levante) - Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela (22.4km)

May God accompany you...

Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela (22.4km) May 8th, 2014

Peregrinos everywhere!  It's just astonishing how different it is now I am past Zamorra.  It was also very interesting to note my own reaction to all these pilgrims (on this day all 8 of them!!)... I had previously had 800km all to myself and now I discovered I felt quite possessive about the camino!  I felt a bit irritated and annoyed that there were so many and where was my solitude?!  On thinking about this I was quite astonished at the amount of emotion I felt over this.  Attached to the solitude I guess?!  Hmmmm - food for thought and "beware"!!  It is amazing how quickly and where we create our comfort zones!  I could fully appreciate why pilgrims talk of walking the more solitary routes and then, if they have decided to head north and join the Camino Frances, they find it a bit of a shock!

Kaishi leads the way as the sun rises
As it happens, over a few days and after meeting and seeing familiar faces at different stages of the route, in different bars and accommodations and befriending and chatting to some of them, I could understand the camaraderie yet everyone understood that this was each individual's camino and did not intrude or link up with another unless that was invited.  I was most impressed and there was a kind of apart but together support - a bit like being on a silent meditation, when a group of people not talking to each other can feel warm and supportive, actually far more than they sometimes do when they are talking!

After a few days, I enjoyed being on the camino with these other peregrinos, although I never did quite get used to them being "behind" me or overtaking.  I preferred to stop and let them pass and go their own pace, otherwise I felt almost as though I was being driven along at a pace that I hadn't set.  This too got easier and was not necessarily a problem if someone was walking fast, caught up and passed - but where there was someone kind of "just a little distance behind" it often felt uncomfortable.  A bit like when driving and someone is just going that speed that means they are a bit too fast to overtake, yet you are going to be too close on their tail to stay behind.

Sign indicating we should go
under the new railway via the
We started the day heading uphill from the Ermita and again witnessing a beautiful sunrise.  It was glorious and a beautiful walk.  In fact, almost every single one of the 10 days had the most stunning walks of the whole camino so far, and to be honest there have been some pretty amazing walks!  The way this time was breathtaking and inspiring, so much so that often I just wanted to keep on walking.  It was addictive and the walking makes one feel so close to the world and its beauty, it seems the most natural thing to do.

Kaishi at the camino marker above the dam
Approaching the dam

On reaching the top of the hill there is an underpass going below the new railway and on this occasion there was a sign, still covered and yet to be fully "unveiled" to mark the way of the camino.  From here we climb a little more through a beautiful woodland path which brings us onto the main road which we cross.  At this point we have to be careful to look for diversion signs and where to go as there are huge lorries and earth moving vehicles working as part of the railway construction.  This section at the time I walked it was easy to follow, but further on peregrinos were again abandoned on the busy and dangerous highway.  Re-crossing the road the track heads across fields and then winds gently upwards taking us past some lovely houses with a view over the dam.  On this section was another of the fabulous camino markers like the one in Montamarta.

Yume exploring near Castrotorafe
Marker and the castle ruins ahead
On meeting the support vehicle I decided to take a lift up the road next to the building works.  Lorries were coming like lunatics and there was little room to walk on the edge of the road.  The day before one had come so close to a peregrino the suction as it past had spun him round.  It was certainly not a place I wanted to walk the dogs and I decided to take the luxury of a lift past this dangerous spot.  On stopping where the Camino should cross the railway again - nothing.  Lots of markers but no indication where to go.  Later on in the walk we discovered these signs indicate that there will be pilgrims on the road, not that there is a Camino crossing at that point - which they generally indicate on other parts of the camino.  We wandered about trying to find the camino again and then discovered a sign right at the point they are about to start digging more works for the railway.  This is not likely to be accessible in the near future - maybe not even as I write this, less than a week since my return.  This will mean that peregrinos will need to continue along the main road - or at least until the railway is finished and hopefully they will then be diverted onto nicer tracks.  A little further along, toward the ruins of a magnificent castle - Castrotorafe, which was the seat of the knights of Santiago and a very important settlement in the Middle Ages - there was another left turn off the main road and I took this one.  At the end of this track we again pick up the markers, a large one shown in the photo above.  Here I passed a pilgrim walking in the opposite direction - much to my confusion, but I thought she must be choosing to walk on the road for some strange reason.  I was to meet her and pass her and she me, leapfrogging each other, on several occasions the following day.  On this stretch I took little Yume who was delighted to have a go "on her own" and have quality time with me.

Peregrinos in the distance!
From here it was a straight open route to our next meeting point, just outside the small village of Riego del Camino.  Here there are signs in three directions - one onwards, towards Granja de Moreruela, one into town and one to the albergue.  This is mentioned in the guide as a basic refugio with beds and hot water so it's possible, should they wish, for pilgrims to stop at this point.  At our meeting point there were two large mastins guarding a field next to some horses - they were roaming loose on the other side of a fence and Yume was at first keen to say hello.  However, their barks and my warning returned her to my side and she was then excellent at ignoring them even though she was off leash.  As hoped, she was learning a lot from this daily and extended walking.  The mastins, seeing we were no trouble, also just silently watched us pass and followed on their side of the fence at a distance - keeping a watchful but unworried eye.

We headed on over some wide, flat country and near some pines I put the leash on Yume as there were still a few processionary caterpillar nests about - although dirty and grey and on their way out.  There were two peregrinos on my tail, a distance but gaining on me and I stopped to take off my long sleeved shirt and put on sunglasses and nip behind a bush.  I set off again and they were closer but somehow never catching me up.  I felt like I was in a Monty Python movie - The Holy Grail, where the knights are advancing on the castle and yelling and never getting any closer and then suddenly there they are!!  I kept expecting to turn around and they would suddenly be right behind me!  However, I got into Riego del Camino where we hoped to have a coffee break and pick up a bocadillo.  As I neared the town I reached into my camelbak for my phone to let Michael know that I was nearing the meeting point... and it wasn't there!  Sudden panic.  I knew exactly where it was!  Where I had stopped.  I had been in such a rush to put my pack back on and move off before the other peregrinos descended on me that it had slipped off the pack and onto the grass.  Now I almost ran the last km to the meeting point, and when I arrived - no vehicle!  I wandered the town - which was almost completely dead and which was so in the Middle Ages still that they had the goats living under the houses in the middle of the town.  I hurried back to the meeting point - poor Yume now thirsty and hot as the sun's intensity increased and still no vehicle.  I couldn't even ask to borrow a phone from someone as of course I hadn't got Michael's numbers written down - a huge flaw in the back up plans and one I intended to rectify immediately assuming I got my phone back.  Finally - there was the car!  Late as there hadn't been any cafes or bars anywhere selling food and so Michael had been driving to find provisions.      I bundled in Yume and we set off back down the road and turned onto a track that would take us onto a drivable part of the camino.

As we got to my stopping point - there it was!  The relief was unbelievable.

The AVE railway construction runs along the camino.
These blue signs with yellow arrows are very
confusing as they are for the construction vehicles, yet
are identical to some used to mark diversion on the
We drove back to the meeting point as various peregrinos (including my Monty Python cast extras) passed by - I'm sure they must have thought I was leap frogging!  Much relieved and grateful for food and a refill of water, I set off again - having let the others get a good distance ahead - maybe a km or more up the slight hill ahead of me.  Akina accompanied me as she copes with the heat much better and we strode out for Granja.  Over the rise, yet still with a good view into the distance, there wasn't a peregrino in sight - and not a sign to be had!  The new railway now cut right across our path and continued into the distance right over the top of the camino.  I saw fresh footprints in the sand and dust and followed them.  Finally we found an arrow here and there and eventually the camino turned from under the railway workings and found its way across the countryside again, the little concrete pillars marking the way.  It was beautiful again - thankfully, as the heat had been even more intense and tiring on the deep sandy railway construction surface and that kind of walking drains the energy.  Fortunately there were some deep puddles which had collected from where the tractors and their bowsers constantly dowse the surface and so Akina could get an extra drink.

Finally the Camino reappears from under the railway
As we reached the top of another rise, the nice track again got overtaken and diverted by the railway.  And then - no more signs and in addition to this, still no sign of any pilgrims!  Suddenly they were walking fast!!  Having not wanted to be with anyone else yesterday and trying to avoid them earlier today, I would now have given anything to know we were all on the track together!  I scouted around for the footprints I had been following earlier - I knew the tread well, and there they were.  So off we went... into nowhere and into what seemed like an impassable area where the railway vehicles were really working intensely.  We were not on the right track.  I could see the town way to my right and this route was taking us away.

I conferred with my back up vehicle which was already in town and had located a pilgrim's bar and Albergue.  I wanted Akina picked up and new water brought for her as we had now run out as we had been ambling around for ages.  The only thing to do was head back as scrambling down vertical banks was not going to be possible.  The moment I got back to a bridge - which ran right across the railway and which was crossed by speeding trucks with construction material, there was a marker!!  It would have been SO easy for them to have marked the way.  If I had known or thought of it then, I would have built one of the wonderful arrows to help others... and I know more would make this mistake, because as I entered the town, the two Python peregrinos who had been behind me all morning and overtaken me in Riego... were suddenly behind me again!  They must have gone a long way wrong and turned round and walked all the way back, to be in this position!  Yet nearer still to the town, more pilgrims were coming from all directions, I guessed they had also gone wrong and somehow negotiated the building works to get back on track.  In fact the next day the track went to where we would have come out and I guess that some of those I met had got onto this part of the camino and back-tracked.

I struck gold with Hostal Galicia 
The kitchen!!
We were all delighted to get to the bar and order an ice cold beer.  Many of them sat with the peregrino menu and were tucking into platefuls of delicious looking thick lentils.  Mmmmmm!!  We only hoped we would get the same later!!  Our booking for the night was a little ahead of where we finished, and where I would be walking the following day, so I had booked two nights.  As it happened, although the numbers I had called were seemed to be redundant, as I was to find throughout this trip, there is a lot of accommodation and many people arriving to take rooms without booking.  I struck gold with this one though.  Coming into Tábara, the check in is at Hostal Galicia II (980 590 136) on the edge of town.  They are happy to drive you to the accommodation which is pretty much central but lovely and quiet.  At 15 Euros per night it is amazing - I had a kitchen, bathroom and a suite of rooms (!) all to myself.  If I had needed it I could have done a good wash with the machine and in the perfect weather, the little washing I did have dried quickly on the courtyard line outside my room.  The owners and the bar staff were delightful - so helpful, friendly, welcoming and willing to chat.  I heard voices in broken Spanish through the evening as other peregrinos also discovered the delights of the hostal and in communication with the host.  As with every accommodation I have stayed at in Spain so far, however basic, it was spotless.

The roadworks that cross the route and
mean diversions and sometimes no redirection
at all, just road walking until you find
a way to get back on the camino.  The
various arrows at the top of the map
direct pilgrims on or to albergues or
the town at Fontanillos de Castro
Dinner was at the Roble (Oak) bar just off the town square and with a big scallop shell proclaiming pilgrims welcome and over the two nights we were certainly surrounded by them!  Germans, French, English and American with a couple of Spanish.  Most were older - 50's and over - and not the 20-30 yo demographic I had expected.  We got the lentils we had craved - although a little thin I have to say and not as chunky and heart warming as those we had spied at the Albergue in Granja (!)...  The service was friendly and warm and actually, what more can one want?  If you want to stay in the Albergue in Granja, it is actually welcoming and looks very nice and the room fee from what I could overhear seemed to be 5 Euros.  I do believer however that it is "floor" showers and toilets and not beds - so if you have a back, hip or other physical challenge then it might not be for you.  Floors sadly no longer suit my back and also I did not want to carry the extra weight of carry mats on these trips even if I could cope, but it's not worth locking up so that I would not be able to walk at all.

Rerouted through the fields with the
railway in dashes... circled is where a
redirection sign really should be placed
as so many of us (all I believe) went
wrong.  Some walking many km out
of their way on a very, very hot day
and near the end of our water. 
If you decide on the Galicia and arrive on foot into Tábara, then as you get near the town there are two arrows.  One seems to take you into a field (which is correct if you are continuing on the Camino or going to the town centre) but if you wish to check in and go to the Galicia II check in point - you need to follow the arrow where there is also an "A" painted.  I do not know if this refers to the Albergue, as I did not see it, but it will take you to the right point.  The Albergue here is apparently very basic - floor and showers only.  I recommend the Galicia if you have the funds!