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Saturday, 15 August 2015

El Camino (Levante) - Bercianos de Valverde to the river crossing at Camarzana de Tera (17.4km)

Cave house as we head uphill from Bercianos
Bercianos de Valverde to the river crossing at Camarzana de Tera (17.4km) Sunday 11th May, 2014

And again, another beautiful day for walking the camino.  The early morning was fresh and the birdsong filled the air as we headed up from the flock filled flat lands and headed up a steep climb to another woodland.  On our left as we headed uphill were a few cave houses, really cute and welcoming "homes" unlike most that we have seen which have been a bit ramshackle and neglected.



Akina showing off her discovery

As Akina and I neared the top, there were tracks in different directions and it was unclear which way to go.  There were none of the usual arrows, and then Akina found an enormous peregrino built arrow which some kind soul or souls had spent time and effort constructing so that others would not lose the way.  Akina posed next to it to show exactly how large it had been built!  It was a very impressive and rather beautiful arrow!  Thank you to whoever took such consideration and showed such mindfulness.

The wonderful sign with all the contact
information for the pilgrim
The track was easy going and easy to follow, marked well with no surprises.  When we reached the top it was flat and very pretty with trees all around us.  Ahead on one section just before we met with the vehicle for a dog swap there was a group of signs and a little shelter put up by Casa Anita, the Albergue in the next village (Santa Croya de Tera). It was superb and such a welcome shady rest stop for those arriving in the heat, or a shelter from the rain for those who might come across it during inclement weather.

Akina by the little shelter and the camino marker
Actually Anita of Casa Anita (a private Albergue) is pretty switched on as she had written her name just on a stone at the multi-sign crossroads where I changed into shorts and took photos yesterday.  I didn't know what it meant then, but it stayed in my head - kind of "subliminal advertising" then? Well, it worked!  I wish I had known about it before as it would have been a great place for an overnight.

As we headed on through the woodland and made a dog swap, I took Yume on with me.  As I walked I could hear a strange and rhythmic noise echoing through the trees.  It seemed to stop when I did, yet it also sounded like the rhythm of running.  I have to say it was a bit freaky for a while, but it must have just been the acoustics of the forest, because before long a lady came past jogging with her two dogs! Yume of course wanted to join in and had one of her squeaky, lacking impulse control moments but she settled and was very good at staying with me.  We were wished Buen Camino and I think she suggested that she would be coming back - which she did some time later, jogging her way back towards and past us.  Yume was even better this time, but still wanted to join in.

The trail through the woodland
The little rest hut built for peregrinos
I started to head down a hill to Santa Croya de Tera and again the business savvy Anita had been at it with the signs.  It was at this point I met the same two guys that I had met near Tábara.  This time they were wearing berets of all things (!) They really were French.  Now all they needed were stripy jerseys and some onions to complete the picture!    Again they were walking against the flow of the traffic... I was curious and a little confused, so much so that I thought I must be imagining things and they were just two guys that looked similar to the last two.  They laughed and joked and waved and stopped me and asked if they were going the right way... I laughed and thought they must be pulling my leg from the other day and copying my question, except that of course they were going the other way and so it was even funnier.  I wasn't sure if they were serious though, and of course it is so much harder doing the camino in reverse because often arrows and signs are on the other side of posts and stones and so can only be seen from the direction in which one is meant to see them... Anyway, I pointed them up the hill and said that the markers were easy to find ahead.  Amused, bemused and confused I continued!

On entering the town we saw yet another of these stuffed "people" hanging up on a post... it's obviously something they do here and maybe something to do with football???  I have no idea, I was trying to read the scarf!

Yume was not able to shed any light on the situation either, but did offer to pose next to one of the inspirational markers that are dotted regularly along this part of the route.   As I write this, over three months since walking, she looks so small and puppy-like!  I can't believe how much she has changed since these photos were taken, although she hasn't lost much of her puppy nature.

Casa Anita continued to advertise itself and when we found the hostel itself it was lovely and I wished that I had found out about it sooner to book a night there myself.  I would thoroughly recommend others to try it!  It also looks very welcoming and is definitely an upmarket hostel from the municipal one which is no longer open - hence why I could not get a response when trying to book!
Casa Anita




The old hostel
From here, after meeting with Michael for a quick break, I continued with Akina and the route flattened out and followed the river.  It was delightful and calm with many allotments along the way and some great Camino signs to guide us.  It feels more and more like "El Camino" as we go further along the way, and I love it although I also loved the remoteness of the earlier route.  It's just different and a different experience, but no less valuable or enjoyable.  The flock from the trees snowed on us and covered the ground in white.  It gave a muffled kind of peacefulness a bit like when it really does snow, yet the spring birds and the cuckoo called around us.











It was an easy going walk, and I think I went at quite an amble.  It was also one of the days as I neared the end where I felt very tired and the last few km's seemed to be longer than usual!  However, the night's rest would be at a cabin where I had booked a week, as part of Michael's birthday present and we would go back to a similar way of walking to how we started in Valencia - driving out to do a day's walk each day and stopping at a central point.  It would be a nice way to have a bit of a holiday while at the same time still being able to enjoy my camino walking.

The cabin was pet friendly and it was great to stay with all the dogs.  It had a lovely little veranda to sit on and enjoy the evenings and have supper while unwinding from the day's walk.  It was very quiet as it wasn't yet "in the season" for holiday makers and often we felt like we had the place to ourselves.  The staff were friendly and there was a nice field in which to give the dogs their evening run, just a short walk from the cabin.  The cabins were at "Cabañas Maleixas" in Sanabria, a stunning area and with great walking close to the mountains.  Only 270 Euros for two people for a week (including the IVA).

At the end of the day's walk, there had been great peace among the trees the lovely camino signs and a cute little cross attached to a tree with a marker below.

The allotments along the route are tended beautifully and with great care.  I rested

frequently on this last part, as I said, just one of those days where I felt particularly tired and Akina wasn't complaining at a quick snooze either while I had a reviving snack on left over lunch.

Finally, when we met the back up vehicle, there was an amazing camp site at the end of the day's route, where a couple of families had set up camp and strung a tented roof through the trees over their cars and camping area.  It was quite amazing and looked like a great idea.  However, we were all set for our week at our cabin and a nice cold beer to celebrate in birthday style!


Birthday Celebration - cold beer at our cabin for the week

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