Monday, 17 August 2015

El Camino (Levante) Otero de Sanabria to Requejo (17.6km plus 7.9km extra by road) Thursday 15th May

El Camino (Levante) Otero de Sanabria to Requejo (17.6km plus 7.9km extra by road) Thursday 15th May
This ended up being a bit of a day off!  Although we started out on the route into Pueblo de Sanabria with some interesting and rather direct signage indicating I guess that drivers should slow down and take more care driving through the little villages (the Spanish don't beat about the bush!)... we soon found that it the day was going to be largely directed along tar roads.  This is no fun for humans or dogs, and the girls needed their exercise, so we decided to drive along the main, and very busy, road toward Requejo and see if there were any diversions onto off road tracks and to find out exactly how far the peregrino was going to be directed along the roads.

Pretty marker on the lovely
way to Requejo, easily missed
if you are just trudging the
tar road.  It's easy to assume
that one will have to take tar
all the way to Requjo - and
sadly many peregrinos ended
up doing exactly that
A little out of Pueblo de Sanabria, there is actually a sign on the right indicating that the camino can be followed along an off road path and to be honest it is quiet and rather beautiful.  I was glad indeed that we spotted it because it is not the way marked on the map and is easily missed - we saw a large number of other pilgrims who had just gone on past this section and were still plodding on along the tarmac.  Sadly, they would have many kilometres to go because there is a very, very long stretch up the hill out of Requejo, also along busy roadway, before the pilgrim is redirected onto the usual country tracks.  There are many lorries on this section, heavy and carrying building materials and hardcore for the new railway being built and which has haunted our camino at many different stages, meeting us, departing from us, running along side us or actually following the original route of the camino itself.

Not to be missed!  Do keep your eyes peeled for the signs to take the diverted camino route to the "right hand side" of
the main road out of Pueblo de Sanabria.  It's well worth it to avoid even more road walking to Requejo - there will be
plenty enough after it!
As we entered Requejo the ayuntamiento makes the pilgrim feel very welcome and we had a great coffee and bite to eat in the little cafe at the foot of the town, where the camino would usually pass by and head on up the steep valley into the hills, but off the road.  For now this is closed and the only way for the pilgrim is to head up the very busy main road.  There is a nice little albergue and the town will be set for peregrinos in the near future, a great place to stop over before the BIG climb up to the Galician border (and believe me it is!)... There were many pilgrims here when we stopped but most were keen to just get on with the journey and conquer the main road section before it got even busier as the day wore on.  On our return from our explorations we saw around 20 or so peregrinos battling their way up the road - one (who we had spotted before and were quite amazed at how they might be achieving the more rugged sections of the camino) - with a wheeled suitcase!!

The cross with St James as one enters
The Albergue

From the restaurant, we drove up the long and relentless hill, the more so for it being a major highway, busy with construction lorries and no pathway so that those on foot had to walk in traffic, and kept our eyes open for where the camino would be redirected back "off road".  We knew it had to be somewhere and finally, although not clearly marked, we found it.  This would be my starting point the next day and I wanted to be off early to avoid being surrounded by too many pilgrims, there were a "lot" staying in Pueblo de Sanabria and possibly some in Requejo.  The total climb above Requejo before heading down again into Lubián is 1450m.
Where the camion gets "back on track" above Requejo
and off the main road, but by where many of the
construction vehicles park up


 Requejo is a kind of frontier zone - between the Mediterranean climate and the Atlantic.  The mountains often have snow and ice and there are salt and sand tanks along the side of the road for gritting in the winter months.  It's also why I had to walk this section out of winter time.  The guidebook recommends alternative routes for when it has been raining because the way can be hazardous, although at the moment, because or building the railway, even the alternatives are not available!  It is an area known for its architecture, its flora and fauna and there are many trails for tourists to explore, even if they are not walking El Camino.

 On leaving Requejo, we decided to have another afternoon in Pueblo de Sanabria - continuing to be tourists, having a bite to eat and drinking a cold beer.  We found a nice shady spot for the dogs and took a wander around the monuments and stalls, discovering signs of St James as we went.

The back streets of Pueblo de Sanabria

Various dried beans and "mushrooms" (especially taken for my mother... haha!) ... the cuisine of this area
is well known for some of its wild mushroom dishes and they are delicious!

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