Sept. 24: Muros de Nalón – 16 miles
We breakfast with a couple from England and a man from Poland who left his front door in May and has been walking ever since! It’s a pleasant walk through villages and dirt trails in the forest…until the rain starts.
We find ourselves sloshing through mud and over rocks and gnarled tree roots. Navigating puddles and trenches takes total concentration and we are laser focused for what seems like hours. I’m not sure what’s more slippery; the ascents or the descents. The rain seems to be enjoying the game it’s playing with us. Every time we get too warm and take off our rain jackets, it starts up again.
We welcome the drizzle and the change from muddy forest to road. We chat with a woman from the Netherlands who regales us with stories about each of her Camino adventures over the last ten years. It’s a League of Nations, as we stand at a crossroads with pilgrims from all different countries trying to ascertain the correct route. The yellow arrows and the shells posted along the way are our guides. At the start, the base of the shell pointed the correct way, but now they are displayed both ways!
Casa Carmina has not opened for the day yet, so we wait on a bench across the street with some other pilgrims. The mother/daughter owners are a well-oiled machine, welcoming us early out of the drizzle and getting us settled. Rather than a room of bunk beds, we opt for a private room at this albergue. The weather clears and we enjoy some wine, sitting outside on their lovely grounds. We chat with a young woman from the Netherlands, who started cycling from the northern most part of her country and plans to end up at the southern most point of Portugal. And to make it even more of an experience, she’s camping along the way!
Sept. 25: Soto de Lunas – 14 miles
Another difficult day awaits us! It’s a repeat of yesterday and we’re fixated on every muddy step, with steep ups and downs. In between, we are treated to peeks of the ocean and walks through small towns.
There’s a convivial gathering in the crowded bar and dining room as we enter Hotel Valle de Luiñas. We are welcomed warmly at this lovely rural inn and told our bags have not arrived yet. We had planned to enjoy Sunday dinner here, so we wash our faces and hands and quickly sit down. With our muddy pants and boots hidden under the white tablecloth, we decide we don’t look too bad from the waist up.
The first one in the shower each day is responsible for giving the shower report. Is it slippery? Which are the hot/cold faucets? Sometimes they are opposite. Does it leak? I purposely let Michael go first today.
Sept. 26: Cadavedo – 16 miles
The good news: the hotel is right on the Camino path. The bad news: our guidebook rated yesterday a two in difficulty and rates today a three! Right away, we come to a long tunnel which is so dark, we can’t see a thing. By the light of our phones we walk cautiously, trying to ascertain the terrain.
By days end, we will have tackled five water crossings, each with its own unique characteristics. Whether we’re balancing from rock to slick rock, deciding the sturdiest place to step on a tree root or wondering if it’s best to go straight through or around the perimeter, we can count on our our hiking poles to get us to the other side. The narrow path that follows takes us up a steep incline, but the view of the ocean at the top makes it all worthwhile.
We’re so happy to have arrived that we don’t mind climbing the grand staircase at Hotel Rural Casa Roja, a charming renovated country home. We never tire of the stone walls and beamed ceilings that these places all have in common. It’s not much of a town, but with lovely sitting areas, inside and out, we make sure to take advantage of both. But, not before buying a bottle of wine at the market conveniently located across the street.
Sept. 27: Luarca – 11 miles
We begin with jackets on, only to take them off a few minutes later. There’s no rain in the forecast, the temperature quickly rises from the 60’s to the 70’s and it’s cloudy; perfect for walking.
The forest path is steep, but surprisingly dry. The makeshift steps, made up of twisted tree roots and rocks, force us to contemplate every step, but rather than tiring me out, it leaves me with a peaceful feeling. Walking through the small farm towns is a welcome pleasure. The old stone dwellings that look as if they’ve seen better days seem to be magically transformed into homes with just the addition of their blooming flower boxes.
Luarca is an older seaside town. What makes it unique are the white homes balancing on the cliffs that encircle the Bay of Biscay. I am fascinated to see how they are connected and still standing! The streets are so incredibly steep, I wonder how they get around on icy/snowy days. Meanwhile, two “señoras” (older women) are arm in arm, talking and laughing, as they bypass us and make their way quickly down the street!
Built in 1906, the Hotel Villa de Luarca was a residence and our room looks out to a lovely little courtyard filled with flowers. Most towns close up in the late afternoon and as soon as they reopen again for the evening, the bars, restaurants and plazas quickly all come alive. After a quick walking tour of the historic quarter after dinner, it’s time for these two peregrinos to call it a night.