Vega de Valcarce to Biduelo (26km)
Saturday, 29 September, 2012
I set off that morning in idyllic conditions; blue sky, no wind and early morning birdsong. I was very fortunate with the weather. I had been advised that there was not much accommodation between Vega de Valcarce and Triacastela at 33 km and most of the route was at over 1200 m and quite exposed to the elements.
The path ran parallel to the road and wound steadily up the valley, until there was no more valley, and then started the ascent to O Cebreiro at 1500 m. Once up on the ridge, the path climbed gradually, until O Cebreiro appeared.
It was much smaller than I had imagined, and very touristy. And being a Saturday, the tiny village was quite crowded, with the car park overflowing.
O Cebreiro has been inhabited continuously since pre-Roman times. In the 1960s, it was largely renovated, many of the buildings having fallen into disuse.
For the next 3-4 hours the path steeply ascended and descended many times, until I was starting to get quite tired; the constant treading on rocks and stones had left my bad foot quite numb.
But suddenly, without any prior warning, there was a hostal with a bar in the middle of nowhere, outside a tiny village, that consisted solely of a few farm buildings. And they had a vacancy; a comfortable room, with stone walls and heating. We were still at over 1200 m in late September, and it could get quite cold at night.
After a hot shower and a meal, I felt much better. And I had the luxury of being able to wash my clothes and have them dried before the morning.
It does not take much to make a pilgrim’s day… 🙂
Biduelo to Sarria (26km)
Sunday, 30 September, 2012
I experienced a beautiful start to the day; fresh cold mountain air, blue sky, and no sound but birdsong and the occasional bark of a distant farm dog, or the clang of a cow bell.
All morning the path descended gradually, with the occasional climb out of a valley to attain a ridge, and then the slow descent re-established itself. At intervals a village appeared, mostly with only a handful of farm dwellings and occasional a small bar. It was a warm day, but I did not stop; I was comfortable at my pace and I did not want to break it
On the outskirts, leaving Triacastela, I had a choice to make. On the left was the longer flat route to Sarria, via Samos, with its famous sixth century monastery, and on the right the much shorter route, via San Xil, albeit with some steep ascents on dirt paths.
I choose the elevated route and for the rest of the day I never saw a single pilgrim. Most of them probably had stayed in Triacastela and were far ahead, or they stayed in O Cebreiro and were still behind me.
The route was beautiful, climbing through lush green woods and when it emerged on the plateau, one could see for a long way. Of course on a day of heavy rain and strong cold winds, it would not have been so pleasant.
From the plateau, the route was gently downhill, until it reached the main road that led eventually into Sarria.