October 19

Sarria to Ventas de Naron   35km

It was a big walk today to put me in a place so I can easily cruise to Santiago to meet Susan and Diane on Sunday evening. It was probably the longest days walk I have had since the Jura mountains. 

The dawn was great but the day was largely grey with some drizzle;

Here in Galicia grain is stored in these barns:They are nicely raised off the ground to stop rats, I guess. 

Yesterday I mentioned that there are these Camino markers every 500 m or so showing the remaining distance to Santiago. Well the brass numbers must be a  prized souvenir in some parts. Today they were missing from all the markers I saw!

I’ve only got 79km now to my destination.

The route was through some lovely countryside 

Pilgrims don’t always wear the most flattering of clothes:

There was a strange memorial here. All sorts of stuff had been left with pictures of people:

For one short part the path went through some of the fire damaged trees from a couple of days ago. 

The trees here look as if they will survive OK and it just the undergrowth that has been destroyed. 

It reminded me of hearing that in the forests of North America before the Pilgrim Fathers arrived the land was covered in forests that the natives would burn and that these forests were open and clear of undergrowth so you could ride a horse through them. 

I was amused by this Cafe sign. There is good marketing going on here. What does a weary pilgrim want most? A comfortable chair on which to sit!  I have never seen another cafe advertising seats. 

I had a great plate of two fried eggs and chips. It kept me going for the stretch along the road:

I planned this last stretch between Sarria and Santiago carefully. In order to get the certificate- the Compostella- you have to walk 100km minimum so a lot of people start in Sarria. I deduced that this last stretch would be very busy and crowded so I would walk it quickly with longer days to get it over with as it wouldn’t be enjoyable. 

Well I was wrong. Maybe tomorrow will be different but today the paths were no busier than anywhere else in Spain. 

The number of pilgrims who reach Santiago is reported every day. The numbers for the past days are:

1519 / 1080 / 1319 / 1454 / 1281 / 830 / 780 / 862

It looks like my arrival is coinciding with a big drop in pilgrim numbers. Hurrah!

Some of the paths have been constructed to cope with pilgrim numbers. 

There is an odd feature on the old houses. They have slits that look like defensive points. This one has one such in the bottom left. It doesn’t look like just a window. This house has one too in the bottom right:

Did you spot the odd figure resting on the balcony as it passes by?

I am reminded of a bit in my guidebook about the people of Galicia. It says the Gallegos (as they are called) have a distinctly equivocal attitude to witches. It has the quote “I do not believe in witches, but they do exist”. 

I passed a wonderful old fort dating back to before the Romans. It had been partly excavated:

I love these old forts sited on the tops of hills. The countryside to the South of my home in Shropshire has lots of these old forts. They are very atmospheric. 

The route today went across this valley. There used to be a town here but then they built a dam and flooded the valley. Today there is no water in the valley and the remains of the town can be seen in places. Forgive me for saying this but it all seems a complete waste of time!! 

Only three days to Santiago now. The adventure will soon be over. Sad and glad at the same time. Sad for it to be over and glad to be able to see all my friends and relations again.