Category Archives: Camino Sanabrés

Puebla de Sanabria to Requejo de Sanabria to Padornelo

June 2 – Left our comfy Hotel Victoria for an 8 mile walk to Requejo de Sanabria.  Another cool, clear morning. We crossed a bridge over the Rio Castro to exit Puebla, and followed the river for the first hour or so.

After leaving the river, which involved some rock hopping and wet boots, our route ran mostly along the roadside, sometimes on the asphalt, and sometimes on a tractor path next to the highway.  Then we entered a shady wood.

The woods took us to the tiny, mostly abandoned village of Terroso, and a path to a Santiago church.

Walking staff and shells of St. James:

More shells on the door:

Although the church is locked, there is a small shrine by the side door.  As I approach it the light comes on.  It is St. James, and a little plate with an image of Our Lady of Fatima.

We continue down the path to see a St. James cross:

St. James is in the middle:

And I guess a grumpy Madonna and child on top:

Shady trails the rest of the way to Requejo.  

In Requejo, there were two hotels on the main road, with an alburgue between.  At the first hotel, the proprietress waved us off and told us to go to the alburgue, although the hotel didn’t look like it had many customers.  I guess she didn’t want to deal with hikers.  At the Hotel Mar Rojo, we were given a comfy room and a good meal.  155 miles to go.

June 3 – Only six miles planned for today, and I will tell you why.  When we started walking in Sevilla, the terrain was perfectly flat.  Then we started gaining elevation, and the trail was a little more challenging:

Our guidebook informed us that today we would climb to the highest point of this Camino, with an elevation profile like this:

So I overreacted just a bit, and asked Jim to break up the hike to Lubian with a night at Padornelo, at the top of the mountain.

Our first few miles were entirely on the highway.

Then we walked through a construction detour:

By mid morning the road began to climb:

And before you could say “Bob’s your uncle”, we were at the summit.

All that to say, the big climb was just not such a much, and we were at our hotel by 11am.  I definitely could have made it to Lubian…

But instead we are in Padornelo, with a very nice view from our window:

And a quaint little church:

Where the townsfolk care enough to write their name on the hillside:

…and take their horses for walks at the gas station:

And the mist rolls down the mountain in the evening.

149 miles to go.

Puebla de Sanabria 

June 1 – Happy June to you, and happy tenth wedding anniversary to my wonderful Jim ❤️!  We are celebrating by taking a day off in the very nice Hotel Victoria, with comfy pillows, a balcony with a view of the mountains, and a jacuzzi tub.  Really posh!  Here’s our view:Puebla de Sanabria is a small tourist town, between the Rio Tera and the Rio Castro.  I thought we had said goodbye to the Rio Tera, but here it is again!

We walked across the bridge toward the Old City, and the first thing I saw were the steps going up to the castle. Please don’t make me climb those steps with my pack on!

Luckily, the trail kept to the road, and I was spared the steps.

After getting settled in our hotel, we set out to see the town.  There is a twelfth century church here:

There is an equally ancient hermitage:

There is a medieval castle / fort:

There is a Museum of Gigantic Heads:

Now for the bad news.  With the exception of the castle, all the attractions are open on weekends only, and today is most definitely a Thursday.  Oh well!  We strolled around the Old City, looking at the tourist shops:

Then on to the castle!

Jim got to try on some armor and weapons:

The views from the ramparts were pretty spectacular:

There was a video inside that showed the history of the area, so I got to see some of the gigantic heads after all!  I guess they were used for parades, maybe?  Let me know if you know.

The Old City:

So, that was our day, along with a wonderful meal and some natilla for dessert.  Love you, Jim! ❤️

Mombuey to Entrepeñas to Puebla de Sanabria

May 30 – Ten miles planned for today.  We had our morning coffee at the Hotel La Ruta, then picked up the yellow arrows of the trail, which, as always, led us to the church.  This one had a cow up in the bell tower!  Do you see it?  

How about now?

For those who may think that I have an obsession about photographing churches, let me remind you that the Camino is designed to pass the church in every town.  The pilgrims of old sought respite and shelter in the churches as they walked.  These days the churches are all locked, of course, but the Camino still passes by. It’s the one thing you can count on in every town.

The morning was clear and cool, although we shed our jackets within the hour, and turned our pants into shorts an hour after that.

Spotted two rabbits, two deer, a big green lizard and tons of butterflies as we hiked.  Jim got pictures of the butterflies – the rest were too fast for us.

We walked through three deserted towns, with signs explaining that they used to be important stops for the Camino in ages past, although they no longer have alburgues.Jim was reading about the towns in our little guidebook, when he noticed that the third town had a Casa Rural.  We were planning to stay at the alburgue in Asturianos tonight, which didn’t get great reviews, but looked like the only place within (our) walking distance.  We were almost through Entrepeñas, a deserted-looking town, when we saw the sign on the house of Casa Rural El Cuco.  The proprietress was standing right out front buying fruit and/or fish from a refrigerated truck (there are no stores in this town) and she invited us in.  A beautiful quiet house with a lovely garden, and a promise of breakfast in the morning!  We asked what we could do for our meal today (there are no restaurants in this town), and our host offered to drive us to the restaurant in Asturianos, and to put our clothes in her washing machine while we ate.  Deal!  The restaurant is run by a grumpy lady who argues with her customers about what they ordered.  She won’t start cooking until everyone is seated.  Entertaining – and the food was good!  The restaurant manager drove us back to the Casa.  174 miles to go.

May 31 – Our host made us an entire homemade bundt cake, buttered toast, homemade jam, juice and a whole pot of coffee and heated milk for breakfast.  A wonderful way to start another clear, sunny day!  Eleven and a half miles today.

Parts of the trail were muddy, and the day was mostly uphil, with a few more empty towns.

We passed a flock of sheep, tended by one shepherd and a small dog.

The last five miles were on asphalt service road paralleling the highway.

Jim said he wished the jets would stop scratching up his sky.

And now we are in Puebla de Sanabria, where we will take a day off.  More to come.  163 miles to go.

Camarzana de Tera to Villar de Farfón to Mombuey

May 28 – The image above is wall art that we saw at the school on our way out of Camarzana.  After a true rest day (there was nothing to see or do in Camarzana, so we really rested), we set out to walk an eleven mile stretch down the Rio Tera, around the dam, and on to Villar de Farfón, population 5.  According to our guidebook, the only people who live in Villar de Farfón are one old man, and the missionary family who run the alburgue (I think this is a joke, but we’ll see).  The alburgue only has four beds, and we are hoping that two beds will be available when we get there, otherwise we’ll have to walk another three miles to the next town.

The day dawned overcast and gray, but no rain is expected.  

We had coffee in the tiny town of Olleros de Tera, and spent time speaking with a German and a Dutchman who were walking together.

The trail left the dirt road and we scrambled down a narrow brush path to get closer to the dam.

Then we walked over the bridge and looked down on the dam.  I think this is the last we will see of the Rio Tera and all its Tera towns.

Handmade signs let us know we were approaching Villar de Farfón.

We read that the missionary host of the alburgue offers coffee and conversation to anyone who wants to stop in.  As we enter the tiny town, we think maybe our guidebook wasn’t joking.  These buildings have seen better days, and we see no shops or businesses.

Here is the Alburgue Rehobeth:

It’s actually very nice inside, with an open kitchen and table where our two friends from this morning are having coffee.  We ask if we can stay, and are the first to check in for the day.  Our host is a missionary who has lived in South Africa and India.  He has tracts in all languages in case anyone wishes to learn about Christianity.  Here is the dormitory:

Here is the shower!

An Australian couple came in after a while, then a Brit with an injured leg.  Although there were only four beds in the dormitory, our host had another bunk in the back so all could stay.  As there is no place in town to buy food, our host keeps the makings of a spaghetti dinner and salad on hand, along with sodas, coffee, milk and cookies.  There is no set fee to stay at the alburgue – there is a box and a sign asking for a ‘donativo’.  Jim offered to cook, and we made a communal supper.  Jim’s spaghetti sauce can’t be beat!  Richard the Brit washed the dishes.  We had a very relaxed evening.

After supper we walked around the town, seeing no one.  The church doesn’t look active:

Views from the bell tower:

I think the alburgue family may be the only folks in town!

193 miles to go.

May 29 – Good beds and a relaxing night!  After a coffee and cookie breakfast, we bade farewell to our friends Peter, Lily and Richard.  Our host (sorry I didn’t retain his name) is on the right:

Nine miles today to Mombuey.

We stopped in Rionegro for coffee:

This must be the Rio Negro:

A groovy pilgrim statue:

The weather cleared as we walked:

There may be a mountain in our future!

And now we are in the Hotel La Ruta in Mombuey, with the laundry hanging by the window, a menu del dia in our bellies and a siesta coming on.  184 miles to go.

Tábara to Santa Croya de Tera to Santa Marta de Tera to Camarzana de Tera

May 25 – Up early again today, for a fourteen mile hike to Santa Croya.  Daybreak by the Torre (tower) with storks, of course, and sunrise from the road.

Tábara looks like a very nice town in the early morning light.  Too bad I was too tired yesterday to see any of it!

Lots of company on the trail this morning, mostly French, with one skinny Irish boy toting a ukulele.

A nice mix of farm track and green trail today.  For some reason, we were plagued by black flies.  Bugs usually aren’t an issue, and we have no bug spray.  I kept my mouth closed, but they flew up my nose and in my ears.  I thought for sure you would be able to see the flies in the photos!

At a fork with no clear sign to indicate the right direction, pilgrims made their own arrows to guide us:

Tonight we are staying at Casa Anita, a huge alburgue that is the only place to stay in Santa Croya.  In addition to the dormitories, they rent private rooms upstairs, and we booked one.  Signs let us know we are getting close.

Our hostess made us feel welcome, and let us know that Casa Anita is not only the only place in town to sleep, but also the only place to eat!  They serve a communal supper at 7:30, with two choices of entree.  What fun!  Back in 2011 when we walked the Camino Franćes, we enjoyed many communal suppers, but this one is the first opportunity we’ve had on this trail.

We arrived downstairs about 5 minutes early, to check out the tables.  One long table was buzzing in French, but at the other, we heard English!  Yay!  We sat down and introduced ourselves to three Australians and the Irish lad, and had a long, rambling conversation over wine, vegetable soup, pasta, pork loin, salad and fresh fruit for dessert.  Nicest evening.  208 miles to go.
May 26 – Back when we were in Zamora, we heard about a statue of St James that dated from the late eleventh or early twelfth century – the earliest representation of him as a pilgrim.  We looked in the churches and the museum at the cathedral, but couldn’t find it.  Finally, a tour guide who spoke some English let us know that the statue we were looking for was not in the city of Zamora at all, but a hundred kilometers away in a small church in Santa Marta de Tera, which is part of the province of Zamora.  Well, guess where we are right now?  Visiting a string of little towns on the Rio Tera, and Santa Marta is just a short walk away!

We woke to thunderstorms, making us glad we weren’t planning to walk far today.  We hung around the alburgue until almost 10, then set out for Santa Marta.  The Romanesque church was small, and was identified as a Monesterio, so I guess there used to be more to it.

The very nice lady inside turned on the lights for us and let us explore.

On the wall was a reproduction of the statue we were looking for – St James with his trademark staff and shell.  We asked where the original statue could be found?  Oh, she said, (in Spanish of course) it’s around back by the cemetery. Whoopee!

We went around to the back of the church, and there it was!

On the other side of the door was an equally ancient statue of St Peter.

The cemetery had some fresh mounds, reminding us that actual people were under there:

Upstairs there was a little museum with old books, pilgrim artifacts and bits of saints:

So glad we found this place!

Then it was back into the thunder and lightning for a wet walk to Camarzana de Tera.

And now we are in a little hotel with a very nice restaurant, drying out.  203 miles to go.

Monesterio de Moreruela to Tábara

May 23 – Our original plan was to walk west today, but we discovered that we are just two miles away from the ruins of an ancient Abbey that resembles what the original Santiago Cathedral looked like back in the 1100s, before they built the new one.  This deserves to be explored.  Jim called our proprietress and asked if we could stay in our lovely Casa Rural a second night.  Our comfy room was booked, but she managed to find us another, further down the street.

The brochure said the Monesterio opened at 10 (which we thought odd for a ruin) so we started walking a little after 9am.  A sunny and breezy morning, with our path half on dirt track and half on an unbusy paved road.We arrived just before 10, and waited outside the gate.  When no one came to open the gate at 10, Jim lifted the latch and we walked in.

We saw the ruins of the cloisters:

…and part of the inside of the actual church, looking through a locked gate.

I walked around back, thinking I could see the exterior of the church from that angle, but instead encountered some construction workers up on a scaffold, working on the reconstruction.  One of the men climbed down to tell us that the Monesterio was closed on Tuesdays, and we had to leave.  What?

Sure enough, when we returned to the gate, we read the fine print:  Cerrado Lunes y Martes.  Drat.  The man followed us out to be sure we did not linger.

Here is the picture I couldn’t get of the front of the church, borrowed courtesy of the Internet:

We’ll have to come back and explore some other year!

May 24 – We are heading into a stretch where accomodations are few and far between.  16 miles today to get to Tábara, and it will be hot and sunny all the way.  This will be our longest day so far.  

We got up at 6am to get a jump on the day, stopping for coffee at our Casa Rural.  On the road by 6:30.  Lovely sunrise.

We walked four miles at “Google speed” (the rate Google thinks everybody walks, regardless of terrain) – three miles per hour, on flat farm track.  No one was passing us, and we actually passed a Frenchwoman!  I was feeling very full of myself, when all of a sudden the path took a steep decline.  Something new!

At the bottom of the hill, we could see the Rio Esla and the bridge that crosses it.  Very pretty in the early morning.

After crossing the bridge, the yellow arrows pointed straight down (!) to a narrow rock-studded path.  

Jim made a movie.

We scrabbled up and down  the cliff on the other side of the river for the next hour (mostly up), until the path spit us back onto a dirt road.  Dirty trick!  And I was doing so well up to that point!  Now I was drenched with sweat and exhausted, and we still had 11 miles to walk.

The path was flat and featureless, until we spied a flock of sheep coming toward us.

It took one shepherd and eight dogs to keep the herd together.

After that distraction, there was absolutely nothing but absolutely straight dirt path.  The road behind:
The road ahead:

And now we are in Tábara, and I am resting my feet.  222 miles to go.

Zamora to Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela 

May 21 – Eleven miles planned for today.  Once again, there aren’t a lot of arrows to get us out of Zamora, but we looked at the trail map, and it was a pretty straight shot north.  I now know which way is north, at least in the morning.  Put the sunrise at your right shoulder and start walking!  On the northern end of town as we exit, we can see more of the original city wall.

Saw a sign for the Camino Portugués, which we walked in 2014.  I guess if you hike due west from Zamora, you can catch the northern edge of Portugal and take that route north to Santiago.  Not for us this time.

Eight hikers passed us as we left Zamora, walking along the highway.

We had a short road walk, then got onto a farm track that paralleled the highway.

In a few miles, the track took us through the little town of Roales del Pan.  Nothing was open on a Sunday morning, but we got to see a yard filled with strange animal sculptures.

A giraffe for Lexi:

An elephant for Emma:

One of those dwarves must have done something that really pissed off Snow White…

Pretty soon we were back on a farm track.  Here are some amber waves of grain, with windmills just generating power:

Montamarta is not much of a town.  We stayed at what was advertised as a B and B, but the bed was hard, no soap or shampoo was provided, and we had to share a bathroom.  Luckily, there was only one other guest, so KF, stop whining.  The restaurant down the road fed us the typical pork and French fries.  We have been told that from here on out, the service will get worse and the prices will increase.  I believe it so far!  252 miles to go.

May 22 – Hit the road at 7am for a fourteen mile day.  Lovely sunrise:

There was a ruin of an old church visible as we left town.  Don’t the dark shrubs look like monks walking up toward the cemetery?

As we walked on farm track, we saw the ruins of an old fort or castle in the distance:

As we walked along shadeless farm track, a helicopter flew low overhead, obviously following our dirt path.  We joked that the Guardia Civil were probably looking for dead hikers in the heat of the day.  After a few moments, the helicopter reversed direction, and landed right in front of us!  

Two policemen jumped out and stopped three bicyclists who were just passing by us.  The young men had to produce their passports.  We were right behind them, and got out our passports as well, but the policemen waved us on – we were not who they were looking for.  After a few more minutes of discussion, the policemen let the cyclists go, returned to their helicopter and flew off!  It was definitely the most exciting thing that happened all day.  By 1pm, we walked into Granja de Moreruela.

Under our sunbrellas in the heat of the day:

Today is the northernmost point of our journey so far.  At Granja, a decision must be made:  one can continue north on the Via de la Plata to Astorga and join the Camino Francés (jam packed with its hundreds of hikers each day) or head west toward Ourense and continue on the Camino Sanabrés, which approaches Santiago on a diagonal.  The latter is the route we will follow.  

Tonight we are in a lovely Casa Rural, with our own bathroom, a comfy double bed, and access to a full kitchen.  The nice proprietress even let us use her washing machine for free!  Although we handwash our clothes every day, I must admit that there is a certain aroma that never seems to leave us.  A good machine wash is just what we needed today!

238 miles to go.