Saturday 9th August, 32.8 km, Ferrol – Pontedeume
After a typically limited Spanish breakfast, we did battle with the bikes to get them back down to street level, loaded up and then found our way to the tourist office at the beginning of the Camino Inglès.
There was some event going on – it looked like some relay-triathlon with swimmers doing a loop in the frigid seawater before handing off to those on pretty fancy looking road bikes. We negotiated around the roads taped off for the race, found the first waymark for the new camino, and were off.
There were a few mistakes getting out of the city but nothing too serious. After that, regular waymarks or the painted yellow arrows kept us on route. The first hill allowed a view back to Ferrol and then small lanes or forest tracks took us up and down, through trees and villages, making slow but steady progress. In one of the village, a lintel over a window bore the inscription 1786. That’s quite old.
Some of the waymarks were set in the pavement, others hidden amongst the clutter of other signage, and some were immediately visible. If the route was in doubt, there was generally a sign to be found; it was much clearer than the route marking on the Camino del Norte.
Finally, and thankfully, we crossed the bridge over the Rio Eume into Pontedeume. The albergue is on the water front, with a good view of the bridge. At one time, it had 116 arches; I can only count 15 now.
Monday 10th August, 20.7 km, Pontedeume – Betanzos
What a brutal day! Started off by pushing uphill steeply uphill to about 175 m in about a kilometre; no way we can ride loaded bikes up a 17.5% gradient. I need to be younger and/or in shape to do that. Then downhill, short and steep, some more rideable terrain and through some nice double track in forest.
Dropped down some more very steep road, penned in between high walls, and we were back at sea-level in time for lunch, having made slow, exhausting progress. Definitely, this would be easier on foot. And I suspect the rest of the camino will be similar; tomorrow has more distance and more climbing. Yippee!
Our lunchtime restaurant was nicely situated but, for the first time, the manner of the person running the place was miserable. She berated her waitress in front of the customers and was not very nice to Bev. The Bar Alameda: be warned. But there is little other option…
Our guide book (for this camino, we have a very detailed pdf – from the Confraternity of Saint James – on my kindle, which makes reading it in bright sunlight easy and convenient) described the next section as a climb of 100m in 500m – a 20% slope. More pushing, in the hot sun of the mid-afternoon.
We were feeling the heat and both quite tired. It wasn’t all a struggle; there was pleasant riding on smooth surfaces through forests of eucalyptus. We passed many villages, with narrow lanes running between houses with few people to be seen.
Eventually, we arrived above Bentanzos and dropped steeply down to the river, across the bridge, through a narrow arch that was part of the original medieval wall around the old city, very steeply up narrow streets again and into the square. Knackered! Time for a rest day if the next three days are going to be like this. Or harder.