1.11.16 Castrojerez to Frómista 25.2km; 2.11.16 Frómista – to Carrión 20.5km
Camino pilgrims rise very early in the hostels, intent on packing up rucksacks, having breakfast, and getting on the road just before daybreak. And today it’s another gloriously beautiful morning as we leave Castrojerez, still walking in the Castilla y León region of Spain.
At the end of the first climb there’s a more unusual monument with the signature coquille St Jaques shell carved in stone.
Then the walk continues along the flat meseta landscapes in the hazy light.
Crosses the ancient, arched bridge, with autumnal trees making a grand backdrop…
… into the province of Palencia…
…where we walked past mountains of sugar beet.
As you walk through fields along this Way, with farmers driving tractors on Sundays, and the warm, earthy smell, the soil and rock colours changing as the kms go by, past varying crops of fruit and vegetables, you do get some idea of the rural life here, and certainly feel connected to the turn of the seasons. Despite the continued warmth, I know that the year is heading towards winter.
In an almost deserted town, where the bars listed in the book were all shut, and it looked like we wouldn’t get a drink, I spotted a sign and left the Path, rounded a corner where, is there? a little further? yes, an oasis. I was flagging and ready for a break!
Renewed after 20 minutes without the back pack, there’s always something new to see. Here are idyllic rivers, some with bulrushes standing tall – velvety brown or bursting open like cotton wool candy floss;
there, other waterways stretching into the distance under stone arches, sun glistening on the luminous surface.
‘The Canal de Castilla was a huge hydraulic engineering project of the second half of 18th century and beginning of 19th century. The Canal goes through parts of the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Valladolid and was built to facilitate the transport of grain to the ports in the north coast so that they could be shipped overseas.’ *
I stayed that night at Frómista with its picturesque Romanesque church.
The next day there was road walking, always tougher on the feet than softer paths, and alongside, simple churches.
And I haven’t got tired of wondering at nature’s detail;
and trees glowing against the contrasting blue sky.
Until we arrived at the monastery turned hostel in Carrión.
Storks, which I thought were herons as they looked similar from a distance, are birds I was to see for many kms, if not on the top of steeples, then on their very own purpose-built towers (presumably to stop them making their massive nests on religious architecture). Did you know that they have a wing span of 10.5 feet (over 3 metres), and their nests have therefore been known to grow to over six feet (two metres) in diameter and about 10 feet (three metres) in depth? And a pair nested at the top of St Giles Kirk in 1416!
Carrión, next morning, was sunny with puffy, white clouds, as we collected in cafés for breakfast and to say our goodbyes.
The 3 English women were reluctantly leaving for home, and given a tearful send-off; and I was returning to Madrid again, this time for a pre-arranged reunion. I had mixed feelings: a heavy heart with leaving the Camino and friends behind, and joyful anticipation of seeing Alice (my eldest daughter) again.