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Day 3, Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almaden de la Plata, Oct 23

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Nedjo on the trail.
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Finally, we had a good night’s sleep. What a relief. So although it would be a long day, we didn’t get going at the crack of dawn. But we did pack up so we could just grab coffee and toast on the way out of town. The folks that we have been eating with and staying at hostels with had opted for a taxi to avoid the long stretch of road walking, but Nedjo and I felt ready for the challenge. Even the 16 kilometres along the side of the road wasn’t too bad, mostly with a gravel shoulder and occasionally with a little side path and not too much traffic. Along each side of the road was dehesa, mainly in very large estates. No houses were ever visible, just very impressive gates.

We needed to stop a few times to make adjustments, including raincoats on and off as it was a drizzly day, so we thought the portion on the road might have taken longer but we were right on schedule at four hours. Then we had the delight of crossing the road and entering into the Parque Natural de la Sierra where we were for almost the whole rest of the day. There was a lot of reforestation going on in the park, both of oaks and pines, but it was very pleasant and peaceful. We had a delicious lunch—even with some cheese as we knew it would be a long day—once we entered the park.

Sign post in the Parque Natural Sierra Norte.
Way marker in the Parque Natural Sierra Norte.

We had our first encounter with someone walking the opposite direction. Bernard from Austria had walked to Santiago from Germany and now he was walking to Sevilla where his daughter had sent him a plane ticket to get home. He was doing the camino without any money and asked for a euro to help out. I was happy to share a €2 coin and the information that he’d easily make it to Sevilla in time for his flight as he wasn’t sure how far he still had to go.

Today’s game was imagining different walks we might do. Mine was a future vision where the now unused E and N rail line on Vancouver Island was a walking trail and we’d cover the Island visiting family and friends. Nedjo’s was a walk across England on the Coast to Coast Path. It was a good way to pass the time on this longest day so far.

The forest path had a lot of quartz in it, white, pink and black, and I loved walking and admiring the various pieces.

The final four kilometres consisted of two steeply up and then two steeply down. Alongside this stretch there were two crosses for pilgrims who had died along the route. It was a sharp reminder of the challenge we were undertaking and we were glad we had lots of water, some chocolate for energy at the end of the day as the guidebook had suggested and were doing on a cool day.

As we neared town we passed a large pig farm and then noticed the sign on the first building was for a ham manufacturer. Hopefully the pigs couldn’t read!

We had booked a fancier hotel tonight and were quite delighted with our own very good shower (and towels) for a much needed hair wash. I had decided just to use my scarf as a towel when needed but it was not really up to the job.

The restaurant in the hotel was closed (we were starting to wonder if were always going to hit the one day closed for each of the places we were planning to eat), but we knew that would also make our room quieter. There wasn’t much open but we did find good food across the street and joined Roberto from Switzerland who was also dining there. We had good conversation in both English and French and then  headed for bed. The evening had turned cool so we were glad for the heat so we could be cozy in bed. Tomorrow is a short day so we can start whenever we want.