Distance Today: 15.9 km
Total Distance from Oviedo: 145.5 km.
Elevation Gain: 550 metres (but what about the long descent?)
Weather: Sunny; warm
Highlight: Long descent!
We began the morning with the best toast and coffee (tostadas y cafe) since our arrival in Spain at the Camino Primitivo Hostel in Berducedo. Thick slices of crusty toast were piping hot and came with butter (YES!) and the cafe con leche grande was the biggest one yet.
After walking only 4.5 km we couldn’t resist stopping at a bar in the tiny village of La Mesa for our first cervezas con limon of the day. It wasn’t even 10 AM yet but that’s okay – it’s only 2 per cent alcohol! It was the big, sunny patio that enticed us to stop. The break helped fuel the steep climb out of La Mesa to the windmill-lined ridge above the village.
The 800 metre descent from the ridge in 6 km could devour tired knees, but we took our time, stopped for our picnic lunch, and enjoyed the stunning views all the way down to the dammed Rio Navia.
There had been a fire in the area in 2017 but the forest floor is recovering with new undergrowth – periwinkle, heather, daisies, buttercups, fox gloves, broom, to name just a few flowers – flourishing against the blackened trees.
As we descended towards the Rio Navia, we caught several glimpses of the Hotel Las Grandas perched on a cliff on the other side of the dam which is where we had made a reservation for 45 Euros.
Our guidebook showed little detail about the section of the route that would lead us across the dam and up to the hotel. The trail went beyond the dam and was leading us down the valley. We were worried that we had somehow missed a turnoff. Instead of turning back, we continued just a little further and were relieved when the trail finally zigzagged down to the road, back to the dam, and up to our Hotel Las Grandas at Embalse de Salime.
We were hot and tired by the time we reached the Hotel Las Grandas. What a pleasant surprise it was to discover we had a bathtub. How easy it was to wash all my clothes and myself at once!
It wasn’t long before we were relaxing on the patio and chatting with three young people from Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. They had walked 45 km today including the Hospitales route. They were disappointed they couldn’t make it all the way to the village of Grandas de Salime, an uphill climb of another 5.6 km. The distance they managed to hike today was impressive, however, and they are planning to walk twice as far as we will tomorrow.
Both Lucas and Tim started in Oviedo but the young woman from Lithuania (we failed to get her name) has walked more than 800 km from Irun along the Camino del Norte and is now continuing to Santiago on the Camino Primitivo. Her feet are recovering from 14 blisters that she got on her first day’s hike from Irun. The good news is that her blisters no longer cause her pain.