Distance Today: 22.7 km
Total Distance from Oviedo: 206.3 km.
Elevation Gain: 851 metres
Weather: Sunny and cool AM; warm PM
Highlights: Hospital de Montouto
This was one of those days when the morning was fabulous and the afternoon dragged on with too many “mountains” to climb. The Spanish kilometres sometimes seem out of whack!
The walk offered a variety of walking conditions on small roads and footpaths including some steep sections along with some wonderful examples of rural Galician mountain villages.
One of the highlights was Hospital de Montouto which we reached about an hour after leaving Hostal Complejo O Pineiral, 3.5 km beyond A Fonsagrada.
Montouto was a former pilgrim hospital founded in 1360. It remained open until the early 20th century. It is just a short distance off the trail, but I think many pilgrims pass this place by, being perhaps more impressed by the windmills that line the mountain ridges on both sides. It is quite a contrast to see this ancient pilgrim hospital nestled below one of our modern methods of producing energy.
When we reached Paradavella (3.6 km further) we stopped at the popular Casa Meson for a late breakfast/early lunch at about 11 AM which seems to be a new habit. Here is where Dave and I both ordered a chorizo boccadillo when one would have been more than sufficient. They were gigantic with thick slices of chorizo, most of which got left behind. It will be a long time before we want to see chorizo sausage again!
The first three kilometres after leaving Paradavella was idyllic – mostly a tree lined path which led past some interesting examples of rural Galician mountain dwellings.
It was the final two kilometres of the climb in increasingly warm temperatures that did us in. We had to make a plan: Walk 100 steps and take a rest. That didn’t work well because the shade ended at only 80 steps. Our next plan was to hike from one shady spot to the next. That plan worked. We made it to the top!
We dragged ourselves to the first bar we came to at the top of the hill in A Lastra and sat at an outside table with our cerveza con limon, watching sprightly looking pilgrims traipsing by who obviously managed the hill better than we did. They gave us a wave and two thumbs up but didn’t stop.
There was another mountain to climb between A Lastra and Fontaneira (2.2 km) where many of the pilgrims who passed us in A Lastra had stopped. By then it was time for an ice cream break before facing the final 4.6 km to Cadavo Baleira.
The town seemed further than 4.6 km which made us question how these kilometres were calculated. On the other hand, maybe it just seemed longer because of how warm it was and how still the air. No windmills moved. Not one!
Cadavo Baleira, like Fonsagrada, features a popular legend about King Alfonso II The Chaste battling a Muslim army here in defence of the pilgrimage road. Excavations in the area have found extensive amounts of armour, swords, and tombs.
Our Albergue-Pension Porta Santa in Cadavo Baleira was excellent for 10 Euros plus another 7 Euros to have our dirty clothes washed, dried, and folded by the hospitalera.
Only five of the eight beds (bunks) in our room were occupied. Because the albergue had a kitchen and there was a nearby grocery store, we put together a makeshift dinner. It wasn’t great, but it served the purpose.