Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that this summer (2019) I’m walking 200km along the Camino de Santiago, from Léon to Sarría in Spain. This is the fourth leg of the Camino which I started in 2016 (if you’re interested, I wrote a Q&A post in response to some of the questions people had asked me along the way that year), I’m completing a leg each summer until 2020. This is Day 26 (other posts linked at the end of this post).
Camino Frances Day 26: Léon to Villavante (approx 33km !!!)
Ok, I KNEW going into this year’s stage of the Camino (Léon to Sarría) that there were a few long, long days and I did my best to avoid them but this one just was unavoidable. Either I walked 20km, got a lift to my accommodations (there aren’t always places to stay in each town) then a lift back to the point I stopped the following day to walk 25km, OR, I had a long Day 1 (I actually thought it was 29km), got it over with and from then on, everything would feel “easier”. I opted for the latter though, a few days later, as I write this, I wonder if I should have maybe taken it a bit easier on Day 1. Oh well, live and learn..
I arrived in Léon after an early morning flight from London and a long bus ride from Madrid airport. I felt right back “at home” as I stayed at the same hotel I stayed in at the end of last year’s stage (I kind of love how Camino Travel Center does this!).
And found myself back at La Trastinda del 13, a charming wine bar…
Didn’t stay out too late though, with those 30km in mind… The next day, bright and not as early as I would have liked (sometimes you don’t get a choice about what time your breakfast is and I am someone who needs their breakfast before I walk 30km!) it was time to fuel up for the day…
I stopped at La Virgen del Camino (10km) and again at Villar de Mazarife (21km) and was actually feeling ok.
Ok, the final stretch was HARD. Especially as I had in my head (and notes) that this was a 29km day. I figured “how hard can 8 more kilometres be?”. Well the answer is “really hard when it’s actually 12 more kilometres and you’re jetlagged and it’s really hot and there’s nothing much to look at!”.
Finally arrived in Villavante…
Only to realise that my guest house was another 1.2 km away – on the far side of town (great for the next morning when I would be able to just pop onto the Camino but that extra distance was pretty hellish that afternoon…).
Stayed at the lovely Molino Galochas, a converted mill sitting right on the Camino next to a river.
Mercedes, the owner, saw me stumbling up the path and led me inside. Gave me a cold drink and some fruit and settled me into my room. I napped a little but but as I’d arrived so late (4pm) it was nearly time for dinner (7pm).
There was only one other person staying there that night, a Swiss man who had walked all the way from Geneva (!) and we enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked dinner with lots of fresh produce from the garden. The highlight was this ratatouille with crispy eggs though…
Verdict: This was ONE TOUGH DAY. Would I do it again? Maybe? Maybe I’d divide those first three days differently. But there would still be one long day there somewhere. Sometimes the Camino is like that… You just have to take it as it comes.
Stay tuned for the next leg (mercilessly much shorter and arriving in the gorgeous town of Astorga).
Disclosure: I researched Camino trips independently and chose the Camino Travel Center based on a number of features such as flexibility to accommodate a couple of “splits” in some of the longer days, price and customer service. They were, in fact the first company I came across in my very first Google search and the one I ended up booking with. From the initial inquiry to the actual trips, they have been a pleasure to deal with and we have been very impressed with the service provided (bag transportation) and the accommodation choices. I was not compensated to write about this trip in any way but I love sharing companies and products I believe in with my readers. I couldn’t recommend the Camino Travel Center more and, in fact, am booking another Camino walk with them for next summer (the summer I will finally reach Santiago!).
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