Day 15 – Hornillos del Camino to Itero de la Vega – 31.2km

I set out at first light ( 8.00am) with the intention of putting a good few km behind me today. There isn’t much to distract you in this landscape except perhaps the birds and other wildlife. There is precious little shade from the sun too. I am told that this is the most mentally challenging part of The Camino and I’m beginning to see why this should be the case. For this reason some of the Pilgrims have opted not to walk this section and have taken the bus to Leon instead. Somehow that seems like cheating but I guess everyone needs to have their own personal Camino experience and there are plenty of older Pilgrims who may not be up to the long slog across the Meseta.

I walked part of the morning with Martha , a nurse/missionary from North Carolina who had spent 6 years working in Rwanda. She was interested in how the NHS worked and she told me about her experience if the US health care system. She was paying a lot of money each month for Health Insurance and if she were to make a claim then the company may only pay out around 75% of the costs. With a serious illness the other 25% can add up to a lot of money and it goes some way to explaining the health anxiety that afflicts a lot of Americans. Let’s hope we don’t ever go down that road in the UK.

I pushed on after a stop for breakfast at 10.30am and reached Castrojeriz at 1.00pm. This would normally be the stop over point for this Camino stage according to ” The Bible According to John Brierley ” , the guide book that most of us are using. However I felt good and decided to walk another 10km or so to the small village of Itero de la Vega. I stopped for lunch at a shelter/viewpoint after a steep climb and met a guy from Westport , County Mayo who was cycling The Camino and had hooked up with a couple of Aussies doing the same thing ( see photo ). I reached my destination of Itero de la Vega around 4.00pm and treated myself to a couple of beers as the sun had been pretty intense all afternoon. I was the only Pilgrim booked into the small Refugio ( this village is ” in between ” the stages as suggested in the guides ) until an Irish guy named Gus turned up later. He had an accent reminiscent of Roy Keane and , sure enough , he hailed from West Cork.

I had the Red Kites for company again today ( they seem very common here ). The fields of stubble were full of finches and Wheatears too. There are any amount of small lizards and very colourful butterflies . I’ve posted a photo of a vivid blue butterfly that seems to be the most prolific.

Martha , Hontanas in background

San Anton

Approaching Castrojeriz

View from Alto de Mostelares


3 thoughts on “Day 15 – Hornillos del Camino to Itero de la Vega – 31.2km

  1. Michael n Mavis

    You’re doing great by me. That Meseta does do it to you. Keep watching the kites, they may turn out to be black, not red. Have you got to the meditation bit yet? It comes more when you walk alone for long periods. If so, when things get tough and the tough get going (but find they’re failing) wait for ‘the push from St James’ and then offer X to the n repetitions of The Jesus Prayer. It works for many. What can you lose? Try it.

    You’ve just found the secret. Don’t do the usual itinerary, skip between so-called stages and stop where you fancy. The best experiences come your way using this approach and though your Camino is great at present it will improve as an experience by leaps and bounds as you ‘progress’, in every sense of the word. You’ll also be less plagued with ‘the sounds of the night’ and your sleep patterns will improve. By the way, have you seen the stars, especially The Milky Way?

    Give yourself a ‘treat’ by having a day off occasionally and just bask (Basque) in the ambience of the moment. If nothing else it breaks the developing ‘rhythm’ of constantly meeting up with the same people. One last thing on this advice giving kick, don’t be tempted to get the bus. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life. I’ve met people who did – and they have.

    Your pictures are inspiring, you have the ‘eye’ and are using it. They will become as gold in years to come and your notes will bear you up when the NHS gets you down and long after that. Believe one who has been there. These many years after I find myself caught out by some small trick of memory and I see el camino ahead of me and tears form quietly with the joy of reminiscence. You may find you make lifelong friends, if you do you will be blessed and even when you lose them, as I did one Dutch friend only last week, you will still be able to exerience the joy of your first meeting, I met with Harrie and Corrie Oerlemans on my second visit to The Way in 1999, we were then on the road between Jaca and Pamplona, for me he is still traversing the way of the pilgrim even now.

    You speak much of The Irish. When you get home I will let you have a CD made by the Irish MS Society based in Dublin who do Camino Trips for MS folks. You may remember, our elder daughter has MS. They have put together some great yet simple songs and music which originated on The Road to Santiago over the years. When stuff gets a bit much I slip it into the player and all somehow gets itself back into perspective.

    Keep the blogs coming – I’m lovin’ it! – y vaya con Dios mi amigo, y, por favor, perdoneme, no hay ‘accents’ en mi computador!

    Miguel Pescadoro – el peregrino ingles de Adlington

    1. Hi Michael , you are spot on. The Meseta does that to you. It would be so easy to hop on a bus but I’m determined to keep walking all the way. I may be being a bit optimistic but I also seem to be adjusting to the chorus of snorers too. We’ll see. I’ve met some wonderful people up to this point and I’ve no doubt some will remain friends for life. Still only halfway so lots of experiences yet to come. I think this may become an addiction : )

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