Day 24 – Valdeviejas to Rabanal del Camino – 20.4km

I stayed in a very small Refugio last night just 1km past Astorga. There were only four of us staying there including Jolanta , who I hadn’t seen in a week or so , and a French Mother and daughter, Edith and Vida ( see photo ). I had a room to myself and had a good sleep though the place was freezing cold.

We woke to a cold morning with clouds and drizzly rain. The pain and swelling in my leg was certainly better after taking the Diclofenac and applying the gel last night so I’m hopeful that with some shorter days of walking I can manage it to Santiago. I am now 150 miles away.

We put a good shift in this morning stopping at El Ganso for lunch. I was really delighted to see Gus walk into the same place shortly afterwards and he joined us for lunch ( see photo holding stick ).He’d needed two days rest to recover from the stomach bug but he is now fit and putting good milages in each day.

The weather improved during the afternoon and we stopped for a break under the shade of a very old oak tree. We were joined by Joan from County Clare who is a mad keen fiddle player so we had a good chat about music. It was noticeable today how the landscape has now changed from the flat and treeless Meseta to the stone walls , trees and green fields of the foothills of the Montes de Leon. We arrived in the pretty little village of Rabanal del Camino around 4.00pm and booked into the Albergue Gaucelmo , which is owned and run by the Confraternity of St James based in London. This village is in the area known as the Maragateria. The Maragato people who live in this area are thought to be descended from the Berber tribes who came to Spain as part of the Moorish invasion in the 8th C , becoming ” misplaced ” in this remote mountainous region. Their number these days has dwindled to about 4000 spread around about 40 villages in this area.

At Refugio Guacelmo we were very well looked after here by the two Hospitaleros , Brendan and Dave , in what is one of the best refugios I’ve found on The Camino. It is run by The Confraternity of St James , a UK-based charity established to promote the pilgrimage to Santiago. Brendan tells me that he once walked from his home in Tynemouth to Santiago , getting the ferry from North Shields to Amsterdam , then walking to Le Puy and onwards. It took him four and a half months.

Later in the evening I attended the Pilgrims mass in the Parish Church of Santa Maria. A Father Javier said Mass in both English and Spanish in this ancient Church and I’d guess around 30 Pilgrims attended. It was the feast of St Ignatius of Antioch today and his life was the theme of the Homily. At the end he gave a blessing to all the Pilgrims as is the custom all along The Camino.

There just happened to be a great bunch of people here last night and we had a lot of fun at a communal dinner that was all prepared by a couple of English ladies , Lou and Gina. It is hard to leave this morning as it is cold and wet and we have to cross the mountains over the highest point in the whole Camino. Now where’s those tablets ?


Edith and Vida from Montpellier
Jola and Joan
Joan and Jola
Jola with new walking stick
Entering Rabanal

Main street Rabanal

Refugio Gaucelmo owned and run by the Confraternity of St James , London and one of my best Refugio experiences on the whole Camino





Rabanal , one of my favourite places on The Camino
Overlooking the garden at Refugio Gaucelmo , Rabanal del Camino


8 thoughts on “Day 24 – Valdeviejas to Rabanal del Camino – 20.4km

  1. Ian Schofield

    Greetings Danny, I thought I should finally add a supportive message before you make it to the end of the Camino! with all the concerns over the leg I was planning a prayer to St Jude but hopefully the “Physician heal thy self routine” will pay off, I have seen a number of your flock over the last few weeks all of them are wishing you the very best on your travels. I must say I am also getting far more pleasure reading your blog than your blessed referral letters! (only kidding). As you know I have a sadistic streak so just to remind you the Gentleman’s club will be enjoying a fine wine night tomorrow, I will raise a glass to you thinking of you in pain, freezing and probably sober. God’s speed on the rest of the pilgrimage and wishing you a safe journey home from Santiago
    Ian S

    1. Thanks Ian , glad you’re enjoying the Camino tales. I may say a prayer or two to St Jude myself yet ! Yes I will be sober and it will be cold tonight ( we are up in the mountains again ). Hope you have a great evening and please pass on my regards to everyone.

  2. Michael n Mavis

    Hi Doc, great progress and fortitude, congrats. next stop the bar in El Acebo below the 5000′ summit at El Cruz de Ferro. Don;t leave your gloves off, my finger ends went white and hard and lost sensation going over the top, but the stove in the bar unfroze me. Least, I think it was the stove. Watch for more dogs, there is still a decent pack of wolves in the Teleno range of mountains on your left as you go so folks do like to keep a few dogs around. Snippet of rubbish, El Acebo translates as ‘The Holly Tree’, now isn’t that nice? Next BIG stop will be Iron Bridge, not the one in Shropshire, this one’s still in Castile y Leon but you will be on the doorstep of Galicia when you get there. After that its but a skip an’ a jump to journeys end . . . and a new beginning. Did you know that Mavis is a seer?
    Pues buen viaje a tu y tus compadres!
    Go easy on the leg,

    1. Really enjoyed going over the top even with the clouds and rain. As you predicted we all stopped in Acebo for lunch and a warm up. Didn’t see any wolves thankfully. I think I’d be easy meat for them at the moment ! Now having hot chocolate and churros in Ponferrada.

  3. Tony Dewhurst

    Hi Danny. Bet you missed me. Been ill and my doctor seems to have buggered off somewhere. Before you drop everything and dash back to minister to me, I’m okay really. The weather has been glorious here so I ‘ve been playing a lot of golf with Rex (you remember Rex). Apparently, once Rex’s landlady got rid of all that fishing stuff I told you about, she found some golf club’s and gave them to him. Although he’s looking a bit tired he manages to keep his end up (if he is to be believed) and has now enrolled in Dr. Johnson’s Academy for Bewildered Golfers. I am told that his grip needs a lot of work. There but for the grace of God………..Anyway, listening to your moaning, it seems to me that you are approaching a situation when you will have some small understanding of what my hip feels like – getting towards the inner circle of Hell. Hope you are boning up on Spanish medicine and not just wasting your time walking about the place and getting tired. You seem to be making moderate progress – don’t forget you promised to be back playing golf in the New Year. I have now opened a book as to whether you will be back for Christmas do you want to place a bet? I will be monitoring your progress more closely now the nights are closing in so get a move on.

    1. Tony , thanks for the update on Rex and interested to hear he’s joined the bewildered in Dr Johnson’s academy. If he’s anything like me then he’ll soon be so confused and frustrated that he will have no option other than to go for a very long walk to try and sort himself out. I hope I can trust you to look after the poor lad until I get back.
      I have pre-booked you an appointment with me on my return early next year. Meantime keep taking the paracetamol and give yourself a vigorous rub three times daily.

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