I didn’t sleep much in the Albergue in Campiello . You can guess why but I’m not blameless when it comes to snoring as I have been told in no uncertain terms already on this trip. Day 5 day turned out to be overcast and much cooler so it was ideal for walking . The Camino split after a few kilometres and there were two route options , a tough one named the ” Hopitales ” route and another lower level option. I chose to take the Hospitales route which led into the Fonfaraon mountain range away from civilisation for most of the day. It is considered the most strenuous but also one of the most beautiful of the Spanish sections of The Way. It took us along a high mountain ridge and past the ruins of three former pilgrim hospitals . It was a fantastic walk though the mist at the high levels obscured the views. There were a number of wild horses up there grazing above the tree line.
I walked most of the route with Valentin , a young lad from Moscow who spoke very good English . He was good company for what was a long days’ hike as we walked non stop for 8 hours. Later on in the walk we were joined by a great guy named Martijn, a Dutch lad who had camped out in the mountains the previous night but who has been struck down with a stomach virus and spent a very uncomfortable night intermittently vomiting. He gradually felt better as the day wore on and we had a good chat over the last few kilometres. He had spent the 6 months prior to walking the Camino working in Ireland and had come to love the place and the people , to the point he is considering settling there in future. He had spent a few weeks house sitting in Sligo for Marion Dowd , an archeologist and author. Before she left on her trip she had given him lots of information on passage tombs and caves that had been inhabited in ancient times and he had taken the opportunity to visit some of these including “ Diarmuid and Grainne’s ” cave near Benbulben ( reputed to be the last resting place of the ill fated lovers ) and the caves at Kesh. He was absolutely fascinated by these and gave me the urge to go and visit them the next time I’m in Sligo , should I ever be able to tear myself away from the riverbank : )
Day 6 took initially took us along a windmill lined ridge and then around a large reservoir ( the Rio Navia was dammed here ) . There was a fairly steep descent ( 800m in 6km ) so it was hard on the knees and the feet. Some spectacular views were to be had though.
I had another ” Mr Bean does the Camino ” episode towards the end of the walk. I was walking along a road side with Martjin , who was just ahead of me and is a big guy. I didn’t notice that he had ducked under one of those transverse signs that indicate that you are leaving the village. I was also looking at the ground. I walked head first straight into the sign and was thrown backwards , my rucksack cushioning the fall. I must have looked like an upturned turtle and was dazed for a minute or two. I think Santiago must be looking after me as I got away with nothing worse than a big lump on the head .
We stopped at the tiny village of Castro and booked into a rustic albergue which catered for 16 people and was full. There are two young priests from Argentina , Father Juan and Father Gustavo , walking on our stage and they were staying in the same place. They started on the Camino del Norte in San Sebastián 23 days ago and , if given permission to do so , have been saying Mass in the local churches each evening . It wasn’t possible to say Mass in the tiny church in Castro so instead they moved a table from the bar in the albergue into the garden and used this as an altar. Father Gustavo said the Mass in Spanish and Father Juan read the gospel in both Spanish and English ( using his iPhone to translate it into English ). It was a beautiful , sunny evening and about a dozen of us attended. In the background you could only hear the sounds of cows in the surrounding fields and some Asturian folk music drifting out from the bar. They gave us all a blessing at the end of the mass. It was one of those special Camino moments that will live long in the memory.