Today marks the point in my journey that I finally turn inland for the last stretch down to Santiago, having walked around 625km, or nearly 400 miles, across the northern coast of Spain, guided almost exclusively by a succession of little yellow arrows daubed on pavements, bridges, walls, trees and I should imagine any other paintable surface you might care to suggest.
And today’s photo header shows you the bridge coming into today’s destination, Ribadeo, that also marks the official crossing from…
There are still about 200km / 125 miles to go, but when you look at it like this…
…it definitely feels like I’ve broken the back of it.
Which is not to say that I’m wishing the rest of the journey away. It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’m sure will continue to be so for the next seven days – the time I’ve calculated that the rest of the journey needs to take in order to get my plane home on time.
Having said that, the last stretch of the Camino also seems to be upping the ante fairly considerably, with two 40km stages in the last three days – a bit of a shock to the system, given that the average has been around 25km per day for the last three weeks.
So I thought it would be sensible to buy myself a day’s grace just in case I need it, and broke down the last three stages into two (I decided against the monastery), with a 37km hike from Cavadeo to Navia yesterday, and then another 32km into Ribadeo today.
Maybe I’ve been a bit spoilt by the scenery in the first two regions of this trip, but I have to admit that I’ve found it increasingly hard to find anything interesting visually to show you in Asturias – unless you’re particularly interested in endless cornfields, in which case you should definitely come for a visit.
It’s one thing trying to follow signs that are placed sporadically along the way and accepting that there is occasionally going to be a junction here and there where you just have to take a wild guess; but it’s a whole new ball game when the road that you are following (and any signs that might have been painted on it) gets completely excavated.
I really should make the effort to find out why, but this part of Spain seems to be one huge party at the moment, with every town of any significance being strewn with bottles, and sometimes bodies, by the time I’m leaving in the morning.
It’s weird enough as it is walking through strange towns with a pair of walking poles and lugging a rucksack, but when you’re doing it at 7am and the locals are still spilling out of the bars and engaging you in drunken conversation (or piss-taking as it’s more commonly known), it starts to feel positively surreal.
Coming out of Navia early this morning I had to run the gauntlet with a bloke with a purple pony tail who decided to amuse himself by pretending to be a TV interviewer holding a microphone to my face for about 100 yards, asking about how I felt about the rest of the journey to Santiago (the gist of it wasn’t that hard to work out given that the only word he could actually say was Santiago).
After which, I have to admit that whilst walking out of town, even the cornfields looked interesting.
I don’t think I’ve met a single walker so far who, at some stage, has not got completely and utterly lost somewhere in Asturias (it’s not just me, honest). Everyone you bump into mentions the fact that the little yellow arrows just seem to fade away – one minute you’re confidently striding along in what you’re convinced is the right direction, and the next you’re on the verge of committing Hari Kari.
But today, it was almost as if Asturias was apologising for her negligence before giving way to Galicia, as quite apart from the fact that there seemed to be a waymarker every couple of hundred yards, most of them bore only the slightest resemblance to what had been the norm for 400 miles or so.
Anyway, given that today is the last day that I’ll get to see the sea before I get home, I thought I leave you with a couple of the prettier views I came across today.
Galicia, here we come…