Never Ending Story

Actually, the end is in sight – I’m almost half way to Santiago.

But there are days when that feels hard to believe. And today was most definitely one of those days.

I know the header picture above isn’t hugely different from yesterday’s, but whilst yesterday’s long and winding road led me through ever-changing surroundings, this one looked pretty much the same for far too long.

It was always going to happen, but today I got lost. Properly lost. More than once.

Without putting too fine a point on it…

…I made a complete and utter pig’s ear of things.

The day had started well enough, as I made an early start from Comillas at around 7.00am with the aim of arriving in Colombres 28km further on in time for a late-ish lunch.

And quickly after leaving town, I was enjoying rural Cantabria under a light mist:

But soon afterwards I found myself on a track leading me through dense forest as the morning mist gave way to a persistent drizzle; the only sounds to accompany me were birdsong and the buzz of a distant chainsaw.

Which was lovely for about half an hour, but became increasingly disconcerting as time ticked by and the chainsaw’s buzz became increasingly distant and the little yellow arrows became increasingly conspicuous by their absence.

I was encouraged at one stage by the fact that a cyclist rode past me in a purposeful manner, suggesting some kind of end to the track in the relatively near future. But when I saw him coming back in the opposite direction about half an hour later, my optimism began to fade. For the next two hours.

No matter how much of a dog-lover you might be, I can assure you that if the first sight that greets you after a prolongued period of solitude in nature’s great outdoors is a huge Weimerarner careening round the bend, skidding to a halt and baring its teeth, civilisation’s great indoors suddenly becomes a whole lot more appealing.

Thankfully, the Weimaraner’s owner was following not far behind and even more thankfully spoke perfect English. He helpfully confirmed that I was going completely the wrong way and directed me to the nearest village to take stock.

I texted Tiff to tell her what had happened, and she very sensibly suggested that I go the nearest café, have a strong coffee, take a deep breath and “start again”.

Prescient words. The café that I ended up in turned out to be 12km from the first staging post on this leg of the Camino – San Vicente de la Barquera. Which was also precisely 12km away from Comillas. I had managed to walk for three hours without making any headway whatsoever.

Now, before you write me off as a total dipstick, I should stress that I was still following those little yellow arrows. I came across another one as I was leaving the wilderness and took a photo of it as proof:

But it turns out that there are different kinds of yellow arrow on this journey.

Of course there are. Silly me.

This particular breed was pointing me towards an entirely different Camino – one that seemed to be particular to Cantabria:

But once I’d had a caffeine injection, it struck me that there was actually an upside of this; I can now say, with utter conviction, that I have now walked two Caminos on this journey, rather than the paltry one.

Nevertheless, when I came across this opportunity whilst walking out of town, I don’t mind admitting that I was sorely tempted (sadly, it turns out that buses don’t run on a Sunday):

But eventually those little yellow arrows started to appear again, helping to put a different complexion on things, allowing me to kick back a bit more….

…appreciate my surroundings…

…and just enjoy the view:

And having relaxed a bit, I also felt I could start enjoying the more cultural side of things again.

This restoration project was a good example of historic artifacts that you encounter at various points along The Way, and which also offer an opportunity for you to get your Credencial stamped without having to stay the night.

I thought I deserved an extra stamp having walked two Caminos today, and having looked a bit more closely at the signage, how could I have possibly resisted this opportunity?

To cut the next bit of this never ending story extremely short, I then bumped into Peter, an Arizonian that I had met briefly a couple of times on this journey at Albergues along The Way; although this time somewhat incongruously at an ice cream van about 10km from Colombres.

Ice cream soon gave way to the local cider, which probably explains why we walked in a perfect circle for the next hour before a sympathetic local insisted on drawing us a map to show us the right way home.

And so finally onto Colombres, 10 hours after I started, which should have been about 6, and which felt more like 14.

But at least my Credencial is filling up…

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Charity, Colombres, Comillas, El Camino del Norte, Photograph, Rethink Mental Illness

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