Taking stock

If I’d been a little bit braver this morning, today’s header photo would have been considerably more dramatic than this one.

I took a mercifully brief (compared to yesterday) detour from the Camino because a waymarker had been obscured by some undergrowth, to find myself in a muddy field nose to nose-ring with a decidedly fierce-looking bull; well not all that close to be honest, but quite close enough to back off without attempting to grab my camera to get a shot of him eyeing me up, especially as my walking poles have a particularly garish red flash down each side.

But the more benign bovine specimen that you see above that I came across a little later was actually probably more representative of today’s more reflective mood as I left the rolling farmlands of Cantabria and crossed into what felt like the entirely new terrain of Asturias.

One of the most striking aspects of undertaking this journey by foot has been having the opportunity to fully appreciate the changing landscape, given the luxury of time to take it all in; even so, the dramatic changes seem to take place in a matter of hours as you move from region to region.

Leaving Colombres on the border of Asturias for today’s 23.2km walk to Llanes back along the coast involved an initially steep climb, although nothing nearly as challenging as the first few stages through The Basque Country. Nevertheless, it made quite a pleasant change to see a cyclist struggling up the incline, as the majority of the time they seem to be whizzing down in the opposite direction as you are sweatily labouring upwards.

Once at the summit, however, and for the first time on this trip probably, I had a real sense of the distance I have travelled so far – a total of 402km / 250miles (tomorrow I will officially be crossing the half way mark to Santiago) as I looked back over terrain that I have walked over the last two or three days alone.

The Cantabrian mountain range moving into Asturias is no less dramatic that the scenery in the Basque Country but somehow seems softer, perhaps because the air was cooled by a mountain breeze today rather than the dry heat I had been exposed to previously.

As I approached the brow of the mountain range the moon was still visible in a crystal clear blue sky at 9.30am in the morning…

…leading into stunning panoramic views of the coastline stretching across the horizon below me.

And walking back down again to sea level, I began to get glimpses of the secluded coves and pristine beaches that the area is famed for…

…then seeing them up close as I walked the coastline:

I decided to slow things down today, and instead of pushing on through to the next destination pausing only occasionally for a quick coffee or a beer, as I have generally generally being doing til now, I treated myself to set lunch off a ‘pilgrim’s menu’ that many restaurants offer along the way – in this case a lightly flavoured plate of spaghetti bolognese for a starter, followed by grilled sardines and a caramel tart…for 12 Euros. It appears that asceticism does not feature heavily on this particular pilgrimage.

After lunch, the surrounding seemed to evolve yet again, into what seemed more like Alpine passes than the Spain I have known til now, either on this trip or previous visits.

The trail then leads down to more lush, verdant countryside…

…before one final ascent to higher ground…

…before arriving at Llanes, which I haven’t taken any photographs of today as, frankly, my feet need a bit of a rest.

Maybe tomorrow as I’m leaving town…

This thing’s going to fall apart soon if I’m not careful

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Asturias, Basque Country, Camino, Cantabria, Charity, Colombres, Photograph, Rethink Mental Illness

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