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Strategies for problem long stages on the VDLP

Strategies for problem long stages on the VDLP

Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almaden de la Plata
This is a 30km stage with two unpleasant obstacles. The first part of the day is 16km of road walking on the SE-5405 which is known locally for being narrow with fast moving vehicles and poor visibility, so it's really not very safe for pedestrians - I heard the hospitalero refer to it as a 'puta carretera'! Then the camino turns right though some gates into a beautiful nature park, the Cortijo el Berrocal. It's really lovely but there is one last sting in the tail - a sandy and very very steep slope just before Almaden. I would warn anyone on a bike not to attempt this slope, but take an entirely alternative route avoiding the nature park.

Many people take a taxi in Castilblanco to the gate of the nature park to avoid the nasty road and shorten the distance. Co-ordinate with others and book the taxi the night before, as demand first thing in the morning is high.

Google maps link to location https://goo.gl/maps/cfdyouAPDXw

Casar de Caceres to Cañaveral
The Embalsa Alcántara (reservoir) is currently the biggest problem point for most people on the VDLP. This is because the Albergue Turistico there has been closed for several years and the only other option is a 'fishing hotel' that does not welcome pilgrims and I have even heard a report of them taking a reservation and then refusing to open the door. Therefore the complete lack of accommodation at the reservoir causes a 'double stage' of 35km between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral.

One solution is to miss the stage entirely and go by bus (or even train from Caceres). You can also shorten the stage by getting a taxi part way from Casar de Caceres (phone numbers in the albergue), but with both these options you would miss the very beautiful walk in the early part of the day, with the famous cheese making sheep and the lovely cuddly Mastiff at the farm.

After this first 12km the walk is much less pleasant. First there's a path diversion for railway works and then the trail stays just a few metres off the roads around the reservoir by repeatedly going up and down annoying small hills, a lot of people give up on that and walk on the N630 road, which is unpleasant and a bit dangerous. If you are scared of heights, you may also find crossing the two bridges somewhat of a trial. On weekends people race around the roads on high powered motorbikes, which provides a spectacle to relieve the tedium but is rather intimidating. There is no shade apart from hiding behind road signs and a couple of picnic shelters. The final part of the day is nicer though.

A much better solution which optimises the early part of the day and cuts the latter part down, is to ask the helpful owner of the Bar Majuca in Casar de Caceres (opposite the albergue) for the phone number of lovely Cesar the taxi man from Cañaveral.

The main reason most people do not do this is because they don't know where to call the taxi to (the reservoir is huge and featureless, with roads snaking all around, and the camino repeatedly crossing and recrossing them). I advise you to call Cesar to come and pick you up when you get to the well signposted gate on the N630 of the boat club Club Nautico Tajomar, just after the second bridge and near the closed albergue:
Club nautico.jpeg
Google maps link to location https://goo.gl/maps/zHx94tq4Hnn

This is about 2/3 of the way between Casar de Caceres and Cañaveral, so still a substantial stage. Before that point it's difficult to find a place where a taxi could stop safely and where you could also describe your location with a landmark.

Cesar doesn't speak much English but if you just read the boat club sign to him and say 'Peregrinos', he will get the picture. (Tajomar is pronounced Tahomar). The owner at the Bar Majuca may suggest you stop at the closed albergue, but this is way off the road, and also a km further on. If you want to stop at the closed albergue, ask for 'El albergue cerrado'. The taxi should cost EUR15.

Allegedly the albergue should re-open 'next year' so please update any news in the comments on this resource.

Carcaboso to Aldeanueva
This stage is almost 40km, but only if you don't depart from the official VDLP. You have two choices to reduce it:

You can break it into to two manageable stages by diverting at Ventequemada finca to Oliva de Plasencia for the night (lovely albergue and casa rural, shop and bar). With the extra 6km off the camino and back onto it, it makes two roughly 26km stages. Diverting this way, you make a triangle shape and miss out a nice section just after the finca, so if you want to walk every step of the official way, you would have to retrace your steps and it would be 6km longer.

The albergue in Oliva will also do a free pickup at Ventequemada. The next morning, they will drive people back to Ventequemada or Caparra for a small charge, although the walk to Caparra is pleasant. (It's expensive to use a taxi round here, as no taxis are based in Olivia and they charge you to come out from Carcaboso.)

Or you can continue on to the hotels Asturias/Jarilla which are 2km off the camino at 26km from Carcaboso. Asturias has free pickup.

Link to info on Gronze.
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