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Camino Inglés August 2022

Turga

Camino tortuga
Time of past OR future Camino
Pondering 2023
I walked the Camino Inglés and on to Fisterra and Muxia in august 2022. The following is my personal impression of the Inglés with a few “tales from the trail”.

It is always a pleasure walking a Camino in Spain and this time was no exception; it was good to be walking in Spain again after all that time. The Inglés is very varied, you will get a little of everything: Beautiful farmland and forests, quite long, desolate sections, small and bigger villages/cities and hills.

Getting there

The original plan was to fly via Madrid to A Coruña, stay one day there and then take the train to Ferrol. What happened was that Vueling cancelled my flights not once but twice; the first booking lasted only for less than 24 hours and the second was cancelled after about three weeks. I then changed approach and ended up flying to Madrid (Ryan) and taking the Alvia fast-train directly to Feroll. The plane landed in Madrid at 0:25 in the morning and the train left from Chamartín at 8 o’clock arriving at Ferrol at 1:15 PM. Oh, there is no place as lonely and depressing as an empty airport between 1 and 6 in the morning…

What I liked

I liked that there are quite long stages that are rather desolate: no villages, no bars, nothing. Bring enough water and perhaps some snacks.

There are many nice sections through farmland and forests, for instance through El Bosque Encantado.

I liked that the Inglés didn’t feel crowded, I walked long stretches all by myself and I generally only met single pilgrims or small groups of 2-4 (except from one memorable time when I ran into a very large group, at least 50 perhaps more, led by a tour guide with a big flag and they were singing!). Most of those I met were Spanish.

I also liked the physical challenge: There are some interesting hills on the Inglés, only rarely will you be walking on flat ground. The ascent up to As Travesas on the original/northern trail, for instance, has some very steep sections, but they are generally quite short so it is manageable.

What I didn’t like so much

A lot of road walking. My subjective estimate would be that around ¾ of the Inglés is on asphalt.

Traffic noise. Often, even on the more desolate sections on the Inglés, you can hear the more or less distant rumble of traffic and often you can see the larger roads or you will be walking quite close to them. You only rarely get the feeling of being “out in the wild”.



The weather was quite changeable and I had everything from hot, sunny days with temperatures in the 30s to chilly, windy days and rainy days. The day I walked to Sigüeiro, it started to rain around 10 o’clock and it continued for the rest of the day. It was cloudy when I left in the morning and it came as no surprise that it started raining, but it did come as a surprise that it started so suddenly and heavily. No time to change into rain jacket and put the rain cover on the backpack before I was soaked, so I just continued in my wet fleece and with backpack uncovered. I had packed everything in lightweight drybags and ziplock bags, the backpack itself dries quickly, so no problem. I actually consider leaving the rain cover at home next time; 200 grams off my back.

It still rained quite heavily when I left Sigüeiro the next morning. It is one thing when it starts to rain once you are already walking, then you are “caught in it”. It’s another thing when it rains from the beginning. Walking out from your dry and cozy quarters and into the rain just seems…eh... silly, but once you are out it is not so bad.

Well, it stopped raining after a couple of hours, the clouds spread and the sun came out, so once again I could walk into Santiago, through the portal with the bagpiper and into Praza Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral in bright sunshine.

Of course the unexpected also had to happen. I have “an unstable” left knee, but it hasn’t given me any problems during the last year or on my long training walks, so I didn’t expect problems from that particular part of the body. Nevertheless, suddenly, from one step to the other, on the quite steep descent into Betanzos, I felt a sharp and intense pain in the knee and I had to stop immediately in the middle of the hill. I tried very carefully to walk on, but it was almost unbearable. I just stood there in the middle of the hill, wondering how I would get down, I could hardly move, and if this would mean the end of my Camino after just a few days? After some attempts I found out that I could continue very slowly and carefully and without too much pain by putting the ball of my foot to the ground first. Luckily, the Good Lord (or perhaps more likely, the local administration?) had placed a bench at a turn of the road some hundred meters further down and I managed to slowly limb down to it - and luckily I had brought my knee stabilizing bandage that I bought in Spain 2018. I put it on and succeeded in walking very slowly the last couple of kms to my hotel in Betanzos, but it was no fun. The knee was very tender and a bit swollen and I thought there was no chance I could continue in the morning. I didn’t get to see much of Betanzos, I spend the evening with a bag of ice on the knee watching TV – not my idea of an evening on the Camino, but some good food and Rioja made it tolerable.

The next morning the swelling had gone, the knee felt kinda ok and I decided to start out on the rather desolate section to Presedo. It went surprisingly well and after that, I continued to walk every step all the way to Muxia. Walking uphill or on level ground was ok, but on the many steep descents, I had to walk painfully slow, which made for some longer-than-expected walking days, but that was a triviality.

After the ascent to Mesòn do Vento I stopped at the small bar “Avelina” in As Travesas for a cup of coffee. I took it outside, it was quite a chilly day, and a moment later the old señora in the bar came out and told me to come inside because “hace bastante fresco hoy”. I said that I was okay and she went inside and returned with a small metal stool, pushed it under the table and told me to put my feet up to rest the legs. I never found it very comfortable to sit with the knees stretched out, but who am I to turn down such kindness and consideration, so up went the ole legs for a while. When later I prepared to leave, she came out, took my hand in both of hers, and wished me “un buen y bendecido camino”. Small things, but something that I will remember.

One day on a forest section, I came across a small snake. It was only about 30 cm and thin as a finger. It was uniformly chocolate-colored with a lighter band behind the head. At first I thought it was dead, it lay motionless in the middle of the track, but then a small, forked tongue came out probing the air. I remained standing still and after a while I guess it decided that I was no threat and it continued slowly across the path and disappeared into the grass on the side. I wished it a Buen Camino and continued on my own.

Like the previous times, it was a special moment walking into Praza Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral at the end of a Camino. It was a sunny afternoon, the Praza was packed with tourists and peregrinos, the white and blue tourist trains were tooting and like the previous times, I quickly got tired of the crowd and I left. It is, imo, much nicer to go there late in the evening and see the Cathedral with its beautiful lighting.

Though Santiago is ‘littered’ with restaurants, it can sometimes be a problem finding a table around dinnertime. I have had dinner in several different places in Santiago and my favorite place is the small restaurant “Sobriños do Pai”/”Sobrinos del Padre”. They serve very good food and the staff is attentive and friendly. It can be a bit difficult to find, it only has a small sign and a single door and window to the street. They open at 7:30 pm (except Mondays) and you have to be there on time, as the relatively few inside and outside tables get occupied quickly.


PS: I was quite happy with my choice of footwear, my NB More Trails turned out to be very comfortable on the long sections of asphalt as well as on the more rough and rocky sections and in dry as well as in wet conditions. In fact, they are so comfortable that I decided to leave my leisure-time shoes at home (almost 350 grams off my back). They are very well cushioned and it seems that nothing sticks to the semi-Vibram soles. Well, thick mud does, but as soon as it dries, it just falls off again.

On the way to Pontedeume:
The way to Pontedeume.jpg

Walking up to As Travesas:
Walking up to As Travesas.jpg

Picnic in the quiet forest somewhere between Fisterra and Muxia. Menu: Cheese, nuts and water:
Picnic.jpg

Cathedral in evening lighting:
Cathedral by night.jpg
 
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