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2019 Camino Guides

Live - Camino Mozarabe Camino Mozárabe from Almería

Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#1
I intended to post each day on this Camino but have found the days long and problematic with wifi. I'm sitting watching heavy snow, having arrived in Huéneja after a journey in beautiful sunshine. The views on the Camino are outstanding almost everywhere at this time of year and there are fresh blooms and blossom wherever I look. The arrival was beset by some transport delay, so, only getting to Almeria Cathedral after lunch, I decided to head for the Albergue Municipal at Rioja for the evening. It was excellent and I was met by two charming Amigos with whom I exchanged numbers/emails. They are tracking my movements daily to provide Camino following of a sort. Signage has been excellent and even travelling through Huercal was enjoyable in warm sun; I have no aversion to tarmac. Some of the past days have been in riverbeds, some of which are quite taxing in the sections where there are larger rocks, and the section along the river to Nacimiento was a tunnel of overgrown bamboo which seems to have taken over. Some signage may be confusing, as in Pechina where there are Camino Mozárabe signs pointing left and straight ahead at the entrance to the village. Straight ahead worked fine. There is a similar confusion in Santa Fe where signs took me around the village. I'd just keep heading upwards to pass on the road beneath the two bridges towards Alhabia where the signs again make sense. Rioja to Alboloduy was a sweaty walk with some steep inclines but the latter part was mostly along the river valley where the trees, crops and wild flowers produced amazing scents. At Gador the whole valley was filled with orange blossom. The casa rural at Alboloduy was excellent, complete with free washing machine, and the hostalero could not have been more helpful. The journey to Abla was long and my GPS measured 29.5km to the albergue at the top of the last hill. Again, the river valley could be taxing and the icing on the cake was a delivery of snow and cold winds as I arrived. As for this being an empty trail; it's positively crowded at the moment. I shared a walk with a Dutchman in the afternoon of day two and met two further peregrinos at the Municipal in Abla. The Camino is proving every bit as beautiful as expected and the weather/visibility has been outstanding. One surprise has been the rapid change back to winter and snow over the past day; it was freezing this morning, requiring gloves and muff to keep warm. I must mention the climb out of Alboloduy. A local advised that taking the road was a kinder option with better views, but I did the river valley and climb of the official route. It was steep at times and narrow in places but I took my time, proceeded carefully and it was a good experience that I'm pleased to have done. As Kevin O'Brien said in his excellent guide, stay on the route (which is well marked) and avoid any temptation to climb the scree slopes (as someone had done before me, as evidenced by boot prints in the shale). The municipal albergues have been great to date, my one observation is that they have little or no heating. Here in Huéneja, the inside temperature is the same as outside which is currently 6C; however the shower is hot! There have been no real issues of any importance and this is certainly a great time of year to see Andalucia's back yard, the Alpujarras, and the snow-covered Sierra Nevada. I shall post more in a few days.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18
#5
yes,,, thank you also for your comments ,,, all going well I will be right there this time next year ,,,buen camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de compostello but by car with sketching stops
#6
I intended to post each day on this Camino but have found the days long and problematic with wifi. I'm sitting watching heavy snow, having arrived in Huéneja after a journey in beautiful sunshine. The views on the Camino are outstanding almost everywhere at this time of year and there are fresh blooms and blossom wherever I look. The arrival was beset by some transport delay, so, only getting to Almeria Cathedral after lunch, I decided to head for the Albergue Municipal at Rioja for the evening. It was excellent and I was met by two charming Amigos with whom I exchanged numbers/emails. They are tracking my movements daily to provide Camino following of a sort. Signage has been excellent and even travelling through Huercal was enjoyable in warm sun; I have no aversion to tarmac. Some of the past days have been in riverbeds, some of which are quite taxing in the sections where there are larger rocks, and the section along the river to Nacimiento was a tunnel of overgrown bamboo which seems to have taken over. Some signage may be confusing, as in Pechina where there are Camino Mozárabe signs pointing left and straight ahead at the entrance to the village. Straight ahead worked fine. There is a similar confusion in Santa Fe where signs took me around the village. I'd just keep heading upwards to pass on the road beneath the two bridges towards Alhabia where the signs again make sense. Rioja to Alboloduy was a sweaty walk with some steep inclines but the latter part was mostly along the river valley where the trees, crops and wild flowers produced amazing scents. At Gador the whole valley was filled with orange blossom. The casa rural at Alboloduy was excellent, complete with free washing machine, and the hostalero could not have been more helpful. The journey to Abla was long and my GPS measured 29.5km to the albergue at the top of the last hill. Again, the river valley could be taxing and the icing on the cake was a delivery of snow and cold winds as I arrived. As for this being an empty trail; it's positively crowded at the moment. I shared a walk with a Dutchman in the afternoon of day two and met two further peregrinos at the Municipal in Abla. The Camino is proving every bit as beautiful as expected and the weather/visibility has been outstanding. One surprise has been the rapid change back to winter and snow over the past day; it was freezing this morning, requiring gloves and muff to keep warm. I must mention the climb out of Alboloduy. A local advised that taking the road was a kinder option with better views, but I did the river valley and climb of the official route. It was steep at times and narrow in places but I took my time, proceeded carefully and it was a good experience that I'm pleased to have done. As Kevin O'Brien said in his excellent guide, stay on the route (which is well marked) and avoid any temptation to climb the scree slopes (as someone had done before me, as evidenced by boot prints in the shale). The municipal albergues have been great to date, my one observation is that they have little or no heating. Here in Huéneja, the inside temperature is the same as outside which is currently 6C; however the shower is hot! There have been no real issues of any importance and this is certainly a great time of year to see Andalucia's back yard, the Alpujarras, and the snow-covered Sierra Nevada. I shall post more in a few days.
Terrific reading please post more info, supporting you and Macmillan
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2009', Camino Portuguese from Porto '2015', Camino Ingles from Ferrol '2015', Finisterre and Muxia '2015'. Tentatively planning Camino from Granada '2017'.
#7
We (four Australian women) will be starting from Granada on 15th April. Looking forward to further posts. Buen Camino.
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#8
Good to see your progress. The climb out of Alboloduy is steep indeed, but I am glad I did it for it was very beautiful there.

Last year there was a small heater in Hueneja but still it was very cold. In my memory the next stages will be easier, except the long one between La Peza and Quentar. You will appreciate the views on the Sierra Nevada,

Keep up the good walking.
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#9
Good to read that there are more people there this year. For me it took two weeks to meet the first fellow pilgrim, a bicigrino.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
#10
We (four Australian women) will be starting from Granada on 15th April. Looking forward to further posts. Buen Camino.
Well, there will be at least another pilgrim starting that same day from Granada, a man from Galicia. Please beware you might have to stay one night in Granada, it will be deep Easter, so accommodation might not be cheap or easy to find at all, beware of that!

Buen camino!
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2009', Camino Portuguese from Porto '2015', Camino Ingles from Ferrol '2015', Finisterre and Muxia '2015'. Tentatively planning Camino from Granada '2017'.
#11
We have accommodation booked in Granada for 3 nights. Old girl guides!
Well, there will be at least another pilgrim starting that same day from Granada, a man from Galicia. Please beware you might have to stay one night in Granada, it will be deep Easter, so accommodation might not be cheap or easy to find at all, beware of that!

Buen camino!
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
#12
Well, if I am around and you want to have a beer or see any Easter processions, I will be very happy to meet you, I live in Granada and love talking about my hometown and the Camino! You are going to love Granada
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2009', Camino Portuguese from Porto '2015', Camino Ingles from Ferrol '2015', Finisterre and Muxia '2015'. Tentatively planning Camino from Granada '2017'.
#13
Thanks, Amancio, I may just take you up on that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#15
DAY 8 - GRANADA

Following on from the DAY 4 post:

Hueneja was the low point in terms of accommodations and also with weather because of the extreme cold and snow. Looking back from a fabulous 4 days it is a disappointment that the refugio at Huéneja is quite so limited because the people running it from La Residencia are extemely helpful and keen to make any stay worthwhile.
The trail out of the pueblo was a little problematic in the dark, especially when the route went cross-country up a hill and off the track itself. Crossing the summit of a small ridge revealed a view of the Plains of Zenete which were illuminated in the half light by what, at first, I assumed was an airfield. It was only later as light improved it became clear that it was a vast electricty-generating area powered by PV cells which covered a huge area. By the time I reached breakfast in Dolar, at the bar opposite the church, it was fully light.
Leaving Dolar is fine except there's a right turn at the fountain and the sign is on the wall behind when approaching uphill from the church. This route to Ferreira and La Calahorra was spoiled by some kind soul turning the signs to the right by 90 degrees, and also ploughing up a short piece of the trail which runs along the perimeter of an orchard. I followed the arrows down a water course but recognised the direction was wrong. The sign was easily fixed but the lesson was clear in believing map and compass.
Clearing the next ridge line which carried access to Puerto de la Ragua at 2000m, the early 16th century sandstone castle at La Calahorra was visible for the first time. Its four pepper pot towers were clearly seen against the Sierras far to the north and west, making an outstanding picture. The climb up its hill was worth it but the real jewel in Calahorra is a small bodega, right on the edge of the village as you follow the arrows for Alquife.
I discovered it by accident because the door opened and I caught site of a blazing wood fire. Looking more closely I saw tables and chairs inside and decided to stop as it was past lunchtime. It was one of the best lunches with bread and cheese accompanied by the bodega's very own reserva, all for €5. I had a conducted tour of the bodega itself and came away feeling very mellow for the walk to Alquife via its mines.
Again, at Alquife, I used the donativo which turned out to be gold. Run by a Dutch couple, the place is a converted barn in its own grounds about a km outside the village. Sitting in the garden, looking at the snows on the Sierra Nevada while having a beer was a great way to finish the day's hike. The best was to come with a room all to myself, beds that had duvets and sheets, and a shower that positively blasted hot water (which was actually contained inside the cubicle). The evening meal was a classic communal affair, delicious, all made by the hostess herself, and in the meantime all my washing had been done. The donativo turned into €20 but as this covered the meal, the wine and beer, the room and duvet and all the washing, it was worth every cent. Albergue de Peregrinos, La Balsa I'd recommend to any pilgrim, and after Huéneja it was especially outstanding.
And so the next day improved again with a dawn breaking across the landscape at my back as I made my way to breakfast at Jerez. The track ran by the mining tips, left after the iron mines had closed, and then across the abandoned work sites with a collection of yellow towers, each one an electricity station. The bar for breakfast is on the left on entering the village, before the climb to the church; and I missed it in looking ahead for the next arrow.
The church was opened up for me by an old man I met accidentally in the street, and having fetched a key, he explained that he was born in 1931 and had seen the church severely damaged during the civil war. It remained unusable and abandoned under Franco, but restoration lasting three years was commenced around 1982.
I finally found breakfast in that bar, having circled the pueblo completely, and finding later the ermita on the hill was easy. The views across the Plains were fabulous in such good weather. In the woods going up the hill was a collection of multicoloured fish sculptures, all hanging vertically from the Corsican pines and giving a spiritual touch to this site. It's near the top of the climb and the trail passes straight across with the Hermitage on the right before a descent towards the loch. Having followed the arrows left at the bottom of the descent, the path meanders through the trees and around the water, eventually returning across the dam to where it started. Look for the sign, descend by the dam and pick up your next track off to the right. If so inclined, you could miss out the trip around the loch completely.
The rest of this stage is across the Plain before descending into the Guadix gorge which is followed all the way to town with no problems. Evidence of the troglodytes is all around but the museums are in town or in Purullena, part of the next stage. Signs in Guadix are sufficient but there, and in Purullena particularly, there has been a yellow arrow eraser-fairy at work, making navigation more difficult than it need be.
Accommodation of choice in Guadix was the Casa Acogida, as recommended by the Asociación Jacobea. It was a fascinating and beautiful 15th century Mudéjar building with many original features including a wooden door, built in a curve, with original metal hinges, an atrium with original wooden beams and a recycled Roman column. The floor was a mosaic, much like that of the Mezquita in Córdoba, and the whole house was a collection of history. Sleeping was on mattresses on the floor, with sheets and quilts provided, and as a unique experience, it was joyful.
Leaving Guadix was interesting for several reasons, the first because the coffee and churros were the best I ever had. The churros were fried when I ordered them, and I talked with a few workmen getting theirs to kick-start the day. The bar (on the route out) had a stove that had the place roasting, despite the frost outside. Secondly, the lack of yellow arrows in town, and in the dark, made finding the official signs much more difficult. The white porcelain and yellow arrow are hard to spot with torchlight. Once on the way, it became clear this was going to be an unusual landscape because the route was through the Purullena Badlands with their fantastic formations. In fact they are very reminiscent of the Dakota Badlands, the types of rock and the types of erosions appearing similar.
Purullena is a tourist tripper town with a museum about the Badlands and the troglodytes, and there is a spectacular view from the top of the museum to the south and west towards Marchal and Graena. Once again, intermittent lack of yellow arrows was puzzling throughout the day but this did not effect routing. In fact, from Graena, I followed the road and avoided the village, thereby having what seemed far better views of both the snow-covered mountains to the south and the canyons/ravines towards the Francisco Abellán reservoir.
The descent into La Peza was via a country track, having left the main road, and again this afforded excellent views of both the village and all the surrounding mountains. After La Peza, there is a high road for 6km and a low road for similar distance that serves in bad weather. I elected the latter as I was doing this 50km stage all in one day in order to get to Granada earlier, if possible.
The road to Puerto de Los Blancares at 1297m was deserted and was a continuous climb. The high road rejoined the low road around the 6km point and there was then a pleasant track through woodland adjacent to the highway but this petered out so that routing on the tarmac was unavoidable up to the pass. Just beyond, the route bears right onto dirt roads which are very easy to follow and well signed, and the views of the mountains were outstanding, even looking backwards to the area of La Peza and beyond. The tarmac route winds downwards into forest and passes a village that can be seen from the dirt road.
A word of caution for the lone traveller here. There was no phone signal from Los Blancares pass until passing the quarry immediately preceding the descent into Quentár, a distance of about 10km. Also, the quarry is at 1467m, considerably higher than Los Blancares, and the climb to it is appreciable given the descents in the back country en route. Descending to Quentár was easy but there are a few sections which are either very rocky or have been severely eroded by trail bike activity making use of a stick preferable.
Accommodation at Quentár was in the erstwhile donativo, a most excellent mountain refuge with every facility provided, including all cooking utensils, lots of food and washer and drier. It was also very well heated with modern showers that provided copious amounts of hot water.
Routing to Granada was straight forward but both bars in Dúdar were shut at 8am and the planned breakfast there had to be trail mix instead.
The climb to Peña de los Agujeros was steep in places and afforded superb views of Sierra Nevada and this later gave the first glimpses of Granada, once on top. Descent into Granada was routine except for a short climb up to the Sacromonte where, even on closed days, they will give peregrinos a sello.
I paid rather more for lunch than planned by taking it at a cave/bar on the Darro valley, opposite the Alhambra. Food lower in the city is good, plentiful and much better value due to competition. The accommodation here is plentiful (but beware Semana Santa approaching) and I was kindly put up by the Hermanas de Comendadores de Santiago in their convent in the north east of the city.
In all, each day on this route has brought it's joy and it's difficult to choose which is best. I enjoy the peace of the deserted trails and this makes meeting people on the way so much more important and memorable.
I set out for Pinos puente tomorrow, excited at this next phase of the journey.
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#16
Hi Erik,

Good to read your progress along this beautiful Camino. It is kind of reliving my walk from last year. For me Hueneja also was a low point with damp and cold, and I also was happy to stay with friendly fellow Dutchmen at La Balsa. The scene after Granada will be different (to say one word: olives) but still very worth wile. In Pinos Puente there is a simple hotel, at the road passing the city. I was not aware of albergues. In Moclin you can stay for a reasonable price at the Touristic Center, just at the end of the village, in excellent accomodation. Starting from Moclin in the early morning will be an amazing sight.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#20
Day 12 - Baena

Granada is a fabulous city that I’ve enjoyed before and I had no intention of staying more than the one night with the Hermanas de Comendadores de Santiago. Leaving Granada was simple once I’d decided to forego the official route from the convent and simply pass through the old Jewish Quarter then head on along Calle Gran Via de Colón and onwards to Plaza de Europe where the arrows start. The change from city to country was relatively quick and once I’d mastered where to look for the signs, the route was simple. A few were Mozarábe signs on the walls but the majority were arrows on lamp posts and traffic signs. There was a good sprinkling of Shell signs stuck on lamp posts too. Eyes out! Maracena led to Atarfe across flat farmland and the route to Pinos Puente was a dusty trek alongside the railway. Some kilometres after Atarfe, a new junction has been built, the road blocked on the railway underpass, and an all new safety barrier erected. The track paralleling the railway has an offset crossroads so just continue following the track south of the railway and it will lead eventually back to the highway and Pinos Puente. The new roads and all that construction traffic is for the emerging high-speed railway.

Pinos Puente is a Gitano town and like many others, has suffered in the economic climate of today. This was rather obvious in the closed shops and bars which are to be seen in many streets. The ayuntamiento is in the centre, by the main church, and they can point to accommodation, but I stayed in the Montserrat which offers a pilgrim rate of €20 for the night and their food was equally reasonable. The route out for Moclín starts at the central church and goes straight up the hill (past a good bar on the right for breakfast). There was lack of a sign at a split in the road above the town, and I asked two elderly sisters for the Way. Confusion reigned as they pointed down the hill, away from my route, so I took the left fork and headed for the high ground where yellow arrows appeared. There are, in fact, two routes, hence the misunderstanding. There is a lower, more direct route and a higher, longer but more scenic route (the one I was taking). The route was well-marked thereafter and was easy to follow, climbing steadily on mostly tarmac or gravel roads until reaching Cortijo Mama Yiyi, an old house just below a semi-abandoned hamlet. The Way goes through the hamlet, still climbing, then does a sharp left along a country track which is well-marked. Thereafter progress is good and easy as the Way descends into Olivares, a sizeable pueblo, the last before the climb to Moclín.

Following the route down to the river, the first opportunity for refreshment is in the cafe immediately beyond the bridge. The owner is also the keeper of the Sello for Olivares. This town has a long history and a trip up the River Velillos will reveal a magnificent gorge overlooked by castle towers that were built under the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Muslim rulers in Spain who also built the Alhambra Palaces. There are also neolithic cave paintings in the gorge, thus there are many excuses not to do the climb to Moclín straight away. I lacked the time or energy to do anything other than follow the Way which, in places, matches O’Cebreiro for steepness. The climb is only a few kilometres but it took a full hour of gradual plodding to make it. The views were worth every step and I also ventured up to the castle for the ultimate elevation and vistas all the way back the Sierra Nevada.

Accommodation in Moclín was readily available at this quieter time of year and instead of going to the hostel at the top of town, I asked in the bar opposite the ayuntamiento and got a local apartment for the same price. The hike from Granada was not far so I arrived early in the afternoon and had lots of time to explore the area. It is worth noting that the higher route to Moclín had nowhere to stop before Olivares and that subsequent days proved equally devoid of places to refresh or shop. In fact, after Moclín, there are hikes of many kilometers where self-sufficiency is essential. On the way to Alcala, the bars in Cequia and the village beyond were closed, and on the route from Alcala to Alcaudete the first refreshment was at Ventas del Carrizal. The next section is from Alcaudete to Baena and I measured 27km with no place to stop, other than a farm around the 20km point.
It appears that the Camino is becoming easier in terms of terrain with much less climbing, but there is a need to plan carriage of water (in particular) and food, in order to be self-sustaining. I had thought the long hike with no stops from La Peza to Quentár was unusual but experience since shows this is not the case.

In terms of routes and signage, I’m now at the point where maps are for planning and otherwise I’m confident that the routes are there and are marked, with very few exceptions. From Alcalá to Alcaudete I used no map other than to establish distance (around 24km) and followed the arrows from Hostel Hidalgo with only one miss when I had to retrace steps. Having become fitter on the trail, it’s possible to observe and think without too much concern for the yellow arrows, but I do have to pay attention when approaching junctions and in towns. I work on the principle of no arrow means keep going and have seldom been wrong.

I have met no other Pilgrim since seeing the Dutch and Belgian people 6 days ago, but I have had conversations with farmers and olive grove workers along the way, and the dogs tend to be very voluable, trying to put their points across. I’ve had no incidents with dogs at all and those which come very close soon run away if I bend down, pretending to pick up a stone. The views of the country, if anything, just improve every day, and as there has been nothing but sunshine since Hueneja, the country is blooming. Córdoba is on the horizon and the trek towards Mérida continues.
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#22
Beautiful picture Eric. It captures everything that is so fascinating about Andalusia. When you read this, you have already decided if you do Castro del Rio-Cordoba in one stage. ot take the alternative of two stages. Arriving in Cordoba over the old bridge is another fascinating moment. You also will enjoy the dehesa landscape in the days after Cordoba. Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#23
Having split the journey to Córdoba into two stages, the arrival in Santa Cruz was more luck than judgement, the village being largely closed for a religious holiday and fiesta. Luckily, Casa José was just closing and accepted me for a room as it closed up for the night. Castro (like it's namesake in Galicia) was notable for the first view of a stork on the church belfry, but there was a few others on electricity pylons along the route towards Espejo and beyond. The timber industry (mainly of olive wood) appeared very busy, making everything from fence posts and garden stakes to beautiful furniture. Castro was also the site of many nurseries advertising dozens of types of olive saplings, I presumed for local sale as well as export. In Castro there was the usual hike to the top of the hill but there was also a statue marked "To The Romans". The hike from Castro del Rio was a delight, following the Rio Guadajoz for a good distance and enjoying the relatively level journey before the climb into Espejo. All of the riparine environments are blooming, the greenery filling out as Spring takes hold, and I was struck by the number of eucalypts along the way and the similarity to some Australian scenes. Swifts and swallows patrolled for their airborne collection of insects, while a few were seen nesting beneath bridges and roofs. The climb out of the river valley was via a dusty track and, as in many adventures into this landscape, the best was revealed only at the very last, entering Espejo itself. Miss Espejo and some of the most commanding views will be bypassed. The pueblo itself has very steep streets and a road building team took pity on this old pilgrim to let me pass through without a detour. I made do with a view of the castle from without and made my way first up the hill again, then out onto the perimeter where the views towards Córdoba were simply outstanding. I have to say, the route to Santa Cruz was something of an anticlimax after Espejo which I was sad to leave behind in the descent to lower ground. The Way out of Santa Cruz was very easy and joined the Castro-Córdoba trail after about three miles. The change in countryside was gradual as vast fields of barley took over from olive groves, and the terrain was more undulating with fewer sharp climbs. It seemed no time before the Sierra Morena was visible but Córdoba itself was hidden from view until clearing almost the last ridge. I had noticed throughout the past days that there were no birds of prey visible and this was suddenly and dramatically addressed when descending into the Guadalquivir river valley. Virtually on the shoulders of this valley, large numbers of kites appeared, circling the higher ground to the south of the city, and above them, at great height, was a group of what appeared to be huge vultures with massive wingspans. Having seen none of these for a fortnight, it seems my curiosity was addressed all at once and the descent to Córdoba was made by these birds' presence. Arriving in the early afternoon and walking through the housing areas in which roads are lined with blossom-filled orange trees, entry to the city was via the famous Roman bridge guarded by the 12th century Calahorra Tower, the latter attracting large crowds. I confess to having visited Córdoba on several occasions and, despite this, I was keen to see the great Mezquita-Catedral for which the city is so renowned. I walked across the bridge, circled the mosque walls and entered the inner courtyard to buy a ticket (no concessions for older peregrinos - or younger ones either)! Once inside, the architecture, the subdued lighting and its history make the Mezquita a most powerful site. Luckily, there was a lull in visitors as I arrived (late lunch time) and it was possible to have a whole cloister to myself, soaking up the atmosphere and tales of centuries. If for no other reason, being inside the Mezquita makes all this hiking worthwhile but, as the crowds built up, I took my leave to find an albergue somewhere in town. As luck would have it, there was a pension nearby which offered Peregrino discount and for the same price as Casa José, I had a central and well-equipped room in Pension Gonzalez. There was little time to shower, change and wash clothes before heading out to finally follow the Mozàrabe signs to the parish church of Santiago. Sadly, it was closed and I was unable to put my name on the register or receive a sello, but I did find the start of the Camino for the following day, which starts there. Competition for business is fierce in the tourist town, with the result that food and accommodation are good and prices are reasonable. By the time I'd had several tapas and a beer in a few establishments I was ready to retire. As usual, I left early, having breakfast in a bar by the Santiago church so that by dawn I was on the road. The Camino signs in Córdoba are of tile, easily seen (except when hiding behind orange trees) and are plentiful. There is even a sign beneath the last highway bridge. There is an old Roman bridge on the city departure and it amazed me that the Romans had the foresight to build also a tunnel under the high speed railway line. Signs on the climb to Cerro Muriano were good, except in two places. First on approaching the now-dry Canal del Guadalmelleto, all sign disappeared. Follow the path adjacent to the canal and climb until reaching an earth track which branches left. Take the narrow track, which widens, for about 400 metres and find a low, brownstone cairn (about calf height). Turn right and follow the disused road in front until it comes to an end at a gravel track which crosses perpendicularly. Turn left, follow the track past the working quarry and bear right to exit. The yellow signs appear by magic directly in front of the quarry gates at the new village of Paraiso Arenal. The way I found this was by being told by a Spanish runner who saw me scratching my head on the track by the canal. The perplexed look, raggedy clothes and a shell on my pack told him I was a peregrino and he gave me the directions I relate above. They worked beautifully. At the village, the signs disappear again and I just kept climbing on the eastern side, heading for the Hermitage of Nuestra Signora de Linares which is almost at the head of the pass leading to Cerro Muriano. There were some fabulous mountain pastures getting towards the top of the climb with open sward, masses of wild flowers and, in particular, self-seeded lavender. Cerro Muriano was a single street on which there was a number of bars to have lunch at and, having enjoyed a local stew, I set off for Villaharta. The Way was flat, and easy, the least attractive part being the continuing presence of the highway. Having built a completely new road beside the old one, the route was on tarmac so keeping left on the dirt and rock track was better for feet and ears. A particularly good sight was a herd of cattle eating hay in the shade of some trees. El Vacar appeared out of nowhere and was a most welcome watering hole to use for sustenance before tackling the final climb to Villaharta. All things went well until arrival in the village when I discovered that the inn was full. Despite asking around the village, there was no bed available and to avoid sleeping in a vaguely attractive goat shed, I finally descended a few kilometers and secured a room in Hostal al Cruce, a truck stop on the main highway. The room and shower were excellent and the food provided the necessary energy to tackle the mountain again, in the morning. The next leg was 37km through the mountains, across the top of Sierra Morena, and there was nowhere to stop for food. There was a Fuente, a few kilometers past the summit (around the 22km point) and I took advantage to have a good rest and drink there while I attacked my trail mix. During the climb there was a single river crossing which I negotiated wearing seal skinz and using my stick, but the water was just above ankle height and there was no current to speak of. The next few "crossings" were easily circumvented using stepping stones or paths. The view on reaching the summit of Sierra Morena at 20km was awe-inspiring, certainly as much as viewing La Meseta on Camino Frances. The mountains on the far horizon and the "Plains" of the Deshea were simply beautiful with their collections of trees and mixtures of crops/pastures. They are not, however, as flat as they appear. The descent past the fuente to another river crossing, and then a climb to the next ridge rid me of that misconception. Past the next river there is a gradual ascent to around a few thousand feet where the trail evens off and the remaining trek to Alcaracejos is very benign. Of note in all of this day's hike is the ever-increasing number of encina (the holly oak which provides the the acorns for feeding pigs) and the presence of rock-rose which was just beginning to flower all over the mountain. As ever, the pueblo of Alcaracejos remained hidden until it was less than a kilometre away, the clue to its presence being the 14th century Hermitage of San Sebastian, the building I'd been looking at for half an hour before I arrived. The Hermitage and it's cross occupy a beautiful position on a ridge which overlooks the town and has views onto the mountainous horizon in Extremadura. In the town is a Casa de Peregrinos which sleeps 6 and which is equipped well (including washing machine). I found it by asking in the bar in the main square and the hostalero drove to the bar to give me a lift to the house. And so all is well. I've deliberately been walking all day, every day, becoming trail fit for the coming 1000km to Santiago. My legs can now out walk the daylight, if necessary, ( I prefer not) and my routines are set for the next month. I've seen no pilgrim for the past 10 days, the Way is deserted except for occasional shepherds or people tending fields or olive groves, and it is a journey of contemplation in which there are simple joys each day. I look forward to joining VdlP at Mérida sometime next week.
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2009', Camino Portuguese from Porto '2015', Camino Ingles from Ferrol '2015', Finisterre and Muxia '2015'. Tentatively planning Camino from Granada '2017'.
#25
Thank you so much, Erik. Your posts are very informative and a joy to read.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#26
Alcaracejos was fascinating as much for its night life in the village restaurant as for anything else. As I said, the people I met were most kind and generous, and the albergue was superb. There was a big soccer match on the night I arrived and the result was a very noisy meal in amongst the crowd who were enjoying the fiesta atmosphere. The food was good, plentiful and, as I've become accustomed, good value. It appears it's possible to live on "free" tapas which arrives automatically when a drink is bought, but I like to order something from the menu too, in order to stoke the boiler.
Leaving still in the dark, breakfast was in the same place (Restaurant Tic Tac) and they did a mean tostada (media) that could double as a house brick, it was so large and filling.
The route to Villanueva Del Duque was very pleasant, going through mainly smallholdings where the farming appears at subsistence levels. There were no huge expanses of GPS-controlled ploughing or drilling, and the crops were being used a lot for fodder and hay. I saw a milking parlour that would not have looked out of place in Scotland 50 years ago, the inference being that some of these farmers lack the means to invest and modernise. Villaneuva was quiet, but not deserted, even though it's one bar/cafe appears permanently closed. I spied a lady carrying bread and asking where she got it, she pointed to a door, just like any other. It is round the corner on the left, with back to the church and the peregrino information centre immediately to the front, first door on the right. It was an Aladdin's cave which provided all sorts of goods, including fruit, and is a handy stop when there is no cafe. There is a memorial on the departure from Villanueva which is to the "Mina las Morras del Cuzna" and it may not be obvious that many of the miners who worked there were from Cornwall. This area was the lead-producing centre for western Europe for almost a century, from the late 1800s, and the last mines closed only in the 1990s. Much of the equipment used was imported from UK and miners moved with their families here from Cornwall. Local graveyards contain many Cornish names. The journey on from Villanueva affords many good views and the presence of "encina" becomes much more obvious as part of the Dehesa system and they are seen throughout the region, normally sharing fields with swathes of barley (and occasionally, peas). Some of these trees are known to be 3 and 4 centuries old, and one farmer maintained that some are even 1000 years old. The Way into Hinojosa is partly along the highway then around the back of the polígono but there are interesting sights all the way. Hinojoso has a marvellous albergue, administered by the local police, so to gain entry just requires a visit to the Ayuntamiento where the local constable will take your details, issue a key and direct you 50 yards around the corner - and it's all free, of course. As usual, I had this place (the last leg of Camino in Andalucia) to myself and it was luxury. The local Amigos reps came to see me there and we discussed the poor signage of small parts of the Way out of Córdoba. The cafe adjacent to the Ayuntamiento was not only good for a meal, it was also a great source of gossip about local farming. Land prices trebling in 15 years, the departure of youth from the area to the towns, and the declining population of partridges due to excessive use of pesticides were all talked about. The route out was very pleasant with mountains appearing on several horizons and the tracks were all, generally, of a good standard. It was noticed that some footprints from wet days had left deep impressions on the track and I am grateful for all the recent good and dry weather which makes going so much better. Routing to Monterrubio was clearly marked and very pleasant with sweeping views in many directions. The high points of that day's travel were a transit across a railway which proved not to be disused at all (as I'd assumed from the abandoned state of a railway crossing building), a very easy river crossing via stepping stones, and then a hike to a viewing point directly above an oxbow on the Zújar river from which great horizons to the south and views of a Hermitage to the west could be seen. The remaining journey was, sadly, a tarmac fest but at least crossing the border into Extremadura was obvious.
Like many other pueblos, Monterrubio has a quaint inner centre dominated by the church. There were two facilities I could see, one a hotel opposite the main church door, the second a hostal across the church square. Both do peregrino rates, which were reasonable, and the hotel where I stayed had good beds; but it had a noisy bar. The town had a big funeral when I arrived and everyone was there - and everything was shut. Similarly, leaving the next morning, nothing was open for breakfast so I had that at midday in Castuera. The change in crossing to Extremadura brought back the olive groves and the route out was to the familiar sound of olive tree pruning (with chainsaws) and olive tree spraying (with 747 engines fixed to the back of tractors). None the less, it was a beautiful route and the castle perched close to Cabeza de Buey at Almorchón could be seen all morning. Leaving the olive groves behind, the land opened up suddenly when approaching Castuera, and there were maginficent views across a huge plain to further Sierras on the horizon. Castuera was surprising for it was clearly a major town in the region and had a good selection of shops, had they not been closed for the festival weekend. The routing from the elevated position at Castuera was straightforward as it followed a ridge into a valley and the red letter event was seeing a train that passed on the Madrid - Badajoz railway as it paralleled the Way. The route ran directly to the church in the town centre where a fiesta was in full swing. The famous author Antonio Reyes Huertas is commemorated at the church as this was his home town. Being Saturday, and a festival, and arriving late, the ayuntamiento was shut - so it fell to the local bars to provide information about an albergue. The municipal, I was told, lay several kilometers outside of town (at the old railway station) and finding a bed would be difficult. However, looking tired from a ten hour walk had its advantages and a barman recommended I try asking at a bar near the Guardia Civil barracks at the top of town. This resulted in being pointed towards an old house in the main street where the Credencial and shell on my pack persuaded the owner to let me have shelter for the night. Once again, luck played it's part and I had a good room, hot showers and clothes washing facilities, all for a few euros. Of course the house did not have a sello, so I took myself down to the main church for 8 o'clock mass where I was sure the priest would oblige; and he did. At the church is a chapel and memorial specifically for the Camino Mozárabe, something I'd not seen before. Particular to Campanario as well, were horses at the bar. Enjoying supper in a local hostelry, all was noise and jollity as two huge televisions broadcast yet another important soccer match, and the locals competed to shout their views about the referee. During this episode half a dozen riders appeared directly outside, lining their horses up side by side facing into the bar from the pavement. They all had drinks while their best behaved horses waited patiently under the streetlights and the motor traffic negotiated this rather routine obstruction. It was a fun evening. All too soon it was another dawn start and the route went almost directly to Campanario Municipal albergue which was a good walk out of town. The views were now of rolling grasslands and the presence of volcanic rocks was most obvious (as they had been on the route to Campanario from Castuera). This whole area is volcanic as evidenced by the ready availability of granites in the region. Even the Camino Mozárabe signs appear to be local granite and this resource is so plentiful that many fence and gateposts throughout the Dehesas are of granite too. It reminds me that the best signed stage of the route to date was that from Cerro Muriano where a special effort has been made to provide well-sited granite markers at almost every turn, which are securely concreted and easily seen. Well done the Amigos. In the distance, on leaving Campanario, was the "Tor" upon which the castle of Magacela has been a presence since Roman times. The current fortress dates back to around the 14th century but it's name (Pacense) is Latin. The route to the tor is beautiful, the land given over to agriculture and even more olive trees being planted. To the east of the village is a 5000 year old dolmen - and some of the lower village looks equally ancient. There appeared to be no cafe or bar in the village and the village square with its fuente was used for a rest. In the upper village, there is caja, a supermarket and a tabac but I found no cafe. The views from top are amazing, however, and well worth the climb. In any case, the route goes up through the village and does a smart left turn at the top to bring the way down to broad bean - or La Haba. This village was quite small and finding somewhere to eat meant staying strictly to the Way signs. The route out had a dearth of signs once past the abattoir, but following the general direction for Don Benito was simple - it could be seen from La Haba. Entry to Don Benito was confusing because side by side were an official granite stone and two arrows all pointing in different directions. This confusion continued through the town, even past the church of Santiago, but the route out, to Cortès' Medellin was obvious, and signs were superfluous. It was slightly disheartening to exit Don Benito and find the route following 6km of asphalt in a straight line to the fort. All was not lost, however, and the Way left the tarmac after crossing the railway and the approach to the Conquistador's home was on country track through thriving fields.




Show quoted text
 
#27
Thanks so much for this wealth of information. Since you are now way beyond Day 4, I took the liberty of using my "mod power" to change the title of your thread and make it a sticky so that everyone who is planning the Mozárabe from Almería can benefit. (Self-interest disclaimer -- I hope to leave Almería in April 2018, so I am not exactly a disinterested party here ;)). Wishing you lots more great walking, buen camino, Laurie

p.s. You don't happen to have any pictures that you are posting anywhere, do you?
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#28
Hi Laurie, I just posted a picture of the riders at the bar in Campanario. Is that nit visible? I also posted a picture of Moclín at dawn and thought it was on this site. Is there a way I can send you some? I've about 600 so far.
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#29
In the upper village, there is caja, a supermarket and a tabac but I found no cafe.
Hi Erik, on the corner in the upper part of Magacela, about 10 meters before the supermarket, there was a cafe at your left side. However, it was a stage with plenty of cafes in La Haba and Don Benito.

I read that the water levels are low, so it will be possible to take the straight (no more marked) camino between Yelbes and San Pedro de Merida, winning about 7 kilometers on the official route. and avoiding a long part close to a busy highway. I had that day the lucky company of a French couple, with the woman speaking Spanish and able to ask the way to farmers in the fields.

The last stage (or part) to Merida is a bit dull but suddenly you walk between Roman monuments, enter the old city and finish at the Roman bridge.

Just one question reading your reports. Did you see much other pilgrims or is it a very lonely trip?
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#30
Hi Carel. I've seen no other walking pilgrims for two weeks but saw a cyclist 6 days ago and another last night. I saw no evidence of the cafe at Magacela but was probably breathing too hard to notice at that point. I did a water crossing today on the way to San Pedro de Mérida and the water was just above the ankles. Thanks for your kind feedback.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18
#31
fantastic report again ,,,thank you,,, and so much info for me ,,hopefully walking this way this time 2018,,,
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#32
The approach to the city of Cortès was along the track which parallels the main highway into Medellin from Don Benito, and the view of the fort was most dramatic; almost as dramatic as climbing the hill to the Roman amphitheatre and other ruins from its early days as Metellinum, around 100 BC, when it was an important link for the Via de la Plata and routes to Córdoba and Toledo. The Cortès statue dominates the town square, and having passed nearby Villanueva de la Serena, the home of Pedro Valdivia, this is all serious Conquistador country. The town was relatively quiet and accommodation at something of a premium. I have avoided the Camino Frances rush, phoning ahead and making bookings, but on this occasion was most fortunate to get the last room in a local hostal which was otherwise filled by fishermen and other tourists. Semana Santa adds to the issue. Having visited the ruins and fort, I departed Medellin at dawn, intending to make my way to Mérida via the direct route, but chance took a hand. There is a track, complete with occasional old markers, from Yelbes to San Pedro de Mérida which crosses the vast agricultural lands of the area and which parallels much of the engineering work that provides millions of litres of irrigation water to the rice, maize and tomatoes which dominate the fields. Crossing depends on river levels because fording the Búrdalo can only be achieved when they are low (which they were). Finding the ford was easy, crossing was not, as I elected in such shallow, calf-deep water to go barefoot. This proved a mistake and the resulting minor foot injury was an irritant that eventually changed my plans to an overnight in the Municipal at San Pedro de Mérida. It is a small village and the albergue occupies the upper floor af a government advisory centre. Capable of sleeping up to several dozen, the albergue was in need of serious cleaning and maintenance, and I would not recommend this venue to anyone in its present state. Having walked into the village on the Way, I discovered that the place was actually a truck stop, has a 24 hour cafe, and there was an excellent village shop for essentials. Moving on, the hike to Mérida was very pleasant with good views of the countryside as the path wends it's way through more deshea and olive groves. Mérida was a culture shock after the deserted Mozárabe, the town being thronged with visitors in this holy week. The route was very well marked and the site of the municipal, on the edge of the river park, excellent. Of course the city is dominated by relics of its Roman past and days could be spent investigating them. The Roman circus is impressive for its size and remarkably good condition, while the acqueduct structures are great (but not as good as those in Segovia). It was a rude shock to find a 20 bed albergue which was full and I was able to appreciate more, in retrospect, how lucky it was to have had deserted routes and facilities to date. Great locations, excellent food at reasonable prices, and a good albergue made Mérida a good stay. The route out is another tarmac fest but arriving at the Roman Prosperina reservoir at dawn made it worthwhile. There are many historical things to see around the reservoir but don't count on breakfast or coffee out of season. The large recreational facilities were all closed and sad when I passed through. The route passes through typically Scottish (sorry, Spanish) volcanic countryside with its rolling grass valleys in which trees and livestock are scattered, and the boggy grass areas would make parts of the Spey valley proud. Watch out for the left turn into the woods after Prosperina, and also for the small bog there. El Carrascalejo is a small hamlet with an impressive-looking albergue but I failed in my coffee quest. Next stop Aljucén, which was a picturesque spot with a very attractive Albergue and several modern coffee stops. From there the route followed the river (Aljucén) on a gradual climb to Alcuéscar. This was the most attractive part of the day, staying first with the river where ash mixed with eucalypts, and entering the Cornalvo Natural Park which is a birds protection zone. Being a park, there is freedom to roam, and there is ready access to the glades which run along the river's length and provide very welcome shade with great places to take a break. Continuing up to what appears to be a watershed, Trajans original bridge is still visible and the unique markers for the VP are clearly seen. The VP in places is flanked by swathes of "banda", the lavender which covers much of the way, and many trees are also covered in lichen, indicating cleanliness of the air. Cresting the Sierra, Alcuéscar becomes visible, along with a collection of arrows and signs for various albergues or hostals. I elected the trail for the Way and to Alcuéscar but care is required. Helpful arrows for the Albergue have been appended to the route but other, unofficial arrows point towards the town. Going to the town means retracing steps to the western outskirts where the albergue is actually part of the large Residencia Casa de la Misericordia. The albergue is of a good standard but, if hostals are required, these lie a further 3km outside of the village on the N-630 where they provide a kind of motorway service for the A66.
 

Pemalily

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked the Camino Mozarabe in April-June 2017.
#38
Question to those who have collected their sellos before me in Granada: where do we obtain our sellos from if we are not staying at the pilgrims albergue? We are spending a few days here in Granada after walking from Almeria and before heading to Cordoba. Leaving Granada on Monday...
Thanks
Lily
 

george.g

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French way 10, 11
Norte 12
Vdlp 13
Levante 14
Mozarabe/Malaga 15
Augusta 16
Mozarabe/Almeria 17
#39
Hi Lily and Peter.
The cathedral office will stamp your credentials.
Regards.
John, Dave and George.
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances '2009', Camino Portuguese from Porto '2015', Camino Ingles from Ferrol '2015', Finisterre and Muxia '2015'. Tentatively planning Camino from Granada '2017'.
#40
Hi Lily, we got a sello at the cathedral (between 2 & 4pm, I think) and also at the Monasterio de Monjas Comendadoras de Santiago which is the 'official' start of the Camino from Granada. Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#41
The route out of Alcuéscar started in the dark, directly outside the Albergue. It was very flat and good going with Sierra off to the left illuminated by an almost full moon. As the light improved, the merino sheep and mixed cattle could be seen but their farm smells could not overpower the delicious scents of flowers and herbs which rose from the verges and hedges. It was soon obvious that dehesa again predominated but there were fewer cereal crops than before and much more sward in evidence. Casas de Don Antonio actually houses a bar cum community store (you have to ask, as the Way bypasses the hamlet by a narrow margin) and I had a huge coffee there as they made me a bocadillo for the route. Leaving it behind, their "men's club" was curiously out of place in this bucolic scene! The route now began a slow, gentle and steady climb through first dehesa and then increasingly open pastures. The Sierras were still a backdrop and the highway a constant presence (but not busy). The other striking features were the original and replaced Roman milestones, all marked, some engraved and some (originals) used as shrines. Apparently the Legionary's pace was officially 0.7 m and there are still markers for every thousand paces on the Way. They were, therefore, very similar in stature to today's infantry soldiers. Aldea del Cano was off the route by a few hundred metres and this was bypassed to save time and to enjoy the views. The Miliarios were all distance markers which originated at the Milliarum Aureum in Rome (all roads lead to Rome) and which is said to still exist in the Roman Forum. Caesar Augustus probably had little understanding that his idea for plotting and marking the empire's routes would still be in evidence for peregrinos several millenia on. Having only joined the VP at Mérida, this day was a great experience to tread on original cobbles, to cross original bridges and to touch original milestones from Rome's Imperial age. Another enjoyment was the increasing presence of lavender and whin as elevation increased, and at several points the lavender almost obscured the way completely. Walking in the scents as the temperature climbed was a joy. A seeming anomaly was the route crossing the airfield at De la Cervera where it's runway seemed very agricultural and it's hangars little used. The flock of sheep occupied most of the shade from the hangars but more hardy animals braved the sun and gathered on the shingle runway. It was a fellow peregrino who told me later that an aircraft had actually been flying there. There was another gentle climb out of the airfield, then a gradual descent through sheep country into Valdesalor from which there were long, prairie-like views to Sierras in the west. Valdesalor is a new pueblo, built with concrete in the early eighties and the concrete bell tower gives the game away. The Municipal was the first building in the village but keys had to be found in the central bar where registration and initial beer took place. The albergue was well fitted out and the hostalero is the first pilgrim to arrive! Being Semana Santa, (Holy week for Easter) the whole village was in the square enjoying an afternoon fiesta and drink was taken; a very happy and talkative evening ensued and I'm sure the locals understood my Scottish accent completely. The following day was a short hop across a little hill to Càceres. The town could be seen as soon as the high ground was cleared and the long descent into it was easy. This day was filled with processions (practises for the real event in the evening) and it was amazing to see the "tables", displays, bands and people all in the city. The cathedral gives free entry to peregrinos and were kind enough to keep my mochila while I explored and watched the city's activities. It was actually chilling to see the tables with Christ on the Cross and Mary being carried by groups of hooded and gowned "penitents", who marched in step and tapped their metal table supports in unison. Add the bands, and the stage was set for some fantastic theatre in this ancient walled city. This was known about, and the plan was to leave and go one town further to Casar de Càceres where there were rumoured to be plenty of beds. The route was a lot of tarmac, eventually becoming a gravel track, but the views were wide-ranging across many miles of prairie and the back stops were again Sierras. Casar was having its own procession for which the whole town was turned out but the Municipal did have a bed left (just) and it also had a washer and drier, both being used constantly. The albergue was good, with all facilities and a late arrival was accomodated on a mattress in a space made for him by moving several bunks, the very last arrival being similarly equipped in the laundry room. Well done the albergue. The Procession, full of cappuccino-wearing load-bearers, passed slowly and with great dignity - and the village settled down then to a fiesta that lasted through to four o'clock the next morning. Lucky us. The next day was a long trek with no stops to Cañaveral and the route was outstanding. The views across the "Plains" were phenomenal, looking some 40 or 50km from elevated positions to the horizons of snow-capped Sierra or the huge Alcantàra embalse (reservoir). There was a long descent to the reservoir itself with its half-full water level, and then a bit of asphalt work climbing back into brush-covered hills before rejoining a track with some short but sharp climbs. In the heat and without any stops it was essential to carry lots of water and food of some sort. Eventually the way entered the mountain village of Cañaveral where the albergue was of a good standard and food was plentiful in a number of bars. The following day was Easter Sunday and setting out before dawn, there was a magnificent sunrise which covered the whole north-eastern sky in red and orange cloud. There was a sharp climb on rocky track into the hills, to ensure pilgrims were awake, before entering a beautiful pine forest and broaching a saddle which afforded views of dehesa stretching almost to the horizon. Having reached the plateau of dehesa, the going was good and mostly level along sward and earth tracks which wound their way through the encina. The difference today was that these trees were of the encina family but we're actually the "cornoques" for producing cork. Harvested once every 9 years, their trunks looked black and burnt compared to the green sward beneath. Eventually the dehesa broke up, giving way to more open country, and the Way was populated by mixed cattle and their young calves, most of whom ignored me completely as I walked through and around them. Paralleling the Rio Lobos and it's deep ravine, the open country gave views of the horizon and Sierra which I knew I'd have to cross in a few days. Climbing away from the river into open country on a hilltop, Galisteo and it's ancient city walls were seen in the distance down a long series of grassland slopes. Cattle grazed on rich sward in which several large water holes appeared but these were all fenced off, preventing a dip, which would have been welcome in the blazing heat. Approaching the town there was a short climb that finally revealed the pueblo's crenellated walls, and the albergue was just outside these, close to the town's gate. Obviously popular, full of customers, the bar was doing lots of business but there was no bed to be had there. Moving on through the town there was lots to see but I now had to make Carcaboso where I was told a bed was available. The route lay along the river and was tarmac all the way. The albergue in town was that of Señora Elena, an older albergue with lots of charm and comfort, including sitting room and fully equipped kitchen. It was a good decision to stay as it was quiet with two-bed rooms and had a bar next door which was the only place in town that opened early for breakfast. Having breakfast turned out to be wise as the day unfolded into a long, hot trek. The mountains were just black silhouettes in the pre-dawn light but the views behind and to the west were of multi-layered green, rolling hillsides in mist-laden air. The first 20km were up through an extended dehesa which was populated with many pigs, sheep and cattle, all enjoying the grass beneath the trees, in the shade, or in nearby pastures. Temperatures were initially low and there was a lot of dew on the grass which glistened in the light of low sun beaming through the trees. It was idyllic. After levelling off, the track paralleled the dehesa and several red-coloured cork trees were seen on this section. The reason for red and black cork trunks is from the amount of time since the last "harvest" of bark. Done by hand every nine years, it takes about a quarter of a century to grow a productive "cornoque" from which the bark is stripped. The pale tree trunk quickly turns red after harvest and in the following years darkens, year by year until by following harvest time trunk colour may have returned to grey. Of course those Romans knew all this but it's only in the past three centuries that Spain and Portugal became the leaders in cork production. And now we're going plastic for high tech bottle closures! The journey through the dehesa changed into open pastures very quickly and the walk into the ancient Roman city of Càparra was a surprise. One minute walking on a track with trees all around and the next I was being confronted by the city's ancient arch, the entrance to its onetime forum, which remains totally intact and massive. The city's remains have been recovered by archaeological investigations and these are a major tourist attraction today (but not the day I arrived, when they were firmly closed). The view through the arch to the snow-capped mountains was impressive, and made more so by the presence of several golden eagles which wheeled high above. I met a pilgrim at the Arco Romano and he had arrived by bus and taxi, expecting the site (and cafe) to be open. With 20km to go to Aldeanueva del Camino and armed only with a half litre of water and no food, the journey was difficult in the 33C heat. The terrain was largely flat and given over to crops and pasture, but the lack of water was an issue. We had enough, just, to reach the pueblo, but the lesson of carrying sufficient water and food was hard-earned by the other peregrino. Aldeanueva is a beautifully situated village and the views from its streets to the snow-covered mountains as a backdrop are inspiring. Unfortunately, the albergue municipal was not fit for purpose but the plus side was a stay in one of the best albergues on VP. La Casa de mi Abuela was excellently equipped, ideally situated and very reasonable in terms of price. The next morning was another dark o'clock start and breakfast was taken at a service station a few miles out of the town. Unfortunately this part of the route was on tarmac but the roads were very quiet as the sun slowly made its appearance above the high peaks to the east. There's a large reservoir to the west of this route and this is best seen from above the next town Montemayor, a location which would warrant several days visit on its own to discover its history and many beautiful sights. The journey from Montemayor continued over the pass of Bejár and there followed a descent through deciduous forest to the well-preserved VP with its many original way marks and the Puente la Malena which runs through a valley of massive volcanic boulders which could have served as great inspiration for Henry Moore's early marble sculptures.On the right, the mountains appear in the distance, covered in snow and looking impressive when compared to the foreground of trees and pastures, and two old Hermitages are visible on the Way. There is a short climb on a very rocky track before entering La Calzada de Béjar, an old village with a number of hostals on the main street. You have to ask for the bar which is behind the church, and they serve food all day. This was another long day and the aim was to reach Valverde to stay in the Municipal albergue where, as is common, the keys are held elsewhere. Except, in thus case, the village was shut with no one in the albergue, shop or bar. An alternative was required and a phone call to Fuenterroble confirmed that the albergue there was both open and had space. Another hike, firstly up a winding road through open fields to a village where there was a very welcome font. Passing through, the ground levelled off and the route passed a quarry before entering some close country where the only thing to be seen in any direction was trees. This continued for a while until, completely unexpectedly, the path is on an extensive plain with views clear to the far horizon, and for the first time in weeks I can see rain in the distance and hear thunder rumbling in the mountains to the east. I made it to Fuenterroble without getting wet and just in time for a communal supper, very common in Parroquial Albergues. There was a dozen people around the table, the supper had been prepared by both staff and some peregrinos, and the whole event was a most friendly sharing of food and conversation. The dining area was a huge hall, filled with all sorts of furniture and books and assorted pictures or carvings. In the subdued light, it was both intriguing and inviting. There were pilgrims and staff from many nations at the supper so the conversations were lively and interesting. Of all the Parroquial Albergues on the Way, this has to be one of the most spacious, well-equipped and well run. It was certainly an enjoyable evening that ended too soon. The following morning, breakfast was laid out and ready early, allowing a departure in the dark to head up to some mountain peaks in the distance. The Way was simple to find but the weather was travelling thunderstorms which swept through the area, soaking everything and everyone. Reaching the peaks, which are covered in windmills, was easy along gently climbing tracks, the more difficult part being on sections of very rocky track near the summit. The views from the Picos to the east and north were amazing, being able to see tableland that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was soon time to descend into the undulating plains and this was done first on steep track through woods of oak, then on a road, and finally on a track beside the tarmac. Again, this was a day for self-sufficiency as there was nowhere to stop (other than at a fuente) before arriving at the destination of San Pedro de Rozados, the last stop before Salamanca.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de compostello but by car with sketching stops
#44
Some of Erik's pics, travelling to and arriving in Salamanca...gathering support from some locals
 

Carel5

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, Camino Mozarabe - Almeria - Merida
2018, Via Francigena - Gran San Bernardo - Lucca
#45
Very nice to follow your progress North from Merida.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#46
The Way from San Pedro de Rozados was an easy gravel track and almost as soon as leaving, the lights of Morille could be seen in the distance, making route finding easy. In the village, I passed the well-known Bar de Isa which is renowned as one of the best for pinchos in the area, but it was closed so early in the day. As usual, the early morning scents of herbs and flowers were strong in the dewy verges, especially when passing some lilac, and it wasn't long, after a gentle climb through undulating pasture, that Salamanca could be seen on the horizon. The track pointed straight to it and several spires were visible, even at such long distance. About half way to Salamanca, the pueblo of Miranda de Azán lies a few hundred metres off the route and it has a bar that provided very welcome coffee and magdalenas, the sweet, light cakes traditionally "dunked" in coffee for breakfast. The downhill trail led straight into the city outskirts along a stream bed and through several housing estates of very colourful blocks of flats. Entering the city proper was via the Roman Bridge which gave directly onto the Casco Antiguo where there is treasure for historians and tourists alike. The city boasts two cathedrals, the older of which dates from the 12th century, the newer from 16th century and later. The latter was damaged in an earthquake in the 1700s and, at the time, a brave soul ascended to the very top of the cupola to check for damage and alignment. Annually now, and as part of a tradition, a student from the university climbs to that cupola each year in commemoration of the earthquake. Also of interest at the cathedral are several stone carvings from the 1990s, one of which is of a fully-suited spaceman. Salamanca is a most impressive city which could take weeks to discover, and there is a story or vista at almost every turn. Also of note were the tapas which were of highest quality and great value; no evening meal needed, as a result. The route out is easy to find and very direct, the one omission being yellow arrows or signs. It was only on the outskirts of the city that the first arrow was spotted and many pilgrims could be seen looking for signs in the city itself. In the village of Aldeaseca de Armuña there is a left turn which is easy to miss and thereafter the route is easy and well-signed. This is probably a day for contemplation and introspection, the route being easy but rather uninteresting as it follows a few undulations, parallels the highway, and passes Topas Penitentiary. It's crop-growing country, mostly given over to barley, some of which is now ripening, and some fields are ploughed, drilled and rolled with whatever is coming next. Canola is in evidence, its bright yellow flowers making an interesting contrast with the green barley and red earth. Remember to look behind, however, as the view is magnificent, with snow-covered mountains all across the southern horizon. It's surprising to think the Way has come past those mountains as it passed Aldeanueva del Camino and Puerto Bejár several days' hike ago. There are several albergues in the next village, Cubo del Vino, and FyM seemed ideal with extremely helpful owners who made everyone most welcome. The route to Zamora started in a very pleasant morning through the usual crops as massive irrigation systems watered the cereals and maize. It was a surprising discovery that the route would descend in one step from the high plateau into lower ground and that the views were as stunning as those of the Meseta after climbing out of Castrojeriz on Camino Frances. The patchwork of green fields mixed with the predominantly red earth on the ridge created a feast of views which went clear to the horizon and made for a beautiful hike. The Way to Zamora is a gradual descent to the Douro river valley and the city can be seen for miles. The old city is particularly beautiful and is best seen from the route which follows the river bank to the new bridge. The remains of ancient bridge piles can be seen in the river and the views through the trees of the old city walls, the castle and the cathedral are exceptionally good. The municipal albergue is one of the best examples I've seen, housed in an ancient building but fully modernised to high standards and accomodated on three floors. It even has a sun deck. The city's history, like much of Spain, goes back to pre-Roman times and also includes important links to the Sephardic population of the middle ages and their subsequent "conversions" to catholicism. As in Salamanca, time is needed to explore all the city and its surroundings. Care is needed to route out of Zamora as the signs have recently changed. I ended up at a junction some miles out of town with yellow arrows pointing in completely opposite directions - so I followed those (to the east) which were generally towards Roales, and this worked. Another pilgrim went left and spent an hour being lost. Once established, the route is easy to follow, the one difference to my guide being the presence of the high speed railway which lies across the Way in many locations and which requires many small diversions. In fact, this new railway parallels the Way for many stages and is visible up to and beyond Asturianos. Having departed Zamora, the trail parallels the Ricobayo Reservoir as it heads north and then crosses the dried up river bed after Riego del Camino to head west for Tábara. This was a confusing stage because there are old and new Camino signs in coexistence after Montamarta, the latter in place to cater for the newly-built A66. Ignore the old or you'll do as I did and spend a pleasant hour walking around the reservoir and having to retrace your steps. Riego del Camino is quaint. It's very old, rather run down and has a municipal albergue which is adequate. However, there is another, private albergue in the village which would probably suit most people better, especially as it provides especially good food. The bar in the pueblo is interesting and unique, and provides limited food and drink, if you feel adventurous. Another dawn, another day, and it was 6km to breakfast in Granja at the local albergue. This place looked very modern and well-equipped, and certainly provided good coffee to start the day. Unlike the more routine previous day's hike, the route to Tábara was exceptionally beautiful and unique, first passing along a tree-covered ridgeline with expansive views to Sierra in the south, before heading down to the Rio Esla and a spectacular gorge. The hostalero at Riego had advised against following the gorge, and road signs, too, warned of danger on narrow trails and on the cliffs. Crossing the bridge across the river and turning immediately south, the trail was indeed rocky and narrow as it first descended almost to the water's edge then climbed on a rough goat track along the cliffs to the gorge itself. The alternative is a walk along the inland highway to Tábara but I found the cliffs and gorge far more interesting, the views from above the gorge being outstanding; the clifftops were an ideal place to enjoy the views. In any case, it can't be that bad because shortly after settling down to enjoy a snack and compliment myself on making the ascent, two cyclists appeared with bikes on their backs! The remainder of the route was a sedate affair with some "green-laneing" through rock-rose and encina, before arriving in open, crop-growing country that led first to Faramontanos de Tábara which, on first approach, looked like a frontier town in the Wild West. It was here that there is a collection of aging bodegas, all dug into the ground for keeping wine at constant temperature, and some are dilapidated while others remain in use. From there the Way passes across flat, water-irrigated plains to Tábara itself, hidden until the last minute by large plantations of maturing poplars. Entrance to the town is via a most imposing XII century church and then through its very picturesque Plaza Mayor. I stayed in the Parroquial Albergue at the far end of town and was most pleasantly surprised when the hostalero gave a comprehensive briefing for staying there and then proceeded to do all my washing! Service indeed. The meal was communal, prepared and served to a dozen of us by the hostalero himself, and the evening was rounded off by a recital of Spanish verse followed by a tasting of a few delicious local liqueurs. I slept well. The route out of Tábara was via the same old church but, heading north into the Sierra, it was necessary to negotiate a number of diversions due to the new railway. In retrospect, following the main road north until clear of the new railway, then rejoining the original route, would afford better views. Once on the Sierra, I elected to go to Santa Maria rather than Bercianos, and was rewarded by a most kind offer of breakfast in the local club at the Ayuntamiento. (There is no bar there.) Still heading north, the route climbs again and passes some more bodegas and vineyards before crossing through large tracts of neglected dehesa to arrive in the Vega Tera where it's waters are extracted to supply the water-thirsty crops of maize. Santa Croya is a very well-kept village but it's importance is overshadowed by the presence of Santa Marta de Tera (a short distance away) which has the oldest known statue of Santiago on its church walls, by the door. Turning west, the route will remain in this direction for a long way, following first the river valley and then remaining south of the Sanabrian Mountains before turning north for Santiago at Xunquiera. Along the river's left bank, the trail is a most pleasant meander through plantations of poplar and other woods of mixed pine and deciduous trees which all provide most welcome shade. At the river crossing en route is a recreation site called La Barca and this is an ideal place to take a dip in the river (which was very cold). I stopped later in Olleros de Tera where a local albergue provided excellent food in somewhat primitive accommodation. The next day was a trip back into Scotland, first climbing to cross the dam of the Agavanzal Reservoir before following its northern shore to breakfast at a small private Albergue in Villa de Farfón. Had I known it was there, I'd have tried to stay there the night before. The views across the reservoir in freezing temperatures were entirely in keeping with those at home, and the later crossing of heather and whin covered heathland bounded by high, pine-clad hills was straight out of Buchan'sThirty-nine Steps. Another reminder of Scotland was the unexpected appearance of light snow for the afternoon, so the likeness was complete. The route to Asturianos follows the valley, as do the power lines, two highways and the high speed railway line, but the views to the south are beautiful Sierra and there is a lot of wildlife there too. One peregrino reported seeing a wolf on this section but I had to make do with a glimpse of wild pig. Asturianos was full so the night was spent on the gym corridor floor with mattresses and very welcome blankets, the temperatures falling to below zero. Breakfast was in the bar at Palacios de Sanabria where the rustic bar had a roaring fire to help ward off the early morning frost. From there the route wound through oak woodland in a very low sun before emerging into real Highland with heather on the hills and the tops of the mountains covered in snow. I really had come home. Which was very fitting - because my Camino ended at this Puerta de Sanabria when my injured foot could no longer sustain the daily 30 and 40km. I will come back; one day; to finish the last few hundred km of this amazing journey which started all those weeks ago in Almeria. Every day has been even better the previous 24 hours, and every stage has provided an abundance of treasure. To all those who make the Mozàrabe possible, especially the Amigos, I thank you. To the countless individuals who have shown me kindness and tolerance and understanding, I thank you. To those who are thinking of Mozàrabe, I would strongly recommend doing it in Spring. To take from the Gautama Buddha, "It is better to travel well than to arrive" - and "There is no path to happiness - happiness IS the path". Above all, I thank my wife for her never-ending support, understanding and love; without her, none of this would have been possible.
 
Camino(s) past & future
GR11 Hondarribia - Cabo de Creus
3 X CF SJPP to Finisterre
Camino Mozarabe, VP and Sanabres
#48
Above is the oldest known carving of the Apostle Santiago from the church at Santa Marta de Tera, which is near the beginning of Camino Sanabrés (and also it's official symbol). Depicting the roles of both envoy and pilgrim, the statue represents well the importance of Santiago.
 
#49
Erik, this thread is a treasure trove for forum members who want to walk from Almería. With Kevin's guide and a few other threads, no one should feel hesitant to start out. Such a tremendous gift you have given the forum, many thanks, and may your Sanabrés be as magical as your Mozárabe! Buen camino, Laurie
 
Camino(s) past & future
PC - LIS to SdC (16), VdlP - SV to SdC(17). Mozarabe - Almeria /Merida April (18) Levante Nov (18)
#50
Above is the oldest known carving of the Apostle Santiago from the church at Santa Marta de Tera, which is near the beginning of Camino Sanabrés (and also it's official symbol). Depicting the roles of both envoy and pilgrim, the statue represents well the importance of Santiago.
Thank you very much indeed Erik for all your invaluable information. Will read closely in a few days... Have just returned from walking from Sevilla to Salamanca. Will be returning in October to walk from Almeria to Merida then bus to Salamanca to carry onto Muxia - time permitting.
Take good care.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18
#51
so many thanks for you wonderful and uplifting posts of your camino ,,,,, im sure you will be back to continue ,,,buen camino
 

Mariarosa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2000
Primitivo 2015
Norte 2016
Portugues de Porto a Finisterre 2017
#52
Above is the oldest known carving of the Apostle Santiago from the church at Santa Marta de Tera, which is near the beginning of Camino Sanabrés (and also it's official symbol). Depicting the roles of both envoy and pilgrim, the statue represents well the importance of Santiago.
Erik, I'm going to be setting out on the Mozarabe in May this year and have just read your postings from last year. They are wonderful and inspiring. I've picked up what I know are going to be great tips from them. Thank you so much. I'll endeavour to do my own little bit for the forum when the time comes because it is invaluable!
 

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