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Many Forum members on the Lana (Part 1, Alicante to Cuenca) — GREATplanning guide

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Well, I hope I will walk from Ibi to Villena, which would mean catching up with you the next day if you stop in Almansa.

When I did my first go-round plan, I neglected to consider the intermediate options, since I was fairly confident I knew what stages would be most comfortable for me. But since at least two years will have elapsed since my last camino, I am going back to do a lot of infill so that I have information on the alternatives, in case there’s too much decrepitude between now and then.
You won't be walking alone, @peregrina2000 .
Experience has taught me in 2018 that I must consider intermediate options, as like you, two years have elapsed, and it will be three years by the time we walk (si Dios quiere).
So starting from Villajoyosa, and given the profile, we slow walkers would walk:
Villajoyosa – Relleu 19.7 km
Relleu – Torremanzanas 19.8 km
Torremanzanas – Ibi 24 km
Ibi to Onil 10 km (yes, a very short one to allow her to recover from the day before)
Onil to Villena 19.3 km

The magical time warp of this Camino will obviously mean we will always be in sync with everyone ;) ☺️
 
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I have been sitting on a mountain all this time enjoying the view on this alternative route and being very quiet. Now I am trying to catch up with you guys. Wow, there is so much information here!

I can’t quite figure out how many are in Caudete by now? The albergue fits eight pilgrims as far as I remember…

Caudete_1_santa_ana.jpg Caudete_2_sana_ana.jpg
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-SJPDP 2014, VDLP 2014,
Arles-SDC 2015, Lisbon-SDC 2017, Part Ruta de la Lana 2019, VDLP 2019
Albergue de Santa Ana is imbued with peregrino spirit. VNWalking is right: the Asociación in Caudete are industrious folks indeed, who take great care of pilgrims.
Hear, hear, Bad Pilgrim. The care from the amigos was exceptional. I was No.150 in 2019, photo taken and all. As I arrived in the centre of town I sought directions for the albergue and a recommendation for lunch. The man giving me directions was interrupted by someone else saying that the hospitalero was waiting for me in the next street. And so he was. We drove indirectly to the albergue via the restaurant he recommended (very good), and the area of flooding, so that I could see the devastation to the path and accept that he really meant it when he said we had to take the bus next day. I loved the place and the kindness we were all shown. It's up there with Arres on the Aragones for exceptional care. Everything a peregrino would need.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
I'm just catching up with the posts, for some reason although I "watched" the thread I haven't been getting any updates 🤔.

In response to @Bad Pilgrim 's post of a few stages ago, no I wasn't drunk leaving Sax nor sleepy as I didn't even stay in Sax although I do remember having a cafe con leche rest stop there. I know that I left Novelda that morning but I must be having brain fog as I can't remember where I ended up sleeping that night! I do remember it being a very long day, that I bitched to myself while making the final climb up with the albergue in Caudete and that I complained to the hospitalero about getting terribly lost leaving Sax. Hmm, I guess that I must have walked Novelda to Caudete! In any case the Amigos in Caudete met in the albergue the night that I stayed there which made for nice company as I had not seen a pilgrim since leaving Alicante and in fact would only meet one until my arrival in Cuenca.

Ultreia!
 
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2019
Day 5. Caudete to Almansa. 25.8 Km.
Today, after about six and a half km, we merge with the Levante. So, much of what I am including today I have lifted directly from AJ's Levante thread, with a note of thanks for all his good work.

There is very little to speak of in the way of services between Caudete and Almansa. So there is no real way to break this into 2 equal stages. If you need to do shorter stages, the only option that I can see would be to walk the 6.25 km to Casa Corredor, taking the right fork to La Encina, where there looks like you could either take a train onwards to Almansa, or a bus back to Caudete.
Screenshot_20201207-134900_OsmAnd.jpg

Not far after that, we join the Levante and it's a straight shot into Almansa.

It does not look super-inspiring, but I am guessing that in the spring with wildflowers blooming it might be really gorgeous.
@Undermanager liked it fine!:
Today was fantastic. I left at 7.00am and was in the next albergue at 1.00pm. it was already quite warm when I set off. I think I will have missed the worst by getting to Almansa at 1.00pm though as it will probably get hottest around 3.00pm. I wonder how hot it gets mid August! There weren't any clouds all morning, just a big blue sky. The first three quarters of this stage was gently uphill and mostly alongside a motorway, then it goes rapidly downhill to the final destination and swings away from the traffic noise. As on previous days, it's mostly open farmland, with no shade and there are no facilities or water available. You are on dirt track mostly, with the odd road thrown in. As you exit Caudete following the Camino arrows, you'll see a bullring, and there was an open bar opposite it. I didn't see anything else open. I found a Dia supermarket the evening before so had bananas and yogurt for breakfast, a tortilla with onion (€1 - very tasty) for a mid walk snack and a salad for lunch, and a big bottle of agua con gas!

It's a really pretty walk if you ignore the motorway. I can't believe the fantastic wild flowers everywhere at the moment. So many different kinds and even the poppies are a deep blood red. I said goodbye to Klaus the Dane in Almansa, as this is where the Camino splits and he was doing a further 10kms along his route. A finer companion there never was. I had to force myself to stop here; it's only another 23kms to the next place, it was early and I felt really good, but in the spirit of being more sensible than last year, I decided to call it a day, relax, have a look around the interesting town and generally chill.

And @alansykes brought in an interesting historical site right before Almansa, as well as vital culinary information:
You cross the battlefield on the way into Almansa, and there is a little information centre about the battle, with a reproduction of Ricardo Balaca's panoramic battle scene.

The Bourbon general in 1707 was my ancestor James Fitzjames, commanding a mixed bunch of French, Spanish, German and Irish troops, defeating Henri de Ruvigny, commanding an assortment of English, Austro-Hungarian, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch troops (presumably the Poles and Danes etc had better things to do). Thought to be the only time an Englishman commanding a French army fought with an English army commanded by a Frenchman. The Englishman won (or the Englishmen lost, according to preference).

Almansa also boasts a two Michelin star restaurant, the Maralba, whose prices appear to have risen a lot since my first visit in 2014. The Hogar del Productor, by the back door of the albergue, is a lot cheaper and was excellent value last time I passed through in 2018.

Here is what AJ said about Almansa in the virtual/planning thread:
In Almansa, we can join @Albertagirl at the Albergue Esclavas de María. It's a donativo albergue, and we need to call Sor Maria beforehand, bearing in mind that she could be at one of the prayer services during the day.

There are 4 hotel alternatives:
Hotel Encasa (on the edge of town), Hostal El Estudio, Hostal Casa Almántica (both closer to the town centre) and Hotel Blu (not far from the Encasa).

I duly made notes of the castles on this Camino, and Almansa has one! Have a look:
This is also the site of a major battle in the War of Spanish Succession in 1707. During the weekend closest to 25 April, there are festivities, with an annual commemoration. I guess if you're walking at that time of the year, it might be wise to book ahead.

There are quite a few things to see here, according to the Almansa tourism website. So we are going to have a rest day here
If you go to the Levante thread, there was much discussion about options.

As far as getting to the albergue is concerned, @Undermanager gives us detailed directions:
Finding the albergue could have been a problem but I got rescued by someone as I walked off in the wrong direction! Thanks for the help getting me in the right area though. I'll add it to maps.me later, but if you can't see it, head for the Teatro Principal, which is on the map. You are then 90m away in a straight line. It's around the back of a main road, by a tattoo place. You are looking for an anonymous unmarked white door with no sign of any kind, although it does have a number 7 above it, and is opposite house number 12. Ring the bell next to it. It's a spotless comfortable place with a welcoming smile and a rapid 30 second checking in procedure.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
SJPDP to SdC (2011-13-14-17). Norte (15). Mozárabe Almería-Merida (18) Guimaraes to SdC, F + M (18)
We get a little bit of sunshine today. Stay prepared for a very windy walk this morning even if we are not up there fighting the windmills ...

The view is of a marble quarry as we are leaving Caudete. Will the vineyards be green at this time of the year? The picture is from April 2019.

Leaving-Caudete.jpg
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
There is very little to speak of in the way of services between Caudete and Alamansa. So there is no real way to break this into 2 equal stages.
Slow walkers with distance limitations, don't despair. Today's 26 km is between two reasonably large towns, which both have taxi services. This stage has a profile with a steady ascent after Caudete, a feature my darling can overcome if it is done first thing in the day. Our strategy would be to start walking, and then if and when we get to a point where I would have to carry her as well as her backpack, we can call a taxi from Almansa.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@Magwood has commented on this before, and I know we are now mid-Camino, but reading @Undermanager’s report made me think of starting dates. The differences between @Magwood’s posts and @Undermanager’s posts are pretty substantial. I believe @Magwood started at the end of the first week in April more or less, and @Undermanager in the first week of May. The month made a huge difference in terms of green fields and wildflowers. Weather too, but I know we can’t count on anything fixerd in terms of weather.

Do those who have walked it think the sweet spot for this Camino is to start between say May 1 and May 15?

Since Almansa is also on the Levante, I have been here! Having a castle to climb around is always a nice pick-me-upper and Almansa’s is small and just up a few steps from the center. And the town hall is baroque (I think), so @VN will have to avert her eyes, but I think it’s a nice public building.

I slept in the convent and I had a room all to myself, while my French friends shared one. I know @Undermanager reported no place to wash clothes, but we were told we could go up to the top floor and wash and hang them on the roof. But yes he is right that you have to buzz in, which makes some poor nun walk down some stairs to open up for you. That always makes me feel bad.


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Year of past OR future Camino
SJPDP to SdC (2011-13-14-17). Norte (15). Mozárabe Almería-Merida (18) Guimaraes to SdC, F + M (18)
Do those who have walked it think the sweet spot for this Camino is to start between say May 1 and May 15?

@Magwood and I started from Alicante on April 7th. We had cold weather, it was windy and it rained and rained. Some days we walked in sticky clay that glued to our boots. If the sun had just suddenly shone that day, we would probably still be standing there.

We reached Cuenca in rain, and our rest day drowned in rain. Even the Semana Santa parades where cancelled. Of course you never know about the weather, but I would definitely recommend a La Lana start around May 1. Even if it were to rain a little, I’m sure everything would be green by then and much warmer.
 
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amancio

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Do those who have walked it think the sweet spot for this Camino is to start between say May 1 and May 15?
I would say you nailed it, Laurie, that would probably be the sweet spot for this camino (perhaps one week earlier, rather than later), of course, every pilgrim will experience different weather conditions every day, but I would say north of Albacete (Cuenca, Guadalajar, Soria, Burgos) you find lots of mountains and altitude, and spring is later over there, so that would be just perfect - on paper, of course. You would be walking among flowers and green fields!

Edited as part of the ”thread cleanup” to add another opinion on starting date, by @LTfit:

I think that you are right Laurie. If I recall correctly I started 2 weeks before Maggie and although I was wearing a t-shirt and 3/4 leggings the first few days, soon after that I was hit with cold rainy weather. I remember one particular coffee stop where I was drenched and had to even ring out my socks. The cafe was packed with locals and I am sure they thought I was crazy to be out in such weather!
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Early risers should know that Bar Luchy, the last bar on the road leading us out of Caudete, opens early. Google Maps says at 5 am; anyway it's early and it's the last bar before Almansa, 26 kms further ahead.

This stage is actually the longest one without any services on the Lana, if you stay on Camino. But as VN said, one can choose to visit La Encina and/or Casa Corredor on a slight detour. And we will be walking next to the highway and the railway for quite a while, so it never feels that isolated. There are 2 other stages coming up further ahead, that are somewhat shorter than this one, but where we will be far, far away from civilization...

I only took one picture on this stage. I believe it is looking back at Caudete, in the morning!
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Wait a minute! Is this correct? I thought I entered Almansa from different angles on the Levante and on the Lana. But my memory could be playing tricks on me.
Maybe your memory is being mischevous. 🙃
The tracks do converge here, the Lana from the South, the Levante from the East (turquoise lines): Screenshot_20201209-141625_OsmAnd.jpg
But you can also see there are different ways of getting from here to Almansa.

(Hey, BP, it's pretty quiet around here. Do you think everybody else went off to that Michelin restaurant without us?)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 6. Almansa to Alpera. 21.9 Km.
My work today is very easy — here are salient parts of our conversation about this stage on the Levante virtual/planning thread. The distance measured on the OSMand map that I have it's a little different from AJ's information (22 or 23km), and I don't know which is correct. It may just be where the distance is being measured from.
Day 11: Almansa to Alpera

The official stage leaving Almansa is 38.4 km to Higueruela. @peregrina2000 wrote in her blog:

The nice thing, is that the Camino de la Lana crosses the Levante around here. @peregrina2000 alluded to a detour, which @JLWV also mentioned earlier.
Today we'll walk 23 km to Alpera, which is on the Camino de la Lana. There, according to the Amigos' accommodation list, we'll have the choice of a municipal albergue, or two hotels: Hotel El Stop, and Hotel El Cazador. The Alpera ayuntamiento website lists another two casa rurales.

In Alpera, there is a Pozo de la Nieve, an ice and snow warehouse, dating back from the 16th century. It's about 1 km from the town centre.

Another curiosity here is the Cueva de la Vieja, with prehistoric rock paintings. The paintings are very faint, as you will see on the video, but you can call 967330555 to organise a visit, as it is 5 km away from the town, and you'll probably need a guide like Rafael to explain what you're seeing:
My bragging rights in Alpera — my French buddies and I were the very first pilgrims to stay in the albergue. It’s small, above a social center, but peregrinos can store food in the refrigerator downstairs and enjoy the outdoor seating area with wisteria all over. I believe there were two bedrooms with two single beds in each room.

The walk is very nice, along the base of the Sierra de Mugrón with some civil war bunkers still in tact. The turn-off to Alpera is crystal clear.

I’m glad we had the distance wrong and decided to take the detour because the people in this place are absolutely wonderful. How can I count the ways—

1. The concejala insisted on taking us to the albergue herself.
2. She arranged for a guide, María, to take us up to the drawings. They are VERY VERY faint, almost invisible to the naked eye. They are about 7,000 years old and had survived fine till their “discovery” in 1910, when people flocking to see them decided that throwing water on them would make the painting sharper.
3. I left my hat in the van, and later that afternoon called the city building. Ayuntamientos are closed in the afternoon but the maintenance guy picked up the phone and told me he would go find the hat and drop it off at the albergue.
4. In the late afternoon, city workers came to install an outside mailbox, so we could drop the key there rather than walking back to the town hall to deposit it.
5. The family business at the Stop was a three generation loving affair. Kids doing homework at the back of the seating area, grandma coming out from the kitchen to check, mom and dad arriving and sitting down with kids to ask about their day, it was really heartwarming. And the food was good!

Not a lot going on in Alpera, maybe, but it was one of those visits that filled us with appreciation and a general sense of well-being.
This is the point where you have to make a decision, stay on the Levante and cover the full 40 klm to Higueruela, or divert on the Camino de la Lana to Alpera, considerably shorter on the day. I stayed with the Levante, having thought about it for quite a while, and I was walking into a strong headwind. It was a long and isolated day for sure. Didn't meet a single person while walking that day.
This is the point where you have to make a decision, stay on the Levante and cover the full 40 klm to Higueruela, or divert on the Camino de la Lana to Alpera, considerably shorter on the day.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
The distance measured on the OSMand map that I have it's a little different from AJ's information (22 or 23km), and I don't know which is correct. It may just be where the distance is being measured from.
Eh, what's one or two km between friends ;)😂

On the Levante, I had found a Wikiloc track that indicated that the distance was 22.9 km:

The pilgrim recorded this track in February 2019 while walking the Levante. He had walked the Lana in 2016, and he recorded a distance of 24.1 km, the difference being from where he started:

We have walked this bit virtually before on the Levante, my wife is happy with the distance, and it's practically flat. She'll need a good night's sleep for tomorrow's walk, so I think we'll sleep at the Hostal El Cazador. They have pilgrim rates.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
so I think we'll sleep at the Hostal El Cazador.
Just putting in a plug for the Hostal Stop.

The Albacete amigos say good things about the two places, so I’m sure the Cazador is fine. But it is about a half km “out of town.” I slept in the albergue, so I can’t comment on the sleeping arrangements, but the people were super super kind. In my 5 shout-outs to Alpera that VN quoted above, this was number 5.

5. The family business at the Stop was a three generation loving affair. Kids doing homework at the back of the seating area, grandma coming out from the kitchen to check, mom and dad arriving and sitting down with kids to ask about their day, it was really heartwarming. And the food was good!
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021

Just putting in a plug for the Hostal Stop.

The Albacete amigos say good things about the two places, so I’m sure the Cazador is fine. But it is about a half km “out of town.” I slept in the albergue, so I can’t comment on the sleeping arrangements, but the people were super super kind. In my 5 shout-outs to Alpera that VN quoted above, this was number 5.

5. The family business at the Stop was a three generation loving affair. Kids doing homework at the back of the seating area, grandma coming out from the kitchen to check, mom and dad arriving and sitting down with kids to ask about their day, it was really heartwarming. And the food was good!

Hear, Hear. I prefer the homeliness of Stop as well. Cazador is larger, and the staff very friendly, but as Laurie says it's not as central as Stop. But I couldn't get hold of Stop last time on the Lana: my phone went on strike and/or started to pick up extraterrestrial signals from space: impossible to hear a thing. (Enigmatic cave paintings, signs of extraterrestrial life... I believe Alpera is the Area 51 of Spain.)

So a heads-up for the SIM-card-phone-problem that can arise on the Camino. The thing is: I never had any problems phoning ahead on previous Caminos with any phone. Last year, my phone would shut down from time to time and when I least expected it. What a nuisance...!
 
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peregrina2000

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Staff member
It’s a nice walk from Almansa to Alpera, with the Sierra de Mugrón (I think) alongside. And several civil war bunkers. I think Kevin walked up to see them, but we just looked from afar.

Here in Alpera, I am wondering about those cave drawings and have figured out a way to check them out and reconnect with the Lana.
The alcaldesa made a call for us and an employee appeared to take us up in a municipal jeep to see the cave. But I will tell you that there is very little that you will actually see as a full drawing. The guide has drawings and will put them up against the originals on the cave wall, but they are mostly not visible any more. Even harder to make out than all those hunters and other figures up in the sky.

The drawings were “discovered” in 1910, having survived beautifully for about 7000 years. But then, the visitors discovered that the paintings would look brighter if they splashed water on them, so guess what happened after several decades of that. The posters are very nice, but you will not see anything remotely like that!


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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 7. Alpera - Alatoz. 24.5
Tearing ourselves away from the napolitanas, it's time to walk!

From the look of @Sara_Dhooma's video, we have a pretty gentle gradual uphill than downhill day today. She says a GPS is useful, because people have been painting over way markers. Fincas may not appreciate the foot traffic?

On the other hand, @alansykes had no trouble finding his way. He had high praise for today's walk:
A really great day. Almost as good as it gets, just ambling along through fruit groves and olive groves, and the occasional pine wood and vineyards, with the temperature around 20° and a light breeze and almost all off tarmac. It really doesn't get much better. And the marking was outstanding, quite impossible to get lost. After 17km was the bifurcation where the Levante went left to Higueruela and the Lana turned right. Last time I backtracked from Alpera to get onto the Levante and had a bad day on tarmac. This way would be much better.

Alatoz was a delight, friendly bars, an excellent albergue (back of the sports centre, very comfy beds, donativo). What a great day.

@Undermanager had this to say about the day, with usefuldirections as to where to get the albergue key at Bar Ovi:
Today was another fabulous day [...] through very pretty countryside with no facilities anywhere again, and very quiet. It's not too taxing although there's a long stretch of gentle uphill for a few hours, and a downhill stretch of 5kms into Alatoz. Some of the walk is along tracks lined with trees so some shade was around, but by 11.00am, it was getting really hot and there was hardly any cooling wind either. I'm glad I had a 1.5 litre bottle of water because I needed most of it.

[...]The key to the albergue is available from Bar Ovi, but isn't available usually until 3.00pm, as the Albergue guy who has it works - perhaps phoning a day ahead might mean the key can be left at the bar, if your Spanish is up to it. [...]

The albergue was welcome and is okay for a night. There are only four beds, no cooking facilities and freezing cold showers. The shower was hell to start with, but really invigorating once you took the plunge and stood under it, but oh boy was it ice cold. Food at the Bar Ovi was excellent, but there are a couple of other places close by you could try for variety.

In @Sara_Dhooma 's video, the albergue looks very sweet. On the plaza, there is the bar and a panaderia, but it's not a huge place. That said, the welcome looks genuinely warm — Alatoz looks like the kind of small place where, as @bjorgts quotes someone saying, "Cada peregrino es una fiesta."
We'll be an event!

Here's what a local tourist info site says:
The town of Alatoz belonged to the State of Jorquera and in turn to the Marquis de Villena. Until the province of Albacete was created in 1833, Alatoz belonged to the Party of Cuenca and therefore the Crown of Castile. However, ecclesiastically it belonged to the Diocese of Cartagena until it was created in 1950 Albacete.

Formerly called "The Coughing" Jorquera was secreted in the SigloXIX when the manor was extinguished. This word derives the current name for what the "legend" which holds that the name derives from the saying "Let the herd" of the shepherds, unfounded.

You must visit the parish church of San Juan Bautista eighteenth century building plant Latin cross with side chapels joined together. On our way to Villavaliente we can also observe cuckoos of popular architecture that abound in this land and are of an intimate beauty.

Wikipedia tells me the Iglesia Parroquial de San Juan Bautista was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural in 1991, but I can't find anything much about it, except what I quoted above. It looks older than 18th C., but information is thin on the ground.
Screenshot_20201211-124009_Firefox.jpg

Footnote: If you want to wander up to the cave on your way here, here is a route that looks doable, adding a few kilometers to the total for the day:
Screenshot_20201210-190412_OsmAnd.jpg
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The albergue in Alatoz was inaugurated in 2018. I was going to link to the amgos of Albacete’s web page with pictures and announcement, but I think the page is corrupted. At least I kept being sent to a page with indecent “ads.”. I wrote to the amigos and got a response in minutes, that they will try to take care of it.

But anyway — I’ve seen the advice to call ahead, I have a phone with a WhatsApp account. 680 327 343. Unless @AJ or @islandwalker can find something, I think it’s the only game in town. It’s small, too, so we will have to split up. I volunteer to try to walk from Allmansa to Alatoz (about 46 by my calculations), so I would get there a day ahead and ease the crunch. Anyone else? That may be wishful thinking on my part by the time I actually get to walk this camino, though. :D

Taxi to a town with lodging is another option, and it looks like Alcalá del Júcar would be closest. So you could leave stuff there in your lodging, taxi back to Alatoz in the morning, and walk the 17 back into Alcalá del Júcar. Since it looks like an absolutely stunning place, that might be tempting.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPDP to SdC (2011-13-14-17). Norte (15). Mozárabe Almería-Merida (18) Guimaraes to SdC, F + M (18)
While we are waiting for the key to the albergue outside the bar in Alatoz, these two guys (father and son) might offer two pilgrims to stay at their home. It may not be the Ritz, but their kindness where great said the German couple who stayed there. There is only four beds at the albergue.

Alatoz_2.jpg
 
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPDP to SdC (2011-13-14-17). Norte (15). Mozárabe Almería-Merida (18) Guimaraes to SdC, F + M (18)
The albergue sign on the wall is one of the nicest I have seen. The shadows made it a bit difficult to read, but it also made it come alive. Maybe a pilgrim’s sundial? Or some special graphic effect to tell a pilgrim when it is time to leave the bar and find a bed at the albergue?

By the way @peregrina2000 the sign reads 2017, but maybe it was only wishful thinking of a grand opening that was delayed until 2018?

Alatoz_Albergue.jpg
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
After plowing through the Lana blogs, I think I can say that this is objectively considered a Pretty Stage. It's not breathtaking like, for example, the Mandayona-Sigüenza stage, but it is certainly beautiful. I believe this is because it is different from the previous ones. There are more hills and more greenery than on any stage since Alicante. As for the gradual uphill according to @VNwalking, it is indeed gentle. Only the last part before Alatoz does it become noticeable.

I agree with @alansykes that the marking is excellent most of the way. A heads-up for the spot "6" if you're following the maps from the Asociación: "6 Km: – Justo al inicio de una curva a la derecha, salir a la izquierda por un estrecho sendero apenas perceptible". There is a narrow path barely visible at the curve, and if you don't pay attention you'll be continuing on the larger road in the wrong direction. Not that I would ever get lost... But I've heard of others who did... You know what I mean! 🤭

Guides say no water. But on the last third or something, where you can spot cottages further down the valley, there is at least one source pouring from the hills next to the Camino. Last time, a boy was collecting water in his bottles when I walked by. I took that as proof that there was no danger drinking it. And I am still alive!

I found zero supermercados in Alatoz. I looked up the only one "Juan Carboneras Piqueras" on Google maps because I was starving. All that popped up was a photo of a bricked wall. Try it for yourself! Juan needs to learn about advertising. I went there and it was indeed a blind alley. I had to rely on the two bars in town (the third one, bar La Plaza, was temporarily closed), but they serve their meals sooo late in the evening! I say, bring something from Alpera if you don't want to go hungry.

As for cold showers, they are an abomination and should be banned by the European Court of Human Rights. If you are a lone male pilgrim and have the albergue all to yourself, I suggest that you sneak into the women's showers where there is hot water. The albergue is nice though. Just make sure that the hospitalero gives you the right set of keys, or you will be locked out for some hours until evening...! 😄 Oh, it all turned out well in the end! 🤗
 

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peregrina2000

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By the way @peregrina2000 the sign reads 2017, but maybe it was only wishful thinking of a grand opening that was delayed until 2018?


I noticed that too, in the picture on the amigos page. In case you don’t want to go to the page for risk of those annoying indecent ads, I have copied two of the pictures. Maybe the date on the sign corresponds to the date the building was finished. (And you can see the lettering without the interference of sun and shadow. I remember a sign like that on the Olvidado — it`s too bad because the design is so pretty).
 

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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
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Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
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The slow walkers are - slowly - catching up... ;)

Unless @AJ or @islandwalker can find something, I think it’s the only game in town. It’s small, too, so we will have to split up. I volunteer to try to walk from Allmansa to Alatoz (about 46 by my calculations), so I would get there a day ahead and ease the crunch. Anyone else? That may be wishful thinking on my part by the time I actually get to walk this camino, though. :D
I couldn't find anything in Alatoz, and the closest (5.2 km away) are two casa rurales in Carcelén, Casa Rural Carcelén and Casa Rural El Parador. Unless the owners were willing to pick us up, and on the assumption that we could get one bedroom, as opposed to the whole casa rural, I think we can forget this option.
As for volunteering to walk on, unfortunately we can't. And in our case, @peregrina2000 , there's no wishful thinking ;) The 25 km distance with the gradual uphill will ensure there is no need for a lullaby for my darling tonight! The redeeming feature is that
this is objectively considered a Pretty Stage.

Taxi to a town with lodging is another option, and it looks like Alcalá del Júcar would be closest.
Good idea! This is why a thread like this is wonderful — it never would have occurred to me, being a bit of a purist. the more planning minds, the better.
If we get to Alatoz and there are no more beds in the albergue, a real possibility for us slow walkers, then the taxi option is definitely one we would consider. And we are not purists, we are realists ;) After taking the taxi back to Alatoz on the next day, my darling would appreciate not having to walk with a backpack.

While we are waiting for the key to the albergue outside the bar in Alatoz, these two guys (father and son) might offer two pilgrims to stay at their home.
That is fabulous and wonderful generosity and hospitality!
It prompts the question, though, of how likely, should there not be a casa rural or an albergue available, would we be able to find a room in a private house in any village or town along the Camino if we just asked for a room? Imagine a couple of pilgrims, one of them nearly on her knees, walking into a little town on any of the less frequented Caminos, would their asking for a room be met with similar hospitality?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
It prompts the question, though, of how likely, should there not be a casa rural or an albergue available, would we be able to find a room in a private house in any village or town along the Camino if we just asked for a room? Imagine a couple of pilgrims, one of them nearly on her knees, walking into a little town on any of the less frequented Caminos, would their asking for a room be met with similar hospitality?

I have read accounts of people making inquiries in a bar or cafe and getting introduced to someone who is willing to come to an informal arrangement to rent out their spare room.

When I did my winter "Camino" in Taiwan earlier this year, my Chinese-speaking friend used this approach a couple of times and we were introduced to terrific places. (I have the impression that this may be particularly common in Taiwan, since there are lots of unofficial hostels that aren't listed in guide books ... or tax books).

Back to Spain ... I think that as long as you can find a bar owner or someone who is well connected to the community, then you have a good chance of being introduced to someone who may know someone who may know someone with a room to offer - and failing that, they will almost certainly know someone who can drive you to the next town with a hotel.

Here is my best guess at the probable outcomes of this approach if you're in a pueblo with a bar/cafe
Probability of an informal arrangement to stay at someone's house = 30%
Probability of a ride (paid or free) to the next town = 60%
Probability of striking out and having to sleep in a church porch = 10%

If I was stuck, I am not sure what I would try first - Talking to the bar owner or searching google for a taxi in the next town. I know that talking to the bar owner could give me more options, but I also know that it might lead to a somewhat embarrassing situation where the entire town is mobilized to help me.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
it might lead to a somewhat embarrassing situation where the entire town is mobilized to help me.
I had that happen after Santo Domingo de Silos when I got lost. It was embarrassing, but also very touching. I'll tell the story when the time comes. For now...

Day 8. Alatoz - Alcalá del Júcar. 18.8km.
In real life, I would be likely to carry on to Casas Ibáñez. But in this virtual Realm, I am in no hurry. The setting of Alcalá del Júcar is right up there with Ronda, so taking advantage of that to linger for a lazy afternoon there.

We can get we can get an early morning start and still have breakfast—the bar opens early for coffee.

Over the last days, we have been gradually gaining altitude, and today we get to lose much of that gain in one fell swoop at the end of this short stage. Here is how Alan and @Undermanager describe it:
More flowering almonds and vines after coffee in a village bar (open early). The marking once you're out of Alatoz district becomes pretty poor. After about four hours you are in the entirely nondescript village of Casas del Cerro and suddenly you're standing on top of a cliff looking down on the triangular castle of Alcalá del Júcar and the oxbow gorge of the Júcar river. One of the great townscapes of Spain, up there with the "el Greco" view of Toledo from the Levante, and Ronda's cliffs from the Serranía. Just amazing. Unfortunately you've then got a spectacular but knee busting 150m of descent in under a km, and much the same back up the other side. There is acogida in the town, but apparently it doesn't involve mattresses or blankets or anything much except the floor of a schoolroom.
Another cracking day, the best so far. After the first five kilometers or so, when the Camino hit the road, I stayed on it rather than transfering back to the dirt track. This is a great road to the next town for two hours, beautiful, glorious tarmac, hardly any traffic.

I rejoined the Camino at Casas del Cerro, just before the drop into the steep valley.

But keep your wits about you, or you'll end up like Bad Pilgrim:
One of the bars opens at six o'clock in Alatoz, so there is café con leche, although not much of a breakfast. The camino goes amongst the fields for the first few kms, then on a road. But early in the morning there is hardly any traffic. I didn't meet a single car.

After a while, you leave the road on your left. You will think "Ooh, no more tarmac! Lovely!" But be careful what you wish for. The arrows lure you right into the woods of the Blair Witch Project. Only ancient flechas, faint yellow dots and other ungodly signs guide you through the bushes. Can't believe I made the same mistake again: I should have stayed on the road and only turn left a few hundred meters later, at a point where the pagan path approaches the road. There is really no shadow between the dry pine trees, and every step requires an effort among the thorns and the fallen trees that occasionally block the way.
@Magwood was looking through a different lens:
For some reason my Wikiloc tracking app stopped working as we left the village and I didn’t notice until I reached a road some time later. When restarted, it just drew a straight line and told me I had walked 5 km. A short while later we were on an enchanting track through a pine wood on a carpet of needles. The path is really narrow, barely discernible, weaving through the trees, but there are lots of arrows and dots to show us the way.

38f1c6df-c6ec-4832-b8e2-cb4115945585.jpeg
If you like pine forest, this sounds fantastic...but if not, it sounds like the road is not a bad option at all!

Once you get to Casas del Cerro, there's the possibility to have 2nd breakfast and the it's time to tackle the 1.8km zig-zag down to the river:
There's a drinking water fountain here and Bar Jose for a coffee on the right side, a few roads past the fountain. Seek and ye shall find. I've added it to maps.me.
And down there is the village, with its 12th C. castle at the top of the gorge on the other side:
What can you say about Alcala del Jucar? It's a spectacular sight, a steep zig zag down to the valley floor way below then a steep zig zag back up again to the castle on the other side, trying to work out whether to go left or right in the lanes of the town. Great photo opportunities, not as many shops as you might think on the way but a great and sweaty hour or two. Loads of fun.
This town was once a crosroads, and a well-defended border town:
Strategically located in front of a bridge over which the Camino Real connects Castile with the Levante, it served as a customs house during the 14th and 15th centuries. Like other strongholds of the Marquisate of Villena, its period of greatest splendour took place in the 15th century. At that time this lineage played a major role in the noble struggles of Castile.
Photos at night look spectacular, and there is a lot to check out:
Screenshot_20201214-151749_Firefox.jpg
I'd be having a dip in the river and having a look around at the roman bridge and old village with its caves and unique architecture. It looks like an amazing place.
Screenshot_20201214-153044_Firefox.jpg

It draws lots of tourists, so best to book ahead if you want to stay here:
La Casa Rural Tornero; C/ Buenaire; Phone: 650031722
Hostal Alcalá del Júcar; Avenida de la Constitución, 13; phone: 967474032.

And you can even stay in a cave...probably for a price:
La Casa Rural Cueva del Clavel
C/ Clavel; Phone: 610852960 / 619115939
http://www.casasrurales-alcaladeljucar.org/clavel.htm

Where to eat?
There's choice! I leave it up to someone else
to figure out where we will meet for a menu del Dia:
Screenshot_20201214-152305_Google.jpg
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
In real life, I would be likely to carry on to Casas Ibáñez. But in this virtual Realm, I am in no hurry. The setting of Alcalá del Júcar is right up there with Ronda, so taking advantage of that to linger for a lazy afternoon there.
The slow walkers are ever so grateful, @VNwalking , for stopping in Alcalá del Júcar. I was wondering whether you were going to walk to Casas Ibáñez, in which case I would have switched on the magical time warp powers of this virtual Camino to break the journey over two days.

An 18 km walk is just right for us. In fact, if we had missed out on a bed in Alatoz, and had taken up @peregrina2000 's suggestion of taking a taxi to Alcalá del Júcar, then we would be stopping here anyway.

I'll add another two places to stay, the Hostal D'Ernes and the Casa Rural Diego Paleta.

I'd be having a dip in the river and having a look around at the roman bridge and old village with its caves and unique architecture. It looks like an amazing place.
Amazing it is! In a real life Camino, I think we would be probably having a rest day here.

 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I just got curious about the Rio Jucar. We will see it again, a little further up-river in Cuenca. It meanders from the Hills East of there and ends up flowing into the Mediterranean South of Valencia.
This from the English Wikipedia:
River Júcar flows first southward and then eastward through the towns of Cuenca, Alcalá del Júcar, Cofrentes, Alzira, Sueca and Cullera, a town located near its mouth into the Gulf of Valencia, Mediterranean Sea. It crosses the provinces of Cuenca, Albacete and Valencia

In 1982 the river Júcar broke the Tous's reservoir, causing the biggest flood in Spanish history with a flow speed of 16,000 cubic metres per second, killing more than 30 people. This flood was the most important one in the whole history of Spain in that times because the people thought that the Tous reservoir was indestructible. The flood was called La pantanada de Tous.

The more complete Spanish entry has all the juicy geological details, including this quote:
"En este mar interior (se refiere a La Manchuela hace unos 100 millones de años, es decir, en el Terciario), que se extendía desde Cofrentes hasta La Roda y que tenía su mayor profundidad en Alcalá de Júcar, se depositaron las grandes capas horizontales de sedimentos que hoy nos muestra el gran cañón. Pero antes de que éste se abriera por la acción erosiva del río, fue preciso que se produjera un cambio importante en el trazado de su cauce.
Porque el Júcar no siempre ha corrido en busca del Mediterráneo y hubo un tiempo en que el destino de sus aguas era el Atlántico, a donde llegaban tras desembocar en el Guadiana.

No está claro qué fue lo que determinó el cambio de rumbo, pero desde que éste se produjo, hace el orden de unos dos millones de años, el río ha labrado la espectacular sucesión de meandros encajados, que alcanzan hasta 150 m de profundidad, que se extiende desde La Jorquera hasta el embalse de El Molinar." (Cosme Morillo. Guía y mapa de la naturaleza de España. Madrid: Anaya Touring Club, 2000, 1ª edición, p. 116)
So in the Tertiary (100 MYBP), where Alcalá de Júcar is now was at the nadir of a vast inland sea. Hence the vast plain we leave and re-emerge onto when leaving the town! The sedimets of plain would have been lain down then, for the river to cut through.
Very cool stuff.

Sorry if this is TMI. I like natural history, and things that expose the grand sweep of time. It puts us in our place.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It prompts the question, though, of how likely, should there not be a casa rural or an albergue available, would we be able to find a room in a private house in any village or town along the Camino if we just asked for a room?

it might lead to a somewhat embarrassing situation where the entire town is mobilized to help me.

I think that asking for help is very difficult for many of us. But I’ve realized that the people who give it give it because it brings them joy. And since we are allowing for random off-topic chats on this thread, please indulge me as I add a story, which I’m sure I’ve told on the forum before.

One summer night there were about 12 of us in the albergue in Muxia. The two stores in town were closed in the afternoon, and we asked a villager about it. She said the owners would open later because they were at neighboring fiestas. So back we went around 6:30 and still no shopowners. We thought to call the taxi in town to get a few of us over to the fiestas so we could buy some food there, but the taxi drivers were having too much fun at the fiestas to come pick us up. The señoras told us to come back around 8, surely one of them will be home.

It wasn’t the end of the world, but none of us had more than a few little bits and pieces to eat, so unless we could multiply the loaves, we were not going to have much of a meal.

Later that evening, still no shops open, but a feast was awaiting at the spot where we had met the señoras. People all came together to give us bread, potatoes, eggs, tortillas, wine even! We were, as Raggy so aptly described, embarrassed, but they were matter of fact about it — one told me “we will always make sure that people visiting our town have food to eat and a place to sleep.” Another woman stopped her car to see what was going on (she was on her way home from a funeral), and when she heard, she insisted I get in the car to go with her to pick up some more bread and some salad from her garden. When I saw her home, I was truly humbled — here I was, a privileged peregrina, taking food from someone with so few resources.

They would of course take no money (though we stuck a donation in the doorway of the ringleader on the way out in the morning). No sooner had we gotten home than there was a visit from another local woman, who brought a box of crackers and a jar of olives.

I have had many such moments on the camino, but none surpasses this one for its snapshot of the kindness and generosity of these villagers.

Long way of saying that I would ask without expectation (always having a Plan B), because you might be very pleasantly surprised.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I think it was BP who recommended reserving ahead for Alcalá del Júcar — even though there are lots of private places, it’s a popular tourist destination. I had done a little research last spring while planning my May 2020 Lana ☹️and decided the Hostal Alcalá was my choice. I must have been in the mood for a white linen tablecloth place. They also have WhatsApp, which makes reservations easy.

It’s not in the ”high town” but looks to have a great view from below. (The D’Ernes is about another 600 m further from the castle, but probably a little cheaper).
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
But keep your wits about you, or you'll end up like Bad Pilgrim

I think the impression of the pagan pine forest stems from a combination of factors. If you come all the way from Alpera, you'll be walking in the mid-day/afternoon heat. This will be even worse in summer. I'm sure it's both cooler and greener in spring, and less vegetation to push through. It reminds me of the overgrown path/jungle I had to abandon between Arenillas and Grajal de Campos before Sahagún on the Madrid route. When Laurie showed me her pictures from that road in spring (I think she did), I couldn't believe it was the same road that had assaulted me in July.

I think it was BP who recommended reserving ahead for Alcalá del Júcar

That's my experience. But it was in summer and perhaps it's easier to find lodging off season. Yes, I spent what felt like several hours wandering across town trying to find a place to stay. I thought would have to sleep outside. Hostal Alcalá sounds familiar; even the photos in the link that Laurie posted above: I believe this was the hostal that saved me.

Once you get to Casas del Cerro,

Before reaching casas del Cerro, there is an arrow pointing to the right, as in the first picture below. I followed it for about half an hour. If anyone has dared to go further, please let me know where it leads. It's totally counter-intuitive, so I backtracked and continued forward on the main road. After a few meters I saw another, fainter arrow pointing me towards Casas del Cerro in the right direction. See picture number 2. Watch out!

I also post some pictures of Alcalá del Jucar below.
 

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Before reaching casas del Cerro, there is an arrow pointing to the right, as in the first picture below. I followed it for about half an hour. If anyone has dared to go further, please let me know where it leads.
My OSMand map shows another way down to the river that isn't the whole series of zigzags. Maybe that's it? If so, it's probably easier on the knees. (There is also a second shorter option here from Casas de Cerro. Both take you down to near the Paza de Toros, from opposite sides of a side valley.

First option — yours, BP?
Screenshot_20201215-100307_OsmAnd.jpg

Second option:
20201215_100716.jpg

Not to pry, VN, but I cannot imagine why you would just keep on walking when you got to this beautiful place!
It's funny. I write my posts here with very little editing. So since I was basically thinking aloud, what I was writing before I looked in detail at where I was going was very different and what I'm thinking now!

As you say, Laurie, why I can't imagine just passing through at this point. So yes, @AJGuillaume, this looks like a primo place for a rest day. My tactic these days for a rest day is to walk a very short stage to arrive before noon, even by 10:00 or 11, thus giving me the whole day to explore whatever wonderful place I've stopped in. Like Las Medulas — and Alcalá del Júcar looks equally amazing. So if you don't want to have a complete rest day, and are relatively fit, walking from Alatoz would accomplish that. An early start could get you there by noon.
 
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I can think of many worse places to heal from blisters! Bernice, can you recommend any places to eat?
I recall only Fogones el chato. I ate the lunch menu del día. Well priced, good food. Sorry, I can't recall any others. I went there based on someone else's recommendation.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I recall only Fogones el chato. I ate the lunch menu del día. Well priced, good food. Sorry, I can't recall any others. I went there based on someone else's recommendation.

Bernice,

What about the floodings you reported? Did it affect the Río Júcar as well?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Where to eat?
I recall only Fogones el chato. I ate the lunch menu del día. Well priced, good food.

I did a little googling and Fogones el Chato is very highly rated, so it looks like a. good choice. With such a stunning backdrop, though, I also looked around for a restaurant with a view, and El Mirador looks like a nice place to sit out on the terraza and maybe have some tapas at night. This town might be worth breaking my “early to bed early to rise” routine.
 
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Day 9 (or 8, Cont.). Alcalá del Júcar - Casas Ibañaz. 12.7km.
Today we do more virtual camino magic, so those of us who stayed in Alcalá del Júcar catch up with those of us walked straight through to Casas Ibañas in one go. 12.7km is a stroll before 2nd breakfast for some, but for more sedate walkers, it allows a later departure and a breakfast at wherever we end up staying.

It sounds like the main challenge of the day is finding our way out of Alcalá.
Up is obvious, but getting there requires lots of zigging and zagging:
BE CAREFUL! Getting in and out of Alcalá is a horror and...I got lost again and again and ended up following a yellow/white route to get down to Alcalá (thanks to help from a local). To get up and out of Alcalá I just followed signs to the Castillo. You need to get yourself to Las Eras. There again little to no arrows. A gentleman familiar with the Lana (there are few) pointed me in the right direction. Then...I got lost in the vineyards. There was much mud to boot! You know, the kind that sticks to your shoes.
Here's an OSMand screenshot; having a navigation app you can use offline ( like Wikiloc or OSMand) will save a ton of grief. Arrows are clearly not encouraged in this tourist town. There are plenty of alternative ways to get to the top— the screenshot is the shortest of them.
Screenshot_20201219-145037_OsmAnd.jpg
Once in Las Eras, there's a chance to fill your water bottles, and have some refreshment:
There is a drinking water fountain in the little park there and a bar for a coffee and snack - there may be a shop but I didn't see one although I did see a van-shop.
Then we turn our backs on this magnificent gorge and it's back to flatflatflat, all the way to Casas Ibáñez (quoting these Forum posts, but @Magwood's blog is equally eloquent):
Very very flat once you're out of the Júcar gorge. The albergue in Casas Ibáñez is in the plaza de toros, two rooms with 3 beds, plenty of blankets etc, loo and shower, free. Only the second time I've slept in a bullring, unfortunately not as memorable as La Roda, as it's just a flat on the outside of the ring, not the whole plaza. Had a decent meal in the nearby Hostal Aros.
From there, you can choose road hike or Camino path. This time I chose Camino path. It was fabulous. Fantastic countryside bursting with greenery and flowers, vineyards, wheat, not a single cloud in a deep mint blue sky, warm but not roasting and the odd place to stop in the shade, relax, enjoy a snack and take in the scenery.
In CI, it looks like we have a choice between the albergue in the bullring, or the Hostal Aros, but there may be more?
On entering the town, I went straight to Hotel Aro's as planned, checked in, washed the clothes out etc etc etc. Then while eating, I saw the others walking about, looking for a place to stay. The albergue was shut; the French couple said (I think) that the Town Hall said it was too dirty to open? I may have misunderstood this. Anyway, the French couple checked in and the others went off to find a cheaper place!

This hotel is great and totally recommended. €25 for pilgrims gets you a big room with double bed, ensuite, all mod cons, TV etc plus balcony for drying clothes. The big bar downstairs does great food including a tapas and meal of the day. The staff were really great, fun and helpful to this poor non-Spanish speaking Brit.
For seasonal cheer, here's @Magwood's photo of the Christmas chandelier in the church made of gazillion coffee pods. 🎅
Screenshot_20201219-150910_Firefox.jpg
Lana veterans please chime in with your recommendations, memories, background info about Casas Ibañez, or comments!
 
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I have enjoyed staying in Alcalá del Júcar. I have been walking around and up and down on my own for a day now (or has it been two days?). If I ever walk the La Lana again, I will definitely take a rest day here. I have much to learn from this virtual walk. One important one is to take rest days!

It’s easy to find your way out of Alcalá del Júcar. You just follow Maggie. 🤣

Find your way to the castle, turn your back to it and continue upwards, then keep to the left where there is a path on the very edge of the cliff. Beautiful views! There is still a little climb before it is very flat again for a long time.

Alcala_1.jpg Alcala_2.jpg Alcala_3.jpg
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
But back to the Lana, this morning a friend sent me this link to an article about the beautiful Júcar Gorge in Spain. I wondered if it might be near where you are going, so looked it up on Wikiloc. Turns out the Lana goes right though Alcalá de Júcar. There are some other Wikiloc tracks that explore the gorge if you want to take an extra day there.
"Spain's very own grand canyon". I know a couple who would certainly stay yet another night here to enjoy this. And as @VNwalking highlights: sans pack!

Today's 12.7 km walk is just what slow walkers love. And what's more, we love the "flatflatflat" after the walk up to the Castillo. @Magwood describes the walk in her blog thus:
We exit the canyon on a narrow ledge around the rim of this extraordinary basin and soon find ourselves in the village of Las Eras, and then back onto the monotonous wide, straight gravel tracks running between fields of cereals and vines. So many vines! Ancient knarled vines , newly planted vines, and everything in between.

The Amigos' guide lists, in addition to the "Albergue municipal de transeúntes" and the Hotel Aro’s, the Hostal San Jorge and the Casa rural La Fabiana. The latter is managed by the Hotel Aro's.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
It sounds like the main challenge of the day is finding our way out of Alcalá.
Up is obvious, but getting there requires lots of zigging and zagging

Allow me to quote myself. Excerpt from my bestselling "A Busker on the Lana: a Diary":

"But do not despair: the way out of Alcalá is easy. Walk up to the castle. Up, up up. You will see a small playground next to the castle. Then walk in the opposite direction, away from the castle and the playground. You get immediately to another road that leads upwards, with stones on the borders, that looks kind of a medieval bridge. Keep walking upwards on this (you will find yourself above even the castle of Alcalá). After only a hundred meters there is a small, white building with antennas on the roof, a water depository. The arrows appear on this building and tell you to turn left around the corner, leading you out in the wilderness again. Then an easy walk to Las Eras (that is, if you don't make a bad step and fall down the ravine. I have no idea how I survived this last time, when I left Alcalá in total darkness...! Only now, in daylight, could I see how dangerous it actually was!)"

I let my five-year-old niece draw yet another wiki-sketch to help you (see picture below). The green dot is the Castle; the red dot is the small water depository where you turn left towards Las Eras.

In CI, it looks like we have a choice between the albergue in the bullring, or the Hostal Aros, but there may be more?

I vote for the Hostal Aros. Very comfortable. I suggest we appreciate the fact that there is a hostal in this town, and in the subsequent town of Villarta, before sleeping on the floor in the dark, haunted sportshall of Campillo de Altobuey in a few days...! :eek:
 

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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
The Amigos' guide lists, in addition to the "Albergue municipal de transeúntes" and the Hotel Aro’s, the Hostal San Jorge and the Casa rural La Fabiana. The latter is managed by the Hotel Aro's.

Okay, I checked their homepage on @AJGuillaume's link- wow! I didn't know that was Hostal San Jorge. I have been to their cafetería: hanging around to plan my next stage, writing updates on this Forum, devouring copious amounts of napolitanas con café con leche... It's my favorite café in Casas Ibáñez! I had no idea it was also a hostal. Although never having stayed the night there, I believe it deserves a try next time I/we stay in Casas Ibãnez.

I wrote in an earlier throg (thread + blog ;)) that I find Casas Ibáñez to be"clean and tidy". I think the facade of San Jorge represents this: pink, white, nice windows... It's a piece of Casas Ibáñez right there. And it's "Situado a escasos metros de la Iglesia de Casas Ibáñez, junto a la plaza en una de las calles más céntricas." Although it's in the center close to the main road and the church, I can assure you there is no heavy traffic. Thanks @AJGuillaume: I thought I'd never trade Hostal Aros for anything, but Hostal San Jorge seems like a strong contender!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
STOP THE PRESSES!
So I have discovered something essential for planning purposes. At least to those of us like both almonds and cherries. Thank you for getting me to look this up, Laurie!

The area around Villajoyosa is very well-known for its almonds, and there are even tours of the blossoming Orchards:
Relleu is a hotspot for this, so were you walking in the spring...oo la la! And then the autumn would be the time to eat them as well as all the things they make out of them!

On the on the other end of the Lana, covarrubias has a medieval cherry Festival in July. It's well known for its cherries, and I would guess spring would be gorgeous there too.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 10. Casas Ibáñez to Villarta. 23.3km
Tearing ourselves away from the fiestas, and Hostals Aros or San Jorge...onward.
It's another flat day, but topographic relief is coming soon.
The bar on the main road by the bullring was open at 7.30 so I was coffeed and fed and away by 8. The local cemetery has a mass grave of people shot by the rebels in 1939, with the dignified memorial "En memoria de los hombres fusilados en este lugar ... por su defensa de la democracia y la libertad". Then across more flat flat flat. Many of the fields have been replanted with the new espaliered vines that are harvested by machines, although there are still a few of the old stand alone stocks, splayed out around you with multiple Vs and vanishing points. I bumped into a farmer in Alatoz who told me he had a machine that could harvest an entire almond tree in one minute. When I worked in the vines, one of my autumn jobs was to pick the almonds, and I think it took me around a week to bag up 20 trees.

For those who want a short stage, Villamalea is just short of 15 km from Casas Ibañez, and @Magwood's wonderful pdf says it has all services, including an albergue — though Alan was told there is no albergues. He continues:
At Villamalea for noon, I had a snack and a glass of the tasty fruity greenish local Altos de Cabriel white. It would be a nice town to spend the night and the guide says you can stay in the town hall, but the people in the bar denied there was an albergue. A few km after Villamalea you pass into Cuenca province and the landscape becomes a little less pancake flat, with even some hills hazily visible to the east. It is the beginning of the campo undulato.

After Villamalea, it is another 8+ km to Villarta (and if you're fleet of foot or just want a longer stage, Graja de Iniesta is another 10.4km).

Villarta is also well-endowed with options, though it appears to be a bit smaller than Villamalea. Any reminiscences, Lana vets?
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
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For those who want a short stage, Villamalea is just short of 15 km from Casas Ibañez, and @Magwood's wonderful pdf says it has all services, including an albergue — though Alan was told there is no albergues.
After Villamalea, it is another 8+ km to Villarta (and if you're fleet of foot or just want a longer stage, Graja de Iniesta is another 10.4km)
From a slow walker's perspective, 23.3 km to Villarta could be done, especially if the terrain is flat flat flat.

However, having said that, I know a slow walker who would welcome a short 15 km stage, and with that in mind, I had a look at what Villamalea offered. All services, as @Magwood indicated, with the Amigos' guide listing a "Local municipal" (so not officially called an albergue), on Plaza Iglesia 5, which is right next to the Ayuntamiento, a Hostal El Bodegón
Bodegon Villamalea.jpg
as well as three casas rurales: Casa rural La Abuela, Casas rurales La Derrubiá (out of town), and Casa rural Río Cabriel. The usual comments apply for these casas rurales: even if they request a minimum of 2 nights, and the tarif is for the whole casa rural, a phone call might provide a room for one night.
Google maps also suggests Los Angeles, which is a 4 bedroom house.

An alternative for a slow walker would also be to stop at El Herrumblar. That's a 20.2 km walk from Casas Ibáñez, and the village has, accrording to the Amigos' guide, a Hostal San Julián (not sure how current is the information), and a Casa Rural La Estrella.

Having done a short stage (or normal stage to a slow walker ;)😂), the next stage to Villarta from Villamalea would be 12.9 km as indicated in the Amigos' guide. The Amigos indicate that there is a "Centro social municipal" (another word for an albergue), but @Magwood and @Ninja went to Los Tubos:
We arrived at Villarta in the early afternoon and although there is an albergue here it is run by the ayuntamiento and I didn’t expect to get any response on a Sunday. So we toddled off to Pension Los Tubos which has been recommended by others. [...]
We gained access to our twin room around 17:00 – a nice room but freezing after sitting in the sun whilst waiting. Cost 35 euros for a twin, 25 euros single. Avenida Cuenca 84, 962 189 132 / 675 726 655.
There is also a Casa rural Cerro Moreno, of interest particularly to pilgrims on horseback.

As for walking on to Graja de Iniesta, we would probably do that as a third short stage, before heading to the next stop. We'll talk about that when we get there.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I will throw out another suggestion for those who like longer stages. I noticed that @C clearly ’s spread sheet does not indicate a place to stay in El Herrumblar. There is the Hostal San Julián. The Spanish guide indicates a 20€ price for peregrinos. There is also a supermarket in town.

Alcalá del Júcar to El Herrumblar is about 32 km. And since it’s flat, and if people are in the groove when they get to El Herrumblar, there is also the possibility of continuing to Villarta, about 7 km more, with both albergue and hostal. I like the fact that there are so many options here!

I think the highlight for these days will be the reflection that comes from repetitive and rhythmic foot strikes through flat rural countryside rather than any amazing churches, museums, or restaurants. Personally, I’m fine with that, but it is probably not for everyone. And that is perhaps why I have heard suggestions about starting the Lana in Cuenca.
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
The Amigos indicate that there is a "Centro social municipal" (another word for an albergue), but @Magwood and @Ninja went to Los Tubos:

I believe that the "Centro social municipal" in Villarta is featured in Sara Dhooma's vlog on the Lana. It's basically about sleeping on the floor, free of charge. So if you're on a budget and have a back of steel, you can save some money in Villarta.

On the other hand: The hostal Los Tubos is very nice, run by Mónica who is a pilgrim herself and a member of the Asociación. So it's not just another hostal, but also has a pilgrim-friendly touch. You can have a chat with Mónica about the Camino in general and the Lana in particular - if she is not busy commanding the bar/restaurant on the 1st floor. For 25 euros, her rooms lack of nothing that a tired pilgrim needs. A safe haven!

Alcalá del Júcar to El Herrumblar is about 32 km. And since it’s flat, and if people are in the groove when they get to El Herrumblar, there is also the possibility of continuing to Villarta, about 7 km more, with both albergue and hostal.

It is indeed possible: I have done this! Physically it wasn't difficult. It is a long-ish stage, but luckily punctuated by nice visits to the bars in Casas Ibáñez, Villamalea and El Herrumblar along the way. It's just that I got lost in the vineyards between El Herrumblar and Villarta. I have heard that this has happened to others as well. Watch out!

Some people say it's just as difficult to navigate earlier, between Casas Ibáñez and Villamalea, because of the vineyards. But there you always have the road CM-3201 relatively close; first on your left, then on your right. Things become more difficult after El Herrumblar, where the Camino definitley separates from the road.

I particularly remember I had problems leaving Villamalea. I wrote:

"Leaving Villamalea though is impossible if only relying on arrows. There is nothing at the end of the last street to indicate where to go, nor in the following splits in the country roads. I had to rely on my printed map, counting the roads: first one to the left, second one to the right... Leaving Villamalea there are typical places/objects which normally harbor arrows, but there is nothing. The signs don't reappear until before El Herrumblar."

The highlight of the day is the bar at the town square in Villamalea: The "Café Bar el Partido" beneath the stern sign "Partido comunista de España", complete with socialist symbols. Yes, it is a high-concept bar... But not the way you think. The interior is more like an american diner from the 50's. And the waitresses wear clothes and aprons with stark colors of the star-spangled banner! I mean, from head to toe. So it's a gimmick: a socialist bar on the outside, with super-american vibes on the inside. In Spain! 😄 I have photos of the exterior (see below). I wanted the red-white-and-blue-waitresses to pose for a photo or a selfie, but in the end I was to shy to ask. I regret that now! You will have to believe me on this!! 😄
 

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alansykes

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Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Pass on the ears and sweetbreads
I was lucky enough to get there in time for a memorable Sunday lunch. The noise was almost physically overwhelming, as I think over 100 people of every age from babe in arms to nonagenarian all shouted at each other at once. Although it was clearly packed and people were waiting for tables, Mónica brushed aside my lie that I was quite happy to wait until dinner and made me up a place on the corner of the table where the till and cutlery was. An astonishingly efficient team of waitresses then brought me a starter of rice and fish, and the main of ear - it must have been a big pig, as the ear, lightly battered, was almost the size of the plate, and vegetables and potatoes had to come on a side. All washed down with the local white, a greenish, tasty, fruity wine called the Alto de Cabriel, which I've tried in vain to find in other parts of Spain. The generous welcome and raucously enjoyable atmosphere - not to mention the food - made it one of those lunches which makes you glad to be alive.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Not to interrupt the sweet breads and sow's ears, and if you intend to go straight to Altobuey, free to ignore this post.

Day 11a and 12a: alternative route, Villarta to Campillo de Altobuey via Castellejo de Iniesta, 18.1 and 15.8 km.
This is an alternative to the single day 30+km day to Altobuey for those who want shorter stages, taking advantage of a motel near the autoviaa that allows breaking this stage into two more or less equal halves:
20201226_101346.jpg
Most of it is on agricultural roads and it allows for breakfast in Iniesta, which is a big enough place it would have choice in that regard.

Iniesta actually looks like an interesting place in its own right. Check out the church:
20201226_102934.jpg
Because of many high quality archaeological sites in the area it has a Museo Arqueológico that looks worth visiting (by appointment). Here is what the Spanish Wikipedia has to say about Iniesta's early history (Google translated it.. )
For many years, numerous archaeological remains from different historical periods have been found throughout its extensive municipal area, the oldest ones dating back to the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. In 1995, the first scientific excavation was carried out, unearthing an Iberian necropolis known by the name of Punta del Barrionuevo, as it is located at the end of the street of that name, within the urban area. Later another Iberian necropolis was excavated where one of the oldest painted edge mosaics of all those known in the Mediterranean arc appeared.
From the time of Romanization, the remains found are varied and of the highest quality: a bridge, several stelae, votive aras, remains of Roman villas, coins, etc., being considered by a majority of historians as the ancient Egelasta, and achieving a reputation unusual for the quality of its salt, so important for salting at that time that it was extracted from the different mines that existed in the area.
Most the town's important buildings, including the church, appear to be 15th century. Lots to explore! (@AJGuillaume, you have a gift for finding background information videos, and I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't one for this town too.)

On the second day of this alternative, it's pretty much a straight shot North (with a zig and a zag to accommodate the autovia) to intersect the Camino and carry on into Altobuey.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
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This is an alternative to the single day 30+km day to Altobuey for those who want shorter stages, taking advantage of a motel near the autoviaa that allows breaking this stage into two more or less equal halves
The slow walkers are very grateful for that suggestion, @VNwalking ! What a lovely Christmas gift!

When considering how we could walk the 30.4 km to Campillo de Altobuey, I was looking at walking 10.3 km to Graja de Iniesta, where we would have found the Hostal Pepe. The next day, we would have had 20.1 km to Campillo de Altobuey.

Your option, @VNwalking , balances out the distances, which is great. In Castillejo de Iniesta, there's the hotel La Estrella de Castillejo.

For the really slow walkers, or if you have developed shin splints and you're really taking it slowly because you don't want to stop (I did that in 2018 on the Voie du Puy...), @VNwalking 's option can be broken into three days, walking 9.1 km on day 1 to Iniesta, then 9 km on day 2 to Castillejo de Iniesta, and finally 15.8 to Campillo de Altobuey. In Iniesta, we could stay at the Hostal Los Girasoles.

(@AJGuillaume, you have a gift for finding background information videos, and I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't one for this town too.)
This is a video commissioned by the Ayuntamiento de Iniesta:

At Christmas time, in some areas of Spain, it is customary to sing "Villancicos", losely translated as Christmas carols. The Ayuntamiento shared a few on their FB page, and here's a traditional one:
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@VN, did you consider whether you could drop down to Castellejo de Iniesta from a spot on the Lana? I’ve attached a screen shot that shows the Lana in orange, and it looks like there is a minor road from the Lana down to Castellejo. About 3 or 4 km through something called Cerro dos Moros. The route you propose to break up the day in Castellejo de Iniesta, through Iniesta, looks like it might be more road walking than turning off the official route a few kms outside Castellejo. But maybe you want to visit Iniesta?

1FC925FD-AC08-4F6A-8F1D-47A324E44E02.png


Whether you do it in one day or two, once you get to Campillo de Altobuey, you have a couple of options.

The albergue in the polideportivo gets some interesting commentary from BP, @Magwood and others.

The amigos guide lists three casas rurales, the Abuelo Perico, El Huerto La Higuera, and El Rento. Those seem to be full-house rentals. But somewhere I found the name of Posada el Campillo, which is on booking. They have a WhatsApp account at 666 51 52 32. I have contacted them, and they have said they are unsure whether they will reopen in 2021 even assuming that travel has opened up.

I think BP will have plenty of stories to tell about the polideportivo in Campillo, and maybe it was one of his threads that alerted me to the Posada.

Onward to 2021!
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
When considering how we could walk the 30.4 km to Campillo de Altobuey, I was looking at walking 10.3 km to Graja de Iniesta, where we would have found the Hostal Pepe. The next day, we would have had 20.1 km to Campillo de Altobuey.

Anyone doing the 30k in a row should at least have a break in the cafetería Hostal Pepe. The last part of the journey will be 20k with no places to eat or drink. Before descending into Campillo de Altobuey, there is a steady walk uphill, albeit on an easy road, that will take a toll on your feet depending on how fit you are or your daily form. The guía says it's "una línea recta en suave ascenso", but that "gently uphill" at the end of a stage can turn into a slog in the heat of summer. Bring water!

did you consider whether you could drop down to Castellejo de Iniesta from a spot on the Lana? I’ve attached a screen shot that shows the Lana in orange, and it looks like there is a minor road from the Lana down to Castellejo.
Yes, ok, I get it. Yes, you can leave the Camino a few hundred meters after the spot "14" in the guía from the Asociación (pdf). Right after nr 14 you arrive at a crossroad. Walking straight on is a big no-no. Turning left will take you to Castillejo de Iniesta (according to Google Maps); the official Camino turns right. If you choose to visit Castillejo, you can retrace your steps the next day and continue on the Lana.

Standing at the crossoad, the official way to go is not obvious. The marking was bad, at least in 2017. It wouldn't surprise me if more than one pilgrim has turned left by mistake and ended up in Castillejo...!

In general, the part between Graja de Iniesta and Campillo de Altobuey is a long but peaceful stage where the most interesting scenery starts, in fact, right after the crossroad. Part of it is an alley bordered by trees, and the solitary finca Casa de Matallana is beautiful. Rolling countryside begins after the finca, and the Camino starts going uphill. I'm all for checking out alternatives through Iniesta and Castillejo, but you should know that the official Camino takes you through a really pretty countryside!

The albergue in the polideportivo gets some interesting commentary from BP, @Magwood and others.
The Jaws like music doesn't quite fit the images; it actually gave me a little bit of the giggles, with the incredibly menacing soundtrack
They should have saved the threatening music for the information video for Campillo de Altobuey instead, especially considering their sports hall! 😂 The doors have a will of their own, constantly changing between locked, ajar and open, depending on what the ghosts of Campillo are up to. More on that later...! 👻
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
@VN, did you consider whether you could drop down to Castellejo de Iniesta from a spot on the Lana? I’ve attached a screen shot that shows the Lana in orange, and it looks like there is a minor road from the Lana down to Castellejo. About 3 or 4 km through something called Cerro dos Moros.
Funily enough, no I didn't. But yes, that's definitely another option.
The route you propose to break up the day in Castellejo de Iniesta, through Iniesta, looks like it might be more road walking than turning off the official route a few kms outside Castellejo. But maybe you want to visit Iniesta?
My OSMand map shows it's mostly unpaved agricultural roads, though that's obscured in the screenshot by the purple highlighting. And yes, Iniesta looked like it could be interesting. The Iniesta route's also just a tiny bit shorter.

but you should know that the official Camino takes you through a really pretty countryside!
It looks to be getting increasingly pretty, as the terrain begins to be more varied.
Edit ~ Here's @Undermanager 's take on it:
No more lots of nothing as far as the eye can see.
🤣

And about Graja de Iniesta:
As you approach the village, you'll see a kind of large motorway service area on the right, with two cafe bars for breakfast or coffee, a petrol station and the Hostel Pepe and restaurent, with rooms on Booking.com going for about €25. As you enter the village, you'll see a fancy new looking large drinking fountain and a bakery a bit further on, which was closed when I passed through
So there are a couple of votes for Hostal Pepe, though if there is a pastelaria I'm always game to check that out!

They should have saved the threatening music for the information video for Campillo de Altobuey instead, especially considering their sports hall!
Tomorrow...
:eek:🤣
 
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Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
When I walked in early April last year, after setting out very early from Casas Ibanez, I had intended to stay at Villarta having heard good reviews of Los Tubos but found myself too early and the place was locked up with no answer on the phone. I continued another couple of hours to Inieste and Hostal Pepe where I got a single room. It was clean and comfortable enough but I do remember the place felt a bit eerie with long dark corridors and no other residents I was aware of. It certainly seemed it had seen better days, and judging by the 4 or 5 tired looking brothels adjacent to it, must have been a popular truck stop in the past too. It's true that the stage beyond Inieste is beautiful and interesting....
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 11.Villarta to Campillo de Altobuey (direct). 30.41
So for the sweetbread crowd, now that you've finished sopping that last bit of gravy, it's time to meander onwards.

We've already been discussing parts of the day, ending in the polideportivo in Altobuey, for those brave enough to face the ghosts.
depending on what the ghosts of Campillo are up to. More on that later...!
(Seriously? :eek:🙃🙏Do tell...)

And we have a stop part way in Granja de Iniesta, where Hostal Pepe is:
must have been a popular truck stop in the past
Oh. Yes, of course. That makes a lot of sense. Before the Autovia took the main drag elsewhere, this would have been a happening place for truckers.

The landscape is rolling now, and @Undermanager was raving about the wildflowers in spring. It does sound like lovely walking. @Flogwail, thank you. That pic is gorgeous — I want to jump right into it, now.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
SJPDP to SdC (2011-13-14-17). Norte (15). Mozárabe Almería-Merida (18) Guimaraes to SdC, F + M (18)
As we enter Campillo de Altobuey you will see several murals on houses to your left. There is a poetic one in particular that I loved for many reasons, and now I have made it come virtually alive! But even without this effect, you sense the happiness of breaking free … no strings attached … just like it feels to be a pilgrim walking any Camino in the world.

FLYING_FREE.gif




Watch Sarah Dhooma’s video / at 4:14 you can see the paintings on walls.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Edited to add more information about Campillo:

About the polideportivo in Campillo. Looks like there are some teenage boys who delight in messing things up for pilgrims — Sara and Carlos found that the door they had propped open just a tiny bit was wide open on their return; BP came back to find the door slammed shut. I think it’s very unlikely to be anything criminal, but maybe it is supernatural. o_O

It’s good to know the polideportivo is there for us, but I re-read the descriptions and thought it would be worth a bit more energy scouting out alternative options.

I already reported that the Posada el Campillo is not sure it will re-open, but they do rent rooms individually, so fingers crossed they return.

As far as the other casas rurales go, I’m striking out.

CR Rural el Abuelo Perico only rents for two night minimum to groups of no fewer than 8.

CR el Rento seems to be the same as the Posada el Campillo. Same address, same pictures, so I assume it means the house can be rented as individual rooms or as the whole house.

CR Huerto LaHiguera (one km out of town) has not yet responded to my WhatsApp but looks like it’s probably not an option.
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hostal Pepe where I got a single room. It was clean and comfortable enough but I do remember the place felt a bit eerie with long dark corridors and no other residents I was aware of. It certainly seemed it had seen better days, and judging by the 4 or 5 tired looking brothels adjacent to it, must have been a popular truck stop in the past too.

Thanks @Flogwail: I always wondered what the hostal/rooms were like at Pepe's. I already imagined the corridors to be long and dark, considering the size of it all. (I previously called it "the size of a small airport"). This could mean it is almost certain to get a room there...?

ending in the polideportivo in Altobuey, for those brave enough to face the ghosts.
So I just watched Sara's video, and she definitely had a spooky sportshall experience...

Yes: the thing with the doors happened to me as well, many times. At my second visit I had also seen Sara's vlog and I proceeded to do the same check of the locker rooms, shower stalls and the gym as she did, just to be sure that no serial killer (or worse: juvenile delinquents) was lurking in the shadows. Then again: you will have a key to the locker room where you are supposed to sleep on the floor, so you can lock yourself in.

At my first stay in Campillo, the gates at the entrance also locked themself, although the hospitalera said she would leave them open for me in the morning. The building is separated from the rest of the town, next to a field, so few people can hear you scream. Yes, it's a bit like "The last house on the left". So I had to climb the fence, which was nearly impossible. But I made it after some breakneck acrobacies. Ghosts or juvenile delinquents? Someone should do a paranormal investigation of that building, just saying.

There is a possibility to sleep in the hall itself, on one of the large mattresses (but there you will not be protected from the creatures of the night). This thick landing mattress is much more comfortable than the ultra-light yoga mats that the hospitalera provides. The problem is that, at my last visit, the landing mattress was nowhere to be seen as I have previously discussed with Maggie in another thread. I think several pilgrims must have taken advantage of it in the past, and perhaps not always been able to put it back in its place (it should lean against the wall). It is REALLY heavy. Did @Magwood and @Ninja put it back easily?? I found it hard. It is so wide, and I barely had any grip on that slippery plastic! Perhaps the staff got tired of us weak pilgrims and of finding it on the floor all the time, so they put it somewhere else. Or it mysteriously disappeared... 👻

In order to avoid carrying garlic and crucifixes from the previous stage, it could be worth checking out the casas rurales in town, already mentioned by @peregrina2000: Altobuey Ciudad Rural, Casa Abuelo Perico, Casa Rural El Huerto La Higuera and Casa Rural El Rento ?

/BP
 
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Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Thanks @Flogwail: I always wondered what the hostal/rooms were like at Pepe's. I already imagined the corridors to be long and dark, considering the size of it all. (I previously called it "the size of a small airport"). This could mean it is almost certain to get a room there...?
Yeah, there was no shortage of rooms on my stay anyway. The overall gloominess was only marginally mitigated by the canary yellow and brown decor. I didn't eat there, but at the restaurant across the carretera.
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
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Here’s a photo of the spooky sports hall. Notice Maggie trying out the big blue landing mattress.
By the way, if you want to avoid climbing the fence next morning, just open the door by the mattress.

Spooky_sportshall.jpg

Did @Magwood and @Ninja put it back easily??
Oh yes they did, piece of cake 🤣
 

Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Here’s a photo of the spooky sports hall.
And here's the sports hall dining room, I got the grandstand seat! I didnt feel like venturing into town and back after dark..
I tried out the giant wobbly mattress but opted for the yoga mat on the changing room bench, ikke særlig hyggeligt!! Probably by far my worst night's sleep on that 49 day camino!
 

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alansykes

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I'm now a little disappointed that I seem to be the only person to have had an entirely uneventful night in Campillo de Altobuey's improbably large polideportivo. María, a very nice person from the town hall, gave me a couple of sleeping mats, a blanket and the key to the visitors' changing room. I then went back into town for snacks in the Zona Cero and the Centro Social next to the church, returned to the sports centre where the last athletes left about 10pm, read for an hour and then slept soundly for the next 8 without any visitations or anything at all going bump in the night.
 

Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I'm now a little disappointed that I seem to be the only person to have had an entirely uneventful night in Campillo de Altobuey's improbably large polideportivo. María, a very nice person from the town hall, gave me a couple of sleeping mats, a blanket and the key to the visitors' changing room. I then went back into town for snacks in the Zona Cero and the Centro Social next to the church, returned to the sports centre where the last athletes left about 10pm, read for an hour and then slept soundly for the next 8 without any visitations or anything at all going bump in the night.
Actually, my time there was more eventful than I would have liked, I wasn't going to mention it but as it's now a topic in itself...
Maria sent her daughter to meet me outside the polideportivo with the keys. The young woman pulled up right outside the gates and left her 4 year old daughter in the car while she briefly showed me the set up with the locker room, showers etc. Not wanting to detain her more than was necessary, I was eager for her to leave me to it, so after thanking her and hearing the door close behind her, I quickly undressed for the shower. Ten seconds later I heard a scream and the sound of running footsteps and stepping up on the bench, pulled myself up to the high window to see what was going on outside. There was the poor girl running down the middle of the road after her runaway car. I hastily pulled on my shorts and after fumbling with the keys, ran outside to find her car had rolled about 200 metres down the road, bashed up onto the opposite footpath and onto the grass embankment where it mercifully came to a halt. By the time I got to her, she was sitting on the ground crying in shock, clutching her little girl in her lap having pulled her from the car. A crowd quickly gathered as always happens in Spain and I left them to it, there was enough confusion without me adding to the drama. I messaged Maria later that evening to enquire if they were all ok and she happily reported that apart from being badly shaken, mother, daughter and car were fine. I was relieved.. I too was very shaken by the whole incident and it no doubt contributed to my lack of sleep...
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Let's see what VNwalking is up to next...!
This!:
Day 12. Campillo de Altobuey - Paracuellos de la Vega. 16.5km.
So say goodbye to the ghosts, climb over the mysteriously locked gate if you have to, and make your escape from Campillo de Altobuey.

Again, taking the opportunity to flesh out possibilities for those who might want or need to walk shorter stages. Hang tight if you're going all the way to Monteagudo; the second half of that will be the next post.

We're in the hills, so flatflatflat is in the reariew mirror. Likewise the vineyards. We're in pines!:
Finally out of the vineyards, now more hilly, rocky and forests. Nice change

There's nothing to speak of in the way of services between Campillo de Altobuey and Paracuellos de la Vega, so do be prepared. It's another rural idyll, but on tarmac a lot of the way. @Undermanager forged his own way on dirt forestry tracks, missing Paracuellos altogether. In the next post I will link to his alternative route, if you are going all the way to Monteagudo.

Paracuellos is a tiny village with a spectacular pentagonal castle dominating a gorge, and not a lot else.
The castle was built in the 12th C and recently restored. So if you're not castled-out, the stage is short enough to allow time to explore it. It's accessible by foot and doesn't seem to have any time when it is closed, together with the remains of the Old Town is still visible at its base.
Screenshot_20201230-201948_Firefox.jpg

Food may require some advance planning:
[The] only bar was closing for the day at noon.
But according to @bjorgts, the señora who ows the CR (below) also has a bar where you can get food. Does anyone know if this is the same bar as Alan's?

As far as accommodation is concerned, Google Map shows quite a flash CR, unfortunately with quite a flash cost.

But again, there may be the of getting a reduced price if nobody else has rented it — and if a bunch of us are staying that reduces the per capita cost to something quite manageable. It's certainly a step up from last night. But do check ahead to make sure it is available if you are certain you want to stay here. Alan did not have such good luck:
I had been hoping to make a gentle restart to my camino, stopping in a casa rural in Paracuellos de la Vega, ~18km off, but as it's a holiday week I thought I'd better ring to check they weren't full. They weren't, they have closed for invierno (in early October?). When I got to Paracuellos at 11.20 in the morning, there was a choice between trying to find somewhere else to stay or forging on.
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
The castle was built in the 12th C and recently restored. So if you're not castled-out, the stage is short enough to allow time to explore it. It's accessible by foot and doesn't seem to have any time when it is closed, together with the remains of the Old Town is still visible at its base.
Probably one of the most scenic ones on the Lana. There are two ways to approach the castle. The official way aims straight for it on a rocky path, where you might have to use your body wheight to "slide" down a few rocks that are sprinkled along the path. The other way, much more comfortable, descends from the hill where Paracuellos de la Vega is located, and you walk by the castle at a distance, looking up at it from the bottom of the gorge. This last option provides the most impressive views of the castle in my opinion. Probably because of the shadow in the cool gorge, the poppies were still in bloom when I walked by in the summer. I have the photos in my old cell phone: i will try to retrieve them. I can only imagine how pretty this must look in spring with even more flowers and greenery around. Of course, if you are interested in getting near the castle and stroll amongst its ruins, the first option suits you better.

Neither option shows up in the guía from the Asociación (p. 168). The guide is not up to date on this point!
the señora who ows the CR (below) also has a bar where you can get food. Does anyone know if this is the same bar as Alan's?
Google Maps says Bar 4 Esquinas is the only one in town. I have never found it open. If it closes at noon as is @alansykes experience, there is an explanation...

Luckily, there is also a small store-bakery behind the church; probably on the street Calle Cruz or Calle San Sebastián, that doesn't show on Google Maps. It's not easy to spot. It's just as anonymous as the subsequent store in Monteagudo de las Salinas. It may be worth asking around if they are open and if you can buy something there. I was just lucky: they opened up to have their bread delivered by car as I walked by.

As far as accommodation is concerned, Google Map shows quite a flash CR, unfortunately with quite a flash cost.
I never knew. The stage is so short so I never thought of staying there. Apart from the castle, there is not much to see in town. And the lack of an open bar always scared me away towards Monteagudo de las Salinas...

I'll see if I can fish out those pretty pictures of the castle and the poppies!
EDIT: Can't even find the phone so... probably not!
 
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Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
It's just as anonymous as the subsequent store in Monteagudo de las Salinas.
Haha, oh yes the tienda in Monteagudo! I was given directions but still managed to walk past it half a dozen times in the fading light before a local sitting in his van noticed me wandering around looking lost... He pointed to a concrete staircase leading up to a private dwelling, the tienda tucked away below with no signage or lighting of any kind. I felt a little reluctant about climbing the private steps of someone's home, and noticing this, he held his hand on the horn for what seemed like an eternity before an old lady appeared at her door upstairs, brushing flour or something off her hands on her apron before fishing out her keys to come down to open up, flicking on the blinking flourescent lights for me. I felt a little embarrassed for having disturbed her, but she was pleasant and efficient and from her well stocked little shop I got tinned tomatoes and chickpeas, onions, carrots and chorizo to make a stew, it was a chilly evening. And wine of course. Such were my days on the Lana... no other pilgrims, hardly a word of english spoken anywhere, but lovely kindness and hospitality from local people...🙂
 

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AJGuillaume

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In her planning spreadsheet, @C clearly has an alternative from Campillo de Altobuey. Instead of walking to Paracuellos, we could walk 16.7 km to Almodóvar del Pinar. There's two casas rurales, Casa Rural El Acebo, which seems to be only available as a whole house, and Las Carretas. It is then about 12 km to Monteagudo de las Salinas.

I couldn't resist giving you a visit of the castillo in Paracuellos de la Vega ;) :
 
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peregrina2000

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About that castle in Paracuellos..... I love climbing up and around castles, but the approach to this one looks like it’s above my pay grade. Just look at the first minute or two of the video @VN posted. I remember that Sara decided not to go up either.

Would love to hear some first hand experiences, because sometimes these things look more difficult and scarier than they really are.

@BP and @Bjorts (who has a very nice Lana video from Almansa to Cuenca) both note that the association guide does not take you past the castle as you leave town, but it sounds like the arrows do. Is that right? Maggie’s photos of her rest break with the view of the castle were lovely, so it would be a shame to miss that.

(And btw, @bjorts’ video shows pictures of the hidden bar and shop in Paracuellos, looks like the bar is right next to the church.)

@Bjorts also mentions two good restaurants in towns we’ve discussed lately, for those who are collecting info on eating: El Cruce in Casas Ibañez and San Agustín in Villamalea.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
@C clearly has an alternative from Campillo de Altobuey. Instead of walking to Paracuellos, we could walk 16.7 km to Almodóvar del Pinar. There's two casas rurales, Casa Rural El Acebo, which seems to be only available as a whole house, and Las Carretas. It is then about 12 km to Monteagudo de las Salinas.
Dang, @AJGuillaume, you got ahead of me! ;) I was going to put out the same info here... It's from Kevin O'Brien's & Mueleman's english guide from the Lana (2018), which we should quote more often. Let me copy-paste what they say about the alternative (p. 7):

Paracuelos de la Vega to Monteagudo de las Salinas (18,4 km). One more short day, in partly forested tranquil country.

Alternative to two short days, OR accommodation problems in Paracuelos de la Vega. Unfortunately this alternative entails tarmac all day on quiet roads, but it is much shorter, with a good stop in the middle. Walk out of Campillo de Altobuey following the road sign for Almodovar del Pinar. A side road leads up to the CM-211 which takes you directly to Almodovar (16 km) In Almodovar, large village, there are several restaurants and tiendas. From Almodovar the CM 220 takes you to the CM-2153 which takes you in to Monteagudo (11 km) Total for the day – 27 km.


Still 9 1/2 hours to go in Copenhagen. Happy New Year 🥳🥳🥳🥳🥳

We're in the same time-zone, as you might have guessed! Happy New Year in about 8 hours 🍾 !

ORUJO_Altobuey.gif


Am I the only one who misses the sweet and strong taste of Orujo?

Oh no, drinks that vanish before your eyes when you are about to grab them!! What my nightmares are made of...! 😲 😂

About that castle in Paracuellos..... I love climbing up and around castles, but the approach to this one looks like it’s above my pay grade. Just look at the first minute or two of the video @VN posted. I remember that Sara decided not to go up either.
Well, I never had a close encounter with it as in the video above. But coming from the hill where Paracuellos is located, it's more of a walk down to the castle. This is actually one of the few castles that are not placed upon a hill high above the town *Almansa-styyyle* so it is not that difficult in terms of denivelation. Just that the path going there felt really primitive with rocks and pebbles strewn around. But it is quite short. Of course I am talking out of memory here: other Laners can correct me on this.

Then again, the castle is placed upon its own (smaller) hill in the gorge, so some uphill walking must be requiered.

@BP and @Bjorts (who has a very nice Lana videofrom Almansa to Cuenca) both note that the association guide does not take you past the castle as you leave town, but it sounds like the arrows do. Is that right?

Correct. In 2017 I only saw arrows taking me down to the bottom of the gorge and then passing by beneath the castle. I saw no other options. But in 2019 the arrows pointed straight towards the castle, as in Sara Dhooma's video. The association guide takes you in a whole other direction, to the left and at a safe distance from the castle. Oh well, I have never actually lost my way in this area so I think there is nothing to worry about.

I would say that whatever alternative takes you down to the gorge is the best: nice, cool and poppyfied 🌺 in spring and early summer!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 13. Paracuellos de la Vega - Monteagudo. 18.7km.
Happy New Year, gang!
Now we've gotten 2020 out of the way (👏), it's time to walk the second half of this long leg that some would have done in one day. @Bad Pilgrim already brought up the alternative route that goes through Almodovar del Pinar. It's a bit longer and more on asphalt then the official route, but it offers a stop for refreshment partway to our destination today — or if you need to take advantage of the services there.

Walk out of Campillo de Altobuey following the road sign for Almodovar del Pinar. A side road leads up to the CM-211 which takes you directly to Almodovar (16 km) In Almodovar, large village, there are several restaurants and tiendas. From Almodovar the CM 220 takes you to the CM-2153 which takes you in to Monteagudo (11 km) Total for the day – 27 km.

If you're walking direct from Campillo de Altobuey, there is also an alternative route, one that @Undermanager took (also via Almodovar del Pinar, 17.5kms from CdA):
Stage 10. Campillo de Altobuey to Monteagudo de las Salinas - an alternative route. 29kms

So, I started at Bar Zona Cero by the Ayuntamiento on Plaza Nueva and had a couple of slow coffees, and checked where I would go first. You come out the bar, turn left for a few hundred meters down to the junction, and instead of following the yellow arrow and road sign to Paracuellos straight ahead, you turn left and follow the quiet road uphill signposted 'Cuenca 65km'.

The first 3.5 kilometers were a steady uphill with a strong headwind, to the wind turbines near the main road. There was then a one kilometer hike along the busy main road towards Cuenca, and when you get to a house on the left and a track on the left, you cross the road (assuming you are walking against the traffic) and take the track off to the right. This is clearly marked on Google Maps, but not on maps.me for some reason.

After a few hundred meters, there is a crossroads of dirt tracks. You go left here not straight on, so the main road is always on your left and often within earshot as you walk. This really was the only place you could have gone wrong on this route for the next 8kms! The well-defined dirt track is now easy to follow, clearly used by some vehicles and clearly with some forestry maintenance going on. It is very straight and easy to see for kilometers stretching into the distance. I didn't see any 'private land' or 'No entry' signs anywhere. You are walking through unkempt scrubland for the next hour or so, with lots of bushes, small stunted trees and heather.

After 3.5kms from the main road, you cross a track labelled Camino de Paracuellos on Google Maps. From here, the scrubland turns into classic pine forest. Resin is being collected from many trees and there are lots of deer tracks. There are also plenty of beautiful open areas and areas which are being farmed in amongst the trees.

About a kilometer on from the Camino de Paracuellos junction, you come across the fabulous four trunked pine tree, 'Los Cuatro Hermandos Arbol Singular', clearly some kind of tourist attraction as there is an information board next to it. It's very impressive and worth a look and a few photos. I stopped here for a long rest, a snack and to soak up this lovely large open sunny area, using the four trunked tree to keep out of what is now a biting wind.

After about 7.5kms from when you first left the big main road, you emerge from the forest and follow the track next to it again to the road. You then have a 4km road hike to the pretty large village of Almodovar del Pinar, against a vicious headwind. I arrived there 17.5kms after starting today's walk, which took 4.5 hours, including probably half an hour or more of rest breaks. After a salad, wine and coffee break lasting an hour, and asking some locals about a possible cross country rout to my destination 11kms away, I set off again. However, it is quite possible to stay here as I saw a couple of places.

There are all kinds of options now. I decided to road hike it 5km on the Cuenca main road against the fun headwind, then turn right down the CM 2123 another 5kms to the destination. After 3kms on this route, you get to a plateau with fabulous views for miles and miles, and to distant mountains. Although the main road out of Almodovar del Pinar was busy, most vehicles moved out to be as far from you as possible so no great problem. Obviously, you should generally walk on the left, against the traffic wherever possible. The CM 2123 was very quiet and no problem walking along. I was mighty tempted to set off along one of the tracks from Almodovar. One of them swings round to near the CM 2123 junction. Another cuts right across the country to near to Monteagudo. If the weather had been better and I was sure of a possible route, across country, that would be the one to go for. As it was, I took the easy but unexciting route.

As you pass through a gorge and see the castle in Monteagudo de las Salinas for the first time along with the valley below, there is a road to the left. It takes you into the village.
Along the way you see this beauty of a tree:

Once in Monteaguido, there's accommodation that's hard to miss:
There is a bar and restaurant at the entrance to town on the camino route. Huge sign ‘Casa Rural’ good food and accommodation.

And a mysterious tienda:
The shop!!!
It is an Alladin's Cave once you are in, but you would never know it from the outside.

There's another castle, too, but it looks like a tiny place, like Paracuellos. I leave filling in the blanks up to you Lana vets, as today is a full day for me!

Question...Monteaguido las Salinas. Was/is there salt mining here?
 
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I answered my own question: yes!

Here’s some information about the salt pans.


Here's a link with images of the castle:
 
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peregrina2000

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@Bad Pilgrim already brought up the alternative route that goes through Almodovar del Pinar. It's a bit longer and more on asphalt then the official route,
If you're walking direct from Campillo de Altobuey, there is also an alternative route, one that @Undermanager took (also via Almodovar del Pinar, 17.5kms from CdA)

I’m always up for taking alternatives, but I would not take an alternative that is more paved without some good reason. I’m assuming based on what I’ve read that the first alternative suggested by @BP is for those who want a coffee break, and the second seems to be a way to shorten a 35 km stage from Campillo to Monteagudo from 35 to under 30. (And yes, it seems to be the only way to see the beautiful tree).

Does my understanding seem right, or is there something I am missing, like a little jewel of a romanesque church or something else worth visiting hidden just a km or two off the official route?
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Once in Monteaguido, there's accommodation that's hard to miss:

My notes from planning my hoped-for 2020 Lana show two private options.

@alansykes recommended Villa de Pedalillo. Maggie describes it as “a quirky mix of bar / restaurant / pensión / albergue.”

Rincón Sandra is a Casa Rural but has been mentioned on other websites as taking individual pilgrims.

Both have WhatsApp.

The Alicante Amigos guide also lists the Centro Social in the Calle Real de Abajo, 1. Phone is a land line 969 336 063. Would love to hear reports from anyone who has stayed here.

The screen shot shows where all three are, but distance is really not an issue here. From one CR to the other is about 500 m, and they are on the two extremities of the village.

5E21E748-41A8-4D40-A6E5-5A1A27E5D2F4.png
 

Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Rincón Sandra is a Casa Rural but has been mentioned on other websites as taking individual pilgrims.
I phoned ahead to Sandra's CR from Campillo as I knew it would be quite a long day and I was met there by her mother who showed me everything... most importantly the stack of logs outside for the stove(!) She left me with the whole place to myself. I think I paid €25 and after wandering around the village, exploring up around the fortress ruins and checking out the little memorial cross to Francisco Patiño, it was nice to cook and relax in front of the fire with my bottle of vino and a Bob Dylan unplugged DVD from the extensive library. I would recommend Sandra's place, check out the quirky decor!
 
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Does my understanding seem right, or is there something I am missing, like a little jewel of a romanesque church or something else worth visiting hidden just a km or two off the official route?
We seem to be in the wrong neck of the woods for Romanesque churches, so you're probably out of luck there. But there is a unique hermitage a little off the route, once past Almodovar del Pinar.
Edit~ it looks like a lovely place. The man who restored the original structure as well as building other structures nearby is quite amazing:
Screenshot_20210102-231052_Firefox.jpg
And Almodovar seems to have been a Hermit hotspot—in the town there are four ermitas:
 
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Bad Pilgrim

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2021
@Bad Pilgrim already brought up the alternative route that goes through Almodovar del Pinar. It's a bit longer and more on asphalt then the official route,
I’m always up for taking alternatives, but I would not take an alternative that is more paved without some good reason.

While we are gallivanting on the alternative routes in the area, we're forgetting the orginal one...!

Summary: The first 2 kms from Paracuellos are pretty, following the gorge. It abruptly ends when we join the road CUV-5042 - turn right - to begin a steady ascension on tarmac. It's only uphill for a couple of kms, but if we are coming all the way from Campillo, at approximately the 20 kms' mark, it will take a toll on our feet. And it's still about 16 kms to go to Monteagudo from there. We have to watch out for traffic for a few strenuous kms. On the positive side, we can se the castle in Paracuellos from another angle. It's only getting visible as we move uphill and above it, on our right side.

Turn left to enter a rustic dirt road alternating between meadows and pine forest. It could be heaven or hell, depending on how much strength you carry after sleeping on the hard floor in the locker room in Campillo. Or whether or not you have an unplucked goose with Pine Forest! 😠 Coming from Campillo, we will be walking at noon/afternoon and those decieving woods never provide enough shade...! Bring water!

@alansykes recommended Villa de Pedalillo. Maggie describes it as “a quirky mix of bar / restaurant / pensión / albergue.”

Most important, it's the only bar in town. (Please correct me if I'm wrong.) It's the only place to get food if the secret shop is not open. New owner since about 2018, according to himself. Rooms available, but in hunting season they will be occupied by hunters, and tourists/cyclists stay there from time to time. Phoning ahead to be sure there are rooms available? Meals are basic, but I haven't seen any other option.

I phoned ahead to Sandra's CR from Campillo as I knew it would be quite a long day and I was met there by her mother who showed me everything

There is a Centro Social where @LTfit stayed. (Or was it the library?) But like @Flogwail, I suggest we take advantage of Sandra's cozy casa. I've payed 20 euros at my stays there (don't know if the price fluctuates, as Flogwail remembers 25). Anyway, the standard is amazing for a price like that. Yes, the books, DVD:s... and that comfy bed after 36 kms is a dream come true! Above all, Sandra and her family are lovely people who usually meet up with you at arrival in Monteagudo, to bring you to the casa by car (it's located further up the hill, next to the church). It's not hard to walk up the street by yourself, but these guys are so nice you don't want to decline the offer!

And aren't we going to acknowledge the fact that this is the end of the 1st part of the Lana? :eek: Monteagudo is the start of the "Ruta de la Lana II" (Mundicamino): the "tramo entre Monteagudo de las Salinas-Burgos, en reconocimiento a 3 peregrinos que salieron desde Monteagudo de las Salinas en 1624 para cumplir un voto que habían hecho de visitar la tumba del Apóstol Santiago" (Wikipedia). One of those pilgrims who set out from Monteagudo in 1624 was indeed Franciso Patiño, whom you mention above. Many Laners choose Monteagudo as their starting point. This is also where the Camino de Requena, from Valencia, joins the Lana. So Monteagudo, with its scarse 140 inhabitants, is kind of pilgrim hub on the Lana!
 
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Bad Pilgrim

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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
It looks to me like that is what the official camino route does, at least according to the wikiloc tracks I’ve attached. Are you saying it’s not the official route, or am I misunderstanding the point you are describing?


View attachment 90456

I only describe the official route in my post above! Yes, it is the one indicated in your screenshot :)!
 

Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I've payed 20 euros at my stays there (don't know if the price fluctuates, as Flogwail remembers 25).
I was sure Sandra had told me €20 on the phone but her mother charged me €25 and was clear about it. Given that I was the only pilgrim, I was ok with it and thought it good value..
So Monteagudo, with its scarse 140 inhabitants, is kind of pilgrim hub on the Lana!
I hadn't realised that!
 
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LTfit

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My notes from planning my hoped-for 2020 Lana show two private options.

@alansykes recommended Villa de Pedalillo. Maggie describes it as “a quirky mix of bar / restaurant / pensión / albergue.”

Rincón Sandra is a Casa Rural but has been mentioned on other websites as taking individual pilgrims.

Both have WhatsApp.

The Alicante Amigos guide also lists the Centro Social in the Calle Real de Abajo, 1. Phone is a land line 969 336 063. Would love to hear reports from anyone who has stayed here.

The screen shot shows where all three are, but distance is really not an issue here. From one CR to the other is about 500 m, and they are on the two extremities of the village.

View attachment 90439
I believe the centro social is what I described above as the library where I stayed, at least it was next door to the centro where the mayor offered me coffee. Later in the afternoon I spent a few hours in the centro itself where local women were painting.

There is nothing much in the town and after the 35 km day in the cold without a break I didn't feel like exploring, especially since that meant walking back down.

I always thought that Cuenca was the end of part 1 of the Lana but maybe that's because that's where I stopped.
 
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alansykes

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Except the Francés
I liked the early views of Monteagudo de Salinas' castle, appearing to grow almost organically out of its hill. And when you get there, there's a nice pathway going around its walls, with spectacular views northwards to the serranía de Cuenca and the distant montes Universales, also south to remind you of the flat flat flat of a few days ago.

On the Calle Real Abajo, not far from the memorial to the pilgrim Patiño family, is this curious sign. I translate "Hablad bien. Blasfemar deshonra" to mean roughly "speak well. Dishonoured blasphemer". What can it refer to?

DSC_0028-2.jpg
 

Flogwail

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I liked the early views of Monteagudo de Salinas' castle, appearing to grow almost organically out of its hill. And when you get there, there's a nice pathway going around its walls, with spectacular views northwards to the serranía de Cuenca and the distant montes Universales, also south to remind you of the flat flat flat of a few days ago.
Early morning view, looking back...
 

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What can it refer to?
It could be a Franco-era phenomenon. I found this poster for sale with a crowd of similar messages, including "El blasfemo deshonra a la patria."

The description says, "Editado por la liga del Santisimo nombre de Jesus," but I can't find a date. To my eye, it looks mid-century but I know nothing about such things.
 
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Bad Pilgrim

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It could be a Franco-era phenomenon. I found this poster for sale with a crowd of similar messages, including "El blasfemo deshonra a la patria."

The description says, "Editado por la liga del Santisimo nombre de Jesus," but I can't find a date. To my eye, it looks mid-century but I know nothing about such things.

Yes, there were laws against blasphemy during the Franco era. I found this in a study about posters from the posguerra. It is in Portada TFG (ujaen.es) if you want to read the whole thing, and the explanation to the pictures is on p. 25 (in spanish)!

1609764179668.png
 

Bad Pilgrim

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Aha! another cryptic reference to Francisco Patiño (see my post no. 364). But now we are getting a little closer. Can anyone provide a bit more information? My googling efforts led me nowhere relevant.
My googling leads me to someone arrested for health care fraud in the US, someone who is a masters student in Mining in West Virginia, and a patient liaison in a hospital in Houston.

I say, he seems to be an industrious person. It wouldn't surpise me if he had time for health fraud and to take a master degree in Mining in West Virginia as well:

Patiño, Francisco - Xacopedia

And from another source in english:

Francisco Patiño had to make his own way in the world. He set sail for Italy on a ship that was captured by Turks. He was held captive for five long years during which he promised that if he were ever released, he would make a pilgrimage to Santiago to thank God and all the saints for this blessing. He was rescued but time passed, Patiño married in Parma, Italy, and life went on peaceably until his house caught on fire and he, his wife, and their two children were trapped inside. Patiño promised (again) to make the pilgrimage to Santiago if only they were spared. Suddenly, an old man with a kind face, dressed in a long brown robe, carrying a staff and gourd, and wearing a hat with a shell emblazoned with the cross of Santiago appeared in the midst of the flames. The blaze ceased, the house collapsed around Patiño and his wife, but they were safe, a sure miracle. It was July 24th, at 11:30 p.m., just half an hour before the Feast of Santiago, July 25th, was to begin. At last Patiño decided it was time to make good on his promise. (Francisco Patino – Claudia Camina (wordpress.com)
 
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peregrina2000

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Patiño was lucky that Santiago is such a forgiving saint. That is a great story! Thank you so much for posting this.

The Spanish link provides more detail and makes it clear why it was that he was on the Lana. For those who don’t read Spanish, I’ll give it a try. But some of the meaning is unclear to me.

Patiño is from Monteagudo, and was on his way by boat as a sailor from Spain to Italy when the Turks attacked. As a prisoner for five years, he was put in the galley of Turkish boats. As luck would have it, his boat was attacked by Christians and he was freed. Then he went to Italy instead of going home and there he married. His children died in the fire, but he and his wife went on pilgrimage together. They walked from Parma through France, and reached Patiño’s hometown of Monteagudo in December. They spent the winter there and then in spring continued to Santiago. On the way home they stopped to pray in a church in Ponte Ulla. A brilliant light shone from the image of Santiago and they were paralyzed temporarily. They interpreted this as a sign from God that they return to Santiago and tell everyone about the miracle that had occurred to them (I think this is referring to the miracle in Italy). The couple went and told the proper church people, but miracle was not revealed to anyone in Santiago. The church kept it silent because the couple was unable to provide an offering of the same magnitude as the miracle that they had received. (again I think that refers to the miracle in Italy, and it must be that before you got your miracle recognized you had to make a big donation to the church!). There was a subsequent investigation and all of these details were recorded (contemporaneously, I believe). Anyway, that’s how his story came to light at the beginning of the 20th century, when a researcher was going through the archives and found the results of the investigation from the early 1600s.

So so interesting, thanks again BP, glad you were able to find the story. Buen camino, Laurie
 

Bad Pilgrim

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Year of past OR future Camino
2021
[Is it just me, or is everybody else also amazed at the the depth and breadth of history you can find on an untraveled Camino even in the smallest towns? ]

Yes, I just pondered about that. People have already mentioned the memorial to Francisco Patiño, which you can see here, courtesy of Google:

1609888762726.png

But: there is also a smaller cross on a cubic rock, marking the junction where you leave Monteagudos in the morning. I have found zero information about it on google - now it is your turn to help me!

I think I read an information panel on or next to it, that it is part of an ancient chapel or something, of which only remain a few rocks; the cubic stone that the cross is placed upon. Or maybe I just dreamed all that up. Anyone knows?

EDIT: I found a photo, but no info. See below! And that is where we leave when we set out for Fuentes. The pillar to the left ceremoniously states that this is the Ruta de la Lana that starts from Monteagudo.

1609888399216.png
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Day 14. Monteagudo de las Salinas-Fuentes. 23.4 km.
We're getting we're getting steadily closer to Cuenca. One more sleep and one more walk and we're there.
Here are various Forum impressions of today:
The walk from Monteagudo to Fuentes (24km) was great. Effectively no tarmac from start to finish, except in the villages themselves. No water en route. At first through deep pine forests going steadily up to beautiful open moorland with holm oaks, then down through rolling cereal
The first gate in the woods is the most ridiculous. Previous pilgrims are familiar with the written warnings of the landowner, who has scribbled all over the gate that this is private property and that trespassing will be punished. (And no pilgrim ever cares about it.) Since I was here two years ago, he has reinforced his message with a sign that can only be interpreted as follows: if you dare to walk through the property, evil ninjas will jump out from a tree and take you down, and/or a military device will automatically shoot up from the ground and put a bullet through you. At the same time, the Asociación has stepped up a level and painted many fierce, yellow arrows that explicitly tell you to walk through the gate and continue. I wonder what this battlefield will look like should I happen to come back a third time.

Once in Fuentes, @alansykes says there's a 'cozy' albergue, a CR, and a couple of pensións:
Anyway, hostal Palancares is the perfect hideaway from the heatwave for 25 euros. And Spanish grandmothers are the best...!
If two people happen to coincide in the albergue I would suggest the richer one goes to one of the two pensións or the casa rural in the village, unless they are very good friends, not least as they would have to draw lots for who gets the blanket and who the pillow, as there is only one of each.
But @Undermanager bombed out here:
I got to Fuentes about 1:30pm. The Town Hall was closed, and the Bar / pension Cazadores, where you might be able to get the key was shut up with barriers around the door. None of the phone numbers were being answered and the hostel and bar next door on the main road seemed to be having a party. Everything else was shuttered up. With no accommodation possible, and to be honest, not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about the place anyway, it was either get a bus into town, road hike or just carry on.

This is this is a pretty short stage, but I will need the afternoon to visit this:
(@Bad Pilgrim bombed out here, alas.)

Ok, Lana vets...please flesh this out!
 
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peregrina2000

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What I understand is that the dinosaur attraction in Fuentes is a yacimiento (dig). It has a Centro de Interpretación, and there is a museum is in Cuenca, I think. The finds in Fuentes were pretty incredible — it was discovered during the construction of the AVE train to Valencia. Not sure if the description of it as the most important find in Iberia is hyperbolic or not, but this article describes the finding. There is a Centro de Interpretación in Fuentes.

Another suggestion for those who like longer stages would be to walk Monteagudo to Melgosa (35 km, very flat), where there is Hotel/ Casa Rural. That makes the next day into Cuenca a short 9 km and would essentially give you a rest day in Cuenca.
 
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Flogwail

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2020
Hmm, I was a little taken aback and wasn't quite sure how to react to the sign. As I was contemplating the decision to open the gate and be shot on sight or find another way, the landowner appeared from inside driving a jeep and gestured for me to enter and continue...a surreal encounter that left me scratching my head...
But it was a lovely peaceful walk, through the estate and beyond to Fuentes
 

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Flogwail

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In Fuentes, I called into the busy bar to see about the key and by the time the hospitalero showed up, I was 4 beers deep. The albergue attached to the church across the road was indeed very basic, and when the hospitalero held open the door of the wardrobe showing an inch of dust on the shelves, offering proudly: " Por tu ropa!" I smiled to myself at the suggestion... I've never as a pilgrim, felt the need to hang my clothes in a wardrobe, even a clean one! But the place served it's purpose and I slept well after another visit to the bar later...
 

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Maggie and I walked through the ‘forbidden’ estate Finca Navarramiro too – a very pleasant walk, I even spotted some deer in the forest. But it was a really scary sign on that gate, and had I been alone I would happily have taken a detour around the huge estate. It wasn’t until we saw a car passing us (and not being shot at) that I could finally relax and enjoy the walk.

I couldn’t help making a gif file of the sign, but I’m not sure I should post it here on this friendly forum. What do you think? :eek:


I know from her vlog that Sara Dhooma did not enter, but went another way around. I have no idea how much longer (shorter?) it is to not pass through the estate, or where the options reunite. It would be nice to compare!
Sara did enter together with Carlos. I think it was somewhere else on the La Lana that had to be detoured...
 
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Yes, it was a bit ominous! Did you two stay at the 2 bed albergue in Fuentes?
Yes we did. It must qualify as the exact opposite of a Parador; but who needs luxury, eh?

For those of you who have yet to experience a stay at the tiny, dusty albergue with the two beds in Fuentes: you will find it behind the window on the left hand corner of the church …

Fuentes_albergue-in-church.jpg
 
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