A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Ruta del Argar

Camino Badges

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
I'm also planning on walking the Ruta del Argar (Lorca to Mora) with some Ruta Don Quijote variations in September next year.

Something along the following lines:

Day 1 - Lorca to Zarcilla de Ramos (31 kms)
Day 2 - Zarcilla to Caravaca de la Cruz (35 kms)
Day 3 - Caravaca to Socovos (43 kms)
Day 4 - Socovos to Elche de la Sierra (23 kms)
Day 5 - Elche to Riopar (37 kms)
Day 6 - Riopar to Alcaraz (32 kms)
Day 7 - Alcaraz to Montiel (30 kms)
Day 8 - Montiel to Ruidera via Cueva de Montesinos (? kms)
Day 9 - Ruidera to Tomelloso (37 kms)
Day 10 - Tomelloso to Alcazar de San Juan (36 kms)
Day 11 - Alcazar de San Juan to Madridejos (34 kms)
Day 12 - Madridejos - Mora (38 kms)

Any thoughts/comments/recommendations?

I'd particularly like a list of albergues/acogidas.

Thanks in advance.
 

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
17 June 2019 - Lorca to Zarcilla de Ramos (31 kms)

Well after nine months' delay (family illness) I set off from Lorca this morning. Very glad that I had a week on the Costa Blanca getting acclimatised to the sun and the heat. Not a cloud in the sky and very little shade along the way today.

Lorca to Santiago de Compostella is some 1129 kms but I'll be bailing out at Mora, where the Ruta del Argar meets the Camino Sureste and the Camino Levante. Just over 400 kms, as I plan to get in some Ruta Don Quijote diversions along the way in La Mancha (see above for my planned itinerary).

Lorca, a town I had not been to previously, is certainly worth of a half day visit. There's an impressive Castillo (the hike up is well worth it for the panoramic views), the Plaza de Espana is a little gem and the old (Roman?) bridge across the dried-up river bed is impressive.

As related above, getting information on the Ruta del Argar, that I can understand, has been difficult. There's a Lorca Santiago Association but I could get no answers either by email or phone from them. A Peregrino Association in Catalonia has a list of Acogidos Municipales along the route, which so far has proved very misleading (telephone numbers that don't connect and no addresses). There is no such accommodation, no matter what their list states, in either Lorca or Zarcilla de Ramos. I've spent enough time yesterday and today to know. In Lorca I took a hotel (Casa Juan, the cheapest I could find). It was clean and comfortable, but at 35.00 euros the small room and even smaller shower and WC was overpriced. Here in Zarcilla de Ramos I've had to settle for the Casa Rural Aurelia. At 50.00 euros for the night it would be great value were I not walking alone.

Today's walk started, appropriately enough, from the Iglesia de Santiago, in the Barrio de Santiago and along the Calle de Santiago. The church was apparently built on the spot where the Apostle James preached when he came to the city on his way to Granada (and did those feet in ancient times ......?). Fine views of the Castillo as you leave town. For the first 15 kms the route follows the dried up river bed of the Rio Guadalentin. A gentle enough 300m ascent to the source of the drought (to use a contradiction) - the Embalse de Puentes. A great place for a break and a swim? Unfortunately the route circumvents the reservoir, around and above, probably by design. Prohibido bañarse. Probably because of the reeds and the silt - peligroso? But some truly tantalizing views. The second half of the day was certainly harder work in the full heat of the day but through some stunning hills and a pine forest. Mostly (say all of it, really) is very exposed. Wheat fields, olive groves, almond orchards. There's really no shade to speak of and no water points at all. From Lorca the route follows the Via Augusta (until the dam), the Via de la Cruz de Caravaca (presumably there is more than one of these routes converging on Caravaca?), the GR253 as well as the Ruta del Argar (waymarked also as a Camino with the yellow arrow and the scallop shell). It is particularly well marked - even I couldn't get lost (famous last words?) and only the last couple of kilometres were on tarmac. A very nice introduction.

Zarcilla de Ramos has a couple of bars, one with restaurant (closed on Monday evenings - Sod's Law), a couple of shops, two fountains of drinkable water, an ATM and a municipal swimming pool.

If I can get Wi-Fi I'll try to post every two or three days along the way.

Buen Camino a todos.

Alfin del Asfalto.
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
19 June 2019 - Moratalla

Yesterday I walked from Zarcilla de Ramos to Caravaca de la Cruz, about 35 kms. Another good day. From Zarcilla to Don Gonzalo I followed the mountain bike trail to avoid the asphalt and then onto Doňa Ines. Mostly flat with hills all around, mostly wheat, intensive pig farming (at a distance from the Camino but you can still hear and smell the pigs) and shepherds with their flocks. About 12 kms. A couple of bars and a shop in Doña Ines. There's a Youth Hostel at Coy, some 5 kms away. After Doña Ines it's rolling fields of wheat, fields lying fallow, row upon row of almond trees, some olives and a few vines. A gentle climb up to the col that divides the Lorca and Caravaca regions. Some tarmac, but absolutely no traffic, then downhill on graded track and a final stretch into La Encarnacion on tarmac. Much greener after the col with tree covered hills in the distance. Bar in La Encarnacion, but no accommodation.

From La Encarnacion to Caravaca de la Cruz is all downhill. The tarmac soon gives way to a trail through the gorges of the Rio Quipar, actually little more than a fast flowing stream but enough water to soak feet in and splash head and neck with. It has a primordial feel to it and soon enough you come to a sign indicating that this area was inhabited by pre-Neanderthal Man. A steep and initially overgrown path leeds up to the Cueva Negra, where excavations have found fragments of bone and teeth apparently 800,000 years old (sic - I had to double check that time scale). That's even older than Julian Cope and the oldest findings of their kind in Europe. A great place to camp out, if you have the gear, and drop some acid, if you have the mind set.

In Caravaca de la Cruz there is an Albergue for Peregrinos. It's in the old railway station and was converted just over a year ago. It's a modern refurbishment with Wi-Fi, fridge and microwave - but no crockery or cutlery! Albergue de Peregrinos, s/n Paseo de la Estacion, tel: 638 901 535. 15.00 euros. It felt a little neglected but a hot shower and a bed is all I need.

What with having stopped over in the bar in La Encarnacion to sink a few cold ones and to scratch around for some bones and gris-gris in Cueva Negra (only kidding) I reached Caravaca too late to visit the Basilica and see the fragment of the True Cross. Of course, even I couldn't leave Caravaca without checking out its claim to fame so I was very late hitting the trail this morning - close on midday, in fact. Hence the very humble 15 kms progress this afternoon.

Here are some bits of information that I think I gathered this morning:
1) the fragment of the True Cross was brought back from the Holy Lands after the First Crusade. How it got to Caravaca seems to entail some form of magic (call it faith). Some time in 1934, just prior to the Civil War, it was stolen, maybe by those pesky atheist Republicans? The True Cross is now a True Copy. Where the True Cross is now nobody seems to know. Could be in The Vatican, in the safe-keeping of the Knights Templar, hidden in Caracava, .... There's a book there for Dan Brown.
2) As a result Caravaca has been recognised as the fifth Holiest Christian city (I imagine they mean according to Spanish Catholicism) after Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostella (let's hear it for Santiago) and a place that quite frankly I have only heard of as a liqueur before.
3) The Knights Templar were the first guards of the True Cross. Then the Knights of Santiago were charged with the task.
4) There are seven Camino de la Cruz de Caravaca all converging on the town.

It's a bit of a climb up to the Basilica but what a panorama and why would you want to miss seeing a True Copy of the True Cross? There are also great views of the Basilica from many places down in the town, and particularly so from the Albergue - for the foot sore and the weary?

Leaving Calatrava is a bit problematic but if you head for the Centro Hipico you can't go wrong. From there it's very well waymarked - yellow arrows, the GR red and white flashes and zurC al ed onimaC (you're walking backwards if you're following that one now). It is a steepish climb out off town that soon becomes kinder but it's all uphill for the first half of the stage, then the laws of physics kick in and it's downhill all the way to Moratalla. A nice walk and occasionally in the shade until the last two kilometres (along a busy road).

Again Moratalla has no accommodation for pilgrims, in spite of what is listed, and the Casa Rurales won't open up for less than 90.00 euros. Pilar, in the Tourist Office, found me a hotel out of town. Unfortunately it is 3 kms in the wrong direction for tomorrow. Still Hostal El Retiro is very nice and the manager very helpful (even plotting a route over the Sierra del Cerezo for me that would negate those extra 3 kilometres. Given the heat and the lack of water and waymarks I'll double back and play it safe - gracias, pero no gracias). It even has a swimming pool. Too bad I arrived too late to make the most of it. Tel: 684 411 117. 30.00 euros. Sod's Law follows me again - the restaurant is only open at weekends and I couldn't face a 6 kms round trip for grub. Breakfast from 09:00. The manager kept me supplied in beer and tapas and that was good enough for me. A very good man.

Alfn del Asfalto.
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
21 June 2019 - Elche de la Sierra

Yesterday I walked from Moratalla to Tazona (about 25 kms).

Had I known I was going to be walking only on tarmac for the next two days (and tomorrow is likely to be no different) I think I would have followed the manager at Hostal El Retiro's advise and gone over the Sierra del Cerezo. It wouldn't have added too many extra miles, though it would of course have taken longer and required a good deal more water. Maybe also one of those Gizmo Electronico that all serious walkers now seem to use to find their way about. The route over the Sierra appears to be about 10 kms up and 10 kms down and rejoins the Ruta del Argar at Las Murtas, where there is a tap of potable water (slightly hidden behind the last of the derelict houses on the right).

Just before Tazona you leave Murcia province and enter La Mancha. There's a somewhat surreal road sign here reminding drivers that the road may be icey. I guess winters can be hard here but with 33C and no shade it was difficult to imagine.

Tazona has a hotel, a bar with a restaurant, a shop and a pharmacy. Hostal Posada de la Sierra (Calle Principe de Asturias 2, 967 41 37 26). It's clean and quiet. 30.00 euros. There's no reception, either phone or ring the doorbell of the house just across the road and down the hill.

Today I walked from Tazona to Elche de la Sierra (29 kms and all on asphalt).

It wasn't a bad walk, the scenery was spectacular but I always find the road a little tedious. It's not a busy or dangerous road and most of the time I could have walked right down the middle of it. Given the jagged terrain and the almost vertical cliff faces I imagine the road is the only realistic way through these mountains. It goes up and down and round and around but always with fine views. Pine forests and some logging. Much more rugged terrain and the wheat fields have been left behind - for now at least. Surprisingly green.

Half way to Socovos is the hermitage of San Felipe and Santiago - a shady spot with benches and tables. Suitable for a break?

Socovos has bars, restaurants and shops. Bar de los Franceses advertises 'habitaciones con baños' but was closed (Thursdays and Fridays) when I passed by. I imagine Socovos would make for a rather more interesting stop than Tazona if, of course, Los Franceses is open.

There are bars and shops in Ferez, and El Gallego is a great place to draw breath and cool down. You can have a nice dip in the Rio Segura and there's a bar/restaurant just after the bridge.

Elche de la Sierra has all you'll need including three hotels. I stayed in Hotel Moreno (C/ Bolea 44, 967 41 02 62 - 35.00 euros) because the other two (cheaper) options were full - Cafe Bar Metro and Hostal Tio Pepe. The manager of the Hotel Moreno is the first person I have met so far on this walk who was clued up on the Camino. He's walked the last 200 kms of the Camino Frances and more recently, as a Bicigrino, had cycled from here to Santiago in one week (averaging 120 kms per diem). Judging by his size, he's not done much cycling since! Being Friday evening and after 5 days of relative peace and quiet Elche de la Sierra was a bit of a return to reality. Bars and restaurants full, quad bikes roaring up the main street, shouting and singing - weekenders out for a good time. Life goes on outside the walker's bubble.

I'd have liked to try the local 'caracoles' but they looked too small and fiddly to eat. On reflection maybe you just suck them out or crunch through the shell?

Alfìn del Asfalto
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
22 June 2019

Elche de la Sierra - Riopar (38 kms) and all on road!

The first 25 kms are a steady climb to El Puerto de el Peralejo (1100m). Then it's a sharpish descent for 7 or 8 kms to Mesones. The last few kilometres into Riopar run upstream with the Rio Mundo. Waymarkings are few and far between (some yellow arrows and the occasional red and white GR flash) but you really can't get lost - just follow the road (CM 412). It's an impressive 'caraterra', blasted out of the rock-side and through the mountains. Little surprise then that every Tomas, Ricardo and Enrique from Albacete and Cuidead Real with a brand new SUV or a big CC motorbike is testing themselves against the road - it is the weekend after all. I even spotted a group of half a dozen scooters taking the road on. All good fun. Surprisingly few cyclists. A few Boy Racers, high on adenalin, were taking their lives into their own wheels but by and large the road was safe - you can hear both cars and motorbikes well before they are upon you. The nervous might, however, want to avoid the weekend as the descent from the col has a succession of tight and blind curves. It sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is. The views are great.

La Fuente Higuera, about half way between Elche de la Sierra and Riopar, has a couple of panaderias that sell cold drinks, a bar and Meson de la Sierra advertises 'habitaciones' (tel: 967 433 243).

In Mesones there are a couple of places to stay. Casa Nicolas (tel: 967 433 235) and Pension Pradera (tel: 967 433 254) - both around the 20.00 euros mark. Both do bar and food. There's also a campsite. A wonderfully tranquil spot with the river gurgling by - and no motorbikes.

From Mesones to Riopar there are plenty of opportunities to freshen up in the shallow river.

Riopar seems to have at least two claims to fame:
* The Parque Naturale de los Calares del Rio Mundo y de la Sima (a catchy title if ever there wasn't one). The Rio Mundo takes it source less than 5 kms away and is some sort of inverted heaven for cavers and pot-holers.
* From the late 18th century, until very recently, the Royal Copper, Brass and Bronze workshops were located here. Bronze trinkets are just the thing to take home as a souvenir - unless you're walking home that is.

Riopar has all the facilities required. I counted off at least nine hotels from pension to 3 star hotel, in and around town. In what I guess may be ascending order: Pension Grimaldos, Hostal La Rueda, Hostal Laminador, Hostal Rio Mundo, Albergue Los Chorros, Hostal Los Bronces, Hotel Riopar, Hotel Rural Puente Faco and Hostal Rural Sierra de la Mancha. I stayed at the Laminador, which is about 1 km before the town. It was quiet, clean and has a very good 'comedor'. Tel: 967 435 910. 30.00 euros. I checked at the Tourist Office, there is no accommodation for Peregrinos.

Hostal Los Bronces appears to be the meet-up place for cyclists and opens early for breakfast - at least at weekends.

Alfin del Asfalto
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
23 June 2019

Riopar - Alcaraz (37 kms)

A long but wonderful stretch. A few kilometres on the flat past Riopar Viejo and at this point, Peregrino, you have exactly 1000 kms left to walk to Santiago de Compostella. Then it's a steady climb, because I'm sure you've guessed it - it's on the CM 412 road, up between the Cerro de Labatiera and Peña del Aguila to the Collado de las Crucetas (1338m) and a great jog down the other side to Zapateros pretending to be Kilian Jornet. Both sides of the col are nicely shaded in the early part of the day. Magnificent pine forest on both sides of the gorge and fine views back from the col. There wasn't any traffic, which was just as well as there is no hard shoulder to speak off. I think the adrenaline freaks must be testing themselves today on the other, longer, road to Vianos.

There's nothing at all in Zapateros. Not even a dog to bark, but there is a fuente of sorts (I'd put a tablet in with it). Just after Zapateros, the Ruta leaves the road. Hurrah and at long last. It's another climb from here mostly through pine plantations up to and over the Collado de los Chaparros (1196m). From Zapateros on it is all very exposed to the sun. On the way down its mostly scrub on either side but the Ruta is very clear. It is here that some sort of a mountain deer scampered across my path. Further down the Ruta del Argar meets a Ruta Don Quijote. At this point there's a pleasant and shaded spot to soak your feet and splash some water over yourself (Rio Angorilla?). Make the most of it as you are now about to start the third climb of the day. It takes you to the Alto del Tambor del Negro (1212m). It's baking hot at this stage. On the way down you can see the hills and plains of La Mancha. The Sierra is now behind you. There's a wonderful scent of honeysuckle (not sure what that yellow shrub is called - Mediterranean Juniper?) as I stumble on in to Vianos. Time for a refresher or two in the bar. There also appears to be a Pension here.

It's another 8 kms to Alcaraz. A bit of a struggle especially as the town is up on a hill top, but it's well worth the effort of the final climb. A great place to overnight with an impressive Plaza Mayor, church, clocktower and belfrey . It's a Sunday so not much is open but there are bars and restaurants and there must be some shops hidden away somewhere in the medieval streets.

Hostal Los Rosales, Calle Granada 15, tel: 967 38 01 28. 33.50 euros. One of at least three hotels in town (Alfonso VIII and Mirador Sierra de Alcaraz). Needless to say the Albergue Hospederia San Francisco was under lock and chain and no one was answering the phone.

Alfin del Asfalto.
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
25 June 2019 - Ruidera

Yesterday I walked from Alcaraz to Ossa de Montiel (more or less 40 kms - rather more I feel!).

From Alcaraz it's back on the tarmac but it is a very quiet road. Past Solanilla and Canaleja onwards and upwards to the Cima de la Pellejera (1042m). After the col you're on the flat. There are no shops or bars until you reach Viveros about 18 kms beyond Alcaraz. But you will find a couple of bars, a couple of shops and a fuente but, once again, no accommodation there. At Viveros I left the Ruta del Argar to head for Montiel. Montiel is a putative 'lugar en La Mancha' where Don Quijote may or may not have come from. Whether or not Montiel is the inspiration for that imaginary place the Cave of Montesinos, which plays an important part in Volume 2, is only 3 kms from Montiel. It proved to be something of a route march to get to Montiel, mostly along the road with a shortcut along a camino bordered by Holm oaks at the now disused salt pans of ...... Salinas.

There's nothing very quixotic about Ossa de Montiel. There's a de rigueur modern metallic statue of Quijote, silhouettes of the Don and Sancho, street names taken from the book but Ossa de Montiel didn't even feel 17th century to me. Perhaps that's the whole point of 'a place in La Mancha whose name I don't care to remember'. But the pay-off was walking past fallow fields of late spring flowers; poppies and other vivid yellow and blue flowers and having plenty of time for the Lagunas at Ruidera today. I was even lucky enough to see a mother partridge taking her half dozen chicks down the road in front of me.

I was bushed when I arrived in Ossa de Montiel. Found a place to stay, slaked my thirst (thirst things first!) and was doing my laundry when I noticed the bathroom had a bath. Not a full-size bath, but neither was it one of those Spanish miniature baths that are only any good for showering in. I turned the taps full on, let the water rise as far it would go and had a great soak. After 40 kms, a couple of beers, what bliss. How simple life's pleasures can be. I did feel a little sorry for the chambermaid who would have to scour the grey rim of grime from the bath in the morning.

From Ossa de Montiel it's about 3 kms to the Cueva de Montesinos. I'd imagined it to be, at least nationally, a high point of tourism. But much like when I reached the Bulls at Guisando one Monday, it's in the middle of nowhere and there was nobody about. Nothing to indicate where the entrance to the cave might be. Unlike Guisando, it's not walled off so access to the hillside is at least possible. It took me a good half hour of walking up and down various tracks to locate it. It's at this Cave that Sancho Panza lowered Don Quijote down, with the help of a rope, into the bowels of the earth. He hauled him back up no more than an hour later but Don Quijote was adamant that he had been down there three days and three nights and that he had met Montesinos, Durandarte, Guadiana and Belerma all enchanted by the sorcerer Merlin, as well as seen his love interest Dulcinea transformed into a peasant girl.

It's possible in high season (I imagine July and August) to take a guided tour through the Cave - that would have been the business but I was pleased enough just to see the entrance. In truth access was only barred in a very rudimentary way. I could easily have circumvented the gate and wondered in and down but without a lamp, a hard hat, a ball of string or any idea where I was going, I didn't want to disappear for the next three days and three nights!

From the cave it's another 3 kms to the first of the Lagunas - and what a magnificent spot these Lagunas are. About 8 kms of successive lakes, each one cascading into the next. I gave up counting but there must be near enough a dozen of them. All perfect for a swim although some are Zonas Protegidas. I'd say that every second lake has a beach of sorts and a place to swim off. The waters a turquoise green and crystal clear. It was wonderful to have the time to amble along the shores and reach Ruidera with plenty of time to chill out. I'm now having a few beers at the Perca Rosa, where you swim with the ducks right from the terrace. Amazing!

Judging by the number of campsites (at least four), Casa Rurales and hotels this place is Tourist Central but there just aren't any tourist about. A few families and few Old Age Pensioners but hardly a gold rush. Presumably that happens in July and August and at weekends? I could easily hang up my boots here for a few days, go for a run around the lakes in the morning and spend the rest of the day swimming, reading and drinking beer. In fact, that was just what I had planned until I lost a day back in Caravaca de la Cruz!

For the record. I stayed in Hostal de la Paz, Calle de la Paz 96, tel: 967 377 731/545 in Ossa de Montiel. 30.00 euros. And in Ruidera I am staying at Hostal La Noria, Avenida Castilla La Mancha 61, tel: 926 528 032. 38.00 euros. For a few extra euros you could stay right on the lake at Hotel Entrelagos a couple of kilometres out of town but there are a number of options in Ruidera or around the Lagunas. There's even a Youth Hostel but it was full of primary school children and quite understandably they didn't want Catweazel staying there at the same time.

Alfin del Asfalto

PS later - the owner of the Hostal La Noria charged me just 15.00 euros for the night, with a handshake and a big hug, when he found out I was a Peregrino. He has walked to Santiago from Oviedo (is that part of the Camino del Norte?) in the past, likes London and is a Norwich City Football Club fan. Well, nobody's perfect.

PPS and a couple of days later - looking at the map more carefully, I notice there is Ossa de Montiel and Montiel. Perhaps it is Montiel with the claim to 'un lugar en La Mancha'?
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
Just noticed I've lost my New Member tag and am now a Member - feeling very priviledged!
 

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
27 June 2019 - Alcazar de San Juan

Yesterday I walked from Ruidera to Tomelloso via Argamasillla de Alba (36 kms).

I followed the Camino Natural del Guadiana, which doubles up (triples up?) as a Ruta Don Quijote and the GR114. As the name implies it follows the Guadiana river - downstream. The Ruta del Argar is somewhere on the other bank following the road and going over the hills. For the first 31 kms to Argamasilla de Alba I saw one runner running, two cyclists cycling, three people fishing and dozens of partridges, though none of them in pear trees! It really was most tranquil. Plenty of riverine fowl with, in particular, disturbed herons flying off just a few metres in front of me and squawking irritably. Plenty of spots to dip hats and feet in and even swim but absolutely no drinking water. The first 10 kms are along the banks of lagunas and the river. The next 10 kms are along a plateau above the river (no sight of sound of the Guadiana) with vineyards and almond plantations. At about the 20 kms mark and as you cross the Peñarroya irrigation canal you rejoin the Guadiana. At this stage, due to the barrage just upstream, it is no more than a fast flowing stream. About 200 metres further on is the first of many concrete fords, ideal spots for a freshen up. Well before Argamasilla de Alba the Guadiana gives up all pretence at being fast flowing and eventually fades away into a stagnant pond of bullrushes. Where did that huge volume of water at Lagunas de Ruidera go? Well, irrigation mostly.

Argamasilla de Alba also makes a claim on being 'un lugar en La Mancha'. At least there are a few period buildings here, some decent statues and the Ayuntamiento are making an effort. Even building a Casa del Bachiller Sanson Carrasco (an important character in Book Two)!

From Argamasilla de Alba to Tomelloso is another 5 kms. I cannot find anything interesting to say about Tomelloso, other than it has places to stay (Hostal Imperio, Calle Orense 9, tel: 926 512 177/651 819 617 - 35.00 euros, Hotel Europa, Hostal Donaire, Buenos Aires 48, tel: 926 503 251/691 359 791), restaurants, bars and shops.

Today I walked from Tomelloso to Alcazar de San Juan (36 kms).

Let me say that the waymarking between these two towns is bonkers. Leaving Tomelloso the arrows take you round the outskirts of town, through industrial 'poligonos', wastelands and dereliction. Far quicker to cut through town and walk on down Calle Zurbaran, cross the main road and pick up the waymarking there. It will save you half an hour. From here it's a joint Camino/Ruta Quijote, the asphalt soon runs out and you are among acres and acres of vine. After about 8 kms the two routes separate. The Ruta Don Quijote goes on to the windmills at Campo de Criptana via Alameda de Cervera and the Camino takes another route to Alcazar de San Juan also via Alameda de Cervera. Because I'd been to Campo de Criptana some years ago I followed the Camino markings. Either there are two Caminos to follow from here or the yellow arrows mean something different in these parts. Possibly someone is having fun with a paintbrush and a tin of yellow paint? Anyway the arrows took me far too far west, beyond the Alcazar de San Juan - Jaen railway line and nowhere near Alameda de Cervera, where I had anticipated refuelling and refilling my water bottles. I gave up following the yellow arrows at the disused Maranon railway station five hours after I had set off and only about halfway to my destination. At Maranon I could see the four windmills on the hill above Alcazar de San Juan and keeping between the road and the railway line I made a beeline for Alcazar de San Juan. I got there three hours later on empty bottles and with tongue hanging out. Completely bonkers. Follow the Ruta Don Quijote, at least to Alameda de Cervera, I'd now recommend with hindsight.

Having said that, there are some impressively huge man-made piles of rocks along the Camino route - a reminder of just how much human toil has gone into clearing this landscape and making it arable. No less impressive are the 'bombos' scattered throughout the plain. These are cylindrical dry stone-walled shelters with a dry stone domed roof and keystone. They were mainly shelters for those working the fields for several days or weeks at a time, some for sheep and other farm animals, or just for agricultural tools. Each 'bombo' has only two openings, an entrance, always South facing, and a chimney.

Well there's plenty more to say about Alcazar de San Juan but I'll need to leave that until tomorrow.

Alfin del Asfalto.
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
28 June 2019

Some more about Alcazar de San Juan. There's plenty going on there from Roman, to Visigothic, to Arabic, to medieval, to Baroque and so on. But for me the most extraordinary thing is the local claim that Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, to give the author of Don Quijote his full name, was born there. They claim to have his registry of baptism in the local archives. There's a photocopy of the relevant part of the register in the church of Santa Maria. The verger was good enough to open the Lady chapel that holds the copy, the font and a plaque on the wall for me. The original can apparently be seen in the local archives. As per my understanding of the verger, there are many 'vinculos' (links) between Cervantes and Alcazar de San Juan. I asked him what Alcala de Henares, where it is otherwise credited that Cervantes was born, had to say about it. 'Alcala de Henares is a big town, it has a university and academics, it's closer to Madrid - hay polemica'. By way of proof he told me there were still Cervantes and Saavedras living in the town. But maybe that just shows that those are two common names in the area and that a Miguel was born and baptised at about the right date (1547). The extract of the register of baptism is difficult enough to read but I thought it said Miguel Cervantes Saavedra y Lopez. I've never heard of the Lopez name being appended to Cervantes. Of course being born and being baptised are two different things, and both towns could be right. However, in those days of high child mortality baptism usually quickly followed birth. Alcala de Henares and Alcazar de San Juan are not exactly close neighbours . On the other hand, Cervantes' father did live a very peripatetic life as a
travelling surgeon (read barber - a sharp razor, and hopefully a steady hand - qualifying you for both trades). Interestingly the baptism certificate has a note written vertically in the margin saying, in effect, that this is the man who wrote Don Quijote. Clearly this must have been added some considerable time after the baptism - Cervantes wrote Don Quijote late in life. It does seem rather more certain that Cervantes did live in Alcazar de San Juan later on when he had some sort of supervisory role at the royal gunpowder factory. Again as per my understanding of the verger; many characters in his novels and short stories were influenced by or named after people who really did live in Alcazar de San Juan.

There are a number of places to stay in Alcazar de San Juan. I stayed in Hostal Venta del Molino, Avenida Cervera 81, tel: 926 545 447. 33.50 euros. It was the first hotel I saw after my wild goose chase and as it happens I'd stayed here a few years previously when I was doing a Camino Sureste/Levante/Ruta Don Quijote combo. Rooms are clean and comfortable but you can probably do better elsewhere or at least get a room not overlooking the noisy ring road. There are, I am told, at least five other hotels in town.

For the first time on this walk I had to eat indoors. It was just too b****y hot outside. Oddly enough I can tolerate walking in 40+C but once I've put my pack down, showered and changed into fresh gear I can't be doing with that sort of heat. And there was a sirocco-like wind blowing through town. It was Sahara hot. In Ruidera I'd had to eat on a terrace with a humidifier blowing a cool watery mist. Maybe it's the change between sol, sombra and climatizacion. Or maybe just the cerveza!
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
28 June 2019

Alcazar de San Juan to Madridejos and beyond (40 kms)

From Alcazar de San Juan there are just no waymarkings at all. I was beginning to think that the waymarker had got lost the previous day between Tomelloso and Alcazar de San Juan and had just given up. I followed the Camino de los Humedales de la Mancha past the wetlands of Humedal de la Mancha. Head for La Residencia de Santa Marta old peoples' home and the Lagunas de Alcazar. You walk around and past fresh water and, clearly, saline lakes side by side. One (Laguna de las Yeguas) is no more than a salt pan. I saw flamingos, a couple of possibly confused storks (not their usual migratory route and a little too early or late for migration - but I heard that some storks are sedentary and I had noticed one of two empty nests on chimney stacks in the last two or three days), birds of prey and plenty of hares. Over to my left I could see a ridge with half a dozen windmills on it (Herencia?). Presumably the Camino/Ruta del Argar goes on the other side of the wetlands, along or parallel to the road?

There is absolutely no shade or waterpoint until you reach Villafranca de los Caballeros after about 20 kms. But there you will find shops, bars, restaurants and, I am told, Hostal Santa Lucia, Avenida Colon 83, tel: 926 578 418. This could be a good place to overnight for anyone wishing to spend the morning in Alcazar de San Juan (wish I'd thought of doing that).

Villafranca de los Caballeros also has a claim to Cervantes' fame. The mother of his illegitimate daughter, Isabel, was born here. Ana de Villafranca was the local innkeeper's wife, maybe that's a euphemism for the oldest profession in the world? Cervantes soon split the scene, or maybe he was chased out of town, and got married to someone else. He only recognised his natural daughter some 15 years later and she came to live with one of Cervantes' sisters. Great man for shirking his responsibilities but who doesn't have free of clay? Other than Isabel, Cervantes is not known to have had any other descendants, though a mysterious son dating from his earlier days in Naples is mentioned from time to time. All of which reminds me that I must re-read Donald P. McCrory's magisterial biography of Cervantes (No Ordinary Man: The Life and Times of Miguel de Cervantes).

Another 6 kms beyond Villafranca de los Caballeros is Camuñas, where there is a shop, bars and a molino but no working fuente. I stopped here for a breather (reader beers). At Camuñas I saw one desultory yellow arrow pointing in no particular direction. Several concrete Lorca Santiago markers were to follow. Before I knew it Madridejo, supposedly 10 kms away, was upon me. It had been a great day. Except ..... there is no accommodation at all in Madridejos. I was told the nearest hotels were in Consuegra, 5 kms away. I wasn't suffering so that was OK. I could see the dozen or so molinos and the castle on the hillside ahead. It was along the carretera but hey I needed a bed for the night. I'd been to Consuegra before on that same Camino Sureste/Levante/Ruta Don Quijote that had taken me to Alcazar de San Juan, so I knew where to get a bed and saved myself the toil of walking up to the windmills and the castle. A climb to the windmills and Castillo should not be missed - unless, of course, you have done it before.

For the record: I stayed at Posada de los Consules. (tel: 690 665 302, 35.00 euros), which I recalled from my previous walk. There are several other possibilities in town to suit most budgets: Hotel Rural La Vida de Antes, El Retiro de la Mancha, Hotel Las Provincias (a little out of town but with fine views of the molinos and castle) and Hostal San Poul.

As I write there's a big function with stage and singing going on in the main square. It seems related to Corpus Christi but that was a week ago. Whatever it is, the whole pueblo is involved and even this avoud atheist is enjoying it.

Alfin del Asfalto
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
30 June 2019 - Aranjuez

Consuegra - Mora (near enough 40 kms)

I finished the Ruta del Argar yesterday in 45C. Not sure I would have gone on any further anyway - and I love the sun and extreme heat - but the Camino was becoming too much of an endurance test. There just aren't enough watering holes for such heat and such distances.

In Mora La Ruta del Argar joins up with the Camino Levante and in Toledo they both join, at least temporarily, the Camino del Sureste. I'd walked a combination of the Levante and Sureste with some Ruta Don Quijote in the past and besides that the curse of the drinking man, work, was calling. Not to mention married life - I'd been away two weeks and married less than six. I was beginning to feel as though I was mimicking Cervantes and Don Quijote a little too closely!

I had no intention of returning to Madridejos (closer to 7 kms in fact) to rejoin the Camino. I could see a route from Consuegra that would bisect the Camino in at least two places. I'd pick up the waymarks at the later of the two as I intended to make a 4 kms detour to refill water bottles at Turleque, the only place along the route I could see where I was likely to encounter a fuente, shop or bar. There were, almost needless to say, no waymarks at either the first or even the second junctures. No waymarks at all in fact until the Camino hit the motorway and then they were very much back in evidence. As it happens I needn't have worried too much about water, there's a bar/restaurant (Los Olivares) about 500m after the route meets the motorway and if you're really gasping, I was told, there's a bar halfway from there to Mora at Manzaneque. Too bad I'd taken so much extra water at Turleque but it's just one of life's great quandaries - travel light or be prepared. Seems as though I'm one those Wise Virgins after all! B****r, I've spent most of my life trying to be carefree!

All in all it was a rather disappointing last day. Quite a lot of carretera and then a trail that followed the motorway for far too long, but the last stretch into Mora made up for it in some way. Once you have crested the Sierra de la Rabera, the ruins of the castle at Almonacid de Toledo appear in the distance - a sight familiar to all those who have walked the Levante, the Sureste and the Manchego. And sooner that you know it you're in Mora.

So, far those for whom kilometres matter; it's about 15 kms from Consuegra to Turleque, at least another 8 kms to the motorway, then about another 15 kms to get home and hosed.

In Mora I stayed in the Hostal El Toledano, Calle Manzaneque 4, tel: 925 300 242/653 098 677 - 18.00 euros. A hotel that will be familiar to those who have walked the Camino Levante. The Hostal Agripino was closed and up for sale but I believe there is another possibility - Los Conejos in Calle Canovas del Castillo.

I must admit it was something of a relief not to have to put the alarm clock on for this morning, to shoulder a pack that was 4 litres lighter, not to have to rush my cafe con leche, zumo de naranja and churros and to get on an air-conditioned bus. From the bus I recognised some of the walk into Toledo and Peregrino I will leave you with one last word of advise. Do NOT approach Toledo via Nambroca and Las Nieves. The last 4 or 5 kms will be along the motorway - literally. OK there's a safety barrier between you and the cars, but it is disconcerting - VERY. I took this route when I did the Levante/Sureste. You MUST go via the much safer Cobisa, which I did when completing the Manchego. However you approach Toledo (the most beautiful town in Europe?) the views are breathtaking, and that's not too much hyperbol The views are even better from the Cobisa route.

I'm now in Aranjuez, a town I had not been to before. The Versailles of Madrid without quite the megalomania? An absolute must. I'd hoped to squeeze in a visit to Esquivias, the marital home of Cervantes (needless to say he didn't frequent it very often) but it's a tricky place to visit with public transport at the best of times and quite impossible on a Sunday.

As I write Neil Young's Keep On Rockin' In The Free World is playing in the bar. I needed the toilet paper but I never missed the department store!

Alfin del Asfalto

PS I'll attempt a summary of this Camino when I get home and it has all sunk in.
 
Last edited:

Bachibouzouk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
In summary:

There is practically no Peregrino-style accommodation on this Camino and unless you are carrying a tent options are limited as to the length of each stage.

You will, therefore, need deep pockets. Typically about 30.00 euros per night. The cheapest accommodation I came across was 12:00 euros and I had to pay as much as 50.00 euros on one occasion.

Waymarking was pretty good initially and then got a little bit awry after Tomelloso.

Lorca, Caravaca de la Cruz, Alcaraz, Lagunas de Ruidera and Alcazar de San Juan merit spending a little time in or around.

Nobody asked me about my Credential. Only two hoteliers, both of whom had walked or cycled some Camino, knew anything about the ‘sello’. Others were in the dark. One had a stamp but no ink, another suggested I went to the ‘estanco’!

There’s quite a lot of walking on roads. It felt like about 50 per cent to me but then I didn’t stick religiously to the Camino.

I get the impression that the route is more Bicigrino friendly than Perigrino friendly.

There are substantial stretches without water. It got very hot indeed at the end of June.

My schedule ended up as follows:

Day 1 : Lorca to Zarcilla de Ramos (31 kms)
Day 2: Zarcilla to Caravaca de la Cruz (35 kms)
Day 3: Caravaca to Moratella (15 kms)
Day 4: Moratella to Tazona (25 kms)
Day 5: Tazona to Elche de la Sierra (29 kms)
Day 6: Elche to Riopar (38 kms)
Day 7: Riopar to Alcaraz (37 kms)
Day 8: Alcaraz to Ossa de Montiel (40 kms)
Day 9: Ossa de Montiel to Ruidera via Cueva de Montesinos (15 kms)
Day 10: Ruidera to Tomelloso via Argamasilla de Alba (36 kms)
Day 11: Tomelloso to Alcazar de San Juan (36 kms)
Day 12: Alcazar de San Juan to Consuegra via Madridejos (40 kms)
Day 13: Consuegra to Mora (38 kms)

Just over 400 kms.

One more day than I had planned and I would very much have liked another day at the Lagunas de Ruidera.

Buen Camino a todos.

Alfin del Asfalto.
 
Last edited:

Book your lodging here

Get e-mail updates from Casa Ivar (Forum + Forum Store content)




Advertisement

Booking.com

Latest posts

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 15 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 5 0.5%
  • March

    Votes: 41 3.9%
  • April

    Votes: 158 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 259 25.0%
  • June

    Votes: 80 7.7%
  • July

    Votes: 21 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 20 1.9%
  • September

    Votes: 298 28.7%
  • October

    Votes: 124 11.9%
  • November

    Votes: 12 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.5%
Top