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What I learned on the Mar

Discussion in 'Ruta do Mar (from Ribadeo)' started by Dave, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. Dave

    Dave Active Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    Hi everyone,

    As part of my recent stint in Spain, I spent some time walking the Ruta do Mar. Or, at times, it would be more accurate to write that I spent time searching for it. For those who haven't read through the other posts in this forum, the information available about it is skeletal. The Lugo Amigos posted a set of maps, but offer no additional information (I received a perfunctory note to this effect when I wrote them). I suspect that they are also the ones responsible for the waymarks that exist, many of which seem to have been painted a few years ago and are aging poorly. A more useful map may be the Wikiloc gps track posted by "forestman," though it doesn't always adhere to the route designed by the Amigos. In case you're wondering, the Ribadeo turismo doesn't know anything about the Mar.

    Several forum members have posted valuable resources online of their experiences. Terry and Valerie walked in 2015 and posted their experiences on their blog and in this forum. Alan Sykes also walked in 2015 and posted in this forum on this pinned thread. Magwood walked earlier this year and has a really good account on her blog, too. Thanks to all of them for leading the way on this and being really valuable resources.

    When I set out on the Mar, I had a couple of priorities. First, I wanted to stick as closely to the Ruta do Mar as possible. One complicating factor is that a big chunk of the Mar, from Ribadeo to Covas, is now loosely paralleled by the Camino Natural de la Ruta del Cantabrico (gps track here). In places, these routes overlap perfectly. In others, it seems like the Mar has changed to align with the Cantabrico (for example, the original map posted by the Amigos has the route following the highway out of Ribadeo and not joining the coast until later; however, yellow arrows are now evident on the coast soon outside of Ribadeo, and they're evident at various points all the way to Praia das Catedrais). However, in others the Mar still clearly breaks with the Cantabrico. I wanted to catch all of those splits. When time permitted, I also doubled back and walked the Cantabrico, something I was able to do in most of the sections. (For the record, the Ribadeo turismo doesn't have any information about the Cantabrico either. They also can't draw the "official" route for the Camino through town on their town map.)

    My second priority was to operate exclusively off of what was visible while walking. While I would look at the map/gps each evening, getting a loose sense of what was in front of me, I wanted to see what could be done with the available waymarks. This is, admittedly, an approach that is often more frustrating than walking with a gps track loaded, but I didn't want to anticipate. I wanted to react, as that's still how most walkers operate.

    The outcome was definitely a mixed bag, and it didn't end quite the way I wanted, but I learned a lot. Here are some of the big takeaways, organized by the stages set up by the Amigos. (Note: I'm typing on a chromebook that makes it really hard to use accents or tildes, so you won't see any here. Apologies--it bugs me, too.)

    1) Ribadeo - Barreiros: As noted above, the map on the Amigos' site suggests that the Mar doesn't join the coastline until a couple of km before Rinlo, but if you follow the coastline (and Cantabrico) from Ribadeo to Rinlo, you'll find occasional waymarks at a handful of different spots. There just isn't a good argument to be made for following the highway out of Ribadeo instead of the coastline, aside from distance (instead of the 5.7km to Rinlo indicated by the Amigos map, it's actually 11.15km from the center of Ribadeo to the center of Rinlo). The walk is gorgeous, right along the coastline nearly the whole way.

    The routes split immediately after Praia das Catedrais. You'll be following a boardwalk, just 100m or so after leaving the beach (you pass a seasonal turismo just before leaving--they know nothing about the Mar, either) and then watch for a small yellow arrow calling for a left off of the boardwalk and onto a minor paved road. If you look to the left at that point, you'll see a larger yellow arrow drawn on a street sign and also an orange arrow post. This is 18.32km from the center of Ribadeo.

    So, I turned and followed the waymarks. Over the next 2km, yellow arrows and orange arrows/posts work in unison, leading you eventually to Casa Amadora Hotel on the N-634. At this point, I lost the yellow arrows--couldn't find any. However, the excellent orange arrow-posts and orange arrows spraypainted on the road continued, encouraging me to KSO along the side of the hotel and continuing south. This is where I clearly diverged from the Mar, as waymarked by the Amigos and I should have spent more time hunting around before rolling with the orange. For what it's worth, the orange arrows kind of work. They frequently took me on dirt roads, got me up onto the hillside where I had some nice coastal views, and eventually led me past the Barreiros train station and then reconnected with the Cantabrico near Aspera. They were also super reliable--I never had any doubts about which way to go. But, this route clearly does not align with the Mar. Alas.

    2) Barreiros - Fazouro: Near A Espineira, the Cantabrico and Mar sync up. At one point, the Cantabrico forks R onto a gravel road while the Mar forks L under train tracks. (It was here that I first saw the "VM" often paired with yellow arrows spelled out as Variante Maritimo.) Soon after, the two routes rejoin, and this reflects a pattern I saw in other places. At times, the Cantabrico takes the longer route that hugs the coastline, while the Mar might cut inland for the shorter approach. The two routes split again just after crossing the Rio Masma, as the Mar forks left onto the LU-152. The waymark is not easy to catch--there's a yellow arrow on the guardrail down the 152 a bit, but if you're watching for it you can find it. This road leads you into Vilaronte. Before arriving at the bar and church, there's a place you're supposed to fork L. I missed it, but figured it out later and made the adjustment.

    What's interesting is that once you get onto the right road (first the Camino Vigo and later the Rua do Camino (which seems a bit redundant)), you overlap with the Camino Natural de San Rosendo, which connects Foz with Lourenza. What I like about this is pilgrims could walk from Ribadeo to Catedrais and Foz on the Cantabrico, and then head back to Lourenza on the San Rosendo (via the Basilica de San Martino), which is just 24km, and continue along the Norte. Could be a cool alternative.

    Anyway, the Mar proceeds from Vilaronte past the Capella da Virxe do Carme and later the aforementioned basilica (which features some remarkable wall paintings that are well worth a visit), before descending to the coast. It bypasses Foz, coming in fairly close to the Marzan train station, but it's possible to walk back into the city center from there (3.5km to the port). Or, you could split off on the San Rosendo route, which ends in the port of Foz. In Foz, I stayed at Albergue Ancora, an albergue turistico situated near the port. It was fine. Overpriced, but I was the only person there, so it had its advantages.

    As far as I could tell, the Mar does not descend all the way to the coast. Instead, it proceeds along a minor paved road parallel to the coast until just before Fazouro. That's awfully silly. I followed the Cantabrico through the next stretch and then hunted for the Mar in Fazouro.

    3) Fazouro - Cervo: It took me longer than I anticipated to find the yellow arrows in Fazouro. The Amigos map makes it look like the route crosses the N-642 into Fazouro and then forks L, but there were no WM to be found. Eventually, though, I hunted them down: if following the Cantabrico into town, as I did, turn L immediately after crossing the small pedestrian bridge. You can find a very faded arrow at the base of a silver sign there. Then, take the next R uphill. The only arrow is actually on the back of the sign in front of you on the right. This has me wondering if the Mar actually loops all the way down to the next bridge down the river, which would then come in from that side (and pass the Igrexa de Santiago). While longer, that would make sense. It would also be inconsistent with the Amigos map.

    From there, the route follows paved roads (and minor highways) up onto the hillside, with good views of town and the sea below. Eventually, I screwed up, forking L on the LU-P-2007, when I should have forked R, heading downhill back towards the coast. Until this point, yellow arrows were fairly regular, though sometimes obscured by plant overgrowth. I must have missed something here. Nonetheless, I figured out soon enough the error and it was easy to cut back down and re-discover the Mar.

    As the route approaches Cangas de Foz, it turns R near an Onda grocery and then passes by a bar. Soon after, it rejoins the Cantabrico just before Cangas. Or, at least, I think it syncs up with the Cantabrico. The yellow arrows suddenly disappear for a bit as the Cantabrico marks come in, but the route is consistent with the one on the Amigos map. 1.5km later, there's a tricky intersection with yellow arrows pointing in two different directions, but the Cantabrico aligns with one set. My hunch is that, after the Cantabrico was developed, there were places where the new route was so clearly better that Mar advocates changed those WM to follow it. However, there's no way to confirm that. In any case, between Cangas and Burela, it seems like the Mar and Cantabrico sync up.

    The one problem there is that major road/rail construction has resulted in the destruction of the Cantabrico just before Burela. There are no detours or warnings, so I had to do a considerable amount of backtracking and ultimately came into the big town along the main road. It's impossible to know how much longer the route will be interrupted.

    Walking through Burela, though, I was pleased to discover yellow arrows cutting uphill, to the L off the main road. The road lacked signs identifying the name, but it's located after the Dia supermarket and before the Eroski. (Alternately, to rejoin the Cantabrico, turn R at the Gadis!) This next walk was the real reward for all of the frustration and it's the section of the Mar that I would most strongly advocate people splitting from the Cantabrico for. The waymarks, however, are quite dicey and require care.

    The walk from Burela to San Ciprao runs just over 13km. From the aforementioned intersection, you'll proceed uphill for a bit, ascending a series of local roads before the route finally flattens out on the LU-P-1502. This eventually crosses the N-642 and turns onto a dirt road, marked the "Camino Real." 400m later is a critical moment, just as the dirt road flattens out. Beneath a metal power pole, there is a yellow arrow painted on a flat rock that is likely to be obscured by brush. Really, if you aren't watching for it, you'll miss it. Turn R here and soon after you'll descend into a village. WM are good in the village--you'll turn left at a T at the entrance and then loop around the left side, avoiding the center. Soon after, you'll fork left on a paved road with two good, clear yellow arrows. 550m later, there's another very easy turn to miss. You need to turn R on a dirt road. There's a small, aged yellow arrow on a wooden post, but it's largely obscured. Just before the turn, there's a promotional sign in a field for a project sponsored by the Concelleria de Trabajo de Benester, so watch for that as an aid. 250m later, you'll fork L on another dirt road. Watch for a small splotch of yellow paint, but perhaps more usefully look for an informational placard in front of a tree, identifying it as a Buxo tree.

    At this point, you're joining the very end of the Senda Botanica, a trail with placards for lots of different local trees. Follow this as it descends and you'll eventually emerge in the Monte de Sargadelos park. This is a lovely spot, with some old buildings, a creek, tons of shade, and lots of benches. There's a bar, too. Descend to the road and proceed R out of the park along that road (the only YA I could find was on the back of a sign that I wouldn't have encountered if not going out of my way). Immediately after the bar, turn L. There are arrows on the second sign down that road. Soon after, you'll fork R onto the Ruta Sargadelos, which is a great walk along a shady footpath along a river, passing extensive old mill ruins along the way. The route delivers you into Cervo (~7.5km from Burela). Waymarks are, once again, limited in Cervo, but turn R at a T as you arrive and then fork left throug the Praza do Soto, where there's a bar, grocery, and hotel (and also a statue dedicated to the queimada). KSO this road (no yellow arrows) as it leads uphill, out of town, and through a roundabout. You'll find a yellow arrow around this point. Descend, intersect the N-642, and then turn L on the other side. Fork right onto a dirt road by a building identified as a "Club." This will become paved eventually, and then you'll turn left onto another minor paved road (decent waymark). 500m later, there's an easy waymark to miss. Just before the road that you're on splits (and with a blue warehouse to the R), fork R onto a footpath. There's a yellow arrow on a metal pole here, but it's likely to be obscured by brush. This footpath will deliver you into a neighborhood--Urbanizacion Rio Covo. At a T, turn right and then just keep straight on. The road will narrow, change names, and proceed downhill into a heavily treed stretch, but keep going. After a km, it will curve left and then back to the right, crossing a bridge over the train tracks. San Ciprao is just below you. The yellow arrows evaporate around this point, but just head down to the water. The lovely and affordable Hostal Buenavista is close by.

    4) Cervo - Esteiro: (I know, I already intruded on this stretch in the last section, but you should really stay in San Ciprao.) Leaving San Ciprao, as far as I could tell, the Mar and Cantabrico sync up. There are no evident yellow arrows, though--just Cantabrico markers. However, yellow arrows reappear just over a km outside of town and appear sporadically over the next handful of kilometers. The routes split decisively 7.36km from San Ciprao, with the Camino turning left a bit after Praia do Lago and proceeding soon after into Carballo. 3km later, in Canelas, the two routes reunite, only to split again a kilometer later. Once again, the Mar in this stretch generally follows a straight line along the interior, while the Cantabrico pops out along the coastline and then returns. Eventually, though, there's a problem, as the yellow arrows evaporated. I kept walking for a few km, but I knew the Mar was supposed to enter Esteiro and that we had passed a turnoff for that town a while back. I eventually backtracked and followed that road and rejoined the Cantabrico just before arriving in Esteiro. When I rejoined the Cantabrico there was also a yellow arrow, so either I missed a waymarked turn, or the route is just inconsistent. The Camino is certainly shorter--the Cantabrico covers 21km between San Ciprao and Esteiro and I was probably closer to 15km--but it also misses most of the coast.

    (This will continue in a response, as apparently my post exceeded the character limit for the forum. Anybody still reading?)
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Active Member

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    (Continued)

    5) Esteiro - Ponte do Porto: First off, the Amigos clearly didn't make their stage choices based on facilities. This stage bypasses two places with lots of accommodation options in favor of... a bridge. There's nothing else anywhere close to it.

    For the first 4km out of Esteiro, it seems like the Cantabrico and Mar are synced, as there are semi-regular waymarks for each. There may be small places where they diverge, but there were no places where the waymarks were explicitly at odds. After a while, I realized that I hadn't seen a yellow arrow for a while--this was around Playa de Area. From there until Covas, it was Cantabrico only. Judging by the map, it looks like the Mar cuts inland here, bypassing Area and Celeiro, and only returning to the coast in Covas. It's possible that this route has been abandoned or that I just followed a Cantabrico marker when it pulled away. I can't recommend the Mar option if it exists, though--it just seems nonsensical to bypass these places. I hunted around Viveiro for a yellow arrow and paid particularly close attention around the bridge to Covas, where it clearly seems like it should have returned, and didn't spot anything.

    Following the Cantabrico out of Covas, you proceed up past the Coviran along a series of minor road before turning left onto the LU-P-6603 (which is also known as the Estrada de Riobarba). Soon after joining this road, the Cantabrico forks R onto a dirt road. I continued straight on this highway, knowing that the Mar goes through Riobarba. 1.7km later I was rewarded with a yellow arrow! Given its placement and the Amigos map, I have no reason to believe that the Mar came in at a different point on the highway--I think this was the Mar throughout.

    From there on to Riobarba was easy enough. I mean, it's the Estrada de Riobarba after all! There were a couple of yellow arrows at intersections along the way, so that was encouraging. It's roughly 6.5km to Riobarba from the Coviran in Covas. Less than 1km from Riobarba there's a pivotal road split. Essentially, the road you've been on forks. It appears like your road continues, while a different road is forking slightly uphill to the left. There are no signs, no markings of any kind. I picked right. The correct answer is left! Alas. Fortunately, a few km down the road a helpful local helped me cross through a series of fields and trails to get back on track, but that fork is the key to this stretch. If you go left there, my understanding is that it's pretty much a straight shot to Ponte do Porto. Paved roads throughout, with a good descent to the bridge.

    6) Ponte do Porto - Riomaior: Riomaior is your next good shot at accommodation after Covas, so plan accordingly. After crossing the ponte, which is really a great old medieval bridge, you promptly climb up the other side. But, very interestingly, there's a map on the other side of the bridge, detailing the Camino Manon a San Andres de Teixido. The pilgrimage to San Andres is apparently signposted not only from Ferrol, but also from Ponte do Porto. The route detailed on the map conveniently enough parallels the route that the Mar follows, or at least they look very similar. However, there was no tangible immediate impact of this syncing, as there were no waymarks for either route as I climbed uphill from the bridge.

    The error that I made in this stretch occurred roughly 1.5km later when there was a turn signposted (road sign) for Malvide. Despite the name appearing on the Amigos map, I was dissuaded from making the turn by a complete lack of Mar/San Andres waymarks. Nonetheless, I think it was probably necessary. However, my understanding is that the Mar returns to this road later in this stretch, so no great harm done.

    The next interesting moment occurred 3km later, when I crossed the CP-4401. It was at this point that I encountered my first waymark for the pilgrimage to San Andres. It's a cement post, with a red ichthys and also a number corresponding to the kilometers remaining until San Andres. Regrettably, I did not see another along this stretch. I continued here with the waymark along the CP-4402, without having seen any yellow arrows in quite a while, despite the fact that I'm fairly confident that I overlapped with the Mar (as represented in the Amigos map) a significant amount of the time.

    The next major error that I made was not finding the proper left turn off of the CP-4402 in order to reach Couzadoiro. I don't believe a waymark exists, but the turn must have been before Montecalvelo. I realized it a bit later and found an alternative approach to Couzadoiro, so I felt pretty good about getting back on track soon enough. Unfortunately, in my descent down a connecting road, I was attacked by a German shepherd, had my arm ripped open, and ended up in a medical center in Ortiguera getting sewn up. Given that I was going to need some follow-up attention, this effectively ended my time on the Mar, and I shifted my focus to the Ingles, where it would be easier to hit up a centro de salud.

    The silver lining came at the Mosteiro do Couto (or the Mosteiro de San Martino de Xuvia, some 9km from Ferrol on the Ingles, where I discovered another map of the Camino de San Andres, this time connecting the monastery with San Andres via a N/S route. And, even better, I started seeing the cement posts with the red ichthys (and also some red arrows) along the Ingles for the next 3km. I believe the route finally turned left under the train tracks in Xubia, just before the train station. I knew the Mar was supposed to reconnect with the Ingles in Xubia, and I suspect it's in that spot. However, while the San Andres route seemed completely in line from Ponte do Porto to San Andres, the route detailed in the map from Xubia seems quite different from the Mar (for example, whereas the Mar passes near Cedeira, the San Andres route doesn't come close to it).

    Anyway, those are the biggest things I learned on the walk. After some frustration in the moment, I'm now hungry to go back and connect the remaining dots.
     
  3. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member

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    Sorry to hear about your encounter with the dog. As you say the signage is a problem almost throughout (and, for the only time in my life, I actively considered making a formal complaint about the Ribadeo tourist office - not just passively ignorant but almost agressively unhelpful when I visited).

    The section from Ortiguiera to Cedeira via San Andrés de Teixido is a great day, with coast and cliffs and wooded hills and bays, and San Andrés is a fascinating, mysterious place, especially when there are no coaches parked up (I had the well to myself last November - sadly my crumbs sank, so no wish for me).

    I hope you get back to finish it off, it's a treat.
     
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  4. NualaOC

    NualaOC Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Thanks for sharing all this information @Dave. Hope your arm is OK - that sounds like a very unpleasant dog encounter, especially when walking alone.
     
  5. Tia Valeria

    Tia Valeria Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Thanks @Dave. Hopefully your dog bites are now healed.
    As far as the Ruta do Mar goes I don't think any of us here on the forum have walked the same route or found the markers properly. Makes it quite an adventure and we were glad we had our pieces of the relevant maps (no GPS). It will be interesting to read more after your next expedition.
    One question. Where did you find accommodation on some of the route where there seems to be little if any to be found?
     
  6. Dave

    Dave Active Member

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    Alan--from Ortiguera, are the ichthys posts visible for San Andres? I hadn't anticipated passing through the town until my plans were changed by act of dog, but I knew that you and Maggie had been there.

    Valeria--my plan had been to stay in Foz, San Ciprao (I stayed two nights in order to cover both the Mar and Cantabrico), Viveiro, Riomaior, and Cedeira. I was ready to go longer if needed, though. At that point in a trip, I'm comfortable going 40-50km in a day if necessary, and in many places I had the FEVE as a backup if I got into trouble (as was the case when I arrived at the Barreiros train station at 6pm).

    The arm's doing great! It's very helpful to have now lived through the Spanish health care experience on Camino. It's nice to see how this stuff actually works.
     
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  7. Magwood

    Magwood Veteran Member

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    Thanks @Dave for so much detail. I have enjoyed this thread although sorry to hear about the dog attack and glad to hear it is healing well.

    This thread has caused me to work out how to join my wikiloc tracks together for the route I took between Ribadeo and Ferrol. Here is the link for anyone interested
    http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=14327215

    I set off from Ribadeo (having walked el Norte from Irún) with some maps that @Tia Valeria had very kindly sent me, and the wikiloc tracks of @alansykes . I knew nothing about the Camino Natural de la Ruta de Cantábrico until I saw the first sign on leaving Ribadeo.

    I did very poorly with the military maps, map-reading not being one of my strong points. And I was rather disappointed to note that the Ruta do Mar that Alan had posted on wikiloc dropped inland half way through the first stage from Ribadeo to Foz, although it returned to the coast from time to time along the way.

    At this point I decided that if I was walking the Ruta do Mar, I wanted to remain in sight of the ocean wherever possible so continued to follow the Cantábrico signs into Foz which added some distance but was a fabulous walk. I wasn't at all worried about following the 'official' Camino - I just wanted to see the sea as much as possible.

    I pretty much continued to hug the coastline all the way to Porto de Espasante, mostly taking the Cantabrico route which coincided sometimes with the Ruta do Mar. My stages were as follows...
    - Ribadeo to Foz 39 kms (taking in Las Catedrais beach)
    - Foz to San Cibrao 29 kms
    - San Cibrao to Covas 29 kms
    - Covas to O Porto do Barqueiro 29 kms
    - O Porto do Barqueiro circular hike out to the Estaca do Bares (lighthouse at the most northerly point of Spain) 23 kms
    - O Porto Barqueiro to Porto de Espasante (taking in 'el mejor banco en el mundo')
    - From Espasante I took a 12 km ride on the Feve to bypass the wetlands around Ortigueira. This wasn't an easy decision as I like to walk every step, but I couldn't work out the logistics of walking this stretch and reaching my destination. I alighted the train at Ponte de
    Mera and walked to Cedeira via the pilgrimage site of San Adres de Teixido - walking distance 25.6 kms
    - Cedeira to Ferrol (Neda) 30 kms

    The very good Cantabrico signs finished at O Vicedo (on the stage between Covas and Barqueiro) and from that point I searched for wikiloc tracks which would take me where I wanted to go. This proved to be a bit dodgy and I found myself in a couple of 'interesting' situations which definitely put me way outside my comfort zone. But I survived and guess I am a stronger and more confident hiker as a result.

    I could not have taken this route without the use of GPS and in particular wikiloc. If I was walking in this area again I would want to keep on the coast if possible as far as Muxia, rather than joining the Camino Ingles. After 8 days of total solitude, the crowd on the Ingles was a bit of a culture shock.

    The biggest problem for me in walking off Camino is the cost of accommodation. I loved the solitude, although in truth a week was probably enough without any company.

    I enjoyed this walk very much, the coastal scenery was absolutely stunning. If you are interested in reading a detailed account of each stage, take a look at my blog - days 24 - 31.

    image.jpeg image.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
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  8. Magwood

    Magwood Veteran Member

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    @Dave after reading @alansykes description of a long slog on a main road with lots of lorries I consulted my GPS and found an alternative route, which I think was a little shorter. I took a left turn in the town of Viñán, and found myself on quiet country lanes through pleasant farmland. It was on this section that I found the first indication of the red ichthys posts

    image.jpeg
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
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  9. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    VdlP (2010 & 2012), St Cuthbert's (2011), Madrid/Levante (2013),
    Sureste-Fisterra (2014), Deltebre-Padrón (2015), Mozárabe from Almería (2016)
    I got a few red ichthys signs from Ponte do Porto, then lost them until A Ponte de Mera, and it sounds as if @Magwood found a much better track to San Andrés de Texeido than I did.
     
  10. Dave

    Dave Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2006
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    265
    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Camino(s) past & future:
    First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Via Podiensis 2015
    This is great--thanks to both of you. It's really nice to have those maps available, Maggie. I'll be working to process my gps tracks once my laptop returns from the shop.
     

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