We awake to a glorious morning on the mountain top. The mist that rolled in last night has settled into the valleys leaving only the mountain tips visible, a nest of white cloud in the centre. I love being in the mountains – there’s nothing quite like their sheer size and agelessness to remind us what a mere dot we are.
Chris tells me he woke with something giving the motorhome an almighty nudge – one of our bovine neighbours decided to say hello. Curious creatures, cows. I could see them watching us with interest last night, one finally plucked up the courage to come over.
Eventually, it’s time to commence our descent. Considering how high up we were, the road down is remarkably gentle, the cost of which is many hairpin turns and time – it takes most of the morning and early afternoon to get to the base.
Our route down follows the pilgrimage path, the Camino de Santiago or the Walk of St James. And there are hundreds of them. Literally, hundreds. Some walking alone, some large groups: all ages are represented but in the main, it’s a young person’s walk.
There are 8 routes, most from France others from Portugal, ranging from 110 km to 1,000 km. The most popular is a French one, covering 780 kilometres. Pilgrims carry a light pack and not much else. Some carry a sleeping roll, others use hostels along the way. Many are walking wounded, feet, knees and ankles bound.
We pass another enormous dam and reservoir and as we get lower down, endless pine plantations. Our aim is to get close to Santiago de Compostela by day’s end so there are a few miles to put in, through small villages where time has stood still, peaceful farmland and cornfields. The closer we get to Santiago, the more pilgrims we see – tomorrow will be interesting, seeing arrivals at the cathedral. We pass people with 150 km to go, 100 km to go, 20 km to go. You have to admire their dedication and sheer determination – once they still, most look exhausted.
We settle around 20 km out of Santiago de Compostela in a sleepy village, near a pine and eucalypt plantation. We’ve lost the cool of the mountains, the afternoon sun is fierce.