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Our day fourteen on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín was a magical day, perhaps my favorite of all on this Camino! This day consists of walking on long sections of enchanting Roman road, visiting the astounding monastery of Oseira and becoming intimately acquainted with the Galician countryside.
Because of the length of this day, the magnitude of the Mosteiro de Oseira, and the enchantment of the many Roman roads on which we walked, I have chosen to break this day up into two parts, even though we walked it all in one day.
Despite the enchantment of this day, it would come to a devastating end for a member of our group. Nadine had woken up with a swollen left knee, no doubt a compensation injury, a result of her severe right lower leg tendonitis.
“Centuries of travel yore suggest that when we no longer know where to turn, our real journey has just begun.” ~ Phil Cousineau
The evening prior, we as a foursome discussed this day's staging and how it should go, considering Nadine's ongoing limp that appeared to be worsening, and my strong desire to see the Mosteiro de Oseira.
There is a choice of two routes out of Cea: The route into the mountains to see the monastery in Oseira is almost five kilometers longer than the official route via Piñor, and with some additional ups and downs.
The route via Oseira is rugged, with long sections on old Roman roads that make for a rough path to walk. The scenery, however is stunning and the monastery, in my opinion is a absolute do not miss! I made it clear to the group, that there was no other choice for me and that this was the route that Rich and I would do.
Finally, Nadine and Norm made the decision that they must go their own way, and do the shorter, easier route, yet still had a length of more than 27 kilometers. I strongly encouraged them to consider stopping in Dozón for the night, or taking a taxi for some portion of the day, to preserve Nadine's leg. We still had over 80 kilometers to get to Santiago!
It was unfortunate that we had made reservations at the Hostal A Taberna De Vento in Estación de Lalín, the end of our chosen stage. I made these reservations because we had heard from a fellow pilgrim that he had a hard time finding a room the night before.
It was because of this reservation, I feel, that we all pushed too hard to arrive for the reservation, to not lose any deposit money. In perfect hindsight, we could have all agreed to stay in Castro Dozón.
For Nadine, this day would be the final straw. While her pilgrimage was looking like it was about to end, indeed her journey was just beginning.
There are sufficient services on this day, regardless of the route that you choose. Here is our interactive map, from our GPS tracks where I show the services that are available for your planning purposes.
I recorded the track to Oseira, and Nadine recorded the track through Piñor. I will not supply a description of the standard route. If you wish to go this way, please download Nadine's tracks.
I have no photos of the standard route, as Nadine was suffering so horribly that she was unable to focus on anything but the painful placement of one foot in front of the other for the entire day. Oh my!
When I examine the standard route, almost half of the way to Dozón is on pavement, first on the OU-0406 out of Cea, then the OU-0402 all the way to the hamlet of A Ponte, through about kilometer six. The remaining eight kilometers to Dozón are on paths and country lanes.
As you can see from the elevation profiles below, this is a strenuous day, from both routes perspective, with a 941 meter (3087 feet) elevation gain for the Variante Oseira, shown below. There are more elevation changes on this route, as you can see in the profile, and the final 100 meter (328 feet) climb for both routes into A Xesta will feel taxing after a long day.
The elevation profile below shows the entire day of 32 kilometers via the Variante Oseira. The standard route through Piñor joins this profile in Castro Dozón, at 19 kilometers into the profile.
Here is the elevation profile of the standard route through Piñor, from Cea to Estación de Lalín, a total of 27.1 kilometers. There is a long, steady climb, to a few meters higher than the Oseira route, but with a total elevation gain of 813 meters (2667 feet), only slightly less.
The standard route joins the Oseira route on this profile at about 14 kilometers.
We set off from the albergue in the pre-dawn light, and headed back for the clock tower in the main plaza. (See day thirteen for a description.)
The streets were quiet, and as you approach the main square, stay to the right (east) of the clock tower and find a narrow street just after the Plaza Café Bar in the main plaza. You will see the Nicanor Carballo carving shown here, on the corner of a building, just beyond the bar.
Continue northward, for one more block. Next you cross the main east/west street through Cea, the OU-0405, and see yet another carving on the street curb, sending you straight onward and up the hill, where you pick up the street called the Rúa Lodairo.
If instead, you wanted a café con leche, go to the left on the main street, where we found the Sol y Luna open for breakfast. This was the same place we had a wonderful dinner the night before. We were happy to be patrons of this place for the second time.
It was at the Sol y Luna that we said goodbye for the day to Norm and Nadine as we went up the hill on the OU-0405, and they went down the hill on the OU-0405 to join the route to Piñor.
We walked the block and a half, back to the intersection with the Rúa Lodairo, turned left on it, and up the hill. Thus begins the long, initial climb of the day, for the next 5.82 kilometers!
The Rúa Lodairo will take you out of town, shown below. The buildings you see ahead are the town's municipal tennis courts and pool. The stone carving waymark on the pole says to stay left here by the municipal buildings.
As you approach the large building, bend to the right to follow the wall of the tennis courts.
We could find no signs in the center of town anywhere for the bifurcation of the two routes until well up the hill, just past the municipal tennis courts. You come to a T-intersection, which shows the choice of routes. Here is the photo at the intersection with the signs for the bifurcation.
For the standard route through Piñor, it would be shorter, just to go left on the main street, as we directed Norm and Nadine, because we did not know any better and it seems that everyone does this. But because I could find no Camino waymarks in town, this would be the "official way." I show this path in orange, on the map above.
We went to the right to follow the "Variante Osiera." 100 meters after the bifurcation, you turn left, or northward and pass the large building which houses the Forno de Lodairo, the famous bread factory for Cea. We had some of this bread at the Sol y Luna and it is indeed delicious!
Just beyond the Forno at just shy of 1.2 kilometers into the day, come to this sign, below, where you are directed to the right and onto this nice lane.
And thus begins the amazing 3.25 kilometer off-pavement jaunt through the countryside, where you will walk on the most amazing Roman roads.
And within about one more kilometer, you sense the historic path that is ahead. Whenever I see the walls on both sides of the road, as shown below, I know that I am most likely on or coming to an ancient road.
Indeed, within a few hundred meters after the appearance of the walls, the paved ancient road begins. There are remnants of pavers where there are deep wagon ruts, as you can see.
In fact, this area of Roman road is so wonderfully preserved and so mystical a place, that I chose this photo, below, from this section of the Camino Sanabrés to be my website image, at the very top!
Enjoy this place while you can, and feel the spirits of all those taking a pilgrimage to the monastery ~ past, present and future. This makes it a special journey indeed, walking in the footsteps of the ancients.
You can see in the photos that negotiating this Roman road isn't easy! You are mostly climbing on rough and uneven ancient pavement. As is true for most Roman roads I have been on through the mountains, they take a direct, up and over line. No easy switchbacking here!
If it is raining, the rocks become slippery, so extra time and care will be needed.
It is around this high, rutted area shown above, at about 4.25 kilometers into the day, that there appears to be a Y-intersection in the road. There are no clear waymarks that we could see.
Look and stay to the left, and you will see this huge rock cairn just ahead, shown in the photo below, that may have a painted yellow arrow on it. This is the way to go.
It is only a bit beyond the rock cairn, at 4.45 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín, you finally leave the Roman road and join the pavement of this quiet country road, shown below, that takes you to the next hamlet of Silvaboa. This is a left hand turn onto the narrow road.
Within 1/4 kilometer, you are in and out of Silvaboa, as it consists of only a few buildings that I could see. Stay to the right in town as the road branches.
After walking by the buildings of Silvaboa, the road continues its steep climb, to more barren and open terrain. I wondered if it had been a fire that had opened this terrain as such.
It is at kilometer 5.82 that you reach the summit of the first long climb of the day at 700 meters (about 2300 feet) in altitude, on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín. It was a steep climb, and I was happy that I was fresh in the day.
Your reward for the long climb will now be a nice downhill cruise of approximately three kilometers all the way to the monastery.
At about 6.3 kilometers, enter the next town of Pieles, where in a few more steps, you see the Café O'Toxo, shown below.
Just after the bar, at the tan building in the right side of the photo, turn right, to pick up OU-0406.
In another kilometer, after leaving Pieles, walk past the sign welcoming you to A Ventela. While we didn't see much of a town, only about 100 meters later, you walk by the lovely little Capela de Santa Isabel at 7.6 kilometers, shown below.
About 400 meters later, exactly at kilometer eight on the OU-0406, come to this fountain, shown below. There was a little plastic cup here by the fountain, so I assume this was an indication that the water is safe to drink!
By 8.3 kilometers, at a large bend in the road, the monastery comes into view!
The massiveness of this complex can be seen as you get nearer.
When you round the corner of the huge monastery complex, and the towers come into view, you are at about exactly 9.0 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín.
There is an Albergue de Peregrinos del Monasterio de Oseira here, but as of 6/2020 it is under renovation by the Xunta (municipality of Galicia). Click here for more information. The length of this project is unknown, so check before you plan to stay here. The Monastery Website may also be useful for you.
You can see this intersection ahead, below, at the Café Bar Venezuela, where you turn to the left.
As you walk all the way around to the north side of the monastery, this is the main entrance, where you walk through a gate, to see the main courtyard with the towering church facade before you.
In order to see the monastery, you must take a tour, and alas, they had none in English. They did give us a hand out to read which helped quite a bit!
On the day we arrived the first tour did not leave until 11:00 a.m. so we had to kill 1/2 hour as it was only 10:30. We went back to the lovely café at the corner to wait for the tour to begin. It was a treat to enjoy another cup of coffee, though it was hard to wait, when we had more than 20 kilometers left in the day!
You may want to check the visiting hours, before your planned arrival as these change from season to season, Sundays and holidays. In the summer, they have an earlier tour that begins at 10:30 which is a more convenient time if you are walking from Cea.
The tour took one full hour, so we did not get back on the road until noon ~ a delay of 1.5 hours! But I can honestly say that it was worth it!
Below are just a few of the many photos I took considering the many interesting nooks and crannies that are in this monastery. And I didn't even stay here overnight.
I have heard the albergue is cold and very damp, even in the summer, however, with the Xunta restoring it, that may all change! Many pilgrims state the highlight of their stay was evening vespers with the monks, and worth the uncomfortable night.
The first areas we visited on the tour were the main church, its central nave and altar. The altar piece, the Virgin of the Milk, or Virgen de la Leche, is unusual in that the Madonna is actually nursing the baby Jesus.
As I had learned in the cathedral museum of Salamanca, it wasn't until the 16th century that the image of a Nursing Madonna was considered disrespectful by the church. This altar is a very precious and rare depiction, dating back to the 13th century. This piece was never destroyed which is also amazing!
For me, the most fascinating place was the Room of the Stone Palms, or the Sala de las Palmeiras Pétreas, shown below. According to the handout we received on the tour, which was for English speakers, this room was originally used as a chapter house, then in the 17th century, a sacristy. The four columns, each of them unique, were designed by Juan de Castillo in the 15th century, in his own Manuelino style. A most beautiful and unusual place it is!
We toured two of the three cloisters, shown next. You may want to read about them, in much more detail on the Mosteiro de Oseira website. The history is quite fascinating.
After a whole hour of touring, in Spanish, we were ready to get back on the trail.
As you leave the monastery from the front gate, it is a left turn and up a very steep hill. In less than 50 meters, you are directed to the right, shown below, for more steep uphill climbing on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín.
Pictured next is the amazing steep climb up the hill, and the look-out from on top of a promentory.
We paused and gazed one more time on this grand monastery from above! The monastery is the icing on the cake for this day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
Then it was onward for the continued steep climb over the next 1.5 kilometers and not quite 200 meter (650 feet) gain in elevation.
About 50 meters after the lookout area, you see the left hand turn that takes you back onto the ancient road. Judging by the rubble, I could tell that this section of Roman road would be interesting indeed!
Again, the ancient road does a direct hit on the mountain, up and over quite steeply. Unlike the previous Roman road section, the road through here is very rugged and uneven.
I felt bad that Norm and Nadine were not here to experience this historic section, but yet I knew that Nadine would have struggled horribly through this rough terrain.
Here is my favorite photo through here, when the pavers were a bit smoother.
At 9.84 kilometers, the ancient road crosses this secondary, paved road, and continues straight on, for more ruggedness!
I am always so enchanted with these ancient roads, that I took a ton of photos! You are seeing less than half of them! Ha!
Here is a portion of the old rugged road, just before the top.
It is at approximately 10.5 kilometers when you reach the summit top at 818 meters, (2684 feet) on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
Shortly after the top, at 10.7 kilometers, is when you reach the pavement of the OU-0452 and join it.
You walk on the pavement for only 300 meters, when you are directed to return onto the old road, shown below.
The old road here is a shortcut from the modern road, on the way to the next town of Vilarello. The 150 meter shortcut is extremely steep and rocky. However, there are gorgeous views over the valley from here, just don't look at the view without stopping first or you may trip!
Rich and I discussed that perhaps this day had more lengths of Roman roads than any other day that we could recall. In fact, my feet were growing a bit weary of the ruggedness of these roads. This romanticist never thought she would ever say that!
The shortcut ends by joining the OU-0452, shown here, in Vilarello. Turn left as shown to walk again on the pavement. You are about 11.2 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
The Camino does not actually take you through the town of Vilarello, but to the south of it on the OU-0452. You continue to walk on this road for about 1/2 kilometer, until you see the turn to the right, onto another old pathway, shown below.
This next off-pavement section lasts for over 800 meters. Again, it seems like it is the continuation of the ancient road.
The Camino continues to descend through this section, steeply dropping to a stream crossing at 11.9 kilometers into day fourteen on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
It is at about 12. 5 kilometers that you see the buildings of the next town of Carballediña ahead.
Come to a narrow paved road, and cross it at a bus stop. Continue on a narrow road through town, shown below. It is like stepping back in time here!
Soon after you leave the town and its horreos behind, you come to the end of the descent from the top, at about kilometer 12.8.
It is about 900 meters from Carballediña to the next town of Outeiro de Coiras on this road.
Leave the road from Carballediña at approximately 13.7 kilometers, and turn to the right, to enter the town of Outeiro de Coiras, shown below.
The town is all of the buildings you see in the photograph above, and soon you are on a lane and back in the forest, climbing once again.
The long path through the forest lasts for not quite another two kilometers. Some sections are cut deeply into the rock, like shown below.
When the climb levels out, about 700 meters onward, and the forest makes way for the fields on either side of the high roadway walls, you know that you are getting close to the next town of A Gouxa.
It is at approximately 15.5 kilometers, when the Camino brings you to the road that leads you into A Gouxa, shown below. When you come to the T-intersection with the pavement, turn to the left to enter town.
Please click here for our continued story of the unfoldings of this day fourteen, on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
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