Our day fifteen on the Camino Sanabrés, Estación de Lalín to Bandeira was a mostly rainy day through the historic countryside, often following the path of the N-525. It was as if the day was shedding tears for my friend who could no longer walk her pilgrimage.
"An injury is not just a process of recovery it's a process of discovery." ~ Conor McGregor, Irish professional mixed martial artist and boxer
The process of self-discovery, we know, can be a painful one. In this case, it was a worrisome physical pain, as well as the emotional and spiritual pain of having to give up the pilgrimage.
But Nadine's story of self-discovery is not mine to tell. That is for her, to one day perhaps, put into words what she experienced on her journey.
Here are our GPS tracks for the day. As you can see, as we get ever closer to Santiago de Compostela, there are many more services available. The longest stretch with no services is in the beginning, and only about six kilometers-worth.
Please also note that the Camino de Invierno joins the Camino Sanabrés in A Laxe, also at about six kilometers into the day. Because of this, you may see more pilgrims than before.
The day begins with a 2.5 kilometer uphill climb, gaining 100 meters (330 feet), followed by an essentially long downhill of about 8.0 kilometers to the medieval bridge, the Ponte Taboada.
From the bridge, you will have another climb of 2.8 kilometers and 130 meters (430 feet) then some ups/downs for several kilometers until you reach Silleda after 15 kilometers, where the important climbing for the day ends.
Finally the day ends with a 7.5 easy kilometer walk downhill, until the destination town of A Bandeira. All-in-all, a not-too-strenuous day.
We woke up to the inevitable call from our friend Norm, that Nadine could not walk that day. In fact, she could not even stand on her legs at all.
When I went to see her and evaluate her, I realized that her injury was so severe, that she was not only unable to walk, but that she needed a medical evaluation to ensure that nothing serious was going on. Plus, she would need crutches and/or a wheelchair if she could not stand at all without pain.
It was no surprise that Nadine appeared so sullen. But it was what it was.
We three, without Nadine, walked over to the Bar A Taberna de Vento for breakfast and to bring something back for Nadine to have in the room.
The kind proprietor, when I appraised him of Nadine's situation, assisted us and called for a taxi to take her to Santiago to the nearest urgent care clinic for an evaluation.
Rich and I were assured that we should still walk on, that our Camino should not be ruined. From the hotel, Rich carried Nadine down the stairs and put her into the taxi, with the kindest and most helpful female driver. I spoke my elementary Spanish to the driver (she could not speak English) and they were off. Their walking pilgrimage was over.
It was with heavy hearts that we geared up for the day, getting a late start at 9:30 in the morning, after it was all said and done.
From the point just to the east of the traffic circle by the hostal, on the PO-534 we turned left and north to rejoin the Camino, on the secondary road toward the first hamlet of Baxán. The turn is at this very old building shown below.
It is an uphill climb from the beginning as you can see. Here is a photo of our arrival in the town of Baxán.
You stay left at the first Y-intersection after about 1/2 kilometer, at the cluster of buildings shown above. Walk through the tiny town, and on the north side, take a right turn after about 600 meters into the day to head for the railroad bridge shown below.
You cross under the bridge, and immediately turn left and up a steeper hill. The road has a nice path on its side for the pilgrims. Crest the hill, shown in the photo below, at about 1.2 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
The road loses a bit of elevation, as you walk down to the next Y-intersection, shown next. Stay right and on the roadway, to enter into the town of Botos.
After walking through Botos, keeping to the main roadway through town, the Camino follows a country road, shown below that continues northward. You stay straight on through various intersections through here.
At almost exactly 2.5 kilometers, you come to the altitude top for the day, and a crossroad where you stay straight on and the pavement turns to a lovely dirt lane that takes you into the forest, shown below.
This is now a lovely walk through predominantly oak forests for about a kilometer, when you come to this T-intersection at 3.46 kilometers total, and make a right hand turn and into the town of A Eixere.
200 meters later, come to the very quaint town church, shown below.
After leaving the center of town at the church, in about another 200 meters the Camino takes a left turn, shown below, towards the next hamlet of Donsión.
You never actually walk through Donsión, but take a right hand turn on its east side to skirt it at this building, shown below. You are now at approximately 4.1 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
Once again you are back in the amazing Galician oak forest for about the next kilometer.
The Camino drops down to a stream called the Rego de Cabirtas at about 4.84 kilometers total, and crosses it on this little bridge.
The Camino comes out of the forest at the motorway, the AP-53 where it interchanges with the N-525 and walks alongside it, shown below. It is hard to make out all the pilgrim-placed stick crosses on the chain link fence, but they are there!
The dirt lane becomes pavement, and continues its parallel journey, with the N-525 to the right, and in the direction of the next town of A Laxe, shown below. The rain was beginning to pick up a bit.
This parallel road never joins the N-525, but conveniently bends to the right and crosses it at kilometer 5.68 into day fifteen. This crossing is shown below.
After the crossing, in about 75 meters, take the first left in A Laxe. In about only 100 meters, you are already through town and you will find the Albergue de Peregrinos de A Laxe on the north side.
It is here at the albergue that the Camino de Invierno joins the Camino Sanabrés from the north. You are about 5.88 kilometers into your day when you arrive at the albergue.
The Camino continues past the albergue and takes a westward (left) bend back towards the N-525, but then bends northward again to walk through these lovely old stone buildings.
At 6.12 kilometers, the nice side road joins the N-525, where the pilgrimage traveler must turn to the right and walk upon it. There is a nice wide shoulder that makes the pilgrim's passage a bit safer.
From here we essentially follow the path of the N-525 for the remainder of the day.
Shortly after joining the N-525, about 120 meters later, we passed the Bar María José on the left side. This was the first open bar we saw at about 6.25 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Estación de Lalín to Bandeira. We chose to get a few more kilometers under our belt before stopping for a break.
Right after the bar there is a waymark, where you turn left, leaving the N-525 for now. You can just see this waymark to the right side of the photo, below.
Ahead, it is about a 1.25 kilometer reprieve from the N-525, on lovely lanes, including a forested area where the pavement ends enroute to the next town of Prado. The rain was definitely steady now!
After walking into and out of the forest on the way to Prado, there is a crossroads at 7.33 kilometers, where the road turns back to pavement. If you turn left here, there are several possible accommodations, the Pazo de Bendoiro and the Casa da Calzada. They are both near one another and a few meters off-Camino to the south.
Otherwise, carry on straight at the crossroads, and re-join the pavement on this lane, shown below.
It is at 7.66 kilometers that the Camino rejoins the N-525, here in Prado.
Once again, it is only a short distance, about 260 meters along the N-525 when you encounter this sign, directing you to the left and off the highway, just shy of 8.0 kilometers into the day.
However, our plans were different! We could see, just down the road, the bar, the A Taberna de Prado. We were ready to warm up and dry out after a total of about eight kilometers on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
The bar was really nice and we were reluctant to go back out in the rain. But that is what pilgrims do, so onward we went.
After the turn off the highway at the above waymark, there is a hard right turn onto a funky parallel lane that takes you behind the town.
Stay to the right at the first intersection, and continue on this tractor lane.
As you continue to walk parallel to the N-525, avoiding town on the tractor lane, come to this next distinct intersection, shown below, and again stay straight on.
At the next T-intersection about kilometer 8.93, take a right hand turn onto a paved road.
In less than 200 meters more, come out to this paved road, shown next, and take a hard left turn. You can see the N-525, just ahead, but the Camino avoids it by turning left here.
Along this two-lane road we had to stop and admire a cattle crossing. This is definitely cow country. You can smell them everywhere!
After the cattle moved out of the way, we saw this signpost at the intersection they had just taken: Santiago only 47 kilometers away now!
The pavement narrows as you walk along this road, winding around as you descend toward the Deza River.
When you come to the first modernized medieval bridge (not pictured), across the river, do not take it, but notice this lane to the left just before the bridge, shown below. This lane follows the river on the east side. This is the Camino.
This forest lane you have now taken continues to descend strongly.
About 1/3 kilometer after the turn off, and after walking through another Galician oak forest, you come to this ancient road, shown below.
In just a few meters more, you come to the old bridge, the Ponte Taboada, also known as "A Ponte Vella." According to the Silleda Tourism website there is a rock inscription nearby that says the bridge was built in 912 A.D. and that this was the only passage across the river at that time.
It is a wonderful place, this bridge with a single arch. Some other nice pilgrims who were lingering here, took a photo of Rich and I on it.
It is approximately 10.5 kilometers from the start, at this bridge, on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira. We were not quite halfway into the day at this point.
Then it was onward, as the ancient paved road continued for more than another 100 meters. Here I am in full rain regalia. I look like a big white, beached whale! Ha ha.
It is a steep climb back up from the river, after the Ponte Taboada bridge.
At 10.7 kilometers, come to this intersection in the tiny town of A Ponte Taboada and turn right onto the road as indicated. On the right side here, there is another accomodation, the Posta da Prada (+34 986 58 00 11).
Continue walking uphill through A Ponte Taboada, staying to the right in a few more meters then left at 10.9 kilometers. By approximately kilometer 11, come to this T-intersection, shown below, and turn left.
Continue onward on the tiny paved lane, for about another 1/3 kilometer, coming to a crossroads where you stay straight on, and onto this farmer's lane, shown below.
Continuing strongly uphill, the Camino is now entering the town of Taboada.
At kilometer 11.6, come to a T-intersection, and take a right hand turn onto the pavement. In a few more meters, take another right and pass by this public fountain, with potable water, where you can fill up if needed.
Just after the fountain, another T-intersection takes you left and onto a side road that brings you out to the N-525 in only a few more meters. Directly across the N-525 in Taboada, you will see a set of stairs below a cross. The 12th century Romanesque church of Santiago is just behind the cross.
The Camino does not cross the road to the church, so if you choose not to see it, stay to the left on the road. If you want to go see the church, be very careful crossing the highway, as there is a blind curve here and the cars are moving very fast!
Unfortunately, the little church was closed on our arrival. But we still admired it from the outside. There is a nice carving of Samson over the door. You are about 11.8 kilometers into the day, here, on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
Continue west (left) on the N-525 for about 70 meters, and you will see this pathway, heading left and into the woods. Be very careful, again, if you are crossing back over the N-525.
You are now beginning a short, 3/4 kilometer walk through the forest, once again. You are still climbing!
This forest walk comes out at the Silleda Industrial Park, shown below, at a T-intersection. Turn left.
This gravel road takes you back into the forest, on the way to the next town of Trasfontao. The forest canopy creates a nice shelter on a rainy day! It was a lovely walk through here, even in the rain.
Approximately another 3/4 kilometer of forested walking, brings you out into an open area in the small hamlet of Trasfontao, shown below, at kilometer 13.3.
There are two possible accommodations in Trasfontao, the Remanso de Trasfontao "Casa do Campo," a quite luxurious-looking casa rural, and the Remanso de Trasfontao "Casa das Árbores & Bubble," less luxurious but also less pricey.
Trasfontao is a small place and when you arrive at the open area, turn left as shown above, then bend right and down the hill. In a few more steps, after another left, you are directed northward, back into the woods and onto this ancient road, shown below.
The ancient road extends for almost 1/2 kilometer. It was tricky rock-hopping in the rain and mud. Then it was onward on a dirt road, for about a total of 1.2 kilometers from Trasfontao, continuing the long climb through the countryside.
You come out of the countryside at this road, the PO-2205. You have now reached the southern outreaches of the large town of Silleda. You are at 14.5 kilometers total, on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
Cross over the PO-2205 here and continue on the tractor lane, the short length shown below.
Join the pavement on the other side of the lane and walk through some industry, staying right until you come out at the street shown next, the Rúa Santa Eulalia, about 1/3 kilometer later. As you enter town, you will see lots of billboards for restaurants and accommodations.
By the time you arrive in Silleda, you are at the end of the climb for the day. It is essentially downhill for the remainder of the day.
It was at this intersection, below, that we turned to the right to find the Bar A Pedra a few meters down the road. We were ready, once again, to dry out and have lunch. We were at almost exactly 15 kilometers into the day.
The proprietress had a nice wood stove going in the back room, and led us there immediately! We took off our rain gear and spread it out to dry by the stove. It was fantastic.
We ordered a nice meal, lots of hot coffee with milk, and I think we even had dessert, we were so happy and comfortable in this cozy spot.
Just as we arrived at the bar, it started really pouring outside! Perfect timing!
Because of the rain, we almost considered staying in Silleda. However, we decided we had seven more kilometers left in us, even if it was raining. Beyond that, we were not going to push it past A Bandeira.
If your camino brings you here for the night, there are several nice accommodations from which to choose. There are three private albergues, the Albergue Turístico Silleda, El Gran Albergue Silleda, and the Albergue Santa Olaia. All of them can be pre-booked with the links provided. All of these albergues are just north of the Camino, if you take the Rúa Venezuela. Check the map above for their exact location.
If you prefer a hotel, there is the Hostal Casasnovas and the Hotel Ramos. Both are very economical. Almost immediately upon entering Silleda on the Camino, you will see large billboards for the Casasnovas. It is along the Rúa Santa Eulalia, but turning east and away from the Camino. The Hotel Ramos is to the north, clustered near the albergues.
After our break, the rain eased up again, fortunately. Back on the Rúa Santa Eulalia, we headed westward and passed the church, shown below. The Camino turns right after the church and onto the Avenida da Parque.
We instead took a left, and walked one block south of the church and found an Eroski supermarket that had not yet closed for siesta. We went inside and stocked up our packs.
Back on the Avenida da Parque, after passing the church, walk north for only one block and come to a crossroads with our old friend, the N-525. Turn left.
Continue walking on the N-525 for only 1/4 kilometer.
It is at approximately 15.5 kilometers that you come to a concrete building, where there is a waymark tile on it, directing you to turn to the left. Immediately after this building, take a right turn to pick up another lane that parallels the N-525, shown below.
The nice lane lasts for about 1/4 kilometer, then joins up with the N-525 again. Almost immediately after joining the highway, the Camino takes another side line diversion, shown here.
This second diversion is short lived and about 100 meters long. When you join the N-525 again, it is only for about 100 meters, before picking up the 3rd diversion, shown here.
This third diversion continues to follow the N-525, but just to the south on this funky path that takes you to the next town of O Foxo.
Arrive in the center of O Foxo at approx kilometer 16.3. Here the lane turns to pavement, continues on, bearing to the right to walk up a hill, to this T-intersection shown below. The Camino goes to the left, and onto the paved secondary road. The N-525 is on the embankment, just above you and to the right side of the photo.
Walk on the quiet road for about 1/4 kilometer, until you come out at the N-525 again, shown below. However, the Camino avoids the highway once again, and you turn left here at the Nudesa Feed Mill, and onto another nice quiet paved lane. You are 16.8 kilometers into the day at this point, on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
It is a nice, straightforward walk on this road for the next 900 meters, or not quite a kilometer, staying straight on whenever given the choice, and through the hamlet of Margaride.
At 17.7 kilometers, the Camino leaves the paved road, and takes a right hand turn onto this gravel road. Rich is posing here at this turn, heading back into the forest.
A few meters later, it is a left turn onto the forest lane.
About 3/4 kilometer later, the lane crosses this road ...
... and continues on the other side, this time into a eucalyptus forest. We were descending sharply through this area.
It is 300 meters later, when you come out of the forest, turning left onto this lane, by a scrapyard, not seen in the picture below, but it is on the right side of the lane.
As we walked onward on the lane, it was quite muddy as you can see, as we passed several more buildings in the scrapyard.
After about one kilometer on the lane, the Camino comes to this wooden-railed bridge over the Río Toxa. You are now at kilometer 19.5 at this landmark.
The lane takes sharp "S" turns after the bridge, and turns to pavement soon after. The lane continues straight on here at the next crossroads.
Next, the lane walks under the N-640, then 1/4 kilometer later, walks over the AP-53 on this bridge, shown below. This bridge marks 20.1 kilometers total on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira.
It is a straightforward walk for the next kilometer after the bridge, with a welcoming cow in the town of Chapa. You can see the high-rise buildings of Bandeira in the distance as you get nearer to the destination!
At kilometer 21.1, turn right by these wonderful old stone estate buildings.
1/4 kilometer later, turn right, at this stone building.
You walk for 400 meters more on this lane, that turns to pavement, and of course, comes out at a T-intersection with the N-525. Turn left onto the highway to walk into Bandeira.
Bandeira is a sizable town, and here is a photo of the center as we walked along the N-525. It is an uphill walk as you stroll along the highway.
It is a bit more than 1/2 kilometer walk on the N-525 when you come to this intersection, shown below. The sign for the albergue is a bit small, but it is on the gray building in the picture. Turn right onto the street called the Rúa Louras.
The Albergue de Peregrinos de A Bandeira is only about another 200 meters from the N-525, according to the sign. It is a funky, modern, module-based place. It is new and with adequate facilities, but I did not like that I had to go outside from the dormitory pod to get to the bathroom pod, especially at night! Oh well, it was still a nice place.
I did not feel like going out for dinner on this evening. I felt like I needed to crash, seclude myself and have a bit of a melt-down, from all the events and turmoil of the day.
There is a DIA supermarket, a mere block from the albergue, if you choose to cook. The kitchen and dining room pod was nice, but with limited utensils available. There are plenty of bars along the main road, if you prefer that.
Today seemed like a different Camino, entirely. Indeed it was! Without our friends, that change was palpable. While I felt relieved at no longer needing to feel responsible for our friends, at the same time it was not a good feeling. My heart ached. My gut flipped and flopped around. I felt lost.
I would have several days to process it all, before our own arrival in Santiago. I needed to temper my anger at what had occurred, with the grace of compassion, to best assist my friend's own process of discovery, during her recovery.
Rich and I had discussed the situation at length during the day, and we both agreed that what had happened was out of our control, and that we would be as supportive as possible once we all met up in Santiago in a few days.
Completing the pilgrimage and arriving in Santiago meant so much to Nadine that she had pushed herself beyond her own capabilities. She was devastated and we needed to be there to support her. I could only imagine what she was feeling, holed up in Santiago.
The news of Nadine's condition after her medical evaluation in Santiago, that we received during the day, was hopeful. She would heal, but it would take time. Her official diagnosis was severe tendonitis of the lower leg, and the x-ray of her compensation injury of the opposite knee showed no serious issues.
She would be on crutches for the short distances that her injury could bear, and in a wheelchair for longer distances. Who knew how long she would need assistive devices? I feared it would be awhile.
Norm and Nadine decided not to change their flight arrangements and leave Santiago. Instead they would spend their remaining week, resting and taking in the sites of Santiago and taking bus tours to Muxía and Finisterre. Their original plan was to walk to the End of the World, but that all changed now.
Our walking pilgrimage day, while much shorter than some, was drenched in rain, which always makes it tougher on the pilgrim. Especially since the October rains leave a chill in the bones. It didn't help that while it rained on the earth as we walked, it rained in our hearts as well.
May your own day fifteen on the Camino Sanabrés from Estación de Lalín to Bandeira be injury free, as well as your entire Camino! But if you do have an injury, may it be a process of discovery and grace for you!
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