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Our day six on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián was a rain-soaked day, for the most part on the highway, the N-525, for a large part due to the AVE construction work. On a clear day this walk would be much more enjoyable, as the Way leads you up and over the first real mountain pass of the Camino Sanabrés, the Alto de Padornelo.
My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane. - Robert Frost, American Poet
Today's walk was a long one, with on again, off again rain, on "sodden" lanes. I had been dreading this day already, because I knew that a large portion of the Way would require walking on the shoulder of the N-525. Ugh.
Our experience to end the day was not pleasant either, as I will relay below. Despite all this, as I walked, I managed to carry little real or lasting sorrow. It was a day that needed to be done, as an experienced pilgrimage traveler well knows.
We would soon know if we as a group, would meet the day's challenge of walking in the rain! It was our first Camino day with weather as such. Most of all the other days were quite hot and dry, so it was a true shift, especially with our Camino newbies walking a long distance in the rain for the first time.
Here is my Google interactive map from my GPS tracks. As you can see from the services I placed on the map, there are sufficient opportunities for a café con leche along the way, the first in Requejo at 11 kilometers, and the second in Padornelo, at 21.
There are also tiendas, and pharmacies in these larger towns, so you can stock your pack as needed. Be advised that the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos in Requejo does not have a kitchen, but the Albergue de Peregrinos de Lubián does.
Also please note that the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) construction is very prominent in this area, and depending on when they complete this high speed project, you may be forced to walk on the N-525 instead of the country lanes. I did mark in orange, the official Camino route, parts that we were unable to walk, as a result of the construction at the time or parts we chose not to walk because of the rain.
You may want to ask the locals in the bars in Requejo what the current conditions are before you walk it. We found everything to be well marked, despite the construction.
Today's elevation change, for the first time on the Sanabrés, is significant. From the low to the high is a difference of 463 meters (1519 feet). As you can see from the elevation profile below, the first third of the day is relatively flat until the mild climb into Requejo at about 11 kilometers. That is the little hump you see on the profile.
Then it is a long walk uphill for the second third of the day, until you reach the Alto de Padornelo at 1356 meters (4448 feet), followed by a steep downhill walk into Lubián, losing almost the entire day's gain.
The day's climb is almost entirely on the pavement of the N-525, so at least there is no real challenge added by the terrain.
We woke up to a day of pouring rain. We were a bit somber as we prepared our breakfast in the Albergue Casa Luz. Unsure of what the day would bring, we looked at one another, with questions on our face, yet we knew the answer - it was a day that needed to be walked. I tried to encourage the Camino newbies, but I couldn't even convince myself, let alone others, that walking in the weather would be alright.
We set out at 8:30 in the morning, after the worst of the rain had passed. The Casa Luz keeps its front door locked, so we exited out the back door, to rejoin the Calle Salgado a few meters later.
We crossed the bridge over the Río Tera with the castle looming above, and turned right at the bottom of the fortress hill and onto the Avenida Galicia. See day five for a photo of this bridge, and the interactive map above for its exact location.
After we rounded the fortress hill, following the path of the river, we came to this medieval bridge to the right of the road after almost one kilometer from the albergue. Rich shot this photo of me on the bridge, the day before during the daylight. Otherwise, it would have been a gray and dreary shot.
You will know you are at the medieval bridge when you see this white pylon that Rich is standing in front of, in the photo below. Otherwise, if you didn't know it was here, you could easily walk right on by it, especially if you started out in the dark. Or better yet, see it the day before in the daylight. It is a delightful old bridge.
The morning was nice and cool, and fortunately only lightly raining as we walked through this area.
At not quite two kilometers, you take a left hand turn off the highway and onto this lane.
Our group of four had picked up a new friend, Miguel from Madrid shown here taking the lead. He was eager to be with us, as Americans and his English was superb. He is a nurse in a Spanish military hospital, and it was interesting swapping stories with him.
Because we had rested one day, most of the pilgrims that we met were now new faces, as the familiar ones had gone on already. Miguel was a new, fresh face.
As we were to learn later, his wife was home pregnant with their first child, due in only a few months, and he was instructed to "walk with the Americans" instead of walking alone. His family was worried for him and since he was going to have a family he was instructed to take care of himself for his family! How sweet!
Through the next section, the Camino path follows the cut of the Río Castro for the next several kilometers.
In October, we started to see some glorious color as we walked along the river.
Upon breaking out from the trees, we could see the open sky. It looked like it was getting darker.
We came to a T-intersection, where we were directed to turn left, and soon we passed by this old, ruined, stone structure.
The three gentlemen jaunted merrily ahead and I hung back with Nadine. She was moving slower than the rest of the group, and I decided I would take my turn to stay close with her.
At kilometer 4.25, we came to an intersection and what looked like a gravel pit, but it was a construction business. Surprisingly, despite the dark sky, the rain had stopped, and we took off our ponchos.
At kilometer 4.75, after a bend in the lane, we came to an intersection with the N-525 and turned left, on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
At about kilometer 5.14, after walking on the highway shoulder for about 1/3 kilometer, we picked up a parallel lane, that you can see in the distance in the photo below.
This parallel lane was much better than walking upon the shoulder, not to mention safer! We could chat with one another, as well, as we walked side-by-side on the two-track lane.
The two-tracks slowly peter out to a one-track and at about kilometer 6.03 you pass a stone building that you can just see ahead in the photo below, on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
As you can now see, the sun was trying to poke through the clouds and made for some very beautiful lighting.
At about kilometer 6.5, after two-and-a-quarter kilometers walking along the N-525, you leave the parallel path and continue to the left, on a farmers lane, that runs to the left of this power line. This is not a well-marked turn. There was only this one small wooden arrow, shown in the photo below.
There was a certain beauty watching the misty clouds roll in from higher in the mountains, towards us. This beauty eased the uncertainty of the weather to come, just a bit. But I knew the worst was yet to come as we had to climb into those very mountains.
The lane ahead led us southward again, and back towards the Río Castro. By the river, we passed this Fisherman's Refuge.
After following near the river for less than one kilometer, and at about 7.4 kilometers total, the Way turns to the right on a bend waymarked by yellow arrows. Here you get onto a trackway that becomes quite faint, shown below. There are two tracks in the grassy lane. I was a bit worried we had gotten off-Camino, and it was starting to drizzle again, so I did not want to be lost!
Just when I thought the tractor tracks were going to peter out, the trackway takes a large bend back towards the right (north) and we could see the N-525 ahead once again. The trackway intersects with the highway, at about 8.08 kilometers, with clear Camino waymarking to the left. The stretch of highway this time is barely 1/2 kilometer, fortunately.
At about kilometer 8.5, just after passing a big blue Camino sign, you turn right and northward onto this road, on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
The road soon loses the asphalt and becomes this lovely forest lane. I was filled with joy to be walking in the cool and fresh forest. My heart was also full of concern for Nadine as I hung back to watch her walk and observe her persistent limp. It looked to me like she was really struggling to keep up. This limp was just not going away, even after a full day and a half of rest. I felt sorry for her and uncertain for her future.
At about 9.18 kilometers, you come to an intersection, where you are directed to turn left, and up ahead is a cemetery and church, shown below. The church marks the beginning of the town of Terroso.
The rainy day made the gray slate roof of the church appear even grayer!
After bending around the church, join a paved road for a few steps. You will see a soccer field at about kilometer 9.5 and turn to the right. The Way is through the soccer field, heading for the cross on the other side.
The guys ahead were yaking so much that they totally missed the turn. I called out to them but they couldn't hear me, so I raised Rich on the telephone. They had to turn around, of course.
Just beyond the Cross, the Camino picks up the road seen in the photo below. You turn right onto the road. The cross has a lovely depiction of Santiago on its column.
At about 10 kilometers, we arrived into the village of Terroso. There are quite a few wooden signs with arrows through town instead of the concrete mojones. The Camino takes a right at the small square shown below. There are no services in this tiny town.
It was now raining sufficiently that we all put our ponchos back on.
The road winds through the village and upon leaving it, takes an S-turn, and climbs to cross the A-52 at about 10.4 kilometers into day six on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
You stay to the left after the overpass and enter this lovely forested lane. In addition to Camino waymarking, you will now be seeing signage to the waterfall, the Cascada de Aguas Cernidas.
This a lovely walk in the woods with ferns blanketing the forest floor, very reminiscent of Galicia!
After approximately 1/3 kilometer into the forested walk, the route to the waterfall diverges with the Camino, going right and up the hill. We did not go to the waterfall, but stayed low and to the left to follow the Camino.
At about 10.8 kilometers, you go through a gate and come to a road termination roundabout. A road goes to the right, and the Camino goes to the left on this narrow and deeply cut lane.
At kilometer 11.5, the narrow lane leads you up a bank to this dirt road, where you take a left turn.
You can see a mojón ahead, where you will cross the highway on an overpass. It was raining pretty well here, back out in the open.
After crossing the highway, the road descends steeply as you enter into the next town of Requejo. We could see the steeple of the church ahead. Eventually the dirt lane turns to asphalt as you near town.
As you descend into town, pass a fountain at the first intersection, (not pictured), and head straight on as the arrow indicates. Stay to the right at the next intersection by the cross.
At about 12 kilometers come to the concrete walls running alongside the road, and you have just a few more steps until arriving into the center of town. It was raining quite hard now, and our mood had turned more somber. Because of the rain, I took very few photos in town, as I had to get my phone out each time from under my poncho.
At kilometer 12.2 or so, you cross over the main road at the hermitage, the Ermita Virgen de Guadalupe, seen in the photo above. The bar Rincón De Mayte is a few meters onward, after turning right (west) onto the main street that is the N-525. We stopped briefly in this bar to get an update on the Camino route ahead. We were told to stay on the N-525 as the official route was still closed due to the AVE construction.
Walking onward through the traffic circle, the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Requejo is at the next intersection on the right, up a few meters from the highway. This is a 20-bed albergue, with no kitchen and no heat.
As you walk through town, there are several more bar/restaurant/hotel combinations that you will pass right along the main road, one after another.
First is the very economical Hotel Maite, (+34 980 62 22 50) which also has a bar. Next is the private Albergue Casa Cerviño if you prefer more creature comforts, including a washer and dryer and a full kitchen. And finally is the Restaurante Mar Rojo.
Farther along, in the outskirts of town you will pass by the Hostal Tu Casa and Restaurant. This place is your last chance for services until Padornelo, a long 10 kilometers later, via the long climb to the high point of the day at the Alto de Padornelo. You can also stay the night here if you have had enough.
For some reason, our group decided not to stop in Requejo, even though it was almost halfway into the day's walk. Miguel had brought new energy into all of us, I suppose, being at least 20 or more years younger than us, as he led the march. Plus, the weather wasn't particularly horrible, so before it got even worse, we wanted to press onward and upward over the high mountains.
Here is how the mountain road looked as we set off on the N-525 for the climb. As you can see, we were forced to walk on the shoulder as the trucks zoomed by with their backsplash. Not an ideal situation on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
After about three kilometers of dreary highway walking and climbing steadily, we encountered this big blue sign, below, just after the highway kilometer marker 98. This is normally where the official route leaves the highway and goes to the left. This part of the Camino was now closed due to the AVE construction.
The detour sign was in three languages, and it clearly indicated that we were required to stay straight on the N-525. You can see this first detour on my Google Map, where the orange route first begins.
About 1/2 kilometer later, we saw another desvio (detour) sign, big and white, indicating that we had to remain straight along the N-525. This would be another, second entry point to the Camino lane that one would normally take on the official route. Again, check my Google map for this entry point.
After we passed the construction staging area, shown below, we could clearly see the dirt lane that the official route follows, below us and to the left. It would have been nice to be off the highway. (Please note that the conditions we saw may change rapidly, so make sure to check with the locals in Requejo on the current state of the Camino through this area).
At about 17.9 kilometers into the day, where the Camino lane approximates the N-525, (not pictured), we saw the Camino signs signally a turn off to the left. This was the third entry point to the lane on the official route that we encountered. It was now OK to go this way and leave the highway as we saw no detour signs.
However, Miguel and I, who had both studied the route, knew that the official Camino lane takes a big loop from here that is longer than staying on the N-525, (as you can see on the orange route on the Google map). We could actually see ahead and how the Camino went up and over on the wide loop on the way to the top. Because it was now raining so hard we chose to continue on the N-525.
For me, this was not an easy decision, but I agreed with the group consensus. Not only was the highway shorter by at least a kilometer or more, but the lane would have been full of mud puddles to shlosh through.
So we trudged onward, staying on the N-525. Sometimes a pilgrim must take the way that makes the most sense, I guess. If I had been alone, most likely I would have taken the more scenic route, even in the rain. There was no reason to push my personal agenda.
I did hear from a fellow pilgrim, later, that this part of the official route was indeed open and he had done it in the rain as well. It was a sloppy mess, so, even if this route is open, if it is raining, you may want to consider staying on the road ~ unless you are a purist, like me!
About 1/3 kilometer later, when the viaduct of the N-525, called the Viaducto de los Tornos (delineated by the blue railings), comes together with the A-52 motorway above it, on a parallel path, you come to the fourth opportunity to join the Camino official route. There is now a dirt lane, off to your right that takes you to the looping Camino way.
On the N-525, this turn is just before highway kilometer marker 100, and just before the beginning of the viaduct, at about 18.2 kilometers into our day when we passed by it. Once again, because it was raining so hard we chose to continue on the N-525. We could have turned right here and onto the dirt road to join the official route, and get off the highway.
Here in the photo below, is a look back at the two highways, paralleling one another. Both viaducts are engineering feats onto themselves!
From the beginning of the viaduct it is about 1.2 kilometers more to the infamous tunnel at the top of the Alto de Padornelo. If you are afraid of tunnels, as a lot of folks are, please make sure you turn right just before highway kilometer 100 marker and just before the viaduct. It is your last chance to avoid walking through the tunnel.
I did not find the experience of walking through the tunnel as all that bad. There is a nice sidewalk inside the tunnel to keep you safe, however, it is a bit scary when the big trucks roar by you, rather closely.
Here is a photo of the remaining slog up to the tunnel.
It was lovely to finally see the tunnel and the top at about 19.4 kilometers into our day on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián.
The tunnel is 435 meters long, and was a nice reprieve from the rain, despite it being very windy inside. The guys were hooting as their voices echoed through the tunnel.
This is the Alto de Padornelo at 1356 meters, (4448 feet). The actual high point is above the tunnel, on the road that the official route follows, several meters higher.
When you are through the Túnel de Padornelo, the official route that walked up and over the top of the tunnel, now joins the N-525 from the left, and continues the descent along the roadway, shown below.
On the other side of the pass, the weather lightened up a bit, finally. You continue on the N-525 on the way to the next town of Padornelo. The Camino is well signposted, through here.
At about 20.4 kilometers, you come to the overpass of the N-525 where it intersects the motorway, the A-52. Just before the overpass, you see the N-525 kilometer marker 102.
After the flyover, the town of Padornelo is now only 1/2 kilometer away as you can see on the sign in the photo below. You can also see the sign for Aciberos, an alternative route to Lubián if it is in your plan to go that way.
Here is the town of Padornelo, as we entered, with the Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción on the left and yes, a bar on the right!
The first bar that we came to, at about 21 kilometers, we stopped, as we were more than ready to warm up, dry out and get a cup of café con leche and something substantial to eat.
Here is the Bar Silva and its tienda, that had lots of hanging Serrano ham for sale, and other meats, in addition to the bar service.
After our break it was really difficult to suit up and set back out in the rain. I was glad that we have come so far before a break, and that we had only another six kilometers remaining.
We got back onto the N-525 and passed the Hotel Padornelo in about another 1/2 kilometer. We seriously considered staying here as we walked by and the hotel looked so inviting as a refuge from the rain! It would not have been a bad day at 21.6 kilometers!
But we kept on going! More slogging on the highway with little or no shoulder now. In places, there is a bit of a rough path outside the guard rail, which we chose not to use. Instead we walked as a big colorful clump along the roadway. With five of us, the cars could see us sufficiently. Plus, if one came we moved over to the side. We wanted to make the walk as easy for us as possible. Perhaps this was not very respective of the car drivers, but there was very little traffic through here.
After about two kilometers along this section of the N-525, at around 23 kilometers, you come to the intersection shown in the next photo. The sign notes that it is 2 kilometers to Aciberos and 4 kilometers to Hedroso. This is the old route to Lubián along the ZA-106 that is still shown in some resources.
I honestly don't know who would now take the route to Aciberos, as it is much longer than the current route by almost three kilometers and entirely on the pavement. I did not include it on my Google map, but it is a very straightforward route from this turn, along the ZA-106 secondary road for 7.7 kilometers all the way to Lubián.
The "new" route is only 4.8 kilometers and mostly on a lovely forest path after one kilometer from this turnoff, as you will see below.
After the intersection with the ZA-106 to Aciberos, the N-525 takes a huge bend southward and to the left and crosses the motorway for the final time. The windmills are prominent along the ridge by the highway.
The N-525 is not very busy through here and soon we were to see why. The road from Padornelo, at about 24.1 kilometers, ends abruptly, as you bear left to walk by these granaries.
A few hundred meters after the granaries, you take this right hand turn, northward, onto a grassy road, where Miguel and Rich waited for us all to catch up.
A few meters down the hill on the grassy road, you come to a pair of tunnels that take you back under the A-52 motorway.
After passing through the tunnels, at 24.2 kilometers, the Camino takes a turn to the left and onto a frontage lane of the A-52. We could see Aciberos to our right.
It is a bit of a trudge up the hill on the frontage lane.
At about 24.7 kilometers, you take a left turn onto an exposed track that goes up and under the powerlines shown below. This was not a very pleasant section in the rain, with open views of the motorway below and to our left.
Fortunately, the road soon enters a lovely forest as it descends from the highway on the other side.
The Camino continues to drop down, and at about 25.8 kilometers, you come to an arroyo and cross it on this funky footbridge.
Then it is a short stint uphill and to the left, as the arrow indicates. The Way is well waymarked all the way through here, with yellow arrows on wooden signs.
The Camino walks you in and out of fields and forests, to cross the powerline once again. And then suddenly, there is a large clearing ahead, with a new and hopeful vista.
At about 26.6 kilometers, you follow an arrow to the left and now you can see the destination town of Lubián ahead.
Next you descend steeply on paths toward town, that for us were running with water and a little mud. It was less of a problem than we thought it was going to be in the rain, despite its steepness.
Following the next arrow to the right, we started to see signs for La Casa de Irene. We knew that we were close. At the very bottom of the descent, at about 27.2 kilometers, you come to this beautiful medieval bridge that you take to cross the Río Pedro.
After the bridge, in another few hundred meters, you take a left turn up the hill by a worn Camino sign and another sign for La Casa de Irene.
Below is a wonderful photo of the quaint, ruined part of the village as we entered it. There is a wonderful fountain to the right of Rich and Miguel, with a sculpted Camino shell. This water is non-potable.
After entering Lubián, at these initial buildings, the albergue is only a few meters ahead where the lane becomes pavement right at the building itself.
I must have been too cold and wet, as I failed to photograph the Albergue de Peregrinos de Lubián as I walked by. It is a quaint old stone building with 16 beds and was only 3 Euros in 2019! Its kitchen has only a refrigerator and a microwave to cook with. It provides no blankets or sheets.
The albergue does have heat that you are allowed to turn up as far as you want! Despite no dryer, with the heat turned up, Norm and Nadine, who chose to stay here, were able to hang their clothes inside and get them dry. There are 4 beds in the kitchen downstairs and 12 beds upstairs.
The paved Camino road takes a bend around the albergue, and continues up the hill into town. La Casa de Irene is only a few steps up the hill after the albergue. It is beautiful on the inside and outside and tastefully renovated.
However, the proprietor of this casa rural, I thought was rather unfriendly, to put it mildly and here is why: We asked if we could get some hot water, when we arrived, as we had our own tea bags. He referred us to the bars on the main street 1/2 kilometer away! All this despite the fact that we had arrived cold and soaked to the bone!
The proprietor did not turn on the heat that night, despite it getting down to 37 degrees Fahrenheit! He wouldn't allow Norm and Nadine to come for dinner at his house because they were not staying there! Ok, that I get. He's not a bar.
The hot water in the house was not working due to what he said was the construction in town. That maybe was so, since we witnessed the construction later, however it seemed to me that the least he could do for us then, would have been to turn on the heat for our comfort! Or he could have given us a discount instead of charging us full price. No heat and cold showers (which I refused to take and sponge bathed at the sink instead) was a bit much, don't you think? Call me spoiled, I guess.
We had only been given one blanket for the cold night, and I huddled under the blanket with almost all my dry clothes on! It didn't help that we had wet clothes draped all over the room, adding an evaporative cooling effect! Brrr...shudder...brr!
If it were not for the absolutely fabulous breakfast we had the next morning, and his mood turning very friendly (perhaps because we were leaving??), I would definitely say this place is not worth the price. He only redeemed himself a bit with the lovely hot breakfast, but if I had to do it over again, had I known, I would have stayed in the warm albergue. Make your own choice wisely, if you are here in the rain in October.
Because we were unable to eat together at the Casa de Irene, the five of us went first for happy hour at the Bar Javi, up the hill on the main street, the ZA-106. It has a lovely and lively atmosphere. At least the booze warmed us up! I had hot coffee with a shot of crema de orujo. In fact, I think I had several!
This drink is a bit like having a kahlua and coffee, with the yummy, creamed liquor of the Spanish version of fire water, orujo, made from distilled grapes. Most bars make their own creamed version, mixing orujo, sugar and cream. You have to order the crema de orujo as a shot on the side, as the Spaniards drink it alone and very cold. I just order a café Americano, with a chopito (shot) of crema de orujo, and mix the two together. Yum, yum! It definitely adjusted my attitude as it warmed my belly.
Then for dinner, we five chose the second bar, the Bar Estrella, to share the wealth, also on the main street, because they advertised, quite wisely for pilgrims, an early dinner beginning at 7:00 p.m. However, I cannot recommend their food, as my "cordon bleu" was a frozen, breaded patty that was flash fried. Ugh. And Rich ordered calamari, I know not why, as it was frozen and not very appetizing.
Maybe we should have switched the order of the bars for the best outcome!
It always takes a certain amount of fortitude to walk all day in the rain, and we felt the necessary commitment on this day. The Camino newbies met the challenge, without complaining, on their first full day of rain.
Autumn rain can be beautiful indeed and despite our discomfort, I at least enjoyed most of the day. My only sorrows were the mild discomforts I experienced. Fortunately, I carried no personal sorrows other than my concern for my friend and her ongoing limp.
We made a new Spanish friend, who willingly became our guide and ambassador. His energy brought a new dynamic to our walk. It felt like a good thing, adding yet another dimension to our group.
May your own day on the Camino Sanabrés from Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián have fair weather, and if it does not, may your sorrows walk the sodden lanes and yet continue to see the beauty that is there! Ultreia!
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