Day three on the Camino Sanabrés, from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente is essentially a gentle and steady climb through increasingly deciduous forests, walking by a reservoir and on open lanes, and finally a descent into town.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~ Robert Lewis Stevenson, Scottish Author
Today's walk, at least for me, was not much more than just moving! I do enjoy the mere activity of the walk, despite the ultimate "going somewhere" to Santiago. This day is less interesting than some, but walking is what a pilgrim does, and today the focus was on the activity of moving itself.
Here is my Google Map from my GPS tracks. While we did walk through several small towns, the services were unreliable. The first significant town, Calzadilla de Tera, is 11 kilometers down the road. To get to a café you must walk off-Camino a ways and we chose to wait until Olleros de Tera another two kilometers farther. Much to our chagrin, the only bar in town was closed. Oh well ~ such is Camino life!
It is best to plan to find nothing on this day three and if something is available you will be pleasantly surprised. You may be able to get a reprieve at the Albergue Rehoboth, more than 21 kilometers into the day. This quaint place will give you coffee or tea, au gratis - a real refuge for pilgrims, however, a healthy donation is highly suggested.
The final destination of Rionegro del Puente has all the services that the pilgrim needs.
Also please note the route in orange, from Camarzana de Tera, if you had to walk on to the Juan Manuel hotel to find accommodations the night before. It is very easy to get back onto the Camino after walking west along the N-525 for 2/3 kilometer, then taking a left onto the ZA-105 and walking about one kilometer to the large gravel pit by the Tera River. See the description below. You will cut off about four kilometers of the day's total if you start from this hotel.
The day is essentially a long gradual climb, with a few steeper areas thrown in. All-in-all the elevation gain is less than 300 meters (about 980 feet), so you will not be too taxed. A nice descent into Rionegro del Puente is a nice finish to a long day.
We set off from Santa Marta before dawn, on a cool, crisp autumn morning. Everyone was up early in the albergue, and it felt like the bed race was on. In actuality, the municipal albergue in Rionegro del Puente had plenty of beds, 31 to be exact - almost triple the amount in Santa Marta.
We had fixed ourselves a hearty breakfast at the Albergue de Santa Marta. The Bar Stop café across from the church may be open early, if you prefer, but if it is not, it is a long, long way until you can find services again.
Heading west from the albergue and towards the church, you walk past it and across the main square. You will see a "Camino de Santiago" sign on the west side of the square, with the iconic photograph of Santiago as a pilgrim, guiding you to stay high and to the right, above the wall and onto a small side road that leaves town. Do not drop down to cross the river by the way you entered town. Hopefully you noted this sign as you entered town the day before.
Within a short distance of about 1/4 kilometer, you come to more waymarks, ensuring that you are on the right track. By about 0.6 kilometers the pavement in town turns to a gravel lane.
At 1.12 kilometers, come to this intersection shown below, and take the lane to the left. It is all clearly marked.
And thus begins the many seemingly endless farm roads for the day.
At around 1.45 kilometers, on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente come to a T-intersection and take a left. In another 1/2 kilometer, come to another T-intersection, shown below, where you are again directed to turn left. At this T-intersection, is yet another very old sign we had seen thus far, with a photograph of the iconic image of Santiago as a pilgrim, from the church in Santa Marta de Tera. It was finally light enough to try to get a decent snapshot of one of the signs.
At 2.57 kilometers, we passed what we believed to be a gravel pit, and our two French pilgrim friends.
At 2.89 kilometers, the main trackway looks like it goes to the right, and there is a small arrow that shows you to keep straight on instead, onto the lesser of the tracks.
We soon found ourselves walking through beautiful cultivated forests of poplar trees. As we walked through these poplar plantations, we found the tracks to now consist of deep sand and dirt. Could we dare believe we were finally leaving the harsh gravel behind?
By approx 3.39 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, we turned right at an intersection with the Tera River, shown below. It was much colder this morning, only about 41 degrees. Walking along the river made it feel even colder. I found the wearing of gloves was quite useful, however, it made for more difficult photographing!
The Camino now follows the river for more than 2.0 kilometers. The morning was cool and glowing as we walked.
At around 3.9 kilometers, you come to a Y-intersection, just before this little abandoned, white building. You stay to the left.
By around 4.33 kilometers, we arrived at this triangular-looking intersection, where we stayed left along the river. The steam was really rising off the water. Several large trucks passed us through this area. Several more water trucks also passed us, watering the lane.
We could hear the humming of motors of heavy equipment and there was a lot of dust in the air. It is more of an industrial area than we thought. Without the frequent watering of these dusty lanes, I'm sure it would have been much worse. The truck traffic was quite substantial through this section, so caminante beware!
Fortunately, the cultivated poplars provided some beauty with their splashes of golden color through this unpleasant area. The cool temperatures and fall color allowed us to really experience autumn for the first time. It was, after all, October 10th already!
At 5.74 kilometers, the source of all the noise became apparent. Below is a photo of the large gravel pit that you will see just across the highway ahead. The Camino takes a right here to obtain the highway. Or you can just cut through towards the highway straight ahead as you see fit for a little shortcut.
At the highway, the ZA-105, the Camino turns to the left. It is here where the route from the Hotel Juan Manual joins the Camino. You will see the bridge almost immediately ahead that you will cross at 6.0 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente.
There is a recreation area called La Barca on the opposite side of the highway, on both sides of the river. You can see a sign, just discernible in the photo below. There are picnic tables and perhaps restrooms, but I didn't see any restaurants that were visible from the road. Perhaps on a busy summer day there may be some vendors, but no one was in sight when we walked by.
As you cross the bridge, there is a very narrow sidewalk that offers a bit of protection, but you must still beware of the heavy truck traffic. Rich got off the sidewalk by mistake as he was crossing, and an approaching truck blared his horn at him! Oops!
The views on the bridge are lovely, especially on this fall day, as you can see below. Just take care when photographing it, that you don't step out on the roadway. It is easy enough to do.
Immediately after the bridge the Camino directs you to the right and into La Barca Recreation Area. Not much farther along, you leave the river and the park and walk through more poplar plantations on farm lanes. This area provides quite pleasant walking after the gravel pits, with the truck traffic now gone.
For the next three or so kilometers the Camino takes you through these lovely tractor tracks, without gravel, but nice soft dirt. The waymarking is perfect through here.
The farming fields alternate between corn and poplars. I also observed this unique concrete irrigation system.
The farmers lanes end at approx 9.34 kilometers into day three on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, where you come out at the ZA-P-2547 roadway. You turn right onto the highway. Below is a stretch of this road, and as you can see, we saw quite a few peregrinos ahead.
Fortunately, the stretch on the roadway is only about 2/3 kilometer, when you are directed to turn to the right, at approximately 10 kilometers total on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente. We are now turning onto a nice lane paralleling a long canal system, called the Canal Margen Derecho del Tera.
It was at this intersection that we caught up to and passed our Brazilian/Spanish trio who had needed to taxi ahead to the next accommodation. I guess we were all moving well in order to have overtaken them. Or they started later, most likely.
Shortly after the turn, about 1/3 kilometer later, you pass this lovely fountain. The signs warn you that the water is not safe to drink. The steps to the right lead you up to the bank of the canal and over it on a bridge.
We continued straight on the lane as it walked up to the actual level of the canal, and came to another small bridge where you could cross it, at 10.5 kilometers (not shown). Then I saw the hill directly across the bridge and was gearing up to climb it. However, the yellow arrows on the bridge point to the right, to continue along the canal, avoiding the hill ahead.
By now the canal comes into clear view as the lane follows immediately adjacent to it. It is a lovely and flat walk.
Within about another 3/4 kilometer from the fountain, the buildings of the next town of Calzadilla de Tera come into view.
At 11 kilometers or so you come to an intersection with the paved road, where you can see the sign for Calzadilla de Tera. Turn left to join the road.
If you were planning to stay at the Albergue de Peregrinos de Calzadilla de Tera, continue on this road into town, crossing the canal. The donativo albergue is a straight shot south, for about 1/2 kilometer, off-Camino.
There are several historic markers in town, including an old washing house of some sort, and if you do stay at the albergue there is a Roman milario (Mile marker) that will help you identify the building. It is on the second floor of a shared building, with a retirement home on the first.
Otherwise, turn right just before that canal, to stay on-Camino and along the canal to bypass the town to the north. No one was interested in walking out of the way to see sights or find a café so we carried on.
Right along the Camino, on the other side of the canal, just before leaving town is the Pension Lar Do Vento (+34 607 25 16 99) that has two rooms to inquire about, if you are interested.
Along the way, about 1/2 kilometer later you see this old estate in ruin. I could not find any information about what this may have actually been. It made for an interesting distraction.
At about 12.7 kilometers into day three, the canal takes a bend and we saw another town ahead, Olleros de Tera, on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente. We were excited and happy to have the opportunity for a break in town at a café.
Only a few meters later we came to this T-intersection, shown below, by the bridge into town. The route is marked to go to the right to make a detour around town, but some old tracks still exist that show the way is to the left, through town. Either route is just fine, without any meaningful difference in length. Check the interactive map for your choice.
The reason to go the newly directed way to the right, is that you will walk directly by the only café in town. A few meters after turning right, at approx 13 kilometers, you come to the welcoming sign for the Albergue La Trucha, where you will turn left.
After walking about 1/4 kilometer along the lane after the sign, you come to another T-intersection, where you take a left. This is at approximately 13.3 kilometers into the day.
Next you encounter the bridge that you cross into town, at a perfect halfway point into the day on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente.
Just a few meters later, you see the Bar La Trucha, shown below. We arrived here at 10:30 in the morning, only to find the café was closed. Two British pilgrims had arrived just before us and the woman was almost hysterical, running around the square trying to find someone to open the café, since there was nothing else in town.
When she finally found someone, she was told that the proprietor was out partying too late last night, so he was not going to open any time soon! It was certainly a disappointment. Rich and I sat down on a step on the street, to have a bite and to wait for Norm and Nadine to catch up.
The four of us took a break in the city street and ate from our packs. The lesson, as usual, is to have your own food available at all times.
After the bar, you walk up the hill from La Trucha a few meters and at around 13.5 kilometers total for the day, turn right at an old adobe house. This is where the old route through town joins the Camino once again. Immediately after this turn you can see that you are through the very small town.
After only 300 meters or so, on the road from town, you are directed to turn left, and onto a long, paved road that is very open, hot and boring.
The long asphalt road soon turns to concrete as you can see below, with an interesting building ahead. There is an occasional bench along this stretch to sit and rest if needed, leading me to believe that the building ahead was a road to something special.
It is about 1.4 kilometers on the open road when the special place, the Ermita Nuestra Señora de Agavanzal, resides at the end of the concrete pavement as seen below. This road is a pilgrimage to the Ermita. How lovely.
It is at about 15.2 total on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, when you arrive at the Ermita Nuestra Señora de Agavanzal.
Across from the Ermita, there is this lovely building to rest, shown below. We found our french pilgrims here, and they were taking a break with a local elderly man. Too bad I hadn't researched this prior to our stop by the canal in Olleros de Tera. At only 1.4 kilometers down the road from town, this would have been a much, much nicer stop for "lunch" than on a street step. There are benches inside this building and picnic tables outside, to choose the sun or the shade.
The local in the shelter was a sweet, old Spanish gentleman, most certainly waiting to commune with whatever pilgrims walked by. Most likely it was his daily routine on fair weather days - a 1.5 kilometer walk from town to chat with the pilgrims!
Here is a photo of the front of the Ermita, which faces the rest area and the river. While the hermitage was closed, there is a small peep slot in the door that you can peer inside the old building. You can just see Norm at the door, peering inside.
After the Ermita, you walk on these lanes that parallel the Río Tera and almost immediately the dam at the reservoir comes into view. You can see the dam in the photo below. That is the next destination.
At 15.8 kilometers, we saw a little hill ahead, and thus, a more significant climb commences.
At about 16 kilometers, about 800 meters after leaving the Ermita, there is a very interesting intersection. I approached the intersection first and waited for the others to catch up to help make a decision.
At this intersection, there is a sign pointing up the road and to the left, for bici's (bicycles), that stays on the road. Humm.
If you look carefully on the photo below, on another, second sign, there is a yellow arrow pointing to the right and towards a very overgrown-looking path. A shortcut perhaps?? Double Hmmm.
I checked my Google map and if we chose to go the bicycle way, it is really far out of the way to the dam road, compared to the direct path ahead through the brush. The GPS tracks I was following indicated that we should take the uninviting-looking path, so we chose the path!
PLEASE NOTE that the turnoff for this trail is very easy to miss, so caminante BEWARE!
On the unimproved trail we encountered many raspberry bushes and their concomitant thorns! It is very, very overgrown and no trail work had been done in a long time, if ever! I was very astonished to see the condition of this trail.
The trail does get a little better, like below, then it drops down to just by the river. It looked like it could be quite swampy in rainy conditions.
After dropping to the river, the trail leaves it and starts to climb, rather steeply. This is the first nice elevation gain that you see on the elevation profile, at around 16.6 kilometers. The way is well-marked with yellow arrows on rocks as you can see below.
At around 16.9 kilometers into day two on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, you come to this crazy steep, final climb up and out of the path. It is actually an embankment, up to an unnamed, paved road where the shortcut ends after only a bit less than one kilometer through the brush.
Once you get above the embankment, go left onto the paved road shown below. You can clearly see views of the dam along the road.
The road takes a significant bend, and is not quite 400 meters along it, when you come to another T-intersection, at 17.4 kilometers. The Camino takes a turn to the right here and onto the dam road shown below.
The views from the dam are nice, and you can see the Ermita off in the distance, from where you came. Take your time crossing the dam and drink in the views!
At about 17.9 kilometers, on the other side of the dam, at the next intersection, you go left onto another paved road.
After only about 100 meters more, go left again on a secondary road, and notice this encouraging sign at the turn. Maybe we would have coffee today after all?? We tried not to hope too much!
The secondary road is paved and essentially follows the contours of the reservoir for the next 2.8 kilometers.
And finally, after the road takes a small bend to cross a little bridge, at just around 20.7 kilometers, you come to a T-intersection. Here you take a left turn onto this divided highway, shown below, and the sign for the next village is ahead, Villar de Farfón. We arrived in town at about 1:00 in the afternoon.
A few hundred meters later and just before town, we passed this picturesque little adobe house.
At the first intersection in town, see this lovely old stone building, and a sweet, wooden Camino sign, directing you to the left.
Walk to the church, with the now-familiar Camino placard, only 40 meters later and turn to the right. This is an amazingly quaint little town.
100 meters later, turn right again and you are already leaving town. Pass an old wooden stock holder, where livestock were tethered to re-shoe. Stay straight on at the stockholder.
Less than 100 meters later, at approx 21.3 kilometers into the day, you come to the 4-bed donativo Albergue Rehoboth shown below. What a quaint and wonderfully restored place this is! This was where we would be able to take a respite and get coffee or tea as the blue sign indicated, almost exactly 3.5 kilometers ago.
We were offered Nescafe or tea and cookies, which we gratefully took! The proprietor also allowed us to eat our own food at the table. He was very helpful and friendly and told us he was from South Africa. He and his wife had felt called to the Camino and lovingly restored this rundown place.
To read his story of his many life-missions, click on the albergue link above. He does quite a bit of proselytizing as you would expect from a missionary, but his stories, especially of forgiveness, were very, very compelling. I could have stayed longer than we allowed. There was a little more than five kilometers to go to Rionegro, and we needed to move on.
As we left the Rehoboth, the lane ahead looked like an ancient road. We thought this type of road and terrain looked more familiar and more "Camino-like" from our prior Caminos. It was so much better than the God-awful gravel lanes we had walked upon for so many days prior! I was hoping that we had left the hot and hard-on-the-feet gravel lanes for good.
This next section of about three kilometers would constitute the final climb of the day of about 50 meters (160 feet), a steady, but gradual gain in elevation.
I was fascinated with the double waymarks, like below. These were not even at an intersection. It would be very difficult if not impossible to get lost.
At approximately 23.8 kilometers into day two on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente, you cross under a power line in an open field, and then go back into the forest. The road is lined with occasional pavers that suggested to us this had indeed been an established ancient road. I would have guessed it to be Roman, as in typical Roman fashion, they just built the road directly up and over the mountain!
By 24.2 total kilometers into day two, after this intersection, below, you reach the crest of the rocky hill, shown in the next photo.
When you can see Rionegro in the distance, like in this photo below, you will know that you have arrived at the top for the day, at 844 meters (2769 feet). From here on, it is a nice downhill cruise!
At 25.4 kilometers, the road merges with another lane and bends to the right, as you continue down the hill.
After another big bend, you cross an arroyo and the buildings of the town appear.
At around 26 kilometers as you are approaching town, you are walking on a parallel lane with the N-525. Walk by the abandoned Hostal Maxim's, not pictured.
We could see the steeple of the town church and the bridge across the river, as the lane led us down and away from the highway, to the placard shown below. Rich began to smell the barn and he literally picked up the pace to an almost run.
The placard above is the entrance to the park by the river, with nice picnic tables. Next, you come to a concrete footbridge and cross the Río Negro, parallel to the highway bridge above.
Turn right at the intersection after the footbridge and walk under the highway bridge. It is a really, really nice way to cross the river.
On the opposite side of the highway bridge, you turn left and up the lane shown below. Ahead is the Rionegro del Puente sign, and some old mining equipment that you will pass. The town church is looming above you.
As you walk up the lane into town, you see nice arrows leading you to the Bar Palacio, below.
At the top of the hill, where the lane meets the street, a lovely pilgrim statue and the Albergue de Peregrinos Virgen de la Carballeda greet you. This wonderfully restored albergue has 31 beds by my count. It was actually an original hospital for pilgrims, so I was thrilled that it was still in use.
There are two floors of dormitories and bathrooms/showers on each floor. There is a washing machine and dryer, but they didn't really work well when we were there. Plus, instead of waiting in the long line to use them, we found it easier to just wash by hand and line dry as usual. There is a kitchen with minimal features, like a hotplate only, but we didn't care as our plan was to go to the famous Me Gusta Comer Restaurante, just across the street.
After cleaning up and doing our laundry, we first had a happy hour at the Bar Palacio. I felt sorry for the proprietress, as she tried her best to convince us that they served the same dishes as the Me Gusta Comer. We intentionally chose to visit the Palacio for happy hour, as we did indeed want to spread the wealth.
Our next stop was farther along the N-525 to find the Panaderia, or the bakery, which had many more groceries than just bread. We needed to restock our packs for the coming day. It is about 1/3 kilometer past the albergue.
The Restaurante Me Gusta Comer and Chef Teo's fame precedes himself, and I cannot say that we were disappointed. It is located conveniently, right across the street from the albergue. Everyone knows about it, it seems.
The five course meal was fantastic, starting with this paté and toast as the appetizer, followed by soup and then the entree, Pork La-Orange. Every plate was finely decorated as you can see.
The final food delight was the dessert, a torte with ice cream, hazelnuts and chocolate! Then we ended with shots of liquor. Mmm Mmm.
Here we are, Roque, Belén, yours truly, Vim, Ledi, Nadine, Norm, Catherine and Rich.
After we finished our amazing dinner, and walked to the albergue, the town church was lit and crowned with the moon above! It was a glorious evening.
On this day, we had a typical pilgrimage day, moving one foot at a time to complete the course of the day. All went without a hitch through the changing and cooler terrain. AND, we had an amazing end to our day at the incredibly nice pilgrim's historic albergue and our fabulous meal at the Me Gusta Comer.
May your own day two on the Camino Sanabrés from Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente be moving for moving's sake. May also you travel for travel's sake. May you always put one foot in front of the other. Ultreia!
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