Day Three on the Camino Inglés is the hardest day, with steep hill climbs and many kilometers through the deep, deep countryside of Galicia. If the route feels daunting to you, you may break it up into two stages, stopping in Presedo after 12 kilometers, as many people do.
***8/14/2017, Please note: A new route for day three is currently being worked on, and is a work-in-progress. The temporary new route no longer walks by the Bar Julia, and goes a different way after Leiro. It re-joins the old route before Hospital de Bruma. For now, your best bet for the latest information is at the Facebook group, Camino Inglés - Official English Speakers' Group. Click this link to find the most current information. Ultreia!
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber
Some of the trials of day two were not to be re-visited on the third day of the Camino Inglés. From the shopping we did the evening prior, we had plenty of energy food and picnic supplies to more than make it through our day. We had read all the information about very few places to obtain food in this deep rural area and we were well prepared!
As miracles would have it, my Camino partner's blister had all but receded overnight. She re-dressed her wound and was ready for the day. As I think on this phenomenon, I can only believe that most of her problems with her feet were due to swelling that receded each night.
We pilgrimage travelers set off at daybreak, after a restless night, to find an open café bar - not an easy task on a Sunday morning at 7:30 am on the Camino! However, we were in luck, because a bar was still open from the Saturday night of partying, and there were all-night revelers having their café con leche with us!
We did not order any tostada (toast) for breakfast since we had plenty of bread from our shopping purchase. We also dipped into our picnic supplies and added jamón to our bread, for a protein bonus! At least our bellies were full as we set off on our day.
My body and mostly my neck was minimally stiff. This was to be my fourth day carrying my backpack (first day was around town exploring) so I was finally getting acclimated to the Camino life. This was a good thing considering that this was to be our hardest day. You can see from the elevation map below that we had our work cut out for us!
The actual route map of day three on the Camino Inglés is also below. This Gronze edition states it is 27.8 kilometers total, but the Confraternity guide states it is 29. Regardless of which is true, walking it felt like 39!
I do not have an elevation map of the new route, but I understand the steep hill climb at the end of the day to Hospital de Bruma is now more gradual and spread over more kilometers. Because of this, it will not feel as difficult as the old way. You will still have to do the same total elevation gain of about 500 meters for the day.
Apparently, according to Johnny Walker of the Confraternity of St. James, the "new" way, is actually the way the Camino Inglés went 20-30 years ago! He confirmed this with the locals. This will explain some old, faded yellow arrows that he describes can be found along the way! Interesting, isn't it? Everything old is new again!
Here is the new map from Leiro, created by a gentleman by the name of Bill Lee (thank-you!). It is the only one currently available that I know of. (Keep scrolling down for the "new" route description.)
The Camino de Santiago started by climbing up and out of Betanzos. Once again, we had wonderful views and a glorious sunrise to greet us.
As we climbed, because of the rain during the night, a beautiful double rainbow painted the sky.
The townspeople of Betanzos placed a nice waymark in the form of a pilgrim on the roof of a municipal building to guide our way out of town. This statue was very obvious as a pilgrim looked up during the climb of the hill just below it, and he seemed to say "This way pilgrim!" Just the sight of it was encouraging and made my heart feel very warm.
Once up and out of Betanzos, the countryside allowed for a more open sky, and now a full rainbow appeared. It is interesting to also note the palm tree in shadow on the right.
Soon we were deep in the countryside, on sweet, country roads that were very quiet on this Sunday morning.
As we approached the farmhouse pictured above, a friendly little kitty came running out to say hello. She was barely 2 months old, I suppose, and she rubbed and rubbed herself on me, purring so loud, I thought she would wake up the farmhouse. She ignored my Camino partner, and had eyes for only me.
After several minutes, when I arose to walk on, she started crying loudly and ran along with us for about 200 yards! You have no idea how much I wanted to scoop up this little creature and carry her onwards with me!
Around 5 kilometers we arrived at an information board. The board identified us as being in Limiñón. It was a tiny little hamlet. The board was fabulous, giving us information and depicting the entire third day on the English Way. Yet another sign of the support of the locals for the Way of St. James, making it always feel like a real pilgrimage and a real spiritual journey.
Here is a close up of the portion of the route that we had already come.
The Camino Inglés drops in elevation from Limiñón, then once again, starts climbing back up and through more eucalyptus forests. I simply had to take a picture of the sign on a tree along the way, that gave you taxi information, in the event that you had had enough!
The guides actually suggest that if you wish to break up day three on the Camino Inglés you can call a taxi to pick you up in the next town of Leiro and return for the night to Betanzos. Then a taxi can return you to Leiro the next day where you start where you left off.
I am happy to say that there now an albergue in Presedo, so it is no longer necessary to call a taxi service. Click here for information on it.
So far, so good for us! My partner's feet were doing OK and she now accepted one of my hiking poles that I had wanted to give her earlier. Unfortunately, she had decided to leave her poles at home. As she used one of mine, she agreed that it made the trek up the hills much easier. Since I was the stronger hiker, I was more than willing to give her one of my poles, so we could both make the entire stage that day.
It turned out to be a cooler and overcast day with a few light showers here and there. We were grateful for this, as it made for a cooler and more pleasant walk.
The deeply rural paths were often shaded with trees like you see below.
A frequently seen tree was the chestnut tree, like below, with the branches loaded with the fruit of the tree, getting ready to drop. Apparently these chestnuts are eaten, but I did not try any. I don't believe that raw chestnuts are very good.
When we thought we were about half way, at about 15 kilometers, or four hours into our third day on the Camino Inglés, we stopped at a large picnic area by the Parish in Leiro. We verified our position with another information board, below. Love those boards! This is the only stage of the Camino Inglés to provide these boards. I wondered, if it was because this area is so rural and there are not many opportunities to ask directions?
The parish picnic area was covered, with a fuente (fountain) and picnic tables. It was a lovely, shady and comfortable area to rest for lunch. We knew this area was ahead, because a very helpful Spanish couple directed us here when they stopped to chat with us. They were curious about us, and very friendly. They were surprised when we were from the USA and very happy to learn I was from Colorado, because they had never spoken with anyone from Colorado before that day! They were overly helpful in describing the picnic area up ahead, as they wanted to be so amazingly hospitable! This type of hospitality is what we found everywhere on the Way of St. James.
Here is Shelly, my Camino partner with our picnic spread. Pistachios, bread, olives, hard cheese and ham. The olives were the only green thing we could find at the supermarket! We loved it all and ate heartily!
Shelly's feet were doing great, and we both took off our shoes and aired out our feet. I had promised Shelly a full hour over lunch, so it wasn't until about 1:30 when we set off on the road again.
Below is a picture of the country parish church in Leiro, which we strolled by immediately after the picnic area.
The new route begins here in Leiro. I have not yet walked this new route, so there are no photos from me. I hope to walk it soon!
This description of the new route is from the Camino Inglés Facebook group, mentioned at the beginning of the article. The description is written by Johnny Walker, the author of the guides for the Confraternity of St. James, based out of England. These are his exact words:
"From the rest area and church in Leiro turn Right and at the top of the hill facing the local ayuntamiento (town hall) turn Left onto the main road. (If you carry on this road for a few hundred metres there is a bar on the Right hand side) To follow the route shortly cross to the Right hand side and veer Right at the prominent granite marker. KSO rising steadily, at times gently, for 6 kms then KSO the path as it undulates, finally coming out at As Travesas in 8kms. Turn Left along the main road to the Bar Avelina and KSO for further 2 kms to turn Left at the sign for Bruma and in 1km reach the albergue. If going to Meson do Vento do not turn Left at the sign for Bruma and KSO for a further 1km.
Care should be taken on this last stretch as it is currently along the side of the main road. However there are plans to create more pavement and off road paths - some of this work has been started.
There are other changes - some on the route from Coruna and others on the route from Ferrol. There is also evidence of some arrows being painted around Cos to divert the route past a bar - stick with the granite markers and walking notes!"
The total distance using the new route, on day three of the Camino Inglés is now 25.5 kilometers, a 2K shorter day!
If you had any inclination to go the old route, for nostalgia's sake, I suppose, here is my description of it from when I walked it in 2014. Or you can just read our interesting story!
On past Leiro, we ambled through more hamlets and rural countryside. This granary or horreo on the far left was a beautiful wooden version.
The Camino Inglés takes a turn to the right here, by the cultivated baby eucalyptus trees, onto yet another country lane.
A turn to the left, on the photo below, as day three on the English Way continues. See the waymark? They are everywhere.
After about only one more hour, from Leiro, we arrived at the Bar Julia, at 18 km or about 11 miles thus far. Total walking time was now at 5 hours, even though it was already 2:30 in the afternoon. By this point we still had 11 kilometers remaining, or another 7 miles. We stopped anyway for a "quick" café con leche to power us up the final, long, long climb. This is the last place for food, if you are lucky and they have it available, before Bruma. This landmark is in the town of San Paio de Vilacoba.
One could also take a taxi from here, back to Betanzos, if you have had enough for one day, returning here in the morning.
As we left the bar, around 3:00 p.m. we geared up for the 350 meter climb in 3 kilometers. This is a significant gain of about 1000 feet over 2 miles. While the climb was indeed strenuous at the end of day three on the Camino Inglés, the vistas that the climb afforded were well worth it. All you need is your heart and lungs to tolerate the elevation gain.
Here is a waymark by a dilapidated building, that caught my eye as we climbed.
Looking back over the hillside as we climbed. We had to stop frequently to catch our breath, so I caught photos as well. We had to dig deep, on this most physically spiritual journey on the third day of the English Way.
The Camino then turns into the forest, with a trail cut deeply and high banks with heather flourishing on either side of the path. It was an enchanting trail, and I was surprised that the heather was still this vibrant in September. This beautiful heather-filled path seemed to cheer this weary pilgrim onward!
When we thought the 350 meter climb was over, there was a waymark at the top of this long hill in the forest. We could see to our right, that the trail now flattened out and followed a pasture. Were we at the top??? We took a selfie to celebrate and commemorate our day three on the Camino Inglés!
The forest path led us out into the open, right through someone's farm and out onto a road. The road actually ended where the path began:
The road led you past the farm.
By the time we reached this information board, we were in Vizoño, with only 7 km remaining, see the map below. This wasn't so much a town as it was a lovely shaded picnic area, with a fuente that had non-potable water. We did not stop, as it was getting late and we were desiring to reach our destination.
Unfortunately, the climbing had not yet ended. The rest of day three on the English Way, undulated mostly up and a little down, and through more forested areas. A clearing in the next forest led us to this cruceiro, where we left our own pebbles to offer our gratitude for our successful spiritual journey thus far.
Nearby the curceiro was the parish church that most likely was responsible for the cruceiro for the pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago.
By almost six o'clock in the evening, we finally stumbled into the Albergue de Peregrinos de Bruma, or the Hospital de Bruma.
It is the ONLY albergue in this town that if you blinked, you would miss it entirely. (There is a pensión and a hotel in O Mesón do Vento, a mere one km from Bruma, if the albergue is full, you prefer reservations or you don't like albergues. Click here to see other choices on booking.com).
The albergue office is the little white/green shed on the left, next to the old stone building.
A most friendly German man, whom we had met at the albergue the night before, and with whom I had spoken only briefly, was waiting at the entrance to assist the final pilgrims who were still straggling in. He was a former hospitalero (Camino host) himself, so he was very helpful in our checking in process. Had he not been in the middle of the county road with his arms outstretched to greet us, we may have walked right on by! Boy was he a sight for sore eyes, after 8.5 hours on the road!
The albergue was a wonderful old place, clean and inviting after our very long third day on the Camino Inglés. It was tucked back in among some trees with a stream running alongside it. Other pilgrims were lounging by the stream as we arrived. A most peaceful and inviting place.
Never had the hot shower felt so good as on this day! I went into the shower with all my clothes still on, and killed two birds with one stone. I washed my clothes at the same time I washed my body! I found this to be more convenient than washing my clothes in the sink, so I was to continue this practice throughout the rest of my Camino de Santiago adventure!
At the time of this writing, the nearest café bar was about 3 kilometers down the road! Fortunately, this bar had a delivery service, which we all took advantage of, with their famous Spanish "Menu del Dia" or Menu of the Day. They had three marvelous choices of full course meals, including appetizer, wine and dessert for only 12 Euro!
I have been informed that as of 2016, a new café bar has opened, only about 50 meters from the Hospital de Bruma Albergue. My readers have written to tell me that it is a very friendly place, with several food options, a large bar and free WiFi! It is called the Casa Grana.
We gathered the "family" together around the long table in the dining room and celebrated our successful day three on the Camino Inglés with a wonderful feast!
All-in-all, our third day of the English Way took us a full seven hours to complete the 29 kilometers (about 18 miles) about a 2.5 mph pace. Not too bad for a straight up day with a heavy pack. A full hour-and-a-half of rest breaks made it a very long day, but more tolerable. I only wished we had gotten an earlier start.
It was so fortunate a day, in that Shelly's feet, legs and lungs held up without a problem! For this, we were both very grateful!
Our "secret destinations" from the opening quote, were the many helpful people on the way, the enchanted views and forests, and most of all, discovering that we had a Camino "family." Foreigners were our family. Relationships were forming that would sustain us for the rest of our journey. It didn't matter that we were the only Americans. The family was mostly Spanish, but there were also Italians and one German. It mattered not, when you were on the Camino. We were united indeed, as pilgrimage travelers.
Thus is my musings from day three on the Camino Inglés. We felt a part of it all now, a bigger part of the collective journey of humanity. It was indeed a spiritual journey and we were true pilgrimage travelers! Please stay with us as this amazing journey continues on day four...
**New Updated Version (9/2017) of My Ebook Including the Change in Route From Leiro to Bruma, on Day Three!**
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