The most beautiful and wettest stage of the Camino.
The dormitory at the albergue in Lubian was baking hot. Uwe realised early on that he would be more comfortable upstairs – in the room that the hospitalera had warned us was too draughty and cold. José, Isabel, and I stayed downstairs. One of us should have turned off a radiator or two.
In the morning, we had yoghurt, tea, and biscuits together in the downstairs room. José and Isabel left first. We took photographs together in front of the albergue. Uwe and I got our rain gear ready for what promised to be a wet day.
The walk took us out of Requejo, past the C18th Santuario de Tuiza, and directly into beautiful, woodland paths. Uwe and I caught up with Jose and Isabel at the sanctuary and briefly walked as a four before leaving them behind.
From that point onwards, we were on narrow, woodland paths with a soft, springy, forest floor under our feet. We often found ourselves walking on huge granite slabs that had been laid end to end, forming a long “bridge” along pathways that are often flooded. The abundance of streams and springs in this region is remarkable. Isabel told us that the hospitalera had assured her that the “Agua no tratada” springs were fresh and good to drink.
Once or twice, we picked our way across streams on stepping stones, as we climbed all the while from 900m to around 1350m. We were thankful that the rain held off until we reached the summit, where we found a stone monument that announced our arrival in the province of Galicia (We are no longer in Leon and Castile). One of the first signs that we are now in Galicia is that things are now written in the local, Galician language – Words like “Junta” (governing body) become “Xunta.” “Iglesa” is “Iglexa,” and so on. I’m tempted to start calling myself Xonathan, but I noticed that one of our party at the albergue last night took a black maker pen to the registry where someone had written their name as “Xuan Xose” from “Galizia.”
During this walk, we had a strong feeling that we had walked into an entirely new landscape. Everything was at once more lush, more overgrown with moss, more mysterious, less clearly defined than before. The panoramas that we stumbled across were always bordered with low hanging cloud and mist.
From the peak, we made a rapid descent into A Vilavella. There we found the excellent, newly opened “Bar On” which has a restaurant on Saturdays only. We were able to enjoy a coffee and a tostada with tomato there. It looks like a beautifully stylish place and I hope they get enough custom to keep it going.
As we emerged from Bar On, the rain started falling in earnest. I donned my raincoat and rucksack cover. Uwe put on his impressive poncho and joked that he had become the Red Baron.
We walked through an extraordinary, misty, landscape of huge boulders, scrubland, and trees. In a few places, we saw the aftermath of the fires that destroyed so much forest and sent a plume of carbon as far as london, where it created spectacular sunsets around the time that I started this Camino.
We kept on walking through this mysterious, misty landscape with a brief break for chorizo. We occasionally stood, stunned by the view across the valleys. And sadly, we were occasionally shocked to see the damage from the fires – Hard to imagine a time when this landscape was so dry.
At around 4pm, we reached our destination of A Gudiña – a small town centred mostly on one street. Here we checked into the Hostal A Madeieña, because I read a rumour in a blog about a previous rumour about bedbugs at the albergue here. Apparently, the hospitalera in Lubian assured Isabel that these problems were resolved years ago – but the echoes last a long time among pilgrims.
In the evening, we did a little laundry in our room and bought some essential supplies in town. We are now approx 200km from Santiago. Looking forward to the next stage!