Friday, May 20, 2022

Day 27 - 19 May - Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca

As Gerry and the Pacemakers famously sang:

You’ll never walk alone

Our dissatisfaction at the abysmal quality of our accommodation - and the price we had paid for it - did not lessen during the night. We were ready to leave by six thirty the next morning, only to find the door locked and no obvious key with which to unlock it. We ended up climbing out through the window.

But for the next six hours, everything was on the up. We had a hard sixteen miles ahead of us. For the last two weeks we have been operating at around eight to nine hundred metres above sea level. Yesterday’s climb to Rabanal had taken us to nearly twelve hundred metres and today we would climb to over fifteen hundred metres, then all the way down to our destination for the night, Molinaseca, at six hundred metres.

From the off today, the scenery was never less than spectacular. The uphill was rarely challenging, more a steady ascent which allowed us to marvel at our surroundings. Our first stop, just before eight o’clock, was at the village of Foncebadon where we had coffee and toast. To our relief, Gerhard was there having set off half an hour before us and his foot hasn’t fallen off yet.

I also had time to fire off a complaint to last night’s accommodation, asking for a refund.

And then it was off to see one of the Camino’s most iconic landmarks, the Cruz de Ferro (iron cross). Give or take ten metres, the Cruz de Ferro is the highest point of the Camino, marked by a wooden pole with iron cross around which a mound has developed as peregrinos leave (typically) a stone or other object as a means of leaving behind a burden or to remember a loved one.

There followed five miles of ups and downs and stunning scenery to Alto Altar which actually pips Cruz de Ferro by ten metres in the altitude stakes but thereafter we started to descend, quite sharply. Arrival at the quaint village of Acebo provided opportunity for the first beer of the day. Beyond Acebo, another five miles of down into Molinaseca, the scenery still stunning but the path narrow and awkward and the knees beginning to feel it. Mrs C decided to headbutt a tree which didn’t help and slowed us down some more so that we didn’t reach Molinaseca until half past three. We understand that the tree is in intensive care.

Molinaseca itself is delightful, the nicest town/ village we have encountered during our Camino and our accommodation was similarly impressive. Having freshened up, we explored the place for all of two minutes before parking up at a riverside bar in the sunshine. There, we found Amy (USA) and later Carolin (Germany) who we hadn’t seen for a few days. We then bumped into Lars and Inger (Sweden) and went for dinner with them. 

Unfortunately they failed the who-is-the-greatest-living-swede test which everyone knows is Roland Nilsson who played for Sheffield Wednesday between 1989 and 1994. However, we like them so they are forgiven although I will be insisting that they learn the words to the Roland Nilsson song so they don’t ever get this question wrong again in the future.

Earlier today, at the Cruz de Ferro, I left a small cross in memory of my friend Paul Hodgson - known affectionately as “H” - who died suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of months back. The irony would not be lost on him that I have chosen to do this at the site of a Catholic pilgrimage but, amongst his many sins, H was a Liverpool fan. They’re all catholics up in Scouse land so there’s bound to be a few Liverpool fans passing by, from time to time, to keep him company.

Farewell my friend. Until all the boys meet up again at Simpsons for roast beef (on you of course) and we march, once again, to the sound of clinking glasses.

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