This was originally posted on travelalphabetabc.wordpress.com a year ago today.
I love rest days! This is my 3rd one so far and I am typing this from a room in Leon.
So Burgos to Leon has taken me 9 days of walking although some will do it in less and others more depending on the routes taken and the amount of kilometres pilgrims wish to walk each day. For me, it’s not a race, I have nothing to prove and I also have the luxury of not having to rush back to work whilst others only have a set time. I also like to stop, breathe, take photos, chat with people along the way, notice the mountains to my right or left or sometimes all around me and due to blisters and raw ankles I’ve also had to walk slow for the past 2 or 3 weeks. We all walk our own Camino so this is my story and yours can be whatever you want it to be. Isn’t that wonderful!
We set off from Burgos knowing that we had at least 11kms without the chance to buy refreshments and we knew we would also start the Meseta stage of our journey. After a rest day, it’s easy to feel completely refreshed and free from injury and go quicker than your previous pace. That’s what I did and got blisters so word of warning, always take it easy and at your own pace no-one else’s!
It isn’t long into this walk that you realise the Meseta is remote and the landscape is vastly different to what you have experienced on other stages so far. A lot of pilgrims skip this part taking the bus straight to Leon but if you do this, you will miss out on beautiful villages and towns along the way as well as great thinking time. When do you ever get time on your own simply to think about your life without interruptions?
At the end of the first day my destination was Hornillos del Camino which was lovely. Some struggled to find accommodation if not pre-booked. This village is worth a stop as people are so friendly and the long street provides a chance for pilgrims to catch up over a drink at the end of the day.
From Hornillos I walked to Castrojeriz the next day. A beautiful walk due to the scenery but difficult due to the heat and no shade along the way. There is a beautiful moment at San Anton when you cone around the corner to music from a bar. The barman is very friendly and it’s a good place to stop and refresh before the last stretch into Castrojeriz which is a long place so you may need to walk up to 4kms more to find your accommodation. If you look carefully whilst walking you will notice that the scenery changes along the way. If you don’t like fields then you’ll find it boring.
From Castrojeriz to Fromista, you’ll start the day with a climb and a steep descent and then a long walk so you may want to start early to avoid the heat.
Fromista to Carrion los Condes is again a beautiful walk which you can do either along the highway or more remotely next to the river. The last 5kms into Carrion los Condes are difficult if in heat as there is no shade and the surface is hard to walk on. I’ve realised it’s much harder when you can see your destination ahead but don’t seem to be getting closer. Carrion los Condes is a nice surprise after walking through small villages or towns. The shops were open and there were people around. Well worth stopping an extra day to explore if you don’t want a rest day in a big city.
The next day we all seemed to have different destinations either due to problems finding accommodation, simply wanting to get closer to Leon to do it in longer stages or to have a shorter day of walking one day. I went to Calzadilla de la Cueza which was a bizarre walk. Firstly about 17kms with no place to stop apart from the seasonal cafe which was fortunately open but no bathrooms! Ladies be prepared! Then on the approach to Calzadilla you can see a church for a while but nothing else and I was walking along wondering if this place actually existed until it suddenly arose from the valley.
The next stage was to Sahagun, the official midway point where some people buy their midway certificate. I can understand this if they are stopping their walk in Leon and want to go home with something. Another beautiful walk but sometimes I chose to walk on the road rather than the pebbled path. The approach to Sahagun feels long because it is another place you can see from afar and feel like you aren’t reaching. The midway gate is lovely to walk through and along the way to Shagun you pass bodegas in a village where wine was produced and food was stored.
I would have liked to have spent more time in Sahagun so this could provide another resting place for those not wanting to rest in a big city.
Onwards the next day to El Burgo Ranero for me however there was another route which other pilgrims took. This went to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos via Roman roads and offered a solution to those who couldn’t find accommodation in El Burgo Ranero. The great part of this walk to either places is that you can look at the mountains along the way. On arriving in El Burgo Ranero, there was no-one around and the shop didn’t open till 4.30pm. This happens in some places so you’re forced to relax and wait whilst in others I arrive too exhausted to go visit all touristy offerings.
The next day to Mansilla de las Mulas where as a Chester girl I got to explore the Roman walls and the museum. I enjoyed the museum which has some great information about the lifestyles and agriculture of local people.
From there the next day I took a bus into Leon. This was recommended by previous pilgrims due to the difficult walk in and my guidebook also recommends this. So I did which gave me the chance to really relax over 2 days and get things done such as my laundry and visit the cathedral and museum without having to rush. Today I took the tourist train around Leon as after buying new boots I simply wanted to rest and relax ahead of what will be a hard week of walking before my next rest day in Pontferrada. The Cathedral is definitely worth a visit and all I can say is my photos don’t do it justice. Also good to see Gaudi’s house, pose with statues and definitely visit the trekking shop if like me you need new boots by this stage or other supplies.