Camino update 5: Ponferrada to Sarria

This was posted a year ago on as part of my Camino journey. 

I’m sitting in my room in Melide not on a rest day but I find myself with time before dinner and wanted to post before Santiago. I think it’s right to break up the last parts rather than writing about it in one go. If you’re looking more for what the Camino can offer you personally then check out my other posts on which I will update soon.

I can’t believe I will be in Santiago on Friday which is maybe why I wish to go back and write about the past few days.

Leaving Ponferrada for Villafranca del Bierzo was probably one of the best walks I have had as I really enjoyed the beautiful scenery around me. We went through vineyards, orchards and woods and each way I turned there was something beautiful to see.

On reaching Villafrance del Bierzo, you come across a church which has the door of pardon which previously allowed sick pilgrims who couldn’t continue on to Santiago, to receive the same blessings if they crossed through this door.

The next day I went to Ambasmaestas whilst others did a longer walk right through to O Cebreiro. There are 2 routes out of Villafranca del Bierzo, one which is along the highway most of the way and the other is higher taking you up and over hills with fantastic views. I went the highway route which meant your focus is mostly on being careful in traffic.

The next day was a highlight of the trip and a day for me to combat my fear of horses as I went to O Cebreiro on horseback. Another pilgrim had mentioned that she had gone to O Cebreiro by horse a few days before me and I had thought about it but wasn’t sure. As I walked through Las Herrais and got to the horse sign, the guy was coming along the road with 4 horses and I asked if there was one for me to go up on. There was so along with 3 other pilgrims up we went. We passed many other pilgrims walking up and I know some take taxis up rather than walking so there seems to be a choice in how to reach the top. O Cebreiro offers some fantastic views and is the point you enter Galicia however it is very touristy and it can be very annoying when you have come up the mountain walking or on horseback and have to wait for lunch behind those who have arrived in a tourist bus.

In the church grounds you will find the bust of the parish priest who revived the Camino trail by painting yellow arrows to highlight the way for pilgrims.

The walk to Tricastela offers some magnificent views as yet again you climb up and then descend. The scenery is so beautiful and you realise how vast the Galician mountains are. The Galician weather is a real mix and that day we walked through sun, clouds and rain.

From Tricastelo, there are 2 routes available. The longer one takes you via Samos where you can visit the Benedictine monastery and the shorter one takes you higher and via San Xil. The Buddhist in me heard monastery and quite surprisingly opted for the longer route via Samos. It is a lovely walk which takes you through small country hamlets for most of the way which keeps you wondering if you have in fact taken the right turn and then suddenly you see the tops of the monastery pointing out of the woods. The guided tour €5 is worth having and is delivered in Spanish or English. It is worth stopping over in Samos in order to havr 2 short walks rather than one long walk through the Sarria. I walked through to Sarria and ended up walking through rain, sun, hail and then sun at the end.

The shorter walks are worth doing or you could from Samos walk through Sarria and stay further on in order to avoid the start from Sarria with all the new and refreshed pilgrims who join for the last 100km.

My next post will be from Santiago unless I get chance before and I will write no doubt about how the path changes after Sarria. It is hard to believe that my journey to Santiago will soon be over and I am certainly making the most of my next few days of walking.

Until next time buen Camino!

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