The longest bridge on the Camino at Hospital de Orbigo

29.2 km

Villavante-Puente y Hospital de Orbigo-Villares de Orbigo-Santibanez de Valdeiglesias-Crucero de San Toribio-San Justo de la Vega-Astorga-Murias de Rechivaldo-Santa Catalina de Somoza

We set out in the darkness, walking quickly through the village to a trail passing between the railway line and fields.  Although not too difficult to negotiate, we managed a wrong turn before this, on the way out of the village despite having checked it out the previous evening.

As shadows and shapes slowly appeared and the sunrise blazed across the sky, the pilgrims appeared in greater numbers than the day before.  We passed some, and others passed us in a peaceful Buen Camino way.

At about 10 km, Santabanez

Breakfast was difficult; my stomach reacting to the change of diet and the heightened emotions I was experiencing on this journey.  I could barely chew through the croissant filled with ham and cheese at the little cafe in Hospital de Orbigo.

But there were other occupations today; like how to cross the longest bridge on the Camino with it’s cobbled surface whilst my heels, unchecked, burnt against my bones.

Crucero de San Toribio

My feet did not feel good and we were soon forced to stop, finding a blister had already ballooned on the edge of my heel/sole of my foot.  And the cause?  Worn out socks;  brought along in the last minute rush of packing which marked the beginning of this holiday.   But that is a story that I am choosing not to tell;  blisters were painful and I can talk about them.

I had only one pair of decent socks with me, a situation that I would have to rectify quickly with the blister growing with each painful step.  But the pain seemed to subside once I was into my stride so it was only the starting out that caused any real difficulty.  Physical pain seemed to be the least of my worries; I was almost glad to feel it, to welcome it into my day.

The tiredness from yesterday  quickly caught hold of me and by Astorga at 20 km, I was disheartened by an extensive footbridge over the railway.  It was ramped and meant lots of turns which caused havoc with my feet and my partner’s ankles and hips.

From here, there is a climb up to the city which wasn’t too strenuous with my day pack and then a beautiful Cathedral City.  It is, well, beautiful and bustling with life other than pilgrims.  But tired bodies and feet meant that we didn’t stop long other than for a quick early lunch.

After this, the trail heads out by the road, the heat of the tarmac blistering our faces endlessly for km after km after km til we finally and gratefully reached our stop.