27.7 km

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Camponaraya – Cacabelos – Pieros – Valtuilla de Arriba – Villafranca del Bierzo – Pereje – Tradelo – La Portela

In the darkness of the morning, we left Camponaraya through the lit streets, heading for the path over the motorway.  On already sore feet, the cobbled stones on the bridge were uncomfortable but short lived.  We headed uphill with exhaustion already tapping on our shoulders; we weren’t certain we would make daylight, let alone the 25 km that we had set ourselves for the day.  Almost at the top of the climb, breakfast beckoned and we stopped at a little shack offering toast or pancakes for a donation.  The spirit of the Camino is everywhere!

The rural landscape was very peaceful this early in the day, with rows of vines standing guard over the valley, tempting us with their rich, black fruit.  Endless row on row of vines grow here and off the farm tracks, the Bodegas or wineries tempt us again with their alternative offerings!   A little too early perhaps!

The word peace has been my word of the Camino so far and today, again, I walked with a sense of peace in my heart and love in my soul.  Where did this come from, I wonder, when, in reality my heart is in pieces.  It is very much the spiritual nature of the Camino, the challenge to my body, at first more tired than I had ever felt and yet now, I feel myself slowly gaining in strength ….oh, and a subtle shrinking of my waistline.

So on this journey, I feel at one with the world, with my world, tranquil, at peace.  Is this the miracle I had asked for?  To have moments without the nagging ache that has been so much a feature of recent days?

Villafranca and its castle with the round towers

Arriving at Villafranca, we walked through the town, where there is much of interest in the old quarter.  The castle with its four round towers, the old convent of San Nicolas; there was a certain holiday feel to the place and I wished I could remain longer.  But it was getting hot and we pushed on.

Out on the trail, we walked alongside the N-006A – separated only by a concrete barrier.  My guide book suggests that this is a metaphor I may be searching for on the Way:  the Camino is always ‘close to the real world but moves in an orbit of its own.’

St James

We stopped in the little town of Pereje for an ice-cream, got our very important ‘sello’ (stamp) on the Credencial and looked at the quaint Bierzo architecture – we didn’t stop long though as the temperature was rising 2 degrees centigrade an hour and we could feel our exhaustion beginning to kick in once more.  A quick drink in Trabadelo, a cursory glance at the guitar playing peregrinos sitting outside the bar and we were off again to La Portela where we made it as far as the first hotel to end our day.