Let me start by saying today has been the best day so far: in terms of weather, scenery, walking… And, as far as the first of those goes, it was something of a surprise.
But first, last night. Once again our meal had not been included (and neither had breakfast). Given the costs involved this – financially speaking – is not a problem. L had a supposedly small tuna salad, I had eggs, chips and chorizo, we both had cheese and shared a bottle of wine: about fifteen quid in total.
We woke to a grey smirr, low cloud and were further discouraged by the bombón meteorologica (weather dolly bird) on tv who showed cloud, rain and storms right over our heads. The waitress was rather more positive, saying it wouldn’t rain, but the cloud might not lift.
The Cares Gorge, which formed the first half of today’s walk, is stupendous: 13km on a good path through limestone peaks towering above us and the Rio Cares, hundreds of metres below, its water clear enough for us to see every pebble on the river bed. Time (and the need to order another beer) doesn’t allow me to go into more detail, but the smirr dissipated, the clouds disappeared, the sky turned blue and the sun shone down.
When you’re trying to “sell” a trip like this to a friend, you have to strike a balance and not overdo the description in case reality disappoints, so I was both delighted and relieved that L was as smitten with the walk as I was.
Our destination, Posada de Valdeon, was familiar to me from the trip with Brian four years ago and we’re staying in the same place, possibly the same room. Whilst the establishment is called Begoña, we are farmed out to the very appropriately named Casa Campo, owned by an elderly Englishman with a rather theatrical manner and a nice line in ear-studs. The building features a lot of marble flooring, some rather kitsch statuary and many other smaller objets d’art.
I must be honest: I have been stinking. L has done some hand-washing and even walked with damp knickers, socks etc. hanging off his rucksack. I’m a little more conscious of my image, but the result of several days in dampish weather means – according to Mr C – that my tee-shirt has become pretty niffy, despite occasional changes of clothing. L used to pass similar comments on the Chemin de Stevenson and if I were more sensitive I might have taken offence. However, even before beer, I have done some washing.
Begoña serves evening meals between 9pm and 10pm, so we have a while to wait.
Tomorrow will be a shortish day in terms of distance, but will involve a very steep ascent to the refuge at Collado Jermoso, where I do not expect wifi, so it’ll be a day or two until my next report.
Sorry about the photos. If I can’t send any from here, I’ll post some from home.