Today was our first day on the Camino Invierno, and it did not disappoint. We try to be easy on our bodies for the first few days of any Camino. So this morning we caught a taxi from our hotel and got dropped off in Villalibre de la Jurisdicción which reduced today’s 20 km walk by 8 kms. In short order we were off the main road and walking through decaying villages that are sadly very typical in Spain. The Camino followed quiet village roads and the moved onto double and single track lanes. We pushed along looking for the split where one has a choice to climb to the ruins of the Castillo de Cornatel or continue along the road towards Borrenes. The trail to the castle scribes a roughly horseshoe shaped pattern. The road option would be the short distance connecting the ends of the horseshoe. So in short the climb to the castle is all about seeing the ruins and enjoying the elevated views than advancing along the Camino track. But, as we were only looking at a very short day, off we went climbing up to the castle.
The grade was, at most, moderate. We simply chugged along slow and steady following switch back to switch back as we ascended. I must admit that when we first glimpsed the castle ruins high above us in the mist I thought, no way are we going all the way up there. Yet, that is exactly what we did and it really wasn’t difficult. In fact it turned out to be a gorgeous climb that provided some breathtaking vistas as we continued along. The trail took us through what looked to be another abandoned village, but a dog was barking and someone (maybe the only one) was playing some loud music. No neighbors to complain. As we approached the castle we were gifted with broad open views of mist carpeted valleys and snow capped peaks. It was simply stunning scenery. Absolutely breathtaking, and well worth the climb.
The sun was now out, the temperature was moderating as we started our descent. Robin and I couldn’t believe our good fortune that on day one we had such a perfect experience. Once at the bottom we saw we only had 1.6 kms to go to the village of Borrenes where we would be spending the night. Having heaps of time at hand we just ambled along enjoying the simple gift of being present here at this moment. I can’t imagine anything better.
Borrenes was very quiet save for a passing car, the driver of which, called out a “buen Camino” as she kicked up some gravel seemingly anxious to get to town. We found the main square and our hotel, and a bar across the square from it. We headed for the bar. As it turned out the owner of the bar was also the owner of the hotel. He was behind the bar with one customer nursing a coffee. His face lit up when we walked in. He likes peregrinos, and is a big promoter of the Camino Invierno. We ordered a couple of cervezas and once they were on the table he disappeared. Not long thereafter he reappeared with two bowls of sopa de ajo (garlic soup), and man was that good. Once all this hospitality was shared he broached the more immediate problem. His hotel (across the street) was having a heating problem and we could not stay there. However, he did have a solution. He whisked us away to a the neighboring village of Orellán and introduced us Isabel and her casa rural (bed and breakfast). So this is where we are encamped for the night. We will be picked up after breakfast tomorrow morning and returned to Borrenes where we will resume walking the Camino. A perfect (if short) Camino day. Off to Puente de Domingo Florez tomorrow.