P1010492leaving Gigon

WALKING ALONE – The decision is made that my partner needs to rest up for a couple of days to see if the antibiotics and a short break can cure the problem caused by his infection. He will get a bus to Soto de Luina and I will meet him there in two days to re-assess what we are to do.



Unsurprisingly my night’s sleep has been fitful and I am still fairly weary as I set off out of Gigon after the usual breakfast. Fortified by a couple of strong coffees, the walk out of Gigon is not particularly attractive but soon I am hiking up a hill and then down into a pretty valley.

I meet a couple of walkers for lunch at a little church on the approach to Avilles and it is a pleasure to share lunch with them.


I want to walk alone however and I let them leave before me so that I don’t have to share my thoughts with them.


This is the first time the thought strikes me that this Camino is very much a personal discovery. I am worried by my partner’s predicament and my feeling is that he should go home immediately and see his doctor but I understand his desire to carry on if he can. The pull of the walking, the counting down of the steps and the sense of anticipation are irresistible by the third week of walking. I find myself lost in a storm of internal emotions and I don’t want to share them at this stage. I feel torn by a sense of guilt that I feel a kind of relief to be walking on my own. Today I don’t need to think about anyone else on the track. I can walk at my own pace, stop when I need to. I have no plans beyond getting to Avilles.




I meet an elderly French lady in her seventies. This is her fourth time of walking the Camino and her first on the Norte. I fall into conversation in French for a while and we stop to share each others’ food for a while by a river before she decides to skip on at a great lick, leaving me in her dust. She has described the addictive lure of the walking and the great joy she experiences with each adventure and every new connection she makes with another ‘pilgrim’.




The approach to Avilles is on a busy and dusty road and seems interminable. If a bus comes along I will consider catching it. But eventually I arrive at the hostel in Avilles where the folk I had seen earlier had already settled in. The auberge is very basic even by my standards and I feel the need to carry on walking.



For some reason I don’t want to spend time socialising as my mind is still too tied up with thoughts I don’t want to share with strangers. I walk on over a hill a further 8 kms until I reach the sea at Piedras Blancas. I find a basic room in a small private hostel and walk into town to eat at a popular little bar that is showing the Barcelona v Real Madrid football match. Passions are high among the many locals and I enjoy a delicious octopus supper before walking to the sea front to enjoy a glass of wine and where I arrange to come for breakfast in the morning.


It has been a long day of walking but the noises in my head mean I have  hardly noticed the miles.

Tomorrow we will know more about how we are to continue. Tonight, soothed by the sea and a large glass of red wine, I sleep well in my private little room.




Calling it a day on the Primitivo –

We have underestimated my walking partner’s predicament.

His stoicism has hidden his real problem and , after a terrible night which sees him unable to sleep and in some discomfort, it’s clear he should see a doctor. At this point I’m not sure he agrees with me about that but we are both clear that we cannot continue into the hills with this level of insecurity about our ability to cope without the proximity of a doctor if needed. We discuss the options and decide to return to Gigon on the Norte where we will be in a position to make a decision about doctors and whether we can both continue. It is clear that a long walk like this and the daily insecurity about where to eat and sleep is not to be done without being in confident health.


We manage eventually to find a bus that will take us through Oviedo and on to Gigon. I leave Mike to book hotels as it is clear he needs the comfort of something less shabby than last night until he is better. And so it is that soon we are in the port of Gigon, Mike is catching up on some much needed sleep and I am off exploring the town very much hoping that Mike decides to see a doctor.


I am very taken with Gigon. There is a mixture of working and leisure and working boats in the pretty harbour and soon I am climbing around the promontory to the forts on the top of the hill and the views back along the sea cliffs that we had been walking previously.


I descend into the old town and witness an Andalusian wedding that makes me feel like I am in the centre of a Lorca play. The bagpipe music and the exotic dress – especially of the women – transports me to another world away from the worries for my partner.

pipe players

pipe players

Taking a break

Taking a break


I receive a text to meet Mike at the hospital. He has decided to see what is wrong. I make my way to meet him there and give some support while he is poked and prodded by some very friendly and welcoming doctors. The treatment is quick and very efficient. Without going into details, he is advised to take antibiotics and to see his own doctor ‘ as soon as he can’.

The thought of returning home immediately does not appeal and he decides to rest up a couple of days to see if the antibiotics can cure the problem. I will walk on for a couple of days and he will catch up by bus when he feels better. I sense that he wants to be alone to think through the possibilities, to catch up on sleep and hopefully to get better and so I agree to set off tomorrow to Avilles and then on to Soto de Luina where Mike has booked a hotel.

It is not a good night sleep for me although I sense that Mike sleeps much better than he has been. He must be relieved to know that he has some options and to make some sense of his growing discomfort over the past week or so. My advice to him is that he should return home immediately and I will finish the walk for both of us but I understand why he wants to take the other option of waiting to see what happens. The walk has entrapped us in the way it does so many and leaving it is a big wrench.


Here’s to hoping those Spanish antibiotics have the kick of a mule.

Woody is in town

Woody is in town

From the City of Art into the unknown and a ‘Fanta’ moment – I expect my walking partner to turn up just after mid-day and so I have a morning to explore this delightful city. I decide to follow the shells out of town to start with so that I will know the way tomorrow. The route takes me up past the railway and out of town through quiet suburbs. I see a hairdresser and decide on a ‘number 1’ and a shave, enjoying the ensuing conversation in half English half Spanish. My hairdresser’s English is probably a bit better than my Spanish but that is not saying much. Let’s just say she and I spent a funny half hour speaking ‘Spanglish’. I kind of understood most of what we covered!

Oviedo Cathedral

Oviedo Cathedral

On the way back to the centre I am impressed by the beautiful churches, the gardens and the surprises in the form of wonderful bronzes that might pop up out when you least expect it. At one point I think I am about to meet Woody Allen until I realise he is just a very lifelike bronze. Apparently he had done some filming in Oviedo and this is a tribute to him.

Mike arrives as planned and I leave him to settle in while I explore the old sector and the Museum of Art that is next to the Cathedral. More wonderful examples of Spanish talent through the centuries are beautifully exhibited in this ancient building.

Later Mike and I explore the Cathedral museum before heading into the old quarter for a meal of local fish and some cider poured from a great height by macho waiters who don’t seem to mind pouring most of our purchase into the gutter.

We discuss whether to continue on the Primitivo and decide to give it a go despite nagging doubts as to our relative fitness to enter into a much wilder walk than we have been used to.

Tomorrow will tell.

DAY 19 Oviedo – Gardo   25kms ‘ A FANTA MOMENT’

St. Jaques sees us on our way

St. Jaques sees us on our way

We set off just after 8 o’clock and Mike decides he would like to attend mass in the church of St. James which we pass on the route out. I leave him to walk on alone with the agreement to meet for lunch somewhere along the way. Walking out of Oviedo is easy and soon I am in deep countryside.


Iconic granite grain stores signpost the Way. There is forest walking and the route takes a slight detour down into a shaded valley of chestnut trees and along a stream.

The hills we must cross

The hills we must cross

Wild crocus adorn the path in places and I enjoy the shade as the day is getting warmer. The detour is a few kilometres and I realise, as I come back onto the road I had left an hour previous, that I am no more than a few bends further on than when I left it! I stop at the top of the hill to wait for Mike and don’t have to wait long as he has not taken the detour and saved himself the hour he had spent in church. He appears cheerful but the heat is getting to us both. After a short stop for refreshment we head off again.


Much of the walking is through valleys that point to the hills in the distance that we know we will be climbing in a day or so. It is all very pretty but there is much hard track walking and little shade from a strengthening sun. We pass many isolated chapels.

The Fanta moment

The Fanta moment

We are walking uphill at one point. We are on asphalt as we pass through a village. Mike is ahead of me but appears to be struggling with pace and limping slightly. As I catch up he says he needs a drink and we stop for a water refresh. I’m sure he says ” I could kill a Fanta ” and at that point , as if from nowhere, we see an advert on the side of a small tavern with the orange “Fanta” can. Mike needs to stop but I am in the zone and need to continue up this hill or I will never get going again.


I continue for a kilometre or so before finding a shady spot by a stream to rest my feet and take on some more water while I wait for Mike. we are amazed that the Camino provided for him just what he needed at that moment. There is nothing in the guide about the little bar which is tucked away in someone’s front room. We are to realise later the importance of that sugar drink for Mike who is actually quite dehydrated although at this point we don’t know it.


The final few kilometres into Grado is an effort for us both and Grado is not the prettiest of villages with its industrial past. We have a choice to walk on  a further 8 kms to a monastery to find shelter or to hole up in an inexpensive wayside inn. It is still 34 degrees and close to six o’clock and we decide to call it a day. We receive a friendly welcome in the tavern but they don’t do food and so we descend the hill into the old part of town for salad and fish before settling into our shabby but clean room for a fitful night’s sleep.

We are neither of us sure we have made the right decision to walk this route. Tomorrow will bring an answer.





Bronze woman going to church

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A city of bronzes

A city of bronzes

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Tales of Spain

The Camino Norte


A day on my own – Having made the decision to go it alone I had a restless sleep and I am up early to dress and to take a walk along the Promenade to think things over and to make a plan. My first idea is to catch a bus straight to Oviedo and from there to start the two week walk on the Primitivo after a rest day. I leave at about seven intending to catch the bus but as I pass the yellow arrow that points  off to the right I cannot resist the thought of walking  and head out  along the river towards COLLUNGA where I will decide what to do next.P1010233

P1010232 Follow the river out of town

Mike and I had rarely actually walked side by side as he has a much faster walking rhythm than me, especially on hills. I had got used to…

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A day on my own – Having made the decision to go it alone I had a restless sleep and I am up early to dress and to take a walk along the Promenade to think things over and to make a plan. My first idea is to catch a bus straight to Oviedo and from there to start the two week walk on the Primitivo after a rest day. I leave at about seven intending to catch the bus but as I pass the yellow arrow that points  off to the right I cannot resist the thought of walking  and head out  along the river towards COLLUNGA where I will decide what to do next.P1010233


Follow the river out of town

Mike and I had rarely actually walked side by side as he has a much faster walking rhythm than me, especially on hills. I had got used to watching him disappear into the distance often with his ipod plugged into his ears listening to his meditation tape and it is strange today not to have that stretchy bit of elastic band between us.


A little village full of wall art at SAN PEDRO


I walk with a kind of numbness through ancient villages and along sea cliffs that remind me of Cornwall.

More wall art

More wall art


Towards the coast again


Grain and food stores typical of the area




This could be Cornwall



All too soon I reach Collunga where I work out that I have to wait until the mid afternoon for a bus to Oviedo. I am strangely very tired and so I find a spot in the shade in a little garden and try to sleep for an hour or so before getting the bus that speeds me via VILLAVICOSIA into the lovely town of OVIEDO. I follow my nose and the brass shells that are impressed in the pavement until I reach the centre and the Cathedral and soon I have found a relatively inexpensive little hotel that is right on the Camino trail.


Oviedo Cathedra


As I sit outside the Cathedral watching the world go by I feel a nagging worry for my partner. He has not been well but has stoically hidden the fact. How would he do on his own? How would I do? I text him to ask how his day has been and how he is managing and where he has got to. He returns a text to say that in his opinion we had started this together and maybe we should try to finish it together. He would meet me in Oviedo and we would give the Primitivo a bash. He will get a bus tomorrow and we will talk about it then.


Serving the local cider. The real show offs don’t look at the glass!

Relieved I feel a definite lightness of mood and can enjoy an evening walk around Oviedo, some cider that is poured from a great height and with amazing skill into my glass, a meal of octopus and a good nights sleep. My sleep has often been disturbed by my partner who is finding sleep increasingly difficult as the trip has progressed and his injury/illness has become increasingly troublesome.


We will see what tomorrow brings.

It's a pretty path out of Poo

It’s a pretty path out of Poo


lovely walking

lovely walking


A ( brief ) parting of the ways – I should have known when I realised I had left my ipod under my pillow that today would be a disaster. I decide to return to the casa rural to retrieve the ipod and  Mike walks on alone. We would catch up at a breakfast spot along the way. Or so I think. Mike finds breakfast and a small shop to stock up on provisions for lunch just a couple of kms down the road. But in my hurry to catch him up I miss him. This was to be the only chance of a breakfast until after midday.


I end up walking alone all morning. A lovely walk ’tis true but without any sustenance I feel the miles.


I meet a lovely French woman in her seventies and we fall into conversation. She is walking alone her seventh or eighth Camino. She has always wanted to walk the Norte and is walking from her home near Paris. She is as nimble as a mountain goat and is actually slowing herself down to chat with me. When I mention my need to find some coffee and carbs she kindly shares her last little crust of bread and a square of chocolate with me. Just enough to take away the nagging hunger but her kindness certainly lifts the spirits mightily. Another Camino ‘Angel’.

Mike and I eventually meet up at midday in NAVES. He has been behind me all this time having enjoyed his breakfast! I manage some food and get some provisions in NUEVA to eat later and we set off again.


There is a handsome church at SAN PEDRO DE PRIAL. It sits aloft a small hill proclaiming its importance. Mike is ahead of me and reaches the church first.


I circumnavigate, taking pictures and exploring for a few minutes. I look for Mike but cannot find him and presume he has gone on and so I head off down the valley.

After a couple of kms we text each other and I discover that he is still at the church where he has decided to have lunch. I cannot face returning up the hill I have just come down and decide to eat what I have in a lovely little spot by a Roman bridge and a little river.



Mike has most of the fresh sandwich fillings with him but I have enough for a refreshing meal. It is strange, I think to myself, how important food and the little rituals of eating and drinking have become. In most of the blogs I read I notice a growing obsession with food and the minutia of what to eat. I wait some time but my partner is still not in sight so I set off again.


Eventually we meet up not far from RIBADASELLA and we make our way to the hotel Mike has booked.

A view from the hotel balcony

A view from the hotel balcony



We are right on the Promenade a stone’s throw from the sea and while Mike settles in I do the usual and go for a stroll to explore the surroundings and do a reconnaissance.

one of the amazing hotels on the promenade

one of the amazing hotels on the promenade

the promenade

the promenade

At supper the conversation again falls into planning and it becomes clear that we seem to have different agendas for the walk. We had agreed before we started the walk that we should not be ‘joined at the hip’ and after full and very frank discussion we decide to walk separately for a while and to see what transpires. I will make my way to Oviedo , probably by bus. From there I will continue along the Primitivo. Mike would continue along the Norte perhaps taking the route through Oviedo as he is keen to see the cathedral.


With this thought in mind I find sleeping difficult and am awake very early to set off the next morning.


More on travels in Spain……



Blow holes and wild goats – The sun shines on us today.


Fortified by the usual breakfast we ascend to the first village to get a stamp and buy provisions.


This is an important place with elaborate INDIANA style houses. Lots of fine woodwork and fussy balconies.


The route takes us down through a deep valley and we have to suffer some busy road walking for a while until we can branch off to the sea where we follow the cliffs and beaches.


We see blowholes, wild goats and a many rugged coves and we enjoy our lunch on a beach. This is wonderful walking and there are many stops for photos and to admire the view so progress is quite slow.



We eventually reach Llanes and make the decision to walk on. We have nowhere booked but take a chance in Poo when we see a sign for a…

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Follow the shell and the arrow

Follow the shell and the arrow

Getting lost makes a long day – Our target today is Persues when we set off late at about ten o’clock after a protracted breakfast.

P1010094P1010093We enjoy some of the best walking yet through protected parkland full of livestock.





There are lots of views of the sea and we eventually descend into SAN VINCENTE DE BARQUERA, crossing the long medieval bridge and settling for lunch by the pretty harbour.





A lot of this section of walk has reminded me a lot of my native Cornwall and this little fishing village has the feel of Padstow with its sand bar and colourful fishing boats.





The walk out and upwards rewards us with stunning views of the coast and the river.


On the hills Mike is still much quicker than me despite his injury that he is trying to ignore and soon he is out of sight . After an hour or so I begin to worry a bit as usually he has stopped at a suitable point to let me catch up but there is no sight of him and I presume he has found a burst of energy and decided to march on. Nearing SEREDO I receive a text telling me that he had lost the trail soon after the ascent out of San Vincente and is actually behind me. He has found some walking partners and would catch up. Relieved, I find a bar in Seredo and wait with a cold beer and have a beer and sandwich ready for Mike who pitches up soon after.


The room we have booked in Persues has nowhere near to eat and, lacking provisions to feed ourselves we decide to walk on to Unqueres where we find a very tidy little pension.

Over a meal of fish and soup we discuss the merits and negatives of continuing our walk through Oviedo and the Primitivo. My partner is suffering again from a nagging injury and today’s long walk has not helped it. He is naturally concerned that the longer stretches and the long climbs on the Primitivo might leave us exposed if anything goes wrong. We leave any decision until a later date but I am happy to continue along the Norte if that is what is deemed necessary. We have a few days to decide and, at this point we both hope that the injury will pass.

Que cera……..


Pigs and churches – After the customary breakfast of gallons of coffee and carbs we hang around to get our stamp before heading off up the hill of cobbled stone and onwards through two valleys which are full of livestock.

pig and cow

pig and cow

There are a lot of pigs. Some are enormous and seem to enjoy the company of cattle and other animals. There are a few groups of mainly Spanish walkers who seem to be doing a short walk and we pass and are passed by them most of the day.

ginga pig

ginga pig


The open countryside is a real pleasure. We pass an extraordinary large church at Ciguenza that seems at the same time incongruous but comfortable in the wild surroundings. I mean to find out who put it here and why.


church at ciquenza

church at ciquenza

There is another fine church at CORBRECES where we stop for lunch and can enjoy the views back to the sea and the pilgrim statue that stands proudly on the hill.




There follows more woodland walking before the final descent into the Seaside town of Comilla. There has been a fair bit of road walking again today but I am generally pleased that i can feel that my general fitness is getting better every day despite the nagging arthritis in my left toe.


We see a sign that tells us that we still have 575 kms left to walk. I am not daunted by these figures anymore. “Bring it on”, I think to myself as I am growing to love the physical act of walking. I have been told that the first week or so of a long walk is mostly about the physical aspects. Thankfully I have been free of the dreaded blisters and my back has held up pretty well. I find the rhythm of walking is becoming hypnotic as my senses become more acute and attuned to the smells and sounds around me and also within me. My footfall, my breathing and my heartbeat set up a distinct rhythm and I often find myself singing or chanting a new melody that has popped into my head. I notice the small things among the huge horizons.  A delicate mushroom, a particularly verdant moss on a brick wall, a birdsong from a tree above me. And the endorphins released by the walking leave me feeling strangely elated at the end of each day.


We find a comfortable little hostel in Comillas just as the rains arrive from the mountains. While Mike settles in to get comfortable I decide to brave the rain and to explore the little town and find a map so that we can find a place to eat.