Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ferrol - Pontedeume

Camino Inglés day 1.
Distance: 29.0km (29.0km), time spent: 8:41 (8:41).
Weather: Nice, changing clouds


Walking to where the Camino Ingles starts from is not as steeped in history, as it is to rise off the boat after a long and arduous crossing to Ferrol. As pilgrims from northern Europe, we should surely have come by boat, as they did in the old days. Modern pilgrims as we are, we instead flew to A Coruna and took a bus from there to Ferrol. Our luggage did not arrive, however, so we now stand ready for the English Way with newly purchased equipment on our backs. Which still probably are more than what the pilgrims who took their first step on land on their way to Santiago de Compostela was carrying.

Kjetil and me at the harbour in Ferrol, standing next to the stone that marks the beginning of the Camino Ingles.

That nothing became of my original plan to go to the albergue in Neda is needless to say. Since I first intended to start later in the day, a shorter leg on the first day was originaly planned. Today however, it is early morning when Kjetil and I are standing next to the stone marking the beginning of the Camino Ingles. We have more time available, since we have all of the day ahead of us and will go to Pontedeume, about thirty kilometres from Ferrol. There is a certain joyful itch in my stomach by back on a Camino, the memories I have from earlier Caminos are deeply rooted in my mind.

Ermita de Santa Maria de Caranza, the grass stands tall around the small chapel, locked as usual and the backside was full of ugly graffiti-signatures.

Through Ferrol, we walked through quiet streets. The Camino takes a little while to move out of the city, but elevated by being back on the road again, the walk past the more industrial areas and boring suburban settlements does not feel that bad. From Ferrol the route follows Ria de Ferrol upwards, before it turns at the estuary where the albergue in Neda is located and then continues due south on the east side of the river. Whereupon the only small elevations of importance for the day follows, before the route goes down again towards Ria de Ares and Pontedeume.

A pleasant wooden promenade alongside the beach after the Santa Maria de Caranza church, we followed this promenade, but I did wonder a little if not the Camino really went on the road above. Anyway, it is more pleasant to walk on this boardwalk.

Since I have still to walk the Camino del Norte, it feels nice to go a long way alongside water for once on a Camino. Around the small chapel of Ermita de Santa Maria de Caranza grass are standing tall, afterwards the route follows the beach on a pleasant promenade of wood. So far, we have not sighted any other pilgrims. The scallops and the yellow arrows leads us through rural areas and small green spaces. Kjetil believes that his bright yellow backpack, blue t-shirt and blue shoes are in style with the yellow and blue colours of the scallops of the waymarks. We take a coffee break at the first bar we get to after leaving Ferrol.

San Martin de Xubia, a church from the 12th century. A nice place to take a break if you want or need to. In the background on the other side of the river, you can see Fene, which the trail will pass through later.

After the church of San Martin de Xubia, a nice place to take a break by if you need it by the way, you go through the first eucalyptus forest on the journey. Soon afterwards, the Camino goes down to two small ponds, separated by a natural causeway that the Camino crosses over. The water looks uninviting. From here, the Camino originally goes through a park along the estuary to the Neda albergue, but now there are constructing works here and the route is temporary altered to go through Xubia instead. In Ferrol yesterday, we bought bread, baguettes (bocadillos), cured meats and fruit. For breakfast, and for lunch today, which it is time for when we arrive at the albergue in Neda. Outside the orange building there is a nice picnic area with benches, it is a nice place to sit and relax at in the evening.

The route goes on a boardwalk between the Neda albergue and Neda village where the Camino Ingles passes through a small nature reserve.

Until now, it has been a pleasant enough walk, but where the best part has been the feeling that I am on my way. From the Neda albergue (which is located closer to Xubia than Neda actually), we promenade along the water at first, before we come to a boardwalk that goes through a small nature reserve. It is early in the summer, but despite that there is little water in the small marshy area, and the air has a tiny stale smell. Neda itself is a pleasant small village with narrow streets; we get a stamp in our credentials by the local police.

Camino waymark in the pavement in Neda.

From Neda, we start slowly on the first prominent, but easy, ascent of the day. On the way up, we can look over the river and across to the buildings of Ferrol on the other side. It has become warmer and in Fene we stop for a cerveza at a local bar, which we find right by where the Camino crosses the main street. After Fene is the next easy ascent, which climbs up towards the Poligono Industrial Vilar do Colo. At the top, we pass said industrial park, but the way up went through the longest forest parts on the route so far, even though the highway is not far away.

Before Cabanas, we can see the houses of Pontedeume on the other side of Rio de Ares. The Camino goes next to the Magdalena Beach (Praia de Magdalena), which lures Kjetil into the water for a swim. It tempts me as well, but right now, I feel perfectly fine just to sit down quietly on the beach and enjoy the nice weather. After crossing the bridge over the Eume river, which is the origin of the name of the city, we have arrived in Pontedeume.

Neda, a cosy village with narrow streets that the route is passing through.

When we arrive, the albergue has not opened yet, from the outside it looks a little bit worn out, there are no backpacks to see outside. We make a call to the number of the hospitalero given on the door and learns that they will come and open sometime soon, we sit down on one of the benches outside. Kjetil airs the idea that we could continue to Mino, a further 10 kilometres to go. Along the way, we have not seen or met any other pilgrims, but while sitting outside the albergue suddenly another pilgrim appears. Of all things, it is a Norwegian woman as well, even though she lives in Canada. We are the only ones staying at the albergue, it is not huge, but inside it is clean and simple, quite nice actually.

After Fene, the route goes through the longest forest parts of the day, where the air smells fresh from the eucalyptus trees.

I am happy that we decided to stay, Pontedeume is a nice little town with cosy narrow streets that goes up in the hill above. In a few days, there will be a medieval festival here and pennants, banners and flags with medieval designs are hanging across the streets. Together with Solvor, we go for a small round in the town before we find a place to have dinner. The plaza is nice, but the food is not the most culinary I have tasted, although it was decent enough. After another small round in the town again in the evening, we return to the albergue, where it is being practiced singing and music for the festival. Evening entertainment for pilgrims, while clouds slowly drifts into the sky.

Walking over the bridge to Pontedeume, the albergue to the right beneath the Torreon dos Andrade that is all that is left of the supposedly grand Pazo dos Condes from the 14th century.

Satisfied with the first day on the Camino Ingles, I am excited about the continuation. The walk from Ferrol was mostly pleasant, with a decent enough mix of asphalt versus dirt roads and trail. I was surprised of how few other pilgrims we met, at the albergue we were only three persons, and had expected to meet more.

In Pontedeume, a small place in between the small narrow streets. Pennants, banners and flags for the upcoming medieval festival fluttering in the wind.

 Betanzos ->

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