Camino Day 22


Today, Friday 21 October 2022, is one month since we started cycling the Camino in St Jean Pied de Port. We have cycled 371 miles in both directions, a total of 742 miles over 22 cycling days.

Today’s ride took us through the town of Ponferrada with it’s prominent castle, once occupied by the Knights Templar to protect the pilgrims on this part of the Camino.

Ponferrada – literally Iron Bridge – spreads out on both sides of the Rio Sil, it has a feeling of being a real town, which is a strange thing to say. Unlike so many of the villages and towns along the Camino, that only exist these days due to the trade from the pilgrims, Ponferrada feels like the Camino economy is insignificant compared to the surrounding farming communities and other industries. The locals far exceeded the pilgrims for a change, we didn’t hear any English spoken. Bliss.

Beyond Ponferrada, the Camino took us through a gently undulating fertile basin called el Bierzo, with many small-holdings growing vegetables, fruit trees, and lots of small, medium and large vineyards of red and white grapes, most of which had already been harvested.

The vineyards were a bit scruffy, not as tidy as the ones in Rioja, and it made us think they were probably organic judging by the weeds that were growing between the vines. We tried some local white wine which was light, fruity and quaffable!

The el Bierzo Camino took us through lovely countryside, gentle rolling hills with a hinterland of big black mountains. The villages along the Way were medieval and authentic, with barns beneath the houses for the animals and living quarters on the first floor with rickety balconies. We saw a woman dressed in black sitting in her doorway doing needlework.

Our favourite village was Valtuille de Arriba, where time has stood still for centuries. In fact el Bierzo was one of our favourite sections of the Camino.

Our destination, the town of Villafranca del Bierzo was bigger than we had expected and panned out along the eastern bank of the Rio Burbia for quite some distance. The maze of narrow streets were on the steep hillside and lead down to the Aire where we are parking our camper for the night, right next to the river.

Ponferrada Castle
Statue in front of Ponferrada’s Museum of Energy
The best street art we have seen so far
The Camino of the Bierzo
Valtuille de Arriba
Villafranca del Bierzo

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