CF Day 18 – Reliegos to León

What a relief to wake up and feel well! We were planning on an early getaway this morning to beat the heat, also because the trail, a senda-like gravel path next to the road, would be relatively easy to walk even in the dark and dusk. We were up and out before sunrise, which doesn’t happen often!

We still kept seeing these mad snails climbing trees and imagined they were having a slow-motion race to the top …

We walked past a petrol station and saw this coach party having a rest and refuel. Shortly after they drove past us, then stopped at the side of the road, and a handful of them came out of the bus to photograph the camino roadsign.

The pilgrim statue in Mansilla de las Mulas, no sugar coating here – these are knackered pilgrims wilting in the heat. We could relate, though luckily this day it wasn’t too hot.

The blue pedestrian bridge just before León was closed with no further explanation and rather than cross the very heavy traffic we were rerouted up to the right, first up and then down again on a recently and roughly cut path. Not sure if it is an improvement, and I can imagine it would be very muddy and slippery during or after rain. But at least we could see León in the distance, with its promise of food, drink, city sights and above all, a rest day.

I didn’t really spend much time in León last time (I slept for 16 hours straight) but I had a feeling that our room was near one of the main squares in the centre, so we just followed the crowds into town. Then we turned a corner, and … this! Cows, carts, fruit and vegetables, bread, costumes, people milling around and then suddenly cows and carts moving and coming towards the crowds, so we quickly got out of the way! It was a festival celebrating harvest abundance, I have forgotten the name of it but it carried on throughout the city and throughout the night.

It’s not Burgos, but it’s pretty spectacular. We found a quiet square near our room and just sat there people and pilgrim watching, a bit overwhelmed by the activity and crowds after so many days in the quiet countryside. Spot the camino chic footwear! (And yes, that’s a black toenail, which I managed to get from a training walk in the wrong shoes before I left.)

We left the sightseeing for the next day, when we would have our second rest day so far.

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