Winter walk to Acebo

(From our winter camino, late February to early March 2020)

Oh hello, new day! Our window faced straight into the sunrise. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast in the Candela before we headed out, appropriately dressed for the expected summery temperatures. We were just talking about the narrow and uneven trail leading up towards Foncebadón and preparing to walk single file and watch our step, when the arrows pointed towards this wide, even dirt road … where the narrow one had been. I suppose they were preparing for the Holy Year crowds next year, but a little something in us was very disappointed at this modernisation. No matter. It is what it is, and nothing can stay the same forever. Soon we were back to the old trail though, and the sun was beginning to heat up.

Oh yes there was mud. And tricky puddles to walk around. And not one, but two trees fallen across the trail! Well, we said we wanted the natural and un-messed with trail, and we certainly got it! We climbed over and walked around and skipped and slid and watched our step on the shale, and this was our reward:

Last time I walked past, the white stones formed a heart.

After a very beautiful and rewarding climb we arrived at Foncebadón, where surely there had to be one bar open. We decided to not mention the wide tarmac access road that had replaced the muddy pothole track, and concentrated instead of taking yet another photo of that tumbledown house as you approach. One day I will make a montage of its decline.

Nothing was in fact open though. Well, the top half of the door to our fave Foncebadón bar was open, but there was no sign outside … We walked up to it and tried a ‘hello?’, and one of the owners came to the door and explained that they were redecorating and didn’t serve food. I asked very nicely if I could possibly use the facilities, and she let us in straight away. We thanked her and told her we were happy to make a donation, but she didn’t want that – better we buy a cold drink, she said, so we did. There would probably not be anywhere to stop now before Acebo, so a cold can of Aquarius would come in very handy. We got a stamp and got out of her hair so she could carry on painting, but will make sure to go there in future too!

Then on we walked in the brilliant sunshine under a cloudless sky. Magic. We hadn’t seen another walking pilgrim so far, but fully expected to run into a busload or two by the Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross. But – not a soul! I took lots of photos, I’ll probably never see it like this again. (Doubly so as apparently there are plans to redesign the whole area for Holy Year.)

That was it for the uphill, from now on it would be downhill all the way to Acebo, and from there to Molinaseca the next day. Having the trail to ourselves also meant that we had the uninterrupted use of the bench after Manjarín, so we rested there for a while, had our Aquarius and enjoyed the views.

One bit of this trail that hasn’t been levelled out and made safer, is the stone strewn rock slope on the way down to Acebo. It takes time and focus to get down it safely, and I’m not sure if it was lack of stone strewn rock slope training, or the heat, or a touch of dehydration, but it felt a lot more difficult than it had before. The Scouse Spouse had a few missteps, but he soldiered on. Luckily this bit was still safe and flat and wide, so we got a breather. That last hill was challenging though.

Slowly we picked our way down to Acebo, where we had booked a room at La Trucha. You simply can’t beat their outside seating! Those views are amazing (and you can see them from the upstairs shower, FYI). In fact, you can’t possibly beat their breakfast either, or the warm and welcoming hosts. And our room was big and comfortable, well deserved after a tiring walk down.

After a shower and change, we went next door to the Mesón Acebo for a spot of post walk rehydration and a light meal. Their back garden has the same views as the Trucha, so we enjoyed the mountain vistas until the sun went down and it got cool and dark.

And so ended another magical camino day.

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