Friday, May 3, 2013

Castrojeriz to Fromista

Although the weather forecast for Burgos (30 miles away) today called for rain, we were blessed with a clear but cloudy and cool day. Most of today was on a country road surrounded by miles of farmland, broken only by the occasional rural community.
We had a lovely breakfast at our hotel and then headed out on a very solid path. Our first challenge was an ascent of about 300 ft to Alto Mostelares at 2700 ft in about 1-1/2 miles. (Photo 1 - mountain in background). The views were worth the climb. (Photo 2). There was a small pilgrim park at the top and an enterprising Spaniard was selling fruit and coffee for a donation. Smart man. Nothing else on this 8 mile tract until we got to Itero de la Vega. Coming down the steep slope from the mountain was paved. They must have lost some pilgrims in the mud coming down the slope and decided this was a good preventative measure.
Going into the village, we crossed the Rio Pisuerga on the Ponte Fitero. (photo 3), which provides the natural historical boundary between the kingdoms of Castilla and Leon.
We now entered the Province of Palencia where Itero is located. There we stopped for lunch at a very popular cafe with an outdoor patio, full of pilgrims, before tackling a long stretch to our next village. This part is known as the agricultural area with rivers and canals that irrigate its fields. We saw plentiful fields of wheat and soybean along the path.
Our next stop was Boadilla del Camino. Unremarkable except for the usual Romanesque church, several albergues and a couple of bars. We had a coffee to rejuvenate ourselves and then did the last leg of today's trip.
These last 4 miles were the best of the day. (Photo 4) We walked along the Canal de Castilla, which was constructed during the last half of the 18th C and the early 19th century to facilitate wheat and other grain transport to the northern harbors. However, when railroads were built in the mid 19th Century, the canal turned into the spine of a huge irrigation system, which is still in use today. The canal is 129 miles long and flows through several provinces in Castile y Leon. (Photo 5)
We arrived in Fromista about 4 pm, completing 16 miles and just missing the rain. We checked into Hotel San Martin- a double with bath for 50€ in a fairly elegant building.
We then toured the beautiful little village (pop 800) with its 3 very simple, unembellished, Romanesque churches.
Pictured here are 2 (photo 6 and 7) are Iglesia San Martin (11 th C) and San Telmo.
We joined Brent, Mike, Christine and Martina (the latter both from Germany) for a pilgrim's meal at a cafe next door to our hotel. A long but fun day!

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