All night there had been thunder and lightening which had not abated in the morning so we decided to delay our departure till the storm abated. We passed the time playing Knock out whist- a game of cards popular with my friends. My card playing has improved over the trip so I am not knocked out as easily now! Eventually we decided to drive part of the way and pick up the Camino closer to the Barranco Rio del Dulce park that had been touted as one of the most beautiful parts of the route. The advantage of the car!
Karen dropped us a few kilometres from the entrance where we picked up the yellow arrows and set off. It was quite chilly but soon we came to the entrance through a little town called Aragosa with a population of about 30. No bar here! It seemed to be undergoing a bit of revitalisation though with a Casa Rural and some humorous art. its Main Street wasn’t all that inspiring but it lead out to a beautiful valley. A secret garden feel I thought.
Only resident!’s cars so this sense of a secret place seemed appropriate. The walk followed the Dulce river and wound through poplar forests and small oaks with fields of golden stubble. All surrounded by high cliffs.
We came across a potato farmer picking some of his crop and a wood cutter. The area is supposed to have wild cats and otters and deer and squirrels etc but we saw only eagles. Too high to photograph. I loved the fishing sign. Fishing ground-only live bait, artificial will capture zero. We didn’t really understand what it meant but sounded humorously wry to me. The wood cutter was a small concern without huge logging trucks and only individual trees marked for cutting. Some hard working ants taking a bit of my chocolate away.
Near the fishing sign was a place where all the interpretive signs had braille as well. We were intrigued by its placement in this secluded valley. We passed another village completely in ruins where there used to be a place making paper money. The history of these places is so tantalisingly mysterious. Eventually we emerged at the base of Pelegrína a small village overshadowed by the ruins (of course) of a small castle. Immediately I thought it was like the castle out of sleeping beauty where the princess lay asleep, her castle surrounded by brambles and forest.
Now our walk turned from sweet to sour. Not really but pilgrims always end the day with an uphill haul and soon we were climbing out of the canyon up a stony zigzag path to reach the top, a weird plateau of flat rocks. It was like walking through a grave yard. The path had been way marked with small standing stones to help guide us.
Then we crossed the road and saw Siqüenza in the valley below. What a welcome sight. Still there was a steep rocky path down to negotiate but we knew there was an open bar, cold beers and lemon Fanta waiting. Karen had negotiated the streets to park near our lodgings and was waiting in the Plaza Mayor. Another great day, 26C and 24kms completed.
We are here for three nights and will use it as a base for the next stage. After a reviving rest and lunch we got settled in our Airbnb which is really well set up and charming. We headed out for dinner about 7.30 to see what places are open ( holiday time for restaurants!). Along with many other tourists or locals we had little to choose from. The one Michelin starred place was not suitable. We really were too tired to appreciate such a place even if we were keen. €180 per person was a bit more than we felt up to paying. We stumbled into a little place that was cheerful and it turned out to be owned by an Argentinian who specialised in empanadas. We had the most delicious empanadas and fresh salad with potato’s bravos and drinks and dessert for €64. We returned home happy, full and sleepy.