Villafranca Del Bierzo to Herrerias De Valcarce
“Comin’ along the road now
Feet are gettin mighty sore”
(“The Long Road”)
When singer/songwriter Byron Crowdaughter penned and released this cult classic in the mid seventies he probably reckoned the rock world was his oyster. He had honed his performing skills in the demanding bars and clubs of Johnstone and Linwood before his big break came one night when he secured a gig in Paisley’s Campbeltown and Islay Bar, a well established west end venue better known, admittedly, for its hugely popular “fight nights”.
Despite being offered a residency once his broken arm had healed, Crowdaughter decided his future lay in partnering up with hirsute former school friend and fellow guitar player Dermott “Gypsy” Egan, who was also establishing a reputation locally as a singing lothario. Sadly, musical differences, i.e. Egan could play while Crowdaughter…er………meant that the duo never progressed beyond six pints and a brief discussion on musical influences in Linwood’s Ponderosa nightclub.
Undaunted, Byron cemented his reputation as a solid live performer at weddings and 50th birthday parties, making classics such as “Mac The Knife” and “Proud Mary” hugely popular with more mature audiences.
Nowadays the former darling of the Renfrewshire social scene lives quietly in Paisley, limiting his singing appearances to restaurants and bars where the booked performer commits the schoolboy error of letting him hold the microphone. “My only regret”, he says, “is that more people didn’t get the chance to hear and love Byron Crowdaughter. But hey – that’s rock n’ roll.”
I found this article from the Johnstone Advertiser on line, and, having heard this man perform live on more occasions than I care to remember, got all overcome with nostalgia for those heady days. Anyway, back to the Camino. Today’s section was a straightforward stroll gradually rising without ever becoming demanding towards our final destination of Herrerias De Valcarce. The scenery is once again reminiscent of Scotland, full of roads lined with trees on either side, almost forming canopies to walk under; fast flowing rivers and waterfalls cascading down sheer walls of slate – like rock. There was virtually no sunshine today, which made walking so much easier, and consequently we made excellent time.
We came across a road sign containing arguably the best town/village name yet: “San Fiz Do Seo”. You have to admit, who wouldn’t want to live in a town called San Fiz? That apart, the day was pretty uneventful, with no difficult moments and no famous landmarks to view.
I have to mention the hostal/hotel we stayed in last night, “La Puerto Del Perdon”. It was absolutely beautiful in every respect and the owner was the nicest Spanish lady I have ever met in my life. She’s actually up there for nicest lady from any country, to be honest. She made us the most delicious meal, inclusive of as much wine as you wanted, washed our dirty clothes and generally went out her way to make sure our stay was wonderful. As we left this morning after a terrific breakfast she gave each of us a hug!
Tomorrow we take our leave of the huge region of Castilla y Leon and undertake an apparently short but demanding walk uphill into the Celtic region of Galicia. Our destination is the city of O’Cebreiro, and upon arriving there we will have completed four of the five phases that comprise our Camino adventure. Only eight stages now remain!
Today’s album track would have been “The Long Road” by Byron Crowdaughter, but sadly, no recording of the song could be found on You Tube or anywhere else, for that matter. Instead we’ll go with one of his most popular live numbers, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”. Get up and dance. You know you want to.