Herrerias De Valcarce to O’Cebreiro
“Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.”
Today was definitely not such a day. The sun was shining before we’d even left the hotel, and our route was, while pretty steep, not a long one. As we rose upwards far more quickly than on previous days, we came across the group of horses that were available for hire to take you to O’Cebreiro. They were walking at such a leisurely pace that I was actually overtaking them, but the path was narrow and Carolyn is slightly scared of horses (they were completely docile), so we had to let them press on ahead. And give them space to cultivate the winding path with their fertiliser. Nimble feet required!
The walk was, as I say, short but steep. We knew we’d get to O’Cebreiro in next to no time, so we had three coffee stops. It was luxurious. I actually said to Carolyn at the second stop that we really needed to sit back and take everything in: we were up high, the views were just spectacular, the sun was shining and there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Some time in November we’ll be outside in the cold and rain, wrapped in a blanket of grey dampness, wondering if this ever happened. It’s usually the other way round, but the Camino is encouraging me to kick back and smell the roses.
In the course of this walk we crossed the border from Castilla y Leon into Galicia. Not long after, we arrived in O’Cebreiro. This is not, as I thought, a city. It’s a village with a population of fifty! You are immediately struck by the contrast that exists between here and the other areas we’ve walked through. Every region is incredibly distinct and determined to stress its individuality. Galicia, on first impressions, seems determined to announce its Celtic heritage. As soon as we arrived in its small centre, the sound of Celtic music filled the streets. You would have sworn you were in Ireland. Or Scotland. I can’t deny, it sounded great!
The small souvenir shops are awash with t-shirts displaying Celtic symbols or the flags of the seven Celtic nations. Of course there are all the Camino symbols as well. As we move onwards from here, it will be interesting to see how this Celtic theme develops. You’re conscious of a change in the dynamic yet again, and it’s fantastic to experience it.
As we’ve moved from region to region, there have been apparent changes in the outlook of the people, not least in terms of their attitude towards Spain. Navarra is fiercely proud of its Basque heritage and seems to want no truck with Spain (or France, for that matter). Rioja and Castilla y Leon are very much pro Spain. My initial impression of Galicia is that it also views itself as unique and deserving of its independence. I need to learn more about it, but they appear hugely proud of their admission to the league of Celtic nations. So many people who have been here before tell us we will be amazed at the similarities with the landscape of Scotland. If the weather continues to be as kind to us as it has for the first four weeks, the scenery should be quite something.
We’ve just discovered that there is no wi fi in our somewhat basic (but perfectly nice) accommodation. The lovely proof reader has resolved to find an answer to this minor problem while I go for a shower. Tomorrow it’s onwards to Triacastela, a 21km walk which promises more great views. Looking forward to it!
Today’s album track is “Keep On Tryin’” by Poco, because when you’re tired, you’ve got to keep going! And sing in nice harmonies.