WOW. What lovely day. It started out misty. Everything is damp including the washing from yesterday afternoon and the distance veiled. From San Vincente it's a steep climb inland to a ridge; the landscape has become more rugged and the fields are strewn with rocky outcrops. Cow bells and cattle lowing are the only sounds and the gorse bushes are covered with dew-drenched cobweb hammocks. Here, the cattle look like prehistoric wall-paintings with long curly, black tipped horns.
I cross a busy motorway far below and it silently and mysteriously disappears into the mist and further on, an elegant road bridge soars over a deep river valley while eagles soar over head in the distance.
A group of us seem to converge at coffee time in the small village of Sergio. Several French, a Slovenian man, Christine pitches up. I down an agua con gaz, a caffe con leche and a whole packet of Haribos. Nothing much here, except a bar and a long line of dairy cows being driven along the road.
Slowly I'm leaving the district of Cantabria and entering the wilder, mountainous district of Esturia. It already feels different. I think the boundary is the Rio Deva which I cross at 12.30pm.
There are some pretty steep hills today between valleys. Although it's misty I can see snow-capped mountains in the distance and the foothills are covered with forest. The mist gradually clears late morning and in Unquera I buy my picnic and eat it high on a hill on what seems a very ancient piece of paved Camino track with a shrine.
The village of Colombres is interesting because it has several large mansions built by merchants who had made their fortunes in the New World in a style called Indianos. Quite exotic!
More hills, a long tedious stretch of main road, and eventually The road reaches the village of La Franca. The Alberque Renacer (trl. Reborn) was recommended by Justine, an American I met on Day 2! She stayed here and loved it. It is owned by Maria, who ran an Albergue on the Camino Frances for seven years. She greets her visitors warmly and sits us down on a comfy sofa on the verandah and goes to make fresh lemonade. In a while, the Slovenian guy, Darian, arrives with bad blisters. Maria sets to work with natural Aloe-Vera and then tells him to sit with his feet in the sun. After a while, Christine turns up. So that's our Camino family for tonight. The rooms are very comfortable and she is cooking us supper. Lovely lentil stew, salad, chicken and a slightly strange cheese jelly served with jam.
Maria has washed my clothes- they look and smell clean at last. Detergent never smelt so nice. What a treat!
I was thinking today that the Camino is a communal enterprise as well as an individual endeavour. The Hospitaleros, fellow pilgrims, bar-men, chefs, dog walkers and workmen in vans, who honk and point out the right direction, are all part of it. Cyclists call out "Bien Camino" and little old ladies stop to ask where you've walked from. Of course many make their living from it, but it feels like there is a great crowd of enthusiastic supporters urging all of on!