Life lessons to Ledigos.
Long-distance walks offer up insightful revelations in the most unsuspecting places. Epiphanies can materialise while climbing over soaring mountains, weaving amongst ancient forests or venturing along wild coastal pathways; Day 16, however, did not contain any of those enchanting wonders. In fact, it was the poster child for ‘just placing one foot in front of the other’. As much of the way featured a largely featureless straight strip of shadeless track, it can only be described as a road that made you appreciate corners. However, after battling through it all, I discovered the value of dogged perseverance.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 16
We stepped out of Day 15’s accommodation at Villalcázar de Sirga’s Municipal Albergue to find globules of intermittent rain illuminating the first specks of Spanish daylight. A luminous view of the fortress-like Iglesia de Santa María la Blanca cathedral greeted us in the town centre us as a precession of swallows set about their morning’s swoops and twitters.
The drizzle followed us out of the mini-metropolis and into its farming fringes: a landscape that would have appeared commonplace without the sun-reflecting spray. This dynamic dawn light had the power to turn the instantly forgettable into the most mesmerising.
After only four days traversing northern Spain’s boundless Meseta, the flattening midday sunlight had turned each day’s grain-filled scenery into plateaus of lifeless beige blobs. While I appreciated the enormity of the agricultural spectacle, I was over the visual homogeneity. However, this morning’s halcyon rays, which filtered through the surrounding paddocks, captivated my attention and reframed the way I scrutinise pastoral panoramas. A glittering sea of rippling gold contrasted heavily by a sinister shadow of threatening clouds enriched my eyeballs for much of the 5.6-kilometre walk to our breakfast stop at Carrión de los Condes.
I savoured dawn’s postcard-ready pick-me-up as I devoured my habitual brekky tortilla. I knew I would need to preserve the extra inspiration for the rest of Day 16. The road to the next Camino town of Calzailla de la Cueza had been described as one of the trail’s toughest mental challenges.
When leaving Carrión de los Condes remember to stock up on water; 17 kilometres separate it from Calzadilla de la Cueza. In recent years, a roadside kiosk has opened at the halfway point, though there are no guarantees that it will be open.
Of the day’s 28.7 kilometres, 17 of them followed an unwaveringly straight, mundane stretch of dusty gravel track. The uninspired view offered a trickle of trees, a soaking of all-too-familiar wheat and a drenching of lifeless dirt – not even the weeds could be bothered growing out there. The scenery (or lack of) bordered on cruel.
The sapping struggle on Day 16 wouldn’t be my most treasured memory of the trail. Still, the experience taught me more about dealing with the trivial aspects of everyday life than any other challenge in recent memory. Building respect for our daily unsung tasks doesn’t come easily, but we must appreciate that without these unremarkable labours, one cannot ultimately fulfil their goals.
Yes, the group could have cheekily caught a public bus or booked a quickfire taxi to the end of the route; but, our Day 1 aspiration of completing the entire Camino Francés from start to finish could not be achieved without battling this banality. Knowing this, the depressing stretch seemed all the more valuable.
We skipped through Calzailla de la Cueza (via making pigs of ourselves at the first restaurant we could find) and decided to make our way to the tiny outpost village of Ledigos. Walking down its horse-manure-lined main street, lingering with an eye-watering bouquet and buzzing with bird-sized flies, we thought we’d made a disastrous mistake to move on. Fortunately, our accommodation at Albergue La Morena en Ledigos eased our uncertainty. Lush lawns, hot showers, snug bunk beds, hearty meals and a well-equipped kitchen serviced all of our needs: a reminder to not judge a book by its feces-stained cover — one last life lesson before Day 17’s jaunt to Bercianos Del Real Camino.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Yep, you guessed it. Flat as a tack to Ledigos.