Stone and Water

Day 13 | Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa

A new day dawned and thankfully Gerry felt he would be ok to walk. One of the reasons for walking the Variant is the day that was to come. Everyone says that the coming stage is one of the most beautiful of all caminos; that is a big statement as we have walked some incredible stages so I had big expectations!

We had breakfast in our little casa, which I thoroughly recommend! And once we’d finished the lovely host drove us back to Armenteira and we set off back on the trail at the start of the Ruta da Pedra e da Agua (route of stone and water). Today is considered the second stage of the Spiritual Variant (but take my advice and stopover in Combarro!), it’s 22.7 kilometres long and the first 7 of those kilometres border the River Armenteira where we’ll get to spot over 50 ancient mills; some left in ruins and some in good condition thanks to a restoration programme.

We meandered, carefully watching where we put our feet, as the path is littered with ancient tree roots. Sadly in the early morning we never got to ooh and aaah at the sun beams bouncing through the trees and I think in the early morning light the walk was not as glorious as it could have been and was quite dark in places. It was fascinating and the history of the mills and the work involved in building them and working them was immense but we both felt that it never quite lived up to the hype. We’d started early to avoid the heat of the day later but in doing so I dont think we saw this section at it’s best… so it’s worth considering this when you walk.

However, it was beautiful and we were sad to leave it behind… but there were still plenty of kilometres to walk. We stopped for lunch at Os Castanos. It was getting hot hot hot and Gerry was ok but tired so we didn’t linger and instead got back on the road and headed onwards. We walked across rural Galicia under a hot sun and kept our head down and wished and hoped that the sea would soon be back in our sights. We wanted to stop for a drink but decided we’d wait until we reached the coast; this proved to be a bad choice as it was a while before we had our drink!

Finally though with just a few kilometres to go we could see the sparkling sea ahead of us. We walked along the sandy paths on the edge of the beach, stopping in the shade to drink the last of our water… we’d have to find a bar now! Onwards we walked and finally found a little beach side cafe that had cold cokes under a shady terrace! We didn’t want to drag ourselves away but there was still half and hour to go before we could stop… but they turned out to be rather glorious and the distance melted away.

We paused on the bridge into Vilanova de Arousa, watching schools of fish swim under us. Beside the harbour was a bar, another cold drink was calling! Once we’d cooled and refreshed we went off in search of our hotel. We stopped for some shopping en-route and decided we’d have a room picnic and make some sandwiches for the journey tomorrow… it was the 12 October tomorrow, Spain Day and there would be no shops open! We toasted the end of a successful day and the end of the walking stages of the Spiritual Variant, regardless of his bout of food poisoning Mr S had managed to walk and I couldn’t have been happier for him.

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