Saturday, 20 April 2013


Less than 50kms. from here to Santiago! I should be there on Monday therefore, and am very glad not to have given in to the temptation to catch that train last Saturday.

I was staying next to another station last night. What a difference a week of good weather makes! My raincoat has remained unused apart from when every item of clothing was needed in the unheated albergue of the Monastery of Oseira the other day. What an amazing place that is, the Escorial of the North! It makes Ampleforth Abbey´s plant look puny. Five of us visitors were shown round by a diminutive Cistercian artist, Fray Luis. One of a community of only 14 - several of whom are elderly or infirm - he is in the process of illustrating the Bible, book by book. (I must look up the weblinks when I get back.)

Oseira was a detour from the direct Camino, but worth every extra km., not only for Vespers in the Abbey, but also for the wild and remote feel of its neighbourhood. The name comes from the bears (ursa) which the early monks, or their predecessors more likely, frightened off when the valley was first settled.

Today, the route has boxed and coxed with the dual carriageway, but on the whole, there has been little tarmac to tire the feet: more often, there is a sandy (or muddy) track in the woods above or below, and away from, the main road, which you don´t even hear. A track that was in existence long before the 21st Century! A few kms. before here, it led me across a 10th Century bridge, slung high over the Rio Deza, with its original paving stones, an extraordinarily tranquil place.

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