Camino – Liendo to Santoña

So, Peeps, today we learn that patxeran at the end of a meal can help you sleep and blipping the throttle of a petrol-driven strimmer for no apparent reason can really irritate your wife to the point of violence.

There’s a threat of rain this morning as we assemble in the living area. There’s a couple of Koreans cooking something that we assume to be dead and the other inmates seem to have had an early start.

We resolve to have breakfast at the first cafe we see. This has worked over the last few days with a slice of toast, jam, butter and a coffee all for two or three euros.

Within minutes we’re passing a cafe that we were in last night and it’s open with some of our fellow residents already tucking into their breakfasts.

Click on any picture to page through that gallery at full size and resolution.

It’s raining so we enter to have a coffee and take the opportunity to add the rain covers to our rucksacks and the effect of this is to bring out the sun! Bertholt is finishing his coffee, he’s a wonderful friendly German who’s walking the Camino in what he refers to as ‘a leisurely’ way.

We start our morning trek past the Albergue and on up a hill where we’re treated to beautiful vistas of where we walked yesterday. It is still green and the recent rain has made it more so. There are tinges to suggest autumn and the slight nip in the air reinforces that perception. After a couple of hairpins we’re on to the road that we walked yesterday but this time it’s only for a kilometre or so and then we turn left and very much down into the valley into Tarrueza where the little church of St Cecilia stands. Our Illustrious leader is persuaded to stand in front of the church for photographs and it’s only then that we realise the scale of the place, it’s not really a little church, they don’t do ‘little’ with regard to churches in Spain.

This tiny village has gardens that seem to double as allotments and there is far more stuff to eat than flowers. We pass courgettes, cabbage, outdoor tomatoes still in fruit and very definitely productive, melons and numerous fruit trees and bushes; the Pilgrim could certainly rustle up a spectacular soup with some of this stuff and if it was complemented with the local sourdough bread it would be a meal in itself. I now know what I’ll be looking for at lunchtime!

The path out of Tarrueza is steep and slightly greasy due to the overnight rain and I employ my stick to negotiate the track through the top houses in the village. There’s an annoying gentleman with a motor driven Strimmer blipping the throttle and watching the string spin. He’s not doing anything, just blipping the throttle. There’s a shout and what presumably is his wife appears and clips him like a child adding something in Spanish which is delivered too fast for me to translate but I get the gist and so did he, the motor was turned off and the valley returned to peace, I smile.

At the top, we exit the village and follow the contour eventually going down again. This all sounds a little tedious but it’s not, we’re in the country and then we’re in woods. There isn’t a step taken that doesn’t expose another beautiful view or expose us to new smells of country, animals and sometimes, cooking, it’s glorious.

We’re through Borrio Santa Ana and Las Carcabas and now back to a little road work as we make our way into Laredo.

From the ridge Laredo looks dull, it’s a bit like a tatty holiday resort which is probably its major job; however, all of this changes as we descend the tracks and a few steps to the Old Town. It suddenly morphs into a delight so we stop for lunch before what will become quite a hard 5km trek over the sand and dunes.

It’s nice sitting in the sun and as we people watch, several young ladies make an appearance, one completely rigged out in a gold outfit and the others looking like they’re ready for an evening fling. A few minutes later they’re joined by some men, also well turned out and it becomes likely that a wedding is the focus. Then we remember it’s Saturday and the wedding explanation becomes favourite.

We finish our snacks and drinks and remount our rucksacks with a sigh then make them comfortable on our hips as we set off towards the beach which is suggested as the route to the ferry and thence to Santoña where the albergue beckons.

As we follow the playa signs an Oficina de Tourismo looms into view and it is suggested we ask them about public transport for when we get to Güemes tomorrow night.

So in we go and a pleasant looking lady comes to talk to us (looks can be deceiving) and after a couple of brief “Hola’s”, we ask, “What buses or trains run from Güemes, por favor?”

“None”, was the reply, no pleasantries or preamble and nothing following, just the word, “None!”.

Hmmmm, I’m thinking to myself, perhaps she’s having a bad day and I ask, “Anywhere near then please?”

“No”, she says, but this time reluctantly she snatches a map from a shelf. It’s stuck to all of the other paper maps in the pile so there’s potential for disaster and I get ready for some unpleasantries. it doesn’t become a disaster and I’m a bit disappointed if I’m honest. She’s laying the map down now and points at where the train and bus routes run and then adds, “But don’t forget, it’s Sunday tomorrow”. This was the first bit of information she’s volunteered without having to drag it out of her with a question and I thought we were making progress then suddenly she’s back in character and one-word answers are given but only to a question, we have to guess the supplementary.

It’s clear that we’re not going to make a lot of progress at this particular Oficina de Tourismo so we move on. The Pilgrim has an idea, “We’ll just walk to Güemes, there’s bound to be a bus”, she says…Dave’s face is a picture!

We walk the sandy beach and dunes against a very strong North Westerly that’s lifting a bit of sand and shot blasting us. It’s not bad enough to get into our eyes but it does make us lean into it as we walk. If you take into account that we already had quite a lean on to counter the weight of the rucksack we must have looked a real picture in profile from the people in hotels along the prom. It’s a proper trudge but we’re in the sun so enjoyable and it cleans our boots that had been a little muddy from the tracks in the hills and valleys.

As we reach the dunes we’re all eyes for the landing stage of the ferry and after a little bit of searching we realise that there is no structure and even nothing formal, the boat butts into the sand and a gangplank is lowered then the people who started in Santoña walk-off followed by the people from Laredo (that’s us) walking on – simples.

The crossing takes about 10 minutes and allows us to see Santoña and surrounding hills/mountains. Monte Bouciero is to its North and pretty impressive with some kind of fortification along its harbour shoreline and some impressive architecture near the marina areas. We land very nearly opposite one of the main streets and only a couple of hundred metres from the albergue in Plaza de San Antonio.

As we hover around the locked door looking for a bell push a Spanish man introduces himself as Jose Mario Jnr and he’s sent for his dad who is Jose Mario Snr and the Hostaleer who’ll look after us. Within minutes Jose Mario Snr appears and he takes us to the first floor where we’re offered an excellent room with balcony overlooking the plaza and we gratefully accept not knowing at this point that the people of this lovely town party until 4am on Saturday through Sunday. They don’t do it in a violent or unpleasant way but it does go on a bit…

We’ve been here an hour or so and see Bertholt, our German friend, he’s still taking the gentle route and has already told us he’ll be walking around the mountain tomorrow on the coastal side.

We don’t know when the buses run on Sundays, the Internet, for a change, is not helping so we decide on a taxi that will enable us to walk for the day and end up in Santander working on the valid principle that there will definitely be buses back to Bilbao on Monday for our flight to Manchester on Tuesday morning.

The Pilgrim is still mulling this over as her needs are to end up in Oviedo on Monday for her flight back to Gatwick on Tuesday and is thinking of carrying on with plan ‘A’. By evening we’re all pointing in the same direction and I’ve sourced two numbers for taxis both from Jose Mario then after a wine or two the Pilgrim manages to source another one from him on a ‘belt and braces’ basis.

It’s chilly tonight so we eat inside and the French Lady that we’ve seen at a couple of albergues turns up and eats with Berthold, when she’s finished she gets up and goes leaving Berthold slightly uncomfortable because she’s forgotten to pay!

The night is ended by introducing Berthold and the two Dave’s to Patxaran (pronounced patsheran). It’s a drink made from distilling sloe berries with coffee beans, cinnamon or anise. It is a sweet, brown-coloured liquor with about 25-30% alcohol that is served as digestif to be consumed after dinner. It is typically drank in the Navarre and Basque Country but it is popular all over Spain as well. I skip it this time.

My chums sleep well but I’m disturbed by the partying locals who really do keep it up until 4am – good on ‘em, they do it without falling out, no malice, just high spirits and a lot, I mean a LOT, of noise.

Enjoy the snaps…G..x

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This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating…G..x

Here’s the next article:

Camino – Galizona to Santander

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Here is the satellite view.

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