After two nights in Santiago I caught the bus to Lugo and then a taxi to Sarria. Gordon Bell was at the Pension Escalinata to meet me. Gordon took me to the Casa Nova rente in Barbadelo where I was to spend the night. I had dinner with a delightful French couple. They couldn't speak any English and my French is abysmal so we used sign language and drew pictures and maps on the paper tablecloth during conversation.
6th May (Barbadelo to Vilacha)
I had breakfast the next morning and started walking, turning my pedometer to 0.00km
The apple trees are all in blossom but there are not many other wildflowers out yet. I decided that we should start our group walk 49m beyond the Casa at the small road crossing where the 106km marker to Santiago is.
The path was mainly gravel, with some rocks until the large water fountain with the 2004 Holy Year logo that looks like Mickey Mouse. At the 1.5 km mark the path went steeply downhill to the river which had a concrete path on the side for pilgrims to cross.
The path then joined a tar road again after 2km and 1km further on, one has to step on large blocks in the torrent course. I realised that this could be difficult for the walkers, especially the lady using her Veloped walker.
After walking for two hours I reached Morgade and the end of our first stage.
For the next 4km the path undulated steeply uphill and downhill on tar and gravel with a few muddy places in between. After 10.2km the path became difficult with deep mud and shale slopes. I reached Mercadoiro which would be the end of our 2nd stage and stopped for lunch.
At the 13.35km mark I started on stage 3 of our walk. It went downhill on a gravel and sand path and then steep downhill on a concrete path into the forest. It was a fairly easy stage on tar, concrete, and a forest path all the way to Vilacha where I spent the night with Gordon Bell.
7 May (Vilacha to Ventas de Naron)
The path from Vilacha was being resurfaced so was closed. I walked on the road into Portomarin. I climbed the hill to the Albergue Ultreia to check out the rooms which were all upstairs - no good for the lady with the walker. We decided that she and Reinette could share a room in the Pension Caminante around the corner.
The path from there to Pevisa was easy walking and one could do most of the route on the road which shadows the path for most of the way. I caught up to Tom and Nancy, the American couple from Vilacha, at the cafe bar after Ligonde. (We walked together on and off from there to San Xulian)
The next day to Rua was my longest day at 24km.
At Palas de Rei the yellow arrows lead down a flight of stairs from the Bar Crucero but one can stay on the road to avoid the steps. Closer to the main road is another short flight of stairs or an impossibly steep ramp. There is another way around the side where one can reach the main road. (Our Pension was on that side road.)
I popped into the Pension Bar Plaza to check on our rooms only to find that our rooms were up a steep flight of stairs. They called, Antia, the woman who runs the pension and she took me to a Pension Ignacio around the corner where all the rooms are on the ground floor.
When I got to San Xulian I found that I would be sharing a room with Tom and Nancy. We were given a 3-bedded room at the albergue. We had a wonderful meal with other pilgrims and then sat outside the albergues chatting to pilgrims and the local women.)
From San Xulian the path disintegrated and I resolved to phone San Xulian and ask whether there was a road route for our lady with the walker as she would not be able to negotiate the path between here and Casanova.
I saw that the Hotel Carlos was quite far from the main centre. I thought of cancelling the rooms there and finding something closer to the centre of town but so many places are full, I decided to leave things as they are . It started to rain and I stopped to take out my raincoat. All the tape covering the seams was hanging like streamers so I stopped at a sports shop and bought a poncho type raincoat. It is bright orange and all my clothes are pink and purple so I'm not going to get lost on this Camino!
I walked up to the church and down to the road following the Camino arrows and realised that the group wouldn't be able to walk down that steep path. We will walk on the road rather.
The next Slow Camino stage is from Melide to Boente on an undulating path through the forest. ± 2km further there are large stepping stones across a small river. The terrain going up from the river will be impassable with a walker so the lady with the walker will have to stay on the road. From here the path joins the road with a short break back into the forest.
At Boente I stopped at Os albergue for lunch. I spent the night at a fabulous Pazo de Sedor at Castaneda. Tom and Nancy also stayed there and we had dinner with a group of American ladies walking the Camino.
From here it was very steep down hill and under the road, then a very steep uphill: the group could stay on the road and join where the ramp goes up to the bridge. There is quite a steep downhill to Ribadiso.
Coming out of Ribadiso, I will suggest to the lady with the walker that she gets a taxi to Ribadiso Carretera higher up.
The walk into the town of Arzua is long and dreary. I found that the Suiza is not in town but way out on the other side. However, it is 30m from the Camino the next day.
It was uphill for about 500m then onto a small road on tar to a road. After passing under the road there was a flattish section then lots of rocks and mostly up hill. To the 32.5km mark. There was a place selling fruit and cakes on an honesty system where I bought a banana for €1 -over R12.
Two years ago a large section of the forest here was felled to make way for a new road between Santiago and Lugo. They ran out of money and the construction site was left as it is now.
From Calzada there was an easy path -a little rocky through the village and with large stepping stones across the river. It will be better for the lady with the walker to stay on the road. The walk from then on is fairly easy.
From Salceda the path mirrors the road and it appeared that one could take a side path down to the road every 500m or so. You pass Empalme and St Irene. When you reach Rua there is a recorded greeting that is activated when you walk by. The info kiosk for Santiago is on the right.
From here you pass the turn into Pedrouza-Arca and can continue into the forest on an easy path.
You go up hill and over the road . One could stay on the road for most of the way around Lavacolla. I thought it would be best for the lady with the walker to be taken to Neiro where the Tv Galicia centre is and to walk from there to Monte de Gozo.
After visiting the Monte de Gozo reception to confirm our rooms I walked on the road to avoid the flight of steps down to the main road. It was then the long, dreary walk through the outskirts of the city into Santiago.