The hostal at Camporredonda de Alba is fine, good food, nice bar, traditional rural Spanish accommodation and great value but don't expect a smile from the host. He is efficient though and when he realised that I wanted to get away early in the morning he found someone in the bar who could speak English and took my order for breakfast. It's a typical practical Spanish arrangement, pay the night before you leave, grab your packed breakfast before you go to bed, leave your key in the door and bugger off.
|The sunny side of the valley
Actually only a mad person would want to leave at 8 in the morning. Leaving Camporredonda de Alba the trail sticks limpet like to the shady side of the valley. It's literally freezing. On the other side, in golden sunshine, cattle fill their stomachs and stare at you asking "you've got your hands stuffed in your pockets, you're walking at 100 miles an hour - how come you didn't bring gloves for a summer walk in Spain?"
|Deer with fawn
It took well over an hour to escape the shade, cross a pass and get into the sun on the other side. Great views of the Peña Espigüette and Curavacas ridge which had a greeny shimmer has if the whole mountain was covered in moss. Last time I was here the snow covered mountains were reflected brilliantly in the icy reservoir. After two months without rain the water levels were much lower leaving behind ugly muddy banks. By way of compensation a deer and its fawn shot across the trail and then stood and posed for a moment before charging off across the heather.
I remembered the long dry valley beyond La Lastra but this time, instead of a solitary bull, I was treated to an amazing aerial display by the Griffon Vultures. There was something on the ground they were interested in and it's only when they get lower that you see just how massive they are.
I had forgotten the gorge on the other side of the pass, maybe because last time I was concentrating on avoiding a fall on the ice. It's a very steep descent.
It was noticeably hotter at the bottom of the valley and once you pass the village of Rabanal de las Llantas it's a three kilometre road walk to San Martín de los Herroros.
None too soon the route leaves the road, crosses an old bridge and follows a stream, on what was probably the original road to Ventanilla. My plan had been to stop for a decent lunch at the next village Ruesga where there is a very good hostal which does food. I was ready for a break however and instead found the bar in Ventanilla and had the worse Spanish sandwich I'd ever eaten.
|Another Griffon Vulture
The walk along the southern side of the lake is long and meandering and goes through, according to Juan, a bear reserve. No bears today but a lot of semi-naked humans enjoying the water.
The hostal at Ruesga does look nice, and there was another smart looking restaurant open as well but I didn't want to add anything to tomorrow's walk so reluctantly pressed on to Cervara de Pisuerga which also has a good choice of hotels. Last time I stayed at the Hostal Penal Abra but today it was hosting a wedding and clearly going to be noisy. Instead I went to the Hotel El Roble - a modern hotel and, although the food wasn't so good, it does do early morning breakfast so I should get some coffee before I leave.