Camino del Norte Day 31: Soto de Luiña to Cadavedo (25km)

We didn’t get much sleep last night, mostly because Dave felt some creepy crawlies in his bed so we moved to the dining room and slept on our foam mats on the floor, but were awakened at 6:30 by some enterprising German fellows who were starting before dawn to do an extra long day. Our dear hospitalero Pepe who briefed us on the route today neglected to mention that there is a split with a more mountainous route staying off the highway. At the split, I decided to explore this mountain option while Dave stayed on the more popular twisting and turning option on the old highway.

The mountain route was beautiful and remote, with lovely views to the sea and into a valley to the south. I had the path completely to myself and didn’t see a soul for about 8 kilometers. Flurries of purple grey butterflies fluttered around me and purple and pink heather blanketed the forest. The trail was fairly well maintained and marked until it joined a paved road, when all the markers stopped.

I came to a Y with no markings, and after consulting maps and guides, could not tell which way to go. Most of the guides do not include the mountain route because apparently it is not marked completely! I followed a very faint arrow to the R onto a very pleasant country lane and passed a sweet little chapel and descended down to the town below to meet up with Dave and walk the rest of the route on the sea route. Apparently, the rest of the mountain route is poorly maintained and very difficult, so it seems like it is being phased out as it is rarely used. It’s too bad, as I really enjoyed such a long stretch of quiet nature far from roads.

We were rather worried that the albergue in Cadavedo would fill quickly, as it has only 10 beds (with 3 more mats on the floor). However, we were only about the fifth to arrive so had no problem getting a bed in the tiny albergue. People continued to arrive, and one Spanish woman came just as the beds had all filled. She was so crestfallen we offered to sleep on the floor so that she could have a bed. In reality, we quite prefer sleeping on the floor in the kitchen to another crowded room of bunks ☺ but she was quite happy and grateful, especially to have a bottom bunk. We were a bit disappointed that two people arrived by support vehicle but grabbed some of the best beds, since usually those who come in car are not able to select a bed until all the walkers have arrived… This small albergue is a bit ramshackled, with a toilet that is not hooked up to running water (you have to flush using a bucket) and using the hot water heather always tripped the circuits plunging us into darkness… but for only €3 it is hard to complain! There are some private rooms available in town for €15, which is a also a good option that we saw pilgrims utilizing.

Since the albergue costs only €3 we decided to treat ourselves to a hot dinner at the nearby restaurant. We had an extremely filling and tasty meal for €8 each. We had a bottle of red wine, a first course of tuna pasta (for Dave) and a huge tureen of delicious pea soup with potatoes and sausage (for me, which could have easily been enough to fill me up completely!) followed by a massive plate of stewed beef and fried potatoes, then had tasty homemade arroz con leche and flan for dessert. Tonight was one of the few times I have seen Dave unable to finish his meal, especially rare when there is still meat on that plate!

We are hoping to catch up on sleep tonight, but might be difficult sleeping in the kitchen which is also the place that pilgrims congregate to socialize. Our crew here tonight is made up of a Lithuanian man (from Palanga!), two Germans, three French, one Italian, one Spanish, a Scottish guy, an American from California, and we two Americans.