Day 15, Belorado to San Juan de Ortega

Well today was a little different. It was totally overcast and cloudy almost all day, I am sure that is not what the forecast said. To be honest though a little cloud was nice for a change.

I set off early today since everyone in the hotel I was staying in had left early and I had been listening the them depart. I headed out at about 7.30am. The lovely thing about a 7.30am start is that is is light enough to see but you do get to watch the sun come up.

I left just as a chap from Taiwan was trying to figure out where the path went. Safe to say that since he was near my hotel he was lost! Anyhow we found the path and set out.

Today was a beautiful walk mainly through woodland. It felt very remote and peaceful.

I passed the pipe smoking Danish couple who had taken a short cut and were concerned that they had missed the coffee stop. They are  in their 70’s and the wife smokes a curly pipe, the husband, as described by the Turkish girls, looks like Father Christmas!! Anyway, I was able to reassure them that they had not missed a coffee stop.

At the first coffee stop, it was still only about 8.30am so I just popped in to use the facilities but then headed on. As I left, the Danish couple were just heading in looking really relived to have found a coffee stop.

I had already decided to stop at the next spot which was just before the big climb of the day. I was looking forward to a coffee and a cake! I arrived at Villafranca Montes de Oca at about 10am. As usual I skipped the first spot since it looked like a bikers cafe in a car park and I headed on up the hill, however despite this being briefed as a larger town it soon became clear that there was no other cafe and I had already started the ascent! I had missed my coffee stop! I sent word back to the others so they knew to stop.

Still I was not about to run back down to hill for a coffee so onwards. As I started the climb, the afternoon was expected to be a fairly steep, I passed Sian who I have met a few times. She had not been able to get a bed in San Juan as it is pretty small, so she needed to walk in a further 6km today to the next town.

I carried on up the hill, for the next 80 minutes, it was not too steep actually but slow and gradual. The walk was relaxed and wooded and felt remote, lots of time to reflect. 

The path then started a gradual descent. About an hour outside of San Juan there was a lady with her dog and a table, she was providing tea and coffee and fruit for a donation. One of the best small cups of coffee offered!! 

Then I continued down into San Juan. This is essentially monastery with a bar and a small hotel and auberge. The population of the village is 20!! It was a quick day for me today I arrived about 12.50pm.

Options for the evening are somewhat limited. I checked into the hotel, the room was fine, no bath and no facilities at all, but there is a bed and a shower. It was explained that all meals are in the bar the other side of the church. The menu is omelette and salad or lamb chops, black pudding and salad. Same for lunch and dinner and if I want to have dinner I need to book a spot before 4pm!

I contemplated what to do but decided that I would book a spot since there was nothing else to do this evening and if I don’t book then they give the spaces away to those in the auberge.

After a shower I opted to go and have a sandwich and a beer. The sun has now come out! Andy, Eric and the Turkish girls joined shortly after, all a little shocked by the limited options. The Turkish girls needed to walk on to the next town as they had not managed to get a space.

Now off the explore the monastery and the church.

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