Thursday, 19 June 2014

Day 23. Valle de Seo to Portomarin. 60 miles.

Day 23. Valle do Seo to Portomarin. 60miles

After writing yesterday's bulletin, we discovered that the car battery was flat. It's the original battery from 8 year ago. Had it simply come to the end of its life? Recently you we've switched our breakdown cover to Nationwide ( it comes with one of their bank accounts), so here was an opportunity to see how it worked. Brendan phoned in the evening to report the problem. It was agreed to phone again in the morning. The engineer arrived within an hour, gave the battery a boost advised be to drive for at least 2 hours today. Great service all round.

So our usual pattern of meeting up during the day didn't happen. B drove straight to the next campsite, at Portomarin, a small town on the shore of what looks like a lake. It's really a dammed up river. The town was rebuilt stone by stone when the valley was flooded. You approach the town over a smart looking bridge, and straight ahead is an enormous flight of steps rising up through a turreted portico into the town. The campsite is off to the right about a mile. Grassy, partly shaded, good facilities, cafe/bar. We're staying here two nights, which will make sense when you read tomorrow's posting.

Back to cycling. It was another cool morning, so the climb up to Pedrafita do Cebreiro proved to be a steady, but not exhausting plod. The gradient averages 4% but there are a few slightly steeper stretches. Fuel was that excellent combination of potatoes ( left over mince and tatties from last night's meal, and oatcakes). As time passed, I collected a cloud of house flies - they seemed to like the smell of my sun block ( that's being charitable). I didn't shake them off till on the final climb to O Cebreiro. It wasn't that I was cycling faster, quite the opposite, but there was a stiff breeze up that high. O Cebreiro is at 1300 metres. The hamlet includes a cluster of circular, thatched, stone dwellings that used to be summer residences for local farmers when the took their animals up to them summer pastures.
These ones have been restored. The road stayed high up for several miles, undulating a bit, and crossing two more summits, alto de San Roque at 1270m ( there is a statue of him by the roadside) and Alto de Poia (1332m).
Just before Alto de Poia I spotted this mountain village graveyard, looking more like a collections of little cabins than graves.

From here the road made a gradual descent for 16 km, with wide sweeping curves and a smooth surface. I got to the foot of this hill (Triacastela) in 25 minutes. The road continues dropping to Sarria, a much bigger town than I was expecting, and not easy to navigate through. The usual white arrows painted on the road as markers to cycle pilgrims seemed to take a break in the town. I saw another cyclist who said he'd come from Santiago and pointed the way for me. His journey started in Lisbon, and he's aiming for France, one of the few pilgrims going the opposite direction. After Sarria, the road climbed for several miles, but, OJoy, the final 8 km were downhill.
Here is the view from inside the tent.

And this is what you see from the terrace of the campsite bar/restaurant. A very fine kitchen garden in th foreground.


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