Our campsite last night was lovely and flat, but it did have its issues. It was cloudy when we went to bed, so it was unusually warm and we felt sticky and grotty in our sleeping bags. We could hear the dogs barking angrily in the town about a kilometre away and we felt a little uneasy about the whole thing.
In the night, Dave woke to the sound of gentle footsteps on the old crunchy leaves around our tent, accompanied by the odd grunt and snort of wild boar! Thankfully he didn’t wake me, and just nervously awaited their departure in silence. I guess they love the sweet chestnuts that were strewn all over our campsite! A little later in the night, we both woke up to hear them fighting and squealing in the next field and stayed awake for a while feeling nervous, hoping we weren’t going to get trampled or mauled. The boars were in my dreams, then we woke again a little later to hear more piercing squeals from another direction. We both kind of knew that they wouldn’t bother us, but it was disconcerting.
For the first time on the trip I was glad to hear the alarm go off at 6:30! I think we were both still pretty tired but happy to get up. We packed away pretty smoothly under a clouded sky and it was unusually dark when we set off at 7:30am.
The blanket of clouds was rippled in places, making it seem as though we were looking up at the surface of the ocean from below. As we rode west, the sky behind us was getting lighter as some sunlight managed to make it through the clouds.
We had more ups and downs to do, getting alternately hot and cold. The clouds that had kept us warm in the night were now preventing sun-warming and by the time we’d had whispered breakfast on a bench in a silent sleeping village, we were quite chilly.
Then we got back on the road and the rain started. A gentle patter that lasted all day! We encased ourselves in our rain gear and sweated up hills, then shivered down them. We stopped in a small town for a snack before going on to meet the main road in the valley.
It was pretty grim riding today and after one particularly cutting shout of ‘This is shit!’ from me on the way up a steep hill, Dave asked whether I’d rather be back at my safe cosy desk in London, warm and clean and dry… … Nah.
When we finally made it to the main road N-VI after 30km, we were knackered and so desperate for a shower that we stopped in the service station and paid 3 Euros each for the privilege of standing under a jet of water in a little shower cubicle! Not ideal but we did feel better afterwards.
Back on the road, back in the rain. But look – it’s downhill!! Finally! I think we were too tired and the weather was too gross for us to really enjoy it, but it was a relief not to have to work the legs for 20km. We sped down at 40kmh without pedalling, had the whole road to ourselves, the heather-clad hills rolling by, the rain spiking our faces, our fingers chilled to the bone. Through a few tunnels, around a few switchbacks then into the valley and the town of Bembibre.
We rode into the centre of town, grey in the drizzle but bustling with people, unlike the sleepy villages of the last week. At a loss as to where to go to find a hostel, we stood in the rain in town and discussed the matter. Then a man strode up to us and said (in English! nobody here speaks English!), “Hello guys, do you need some help?”. That would be great, thank you. We had a little chat and he pointed us in the direction of a cheap hotel and we checked in, miles over budget for the day at 40 Euros. But I think we earned our first solid accommodation of the trip!
The rain drizzled on outside all afternoon as we went about our chores of shopping, eating, laundry, sorting kit, internet and napping. We are still getting used to the strange opening hours, usually 10-12 in the morning then 5-8 at night! And our terrible Spanish is inhibiting efficiency of chores. There don’t appear to be any self-service laundry places here, so we spent about 20 minutes in the laundrette, trying to establish whether we could get our clothes washed. We never found out what the issue was, but got our stuff back clean and dry two hours after leaving it there, so I guess it worked out ok.
We feel slightly better for having a rest this afternoon, although the stairs to our 1st floor room keep reminding us how tired our legs are. We’ve been doing some route planning and should be in Santiago de Compostela in under a week. After that we’re heading to the first rewilding project of the trip in Portugal called the Faia Brava Reserve. Looking forward to the journeys and the destinations!