El Camino Fonseca

Northwest via Ourense

Tierra de Pan, Through the Wheatfields

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Zamora to Tábara

From Montamarta to Riego del Camino: 07 June 2006

On leaving Montamarta the Camino goes to the side of the church and crosses a (probably) dried up branch of the reservoir. When I was here (June) the water meadows were well established and a low bridge crossed what was left of the stream. A set of stone steps then leads up to the right hand side of the Ermita de la Virgen del Castillo and past the enclosed graveyard.

Ermita

Now there is another stretch along farm tracks until a diversion to the right (easy to miss) through a small wooded area. This very shortly led to the N630 and meant a dash across the road when there was a gap in the traffic. At last I was into grassland. The grassy path here, and over the next busy junction, was through overgrown countryside and not intensively farmed. These paths led to a larger branch of the reservoir.

My guide book, and some journals I had read, suggested that the reservoir may be crossed here but the wide banks were still muddy in places and I couldn’t see any way over. I returned to more solid ground and followed the yellow arrows through a leafy lane of houses to the N630 to cross the reservoir by bridge. Although there are plenty of houses here there is no apparent village so this must be a commuter centre for Zamora.

Castrotorafe

After the bridge there are tracks through the fields to the extensive ruins of Castrotorafe. These are the remains of a once important fortified town guarding a crossing over the Rio Esla. The town was founded in 1129 and was administered originally by the Knights of the Order of Santiago. It was sometimes called Old Zamora but gradually lost its importance and was abandoned by the 18th Century.

The ruins cover a large area and the centre was even ploughed up for agriculture. There are good views from here over the river and I was able to find a shady spot at the far end of the complex for a picnic.

Riego

From Castrotorafe it is a short distance over the fields to the next village of Fontanillos de Castro which is back on the main road. There is a cafe bar by a petrol station just before the village should you need refreshment. The Camino then goes back out into the fields as far as the next village of Riego del Camino.

Riego is also on the main road and the village is entered by a footpath which leads to Bar Pepe. I rested here and was able to order an evening meal for later. Then I was directed along a footpath on the other side of the road which crossed some waste ground and gardens to the village centre. I soon found Dorita’s house and got a key to the albergue which is farther down the same street next to a doctor’s surgery.

The albergue is a converted old house with a couple of dormitories, bathroom and kitchen. There are plenty of lines for drying laundry in the enclosed garden and a stack of matresses in one room in case extra pilgrims turn up. Dorita will ensure that you make a voluntary donation towards the upkeep of the albergue. A cyclist arrived at the albergue later so I had some company in the bar for dinner.

In all the villages on the Camino in the province of Zamora you will find informative plaques erected by the Fundación Ramos de Castro. This is one of the organisations concerned with the promotion of the Camino and waymarking in this province. Here is the plaque for Riego.