El Camino Fonseca

Northwest via Ourense

Tierra de Pan, Through the Wheatfields

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Zamora to Tábara

From Riego del Camino to Tábara: 08 June 2006
Granja

By now I had seen enough of the stoney tracks through the fields so I set off early to walk the 6km to Granja by road. There was very little traffic but my early start meant that nothing was open in the village when I arrived. Apparently the village bar, Bar Peregrino, is a little way along the right hand branch of the Camino and also holds the key to the albergue. There is also a roadhouse, Hostal Oviedo, about 3km farther along the main road towards Benavente.

Granja de Moreruela is the place where El Camino Fonseca splits from La Via de la Plata and also leaves the busy N630. The countryside becomes more hilly and the agriculture less intensive. The consequence of this is that the farm tracks can become slightly more overgrown so the pebbles are easier for walking.

Granja

Just before Granja, if you have time, there is a diversion to the ruins of the Monesterio de Santa Maria de Moreruela. This monastery, which was completed in 1168, was one of the first in Spain of the Cistercian order. In its heyday it influenced much of the province of Zamora and even the north of Portugal. It was an extremely important stopping point on the Camino from the south and the monks assisted pilgrims to cross the river Esla by ferry. It was declared a national monument in 1931. According to my guidebook there is a signed path enabling you to resume the Camino without passing through Granja but you will then miss any chance of refreshment for quite some distance.

Rio Esla

In Granja, after the sign announcing the division of the two Caminos, our way is through undulating countryside of agriculture and woods. After a few kilometers there is a right turn to climb onto a wooded ridge from which there are good views over the valley of the Esla. The descent from the ridge is quite steep and leads to the road over the bridge of Puente Quintos. There is some shade on the near side of the bridge for a rest and picnic. Immediately over the bridge the path goes down to the left and along the riverbank until it is blocked by a rocky outcrop. There is then a very steep climb to the ruins of a castro or fortified village where you can rest in the shade of some oak trees.

Puente Quintos

If the weather is bad or you don't feel capable of such a steep climb, the road will take you on to the destination for the night but you will miss out on some good walking through woods and farmland. Whichever way you take you will arrive at Faramontanos de Tábara. The upper part of the village has some wine stores or bodegas excavated into the hillside while in the lower part there is an old church and also bars for refreshment.

windmills

The route leaving Faramontanos soon crosses the road to Tábara to follow a straight farm track (more sharp pebbles) and then a wooded section before a grassy path enters Tábara near to the church tower. As you are walking towards the town you can see to your right the windmills on the ridge generating electricity. Tomorrow's route will pass close to these. There is also a sign giving ample warning of Casa Anita which will be my destination next day.

Anita's sign

Tábara is quite a large town and the focus for this agricultural region. In the past its importance came from the monastery of San Salvador which was founded in the 9th century and which grew to contain as many as 600 monks and nuns. The present church and tower was built on the ruins of the monastery and dates from the 12th century.

Tábara

After a long hot day on the Camino, my first call was at the Bar Palacio in the main square. There I had a drink and was persuaded to return later for my evening meal. The owner gave me directions to the albergue which is about 500m from the square, near the grain silos which are visible for many miles as you walk towards town. The key was obtained from the house of a town official (Alguacil?) and I walked to the newly built albergue. Two other walkers, Manuel and Pepé from Madrid, were already there and we arranged to eat later together in the bar. There was an open air washing place (lavadero) near the albergue so, after our laundry was hung up to dry, we returned to the main square.

The two other pilgrims were experienced walkers and had been on the Camino Francés in 2002 at the same time as I was. We swapped a few tales about our journeys as we ate our meal outside Bar Palacios, then finished the evening with a large orujo con hierbas, a spirit distilled from grape skins left over from winemaking and steeped in herbs.