El Camino Fonseca

Northwest via Ourense

Rolling Hills and Steep Climbs

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Ourense to Santiago

A Laxe to Ponte Ulla: 22 June 2006

I left the albergue with Albert from Canterbury, the first English person I had met on this Camino. The village bar was closed but it wasn't far by road and track to Prado where we were able to find a bar open for breakfast.

Taboada

Soon after Prado the Camino leaves the N525 taking country roads and tracks down towards the Rio Deza once again. The views here are dominated by the railway viaduct over the river and, passing under this we soon came to the old bridge at A Ponte Taboada which has assisted pilgrims for centuries on their way to Santiago.

Ponte Taboada

From the bridge the Camino rises towards the N525 and the small village of Taboada which has a romanesque church dedicated to Santiago. The Camino then swings away from the main road and goes through oak woods to another old village, Transfontao, which is built around a Pazo or manor house.

It is now just a short distance to Silleda, the administrative centre of this region, where we took a second breakfast in a lively bar, full of students, on the high street. Silleda has all the facilities for shopping, banking and accommodation should you need them. We continued along the N525, with a diversion to San Fiz, and then, never far from the main road, towards Bandeira.

Albert was not in any rush to get to Santiago so he diverted to the right before Bandeira to go to the campsite which also serves as an albergue. I stopped for a long lunch in Bandeira before the final 13km. to Ponte Ulla. Bandeira is also well stocked with services but the campsite is about three km. out of town making it a bit inconvenient.

From Bandeira the Camino passes through several villages to the right of the N525. The way is mostly by asphalt but there are some shady stretches and lots of vineyards. The day had become very hot by now and I had to take several rests in the shade.

Ponte Ulla

Eventually the Camino reached the crest of the long and extremely steep descent to Ponte Ulla. Fortunately there was a bar near the top in the village of A Silba y O Seixo (I couldn't tell if this was one small village or two extremely small ones) where I joined the card playing locals sheltering from the midday sun.

Ponte Ulla

On the descent the steep, wooded, sides of the valley gave some shade from the sun but I was pleased to cross the river into the small town. The first hotel, on the right, was closed for the day but I was able to get a room in O Churrasco de Juanito which is a few metres along on the left. Some guide books list an albergue as being here but it is actually 5 km. on, after a very steep climb.

Thoroughly exhausted, I didn't move far from the hotel that evening.