It was another early morning, getting up at 6:30 am to be ready for cafe con leche at 7:00 am and starting to follow the yellow arrows at 7:30 am. We knew our trek today would have a 300 metre rise in elevation and a “killer” downhill into our destination village of Acebo.
For the first 6 kms the pathway was easygoing leaving the open fields and heading into groves of oak, mountain ash and scrub pine. There was no sun peeking thru the clouds today. It even looked to be threatening to rain.
Our next stop would be 2 kms further on when we reached 1,505 m, the highest point of the El Camino at the La Cruz de Ferro. It consists of a roble oak pole about twenty feet high topped by a cross of iron replica of the original preserved in the Museum of the Ways of Astorga . At its base, a huge mound of rock has formed. Legend has it that when they built the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela they urged pilgrims to contribute by bringing stone. In any case, the tradition is to throw a stone, brought from the place of origin of the pilgrim, with his back to the cross to symbolize that which has been left behind. Also, pilgrims have left messages and mementos to memorialize their journey to Santiago. This cross had special meaning for Chris and Doreen as they left a memorial to their friend Carol who was to have walked with them but had passed away very suddenly.
Since I had a felt marker, I, too, left a message on a large rock on the surrounding mound of rock.
The remaining 10.9 kms would all be downhill and at times very steep with loose shale. About 2.2 kms on this downward trek, we stopped at an Albergue in Manjarin.
Read about Tomas http://www.forobicigrino.com/t3079-tomas-el-hospitalero-de-manjarin
I did find my knight in shining armour!
As we journeyed downward the surrounding views were awe inspiring. The clouds were like fingers floating down over the hills and the pathway was lined with heather and wild lavender. From this height, I observed formations on the hillside and although I was quite a distance away it did look like it was created by someone or something,
<a This is the mystery hill
Notice the perfect circle on the hillside
Also, in the distance, I could see a tiny village nestled in the valley with a road leading to it.
The last kilometre was the worst for the feet and the knees but from the top of the hill, Acebo rooftops appeared. This area is known for slate mining and the majority of the roofs of the village are slate.
Our evening was completed by a vegetarian meal prepared by the owner of a Casa Rural called La Trucha. This man and wife met seven years ago on the Camino and have made Acebo their home. They rent rooms and feed guests a four course vegetarian meal. The table was a delight to sit at, elegantly set.