Day 15 : Moratinos to Bercianos de Real Camino

Steve : Up late today. Breakfast was served from 6:30 and we made it around 7am. There had been a big rain storm in the night and I woke at one point to the sound of huge rain pellets hammering a corrugated metal roof. A lovely noise.

Leaving Alburgue San Bruno

We were all a little low on enthusiasm when we set off, but we’d only got 20k to do today so… head down and get on with it.

Still a long way to go…

We’d walked a whole 2.5 km before we came upon a sign advertising a veggie cafe serving healthy breakfasts.

Real food, perhaps?

We felt obliged to stop. We eat huge bowls of fruit salad and drink proper cappuccinos to the accompaniment of Johnny Cash blasting out over the town square.

An hour later, with very full bellies, and much improved moods, we were off.

J and I had an enthusiastic discussion as to whether Paul Simon was our favourite songwriter (dear reader, I have raised her in the way she should go…) which got us to Sahagun around 11am. It was getting hot.

Sahagun in the distance

Sahagun was taking down the bull barriers that lined the town streets. Apparently we’d just missed another bull running thing.

Bull barriers

The casual animal torture that passes for cultural entertainment in northern Spain is baffling to us animal loving Brits. Maybe it’s a national blind spot – Americans have loony gun laws, Germans have no speed limits and we Brits have the House of Lords…

More Coke Zeros in Sahagun and we set off on the afternoon trudge long the roadside to Bercianos. Not a pleasant walk and far too hot.

Hot hot hot
An, ahem, inspirational message on the back of a road sign
Let’s put a carrot in the works…

My blisters are driving me nuts but, being a stubborn sort, my solution is just to keep going. We arrive at 1:25pm and the albergue opens at 1:30.

Bercianos donative, the best fun albergue so far

We join the queue and I have a small blood sugar related almost-collapse. We check in to this truly splendid albergue and do the shower thing. We stagger into the only bar we can find and each eat a large pizza. I feel much better. Back to the albergue for a sleep. I drift off listening to ‘The Big Sleep’, another BBC Radio 4 play. I wake up at random moments and realise I have no idea what’s going on. You cannot fall asleep during a Raymond Chandler story…

It’s so incredibly hot that we return to the bar, which for reasons we can’t determine, is quite cool and pleasant. We watch the Simpsons dubbed in Spanish and zone out.

This albergue is a donativo, run by volunteers on an entirely free basis. It really is a lovely old building and seems quite popular with the seasoned Camino veterans.

As with most donativos there is a communal meal in the evening.  A veggie option is provided and all us veggies sit together to make life easier for the hospitaleros. The table is an eclectic group, us Scots, an Austrian, three Germans, a Canadian, a Spaniard, an Italian and a young lady from England – who was doing the Camino following a 2 year stint in South Sudan with Save The Children Fund and a bicycle trip from London to Hong Kong. Like you do…

The delight of communal dinners is that you are forced to meet your fellow travellers.  The albergue sensibly has no WiFi and the hospitaleros go to some efforts to make the peregrinos talk to one another.

Following dinner we all gather in the back garden in a big circle and join hands.  The lead hospitalero asks us to go around the circle, give our names, and, if we want, state why we’re on the Camino.

I say that I want to prove I’m not dead yet and I want to do something with my daughter, and I add, with a lump in my throat, that I want to remember my infirm son back home.  Definitely another CALS* moment…

Others give diverse reasons, others stay quiet.  The circle completes and our leader instructs us to hug each other in a meaningful manner. Yes, I know it sounds corny, but written down on a screen, so does every other significant moment in your life… I loved it.

They specialise in spectacular sunsets around here, and, in fact, the main photo atop this blog was taken at this very albergue last year on Jen’s first Camino trip.

So, around 10pm we go to the highest point in the village to watch the sun set. We sit next to some splendid Australian ladies who are celebrating their retirement with a Camino walk.

That same sun, that only a few hours ago was trying to kill us, finally hits the horizon.

The best albergue experience so far…

*Camino Adjusted Lachrymosity Syndrome

Day 15 : Stats

Moratinos to Bercianos del Real Camino

Steps 32,311

Distance covered, according to Brierley

  • 20.2 km direct, 20.2 km actual walking
  • 357.1 km to go

Other Fitbit stats

  • 29.08 km walked (based on 0.9m stride length)
  • 296 ‘active’ minutes
  • 4,649 cals burned

Stats : half a million!

Yup, at the close of yesterday my Fitbit had registered 534,679 steps since we started on this lunatic quest. Oh yes….

That was on Day 14 of 30. Will we make a million?


I write this in Bercianos where, based on the performance in the afternoon nap stakes, I predict a night of low to mid Richter scale snoring.

Before I forget, let me tell you a tale of how appearances can be deceptive and how even the most apparently unlikely candidate can raise their game to supersnore levels.

In Los Argos we’d managed to get into a small room with only five beds. There’s three of us and we can all confirm to you and each other than we don’t snore. A fourth shows up, a 20ish Swiss German girl. Should be fine, youngish girls don’t snore (stereotypes abound here, Jen will step in any second now…). Our final resident is a very fit looking 30-something Frenchman. Excellent we think.

Oh but dear reader, we were so very wrong.

Mr Fit Frenchman turned out to be none other than Snorty Jean de Snorty, winner of last years Mr Snorty championship. I’ve never heard such a loud noise coming out of anything alive apart from a cow I once saw in labour.

We were stunned. At one point Hamish jumped down from his top bunk and sat on the floor with his head in his hands (remember, at this point in the trip none of us had managed a good night’s sleep). I feared that Snorty Jean de Snorty would fall victim to some egregious punishment that H had learned in his boarding school days.

But it seemed that H’s loud landing had interrupted Jean de Snort and he was quiet! Quick, get back to bed, shut your eyes, think happy thoughts and get to sleep before the racket starts again. Well, as we all know from the Christmas Eve’s of our childhood, lying still and hoping for sleep never works.

I can’t actually recall if any sleep was had by anyone until, finally, at 4:30 or so Snorty Jean got up, incredibly quietly (I’m sure he didn’t want to disturb us – oh, the irony!) and he was out by 5am. We finally got to sleep. For an hour. At 6am we, the hardened four, the undead, staggered into the daylight and went on our way.

I was there, I saw it, I was in the presence of greatness….