Camino de Santiago - Brian's Update No 3

Brian continues his commentary of the people places and events that he meets along the way, and the reflections that occupy him on his pilgrimage.
Days 15 to 16

Day 15 - Friday April 8th

I take a rest day in Coutances, well hardly a rest day, but I am not walking, having a look around and catching up on what has to be done. My good "Brasher" boots, which I assumed would do me the whole journey, need heels. This is not walking on heather, moss, stones and turf of the Mournes; the roads are hard on the shoes.

I notice that the left heel is particularly bad, I am using a stick in the right hand and can only conclude that its use has eased the wear and tear on the right boot. I have two sticks with me; I thought that if I had stiff climbing in the Pyrenees, the second stick would prove useful. I can now see the benefit of using two sticks and decide to do so from here on.

On my rest day then, I purchase new boots. There was a sports shop I had noticed on my way to the hotel and good enough when I enquired (at Reception) as to where I might purchase new walking boots (I must be an international linguist, this was all achieved with my totally inadequate French, the only thing from my speech which they might have understood was "merci" or "s'il vous plait", the rest was achieved by sign language), they directed me to the same shop where I purchased the boots I have worn since.

They're fine, not leather uppers like the Brasher but a good substantial boot. I don't how waterproof they would be after a days walking through wet grass, gorse and heather but for the road they are adequate.

I send my old boots home, to be repaired, I have my photos downloaded on to a disc and send it home also and I try to get the 1/100000 maps, which I will need whenever I join the Camino.

I now realise that a written description of the route will not be enough to get me through, I will need the visual route in map form.

I go to bed that night content that I have done a good days work and am ready to face a new dawn.

Day 16 - Saturday April 9th      TOP

I'm on the road early next morning, well 9.30 or thereabouts, no more Piste Cyclable, it's away in a totally unsuitable direction. I follow the directions I have been given, this is a sizable town, its Saturday morning there's very few about, but I follow on what I am sure is the right direction. I am going to Villedieu via Gayray, a distance of around 31k. I have decided on the more direct route.

Disaster, I come upon large-scale road works, new roundabouts, no signs other than diversion signs but I know the general direction and I head on, I see a man, "Villedieu? S'il vous plait" "Toute droit, toute droit" he says.

"Merci, monsieur" and I carry on, but in a very short distance I have a decision to make. "Toute droit" becomes two parallel roads; both going in the same direction but one is rising and after a few hundred yards seems to veer away left. Looks right to me, but he would have said adroit surely. Do as the man said, carry on. Not a good move, and the further I went along it the more convinced I became, absolutely no one about, perhaps it turns to the left at the top, I to am now rising and I have been out of the town since I talked to the man.

I see a lorry pull into a yard ahead of me, must catch this guy, I hurry on, he's still in his cab, a huge lorry, engine still running, he is most obliging, hops out, I point on my map to where I want to go. To ensure there are no mistakes, I hand him my notebook and pen, he draws me a sketch. I should have taken the parallel road, trust more to your instincts in future!

I have been on the go almost 1 hours; hour should have gotten me clear of the town. Plans of any sizable towns essential in future?

Lesson learned - mistakes too costly to repeat - I strike out for Villedieu, the lorry man had indicated that it was hilly, and it was. It was a series of Annesborough - Castlewellan situations all the way. You crested a steep hill, and here before you, another steep drop and an even steeper rise beyond.

Even the weather is unkind today, rain and a hail shower not the sort of weather or journey for reverie. I reach Villedieu, book into a nice hotel and luxuriate in a hot bath. I'm really going to rest tomorrow!

Days 16 and 17   

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