Thu 19th Oct., Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela, ~23klms, 30/32,000 steps
Today's theme came relatively late in the day for reasons which will become clearer. Initially I was planning to borrow from the Irish blessing/prayer:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Not all of it, just some. For whilst the sun did indeed not shine warm on our faces, the road did rise up to meet us, and importantly the WWW from yesterday had swung southerly, so the wind was indeed at our backs for nearly all of today's stroll.
But instead I've borrowed from another Irish reference, this time the pot of gold which one finds at the end of the rainbow.
For indeed there were many unexpected pots of gold today.
The first was in the form of last night’s host, Catalina. She speaks not a word of English, but does so with such gregarious enthusiasm that it's almost impossible not to follow along. Her establishment is called 1914 Molino, for the place used to be an old flour mill. I had asked her about it last night, and this morning as we were leaving, all kitted up, she grabbed us and took us to the mill building and showed us around.
The official plaque outside the building explains:
HISTORIC MILL. INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE.
In 1914, the industrialist and doctor Don Ángel Sebastián Cordobés, together with his partner Aurelio de Anta, built this flour mill. It all started in 1908, when a hydroelectric jump was built on the Duero River, 30km from Montamarta, in the town of San Ramón de los Infantes. The waterfall was named "El Porvenir", which is currently still in operation. The work was carried out under the direction of engineer Federico Cantero.
The infrastructure supplied different surrounding towns and cities with power lines (Valladolid, Zamora, Palacios, Montamarta, etc.) and provided light to houses and towns with more than 1,000 light bulbs. In this way, the profitability of the business was double (supply of electricity and flour manufacturing). The electrical surplus was exported to Galicia.
The mill machinery was imported from France, Switzerland and Barcelona and is currently preserved in its original state. In this building we find in its original state 4 mills that operate independently, so that 4 types of different flours could be ground simultaneously.
Due to the purchase of Salto de El Porvenir by the electricity company Iberdrola, El Molino had to buy electricity and for this reason it was no longer profitable. The Mill closed in 1965.
In 2014, the exhaustive and magnificent restoration of the Mill complex and construction of a new rural complex was completed by the couple Urbici Soler and Catalina Nieto. With great enthusiasm, dedication and financial effort they have returned the splendor to this emblematic building.
Catalina is obviously very proud of her work and establishment. Some photos:
The old electric motor and switches
Some internal shots of the old mill floor
Time to go ...
Leaving Montamarta one walks beneath the rocky outcrop upon which sits Ermita de la Virgen del Castillo. As it had been raining since the wee hours, and was just starting again after a short break, we didn't go up to see it closely.
Back to the Irish blessing. What I didn't mention was that for the two hours after we left Montamarta it rained incessantly. Not all that hard; more like heavy-plus drizzle. Along with the steady southerly. So that by midday our legs were soaked (we had chosen not to carry waterproof overpants) and our boots squelchy puddles. Such is life on the road.
Pot of gold #2 was the Castillo de Castrotorafe. The weather was lousy, the path up to the site a muddy slippery river, so I didn't explore very far at all. However ...
The castle's history goes back to the early 12th century. In 1176 it was given to the Order of Santiago, which was formed at around that time and which still exists today (today the order has 35 Knights - only Spanish nobles may be members). It was initially formed, inter alia, to protect pilgrims on their way to the tomb of St James (Santiago) in Santiago de Compostela.
I'm pleased that I had at least a small opportunity to see these ruins
We diverted off the Camino for a short time, visiting Bar Restaurant 107 in Fontanillas de Castro for a couple of fabulous warming coffees, before heading out again (with a short stop at a nearby closed petrol station to wring out our socks).
#3 was the actual pot of gold (almost). I'll let the photos tell the story
#4 was the friendliest guard dog on the outskirts if Granja de Moreruela. We've seen lots of these, but don't know the breed. I guess if we'd tried to get in the reception may have been different!!
As we entered town there's a wonderful set of murals
Pot of Gold #5, and probably the best, goes to our host Victor of the pension Donde Victor Luna. He spent a year as a Rotary Exchange student in Sonoma, California, in 2000 (and as a result speaks very good English - a bonus). He quit his influential but unenjoyable job in Madrid in 2020 to return to Granja, his home village, and purchased the building which had been empty for 40 years ("apart from cats and birds"), and transformed into the oasis it is today. There's much more I could add - I won't save to highly recommend it to anyone passing through.
For a windy, wet, sometimes cold hard day, there's been lots of gold. 25klms tomorrow; weather forecast improving ...