Tue 19th Sept., Almadén de la Plata to El Real de la Jara; 13.8 klms
I'm seeing a pattern here already - if I think the day's to be hard, it isn't so much so, and yet if I think it's going to be easy it turns out to be somewhat less so.
But before I turn to today, I need to backtrack to a couple of important omissions from yesterday. After we passed through the entrance gates to the parque we noticed that all the trees had had their bark removed in a very distinct pattern. I wondered if they might be cork trees, and it turns out that this is the case. Until I did a little research I was not aware that cork trees are part of the oak family. They were everywhere in the park which we walked through, although only at the earlier part was it clear that their bark been harvested.
Back to today. Today’s theme, lo viejo y lo nuevo, has a couple of bases. The first emerged early as we left Almadén de la Plata. Leaving town we walked past the bull ring. I should re-declare that I am not a fan of bull-fighting at all – it has a pretty brutal underpinning, and the odds are often stacked well against the bull – but it is a very old tradition in this part of the world, and as a foreigner I don’t feel that I have a right to try to dictate what other cultures should or shouldn’t do. But the point is that it is an old tradition, and I was struck at the juxtaposition of the old bull ring sitting right alongside a brand new and very extensive solar farm. Hence, the old and the new (the second basis comes a bit later).
A few people have asked about accommodation, and I'll try to remember to make brief comment each day. Last night's accommodation at Alojamiento Rural de Romeral was lovely, and our host José, absolutely delightful. The photo below is coming home after dinner.
The path out from Almadén de la Plata is lovely. If I've read the maps correctly, we walked the whole day through the Sierra Norte Natural Park. It has a raw beauty to it; the extensive oak and other forests, the ups and downs of the terrain. It doesn't have the "rolling green hills" beauty of say the French countryside we recently saw, but more the rugged beauty that we have come to expect in outback Australia. And peaceful.
We passed and very briefly chatted to el hombre de mexico, whose name we don't know yet. He was walking more slowly than us, but I've no doubt that given that there's only 4 of us around/nearby we'll meet him properly soon.
Unusual by Australian standards, the park also seems to be divided off into farms. At the beginning, many goats, towards the end, horses. A couple of the photos below go some way to showing this.
She was very friendly, but mainly because she wanted to chew the straps on my walking poles!!
These two tell a bit about the oaks and the vegetation generally
Coming into El Real de la Jara, with its castle in the background.
El Real de la Jara, where we are now, would seem to sit on slightly high ground on the northern end of the park, and the walk up to that northern end was a bit of a challenge. We made quite good time today overall, but it seemed a bit never-ending, a result of me having declared it an easy day. Our walk profile is below:
Lastly, here's a few exploratory shots around El Real de la Jara. The other lo viejo y lo nuevo ? Well, here we are in a modern(ish) village sitting under a 14th century castle. The castle has been extensively restored in recent years, and would seem to be a local entertainment venue as well as being a pretty cool landmark.
A castle selfie ...
Typical "main" Street
Christian hermitage which may have been an Arabian mosque, in which case it's likely to be well over 1,000 years old. More lo viejo y lo nuevo
And of course the church tower with storks' nests on the steeple ...
A few people reading this blog have indicated that they may do this walk one day. Buen camino. And a cultural statement of the obvious, which I already knew, and yet has caught us already. This part of Spain very much adheres to the midday siesta, which means that one needs to do a bit of extra planning for one's meals. By the time you arrive in a town there's a fair chance that everything will be closed, so little/no opportunity to find lunch, and dinner probably won't start until 8:30/9:00 at night. It's part of the fun of it all.
Dare I say it, a modest 20klms to Monasterio tomorrow. You can see our path out (we think), centre shot on the right of the castle and the left of the old monestary ruins.