Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 45: Santander to Santillana del Mar (33 kms)

Still unsettling
Today's walk was scheduled to be 33kms, All on pavement. Robin and I shortened that a bit by taking a cab from our hotel to the outer suburbs of Santander (about 5 kms). We then immediately got lost trying to follow the Cicerone Northern Caminos guidebook. There just isn't enough detail, when multiple course changes are tossed about, to actually identify where turns are to be made. We adjusted course and went straight down the main road (N 611) into Santa Cruz de Bezana. There we picked up the yellow arrows, and a handful of pilgrims, and carried on to Boo de Piélagos where we decided to walk across the Feve train bridge instead of waiting an hour for the next train to arrive. We felt safe enough as we had just missed a westbound train, and had seen an eastbound train only minutes before. The schedule said the next train wouldn't pass for an hour so off we went. Please note that freight trains also use that track, and bridge, and they are not listed on the posted schedule. We walked alongside the tracks on the rock ballast until we came to the bridge where we shifted onto a steel walkway alongside the tracks. There is room to avoid an oncoming train, but it probably would feel "uncomfortable." We walked along the tracks to the Mongo Feve station (900 meters) and then picked up the Camino arrows again.
On this leg a road map would be more useful than a guidebook as you are walking on one road or another all day long. Sadly, there isn't one moment of distracting scenery to assuage the monotony of the roadway. You just grind it out through urban streets, dreary suburbs, desolate (and abandoned) housing developments, until you are almost to Santillana when you finally go into more rural areas, but still on a road. IMHO, today's stage was the worst so far. Nothing to redeem the incessant footfalls on shin splinting pavement. Nonetheless, we arrived in Santillana around 4:00. We had made a reservation at the Hotel Altamira, and it saved the day. Santillana is a bit of a touristy town, but allowing for that, it is still pretty nice. It is primarily a medieval village dressed up for modern day expectations. But, back to, our hotel. The lady at the reception was truly wonderful. She could tell, just by looking at us, that we were fried. She was quick to answer our questions and solve our problems. Principally, we needed food, and as we had arrived after 3:30 we expected to hear that the restaurants were all closed. Surprisingly, she said we can fix anything you want, anytime you want it. She showed us the menu, which included a menu del dia, and then showed us their beautiful dining terrace. We were sold. Right after our late lunch, or early dinner, we booked another night. A double room, with breakfast, was 60 euros. The hotel is in a 17th century home that looks like a mini Parador. We will head off to mass tomorrow, and then just do as little as possible. I just checked and the next stage from Santillana to Comillas is 23 kms, all on pavement. We are discovering that the Norte certainly has a lot of road walking. Full, long, days on pavement are not fun (unless you are avoiding mud). We are beginning to look forward to leaving the Norte for the Primitivo, and are anxiously anticipating the peace of the countryside, and mountains. That will happen in about a week. I think we can hang on until then. Just finishing the laundry. Gotta go....
On the way to Boo, some units were occupied
This aw as rural as it got, but still pavement
The bridge we walked across
The Mongo train station
If you don't get us off this pavement I'll....
Walking into Santillana
Ask about our flowers
Our hotel terrace
Just after a cold beer
Starting to come around


  1. Your hotel looks absolutely amazing. I would be tempted to stay there an extra night as well! Yes, mud and tarmac- I had heard there was quite a bit of both on the Norte.
    I am also following the blog of the Kiwi Family at present. They walked on the Salvador route from Leon to Oviedo, and now are on the Primitivo I think- though I might have that muddled. Beautiful, beautiful photos. The walk from Leon to Oviedo is definitely on my wish list!!!

    1. Hi Margaret, we are enjoying another day off. But, we will be back on the track tomorrow. I too have thought about the Salvador route. It is a short, but apparently beautiful walk. Hope all is well.