From Riano we set off down the N621 with no set destination in mind except that ultimately we would visit Santiago de Compostela before turning south towards Portugal and; we wanted to visit one or other of Astorga or Ponferrada on the way. We were in no real hurry.
The journey out of the foothills of the Picos de Europa took us deep into Castile y Leon and through wholly unexpected and rich looking arable farmland where corn and sunflowers were in abundance. The sunflowers were in full bloom and beautiful.
Once past Leon I started feeling somewhat tired of driving (I think sunflowers do that to you – Certainly, they have a soporific effect on me) and Vanya found us a suitable campsite in Trabadelo where we could overnight and simply chill. Trabadelo is a little beyond Ponferrada but we could always retrace our steps the next morning – and we did just that.
Ponferrada is another stop on the Camino Frances to Santiago – I’m going to have to do a Camino next year – the only question is which one – there are so many. The historic section of the town is overlooked by an equally historic looking castle, the Castillo de los Templarios (Castle of the Knights Templar) which was completed in 1178 to protect pilgrims walking the Camino (although it has been added to many times since then). It’s impressive; a proper knight’s castle and; in it’s day was one of the largest in Spain.
We did a complete circuit of the castle and wandered the old town for a while but didn’t stay too long after that. We had finally made up our mind as to our next stop on our way to Santiago and it was the very exciting looking city of Ourense over in Galicia.
Ourense, here we come.