Camino Nascente & Carmelita Camino Nascente Fatima Camino Portugues Portugal

Day 5: Tomar to Fatima

I was looking forward to today, but the blister on the sole of my foot was a concern given that the stage was probably the most strenuous I would walk this time around, with lots of climbs and descents, and many rocky paths. This stage is also called the Camino Nascente, and covers 31 kms between Tomar and Fatima.

I was up at 7 o’clock, showered, treated and padded my feet and went down for breakfast. I suppose there was never any doubt that if I believed I could get through the 31 kilometers to Fatima, even if my feet hurt. I would walk. So walk I did, sometimes in some pain, but overall my blistered sole held out, helped by the padding under the blister.

I left the highly recommended Casa dos Officios hotel and set out on what turned out to be an exhausting day. I climbed up to the castle and monastery that I had visited yesterday and continued past the convent to see the first part of the  Acueducto de los Pegões, also known as Aqueduct of the Convent of Christ, as it brought water from four different places to the convent. Building started in 1593, was 6 km long at its highest is 30 meters high. It is open to the public to walk along it, but at your own risk. I certainly would not. The aqueduct is very well preserved and worth a visit if ever in Tomar (the first part is just past the convent).

After the aqueduct the next 8kms were up and down through rolling countryside primarily with olive trees and with some nice views. As one enters a village in Portugal, there are always dogs barking – once one starts to bark, all the dogs in the village bark. Many of the dogs are chained so they can reach the gate and fence, but no further. I don’t know how many times I got a shock as a dog jumped up onto a gate or fence, only to realise that it couldn’t get any further.

In Fungalvaz, I stopped for a break, the muscle on my right calf was ok but still stiff, but the blister on my left foot cried out every time I took a step – although it wasn’t as painful as I had expected. I stopped at the first cafe, and bought a coffee, she had nothing sweet for sale.

I was trying to do 4km per hour including stops, but here I sat after 3 hours and 11km, a combination of my foot and all the climbs – and of course stopping for photos. I marched on and turned onto a small path that I initially missed. The next 3 – 4kms were really tough. Initially the path was on sharp rock so I had to think about every step and make sure my was solidly planted before taking the next step – even more necessary with my delicate foot and calf muscle. I would be painful if I fell here. The path got smaller and the descent steeper, finally ending in a mixture of walking and not too serious climbing. With gradients at times at 19%, it was pretty heavy going. I was feeling both drained and worried that if more of today’s stage was similar to this and not least if the downhill is as challenging, (as I am a very slow downhill walker in difficult conditions), it was going to be a long day and that I might not make it before sunset. After 4 hours I had walked 14 kilometers.

Over the top of the hill, the terrain changed, the path down towards Lagoa was wide, gentle and a mix of small stones and sand. It carried on until I crossed the main road at Lagoa do Furadouro and turned into a quiet country road. I met the Spaniard I had met with a Portuguese guy several times on the leg to Santarem – he was on his way to Santiago, the Portuguese guy stopped in Fatima. We exchanged a few words, it was 2 o’clock and we were 12km from Fatima and 18, at times tough, kilometers from Tomar.  I certainly preferred to be 12kms from Fatima than 18kms from Tomar at this time of day. He doesn’t speak English, so I couldn’t understand if he was planning to go to Tomar or had a place to sleep before there – he was clearly an experienced walker so I am sure everything was under control. We wished each other a good walk and went in each our direction.

I stopped for a 30 min lunch break and rested my feet. I could feel that this had been a hard walk so far and that it wasn’t over yet – I sat and ate lunch at 200 meters above sea level and Fatima was at around 400 meters. So there was still some climbing to do.

It remained flat an easy going for a few more kilometers but I could feel that I was walking slower and slower. I was listening to music from 1966, but decided it was time to change the music tempo – so I did what had worked in Japan, started a Coldplay playlist. Immediately my mood changed and my walking pace increased, as I sang along with Coldplay’s feel good stadium rock songs. I apologise to anybody that heard me.

It changed from road to a rocky path as the climb started. I made a shout of appreciation for each kilometer and finally with 3kms remaining I was on the outskirts of Fatima – and some very nice houses (out here isn’t where the pilgrims come!).

I stopped at a supermarket for a drink, they only had cold 7-up, and walked into Fatima, through a residential area, the the artifact shops, hotels and restaurants, across an empty sanctuary in front of the church (very different from the first time I was here – but more about that tomorrow) past more artifact shops, hotels and restaurants and finally after 30,9km, climbing 804m and burning over 4000 calories, I’d made it.

Both my feet and I were happy, but my ankle was swollen and the blister under my left foot was hurting. I considered my options for tomorrow. Tomorrow was supposed to be short, 20km stage where the first 5kms are walking the same route as the last 5kms I just walked (the first three through a boring residential area). Added to that, I am supposed to take a train to a nearby town to sleep and finally I had hoped to arrive in time to see Fatima, but that was the last thing on my mind just now. So given my condition and the fact that I couldn’t rely on the trains as a partial strike was still ongoing, I decided to stay two nights in Fatima and cancelled the exiting booking for tomorrow. How I would then get to the start of Friday’s leg was, as yet, an unanswered question.

I rested, showered and looked after my feet. I saw Arsenal vs Manchester City and dinner was an orange and piece of cake from breakfast this morning and two muesli bars. I slept 10 hours from 10 o’clock. I didn’t feel like going out.

It was a hard stage, perhaps the hardest physical stage I had walked. The walk come climb with 19% gradients was tough. The stage had a lot more to offer than the previous post Lisbon stages, not least the fabulous aqueduct and the views throughout the day.

2 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Glenn says:

    Hi Steven,
    Thanks for this beautiful write up on your walk from Tomar to Fatima. I will be in Fatima next April and plan to start my first Camino from either Fatima or Tomar.
    My main fear about starting from Fatima is that the route to Tomar may not be well-marked as it is not part of Camino Central, but Camino Nascente. So I fear making wrong turns and getting lost in the wilderness!
    Is my fear unfounded? Will I be able to rely on regular yellow arrows along the way? Any tips or advice (eg. app guides, etc) should I decide to walk this Nascente route?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Steven says:

      Hi Glenn,
      Sorry for the late response, I have been out walking again. I used alltrails to follow the tracks. Are you planning on going north towards Santiago? From Fatima north the path is genrally well-signed, but not to the same extent as the path north from Tomar which is part of the Camino Portuguese.

      I walked Tomar to Fatima, and it was signed, but I would take an app (like alltrails) as backup.

      Enjoy your walk

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