Camino del Norte Cantabrian Sea Nature Trail Norte Cantábrico Gallega Ingles Ruta Natural del Cantábrico Spain

Day 14: Tapia de Casariego to Rinlo

Today was my last half a day on the Camino del Norte. Whilst pilgrims on their way to Santiago walk inland, I will continue along the coast following the Ruta Natural del Cantabrico to Ortigueira and the Costa Gallega/Camino Ingles to A Coruna.

The rain had stopped and I woke up to a mostly cloudy morning. Breakfast at the hotel was the now customary toast, juice and coffee, which was consumed whilst in conversation with a German walking his first Camino – a break from looking after his grandchildren 3 days a week.

As I left Tapia it was a sunny, cold and windy morning, and for the first time the two fleece tops I was wearing didn’t feel enough.  The forecast said that the afternoon was going to be wet, clearing up by late afternoon.

I decided to take an alternative route outside Tapia, following the E9 route along the coast. It took me along paths with agricultural fields one side and the rugged coast on the other. The views were, as always, fantastic.

As I rejoined the Camino, I met the German from breakfast, looking over the beautiful Penarronda beach in glorious sunshine. We each went our own ways, as I took another, not as impressive, alternative route before reaching the the 600m long Santos bridge over the Ribadeo River to Ribadeo, the first town in Galicia. The bridge carries a motorway and walk bridge, and the noise of cars thundering a long is continuous and almost unbearable. I ended up putting my headphones in my ear, but still had trouble hearing the music due to the noise.

The bridge also marked the end of my Camino del Norte, which heads inland. I’ve walked almost 400 kms since starting in Santander 14 days ago. A new chapter starts along the Cantabrian Sea Nature Trail, which I will follow for the rest of the day and for five more days. It also marked the start of the region of Galicia and end of Asturias.

Off the bridge the Camino goes left towards Ribadeo, whilst I went right towards the lighthouse on Illa Pancha. It started to rain, first lightly and then heavily. As yesterday it was poncho on and poncho off – repeat.

The afternoon was a bit spoilt by the rain. Poncho on and off is irritating, but the paths were often narrow, with grass either side, and wet grass on a narrow path means wet feet. The paths were well kept and well signposted, both with directions at every turn and kilometer markers. The views along the coast were also beautiful, a number of not so easily accessible beaches in coves along a rugged coastline and for the most part wild vegetation not agriculture.

I reached Rinlo, very close to my destination, before 2pm, planning to eat at one of the towns five restaurants. What I didn’t think about was that May 1st is a public holiday in Spain, so many others had planned to eat out – there were queues outside all the restaurants.

I walked on and found my hotel a couple of kilometers inland from Rinlo. Luckily the owner was at home and I could check in, in a movie themed hotel in the middle of nowhere. I’m sleeping in the Romeo and Juliette themed room.

I planned to visit the Playa de las Catedrales (Beach of the Cathedrals), a national monument, given its name due to the massive rock formations often with arches looking like the doors to cathedrals. It’s best to visit in low tide, where you can go down onto the beach and walk between the different rock formations. Low tide was at 4pm today, and for ca. 45 mins either side of low tide you can access the beach and see the formations. Some can be seen from above, but not the most spectacular and you get a different feeling of how big they are when you stand next to them instead of looking down on them.

Luckily the hotel was close to a small train station – in fact just a platform – and I was in luck that one of the four daily trains was due to arrive in 10 minutes. It took me two stops. A ten minute walk got me to the site. You couldn’t miss it, there were quite a few tourists and a many campers, as you see everywhere along the coast. I bought a sandwich and cake at a small cafeteria – little did I know it would be the only food I would get today, otherwise I may have bought more. I went down onto the beach and walked between the massive rock formations. All along the cost, it is amazing to see the impact the sea has had on the rock over millions of years.

The German I was walking with this morning told me that he earlier was walking with a Japanese man, and the first time they came to a beach, he took off his clothes and ran into the water. I responded that I’d never been in the water despite walking so many kilometers along the coast – I hate water that is less than 30 degrees warm. Only hours later, at least my feet got wet, as I needed to take off my shoes and socks to get to some of the formations on the beach. The water was cold.

I was leaving at around 4pm, just as a coach load arrived. I think the next 30 minutes were going to be very busy and I cannot imagine how busy this is during the summer. No wonder you have to make a reservation during the high season. It was great to see, but on reflection it was the same as I have been seeing whilst walking along the coast, I suppose the place is so popular because there are many different formations very close to each other.

I walked the 4kms back to the hotel, spoke with Lene and went to look for something to eat. The closest bar had nothing, the next bar that had food was 1,5kms further down the road and I didn’t feel like walking any more. So two beers, a bag of mixed nuts and a small tapas of ham and bread ended up being today’s dinner.

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