Camino del Norte Norte Cantábrico Gallega Ingles Spain

Day 3: Santillana del Mar to San Vicente de la Barquera

It was a long day where I was off track to see Gaudi’s summer cottage and Santana helped me through the last 7 or so kms.

A planned 33km with 800m elevation, ended up as 36kms and a couple of tired feet at the end of the day. To make it worse, the whole day is more or less on roads, mostly quiet back roads, but on tarmac, which is extremely hard on the feet.

I had managed to negotiate a 15min earlier breakfast, so 8.45 instead of 9.00. In hindsight I should perhaps have skipped it, but from my time living in Madrid, perhaps I should get used to toast and marmalade, a glass of orange juice and a coffee. Another day in beautiful sunshine from start to finish and by 9.30 I was on my way following the contour of the landscape – up then down and repeat.

I saw a lot of walkers today especially between the 10 and 20kms. By the time I stopped at a bar after 10kms, I’d met a couple of Spanish walkers, who I also had spoken to yesterday. By Comillas (after 22km), I’d passed and spoken to at least 2o others and walked for a few kilometers with three Germans (not together), a British couple and no less than four Americans.  I stopped in Cobreces for a break after 10kms, and joined 7 or 8 other walkers in the towns bar. I took my customary coffee, cola and cake – the bar tender gave me a massive piece, he must have known that it was very dry!

Soon on my way again, I met a German lady. Whilst we were chatting away, I missed my turn. She convinced me that we were on track and we carried on. Later I learnt that there are two alternative routes, one in the hills, one along the coast. Given the number of people I met, most take the coast, and I am happy I took the coastal route – even though my map was taking me into the hills.

At around 13.00 I reached the beautiful town of Comillas and visited the church of San Cristobal – finally an church that was open to the public – which was build by the townspeople, who each put aside one day a week to build the church in the 1820’s.

Comillas is where Gaudi (of Barcelona fame) had built a summer house, El Capricho, for a client, who unfortunately died before it was completed in 1885. This was a must see, so I spent an extra 3kms and an hour visiting the house, which is similar in style to his famous buildings and park in Barcelona. The detail was amazing.

The house seemed to be one only of many buildings worth a visit, (some of which Gaudi had also been involved in), so leaving town along a very straight road, I regretted that I wasn’t stopping there to explore it more, something all the other pilgrims did. Comillas is certainly a town to keep in mind for a future visit, with its interesting architecture, many places to visit and many green areas.

The last 12kms were a real slog, inland and away from the coast. I passed a village called Santana, which I took as a sign to hear some of his music and groove into town. Not much grooving, my feet hurt.

The walk from the hills above San Vicente de la Barquera, at the mouth of the Escudo River gave fantastic views over the bay and town, not least the bridge over the river. Unfortunately the battery on my camera died, so I had to rely on my phone to take pictures.

It’s Saturday and the town is full of life as I sit in the hotels restaurant with a great view of the harbour and town. With another 32kms tomorrow, there’s no way that I’ll be using my legs and feet to more than getting into bed!

I finish with somewhat mixed feelings – beautiful weather, Comillas and Gaudi’s house and the walk into San Vicente as the high points, lots of road walking and not a lot of it close to the coast, the low point.

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