La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Étape 45: El Acebo - Cacabelos, 34 kms, Grey & Rain, 7

Hard Road Reality 

Just a reminder of what El Acebo looked like late yesterday.

Last night I expected to find a meal in one of the two bars in town, but both were closed. I went looking for the only restaurant in town only to find it closed as well. I heard a woman speaking French behind me, and when I turned to look I realized she was speaking to me. She explained that if I walked down the main road and out of town that I would find a place. I thanked her and set off in the dark, water running in the street. I hadn’t expected to have to walk for my dinner, I’d already done that, so I wasn’t really prepared. Fortunately I remembered that my new phone had a flash light on it and once I turned it on things went much better. It turns out that I found my meal at the new corporate albergue which is more like a 4* hotel than a no star albergue.
I joined a table and found a few folks speaking English which was a nice change, allowing me to join the conversation. I learned that the albergue was built by non-local money and is an indication of the changing realities on the Camino Frances. I must say my meal was very good! Afterwards it was back through the dark to my little place, but it had been very enjoyable to have dinner with others:. 

Again, the view from my window last night,

Over night the freezing level rose a couple of hundred metres and everything had melted by 6:00. A few nice views.

All the way down it was spitting rain and keeping the trail slippery.

That’s Ponferrada in the distance on the left and I dropped about 700 metres to reach there.

As I said, it was pretty slick on the trail with wet shale and mud running most of the way down to Molinaseca.

A couple of small hamlets along the way were interesting with their old stone houses...

...and flashes of welcome colour.

Then Molinaseca came into view.

Very beautifully settled into the valley.

A well known house to a few. I didn’t see my friend in the window today, but it was cool and wet, though the window was open. An Italian woman and I were able to secure figs from their tree and shared them with Annemarie and Ken when they came down behind us. A nice memory.

And then I was in town

Through town, 

and onwards to Ponferrada! I saw this huge pack ahead and it turned out to be Shinji-San, my friend from Japan!

He showed me his trademark move! He’s so funny, and perhaps a little crazy too:) But I like him.

Then a quick walk through Ponferrada which is where a Rob and I departed to walk the Invierno two years ago. I was tempted, but figured accommodation at this time of year would be a challenge with so many places closed now for the season. But I was tempted as it’s a much more beautiful walk than what lies ahead on the Frances. 

I stopped across the river on my way out where I remember there being a pharmacia. The view back is still nice, even on a wet day.

Having spent a half day here with Rob, I didn’t hang around town and continued westward. Everything after Molinaseca is pavement walking to Cacabelos. Twenty-five kilometres of it. Not nice. Hard on the legs and tiring. Add in the rain and there wasn’t much of interest along the way, so I left my camera tucked up under my jacket where it stayed dry. 

I did stop for lunch today at a small bar in Fuentes and met my Venician friend from just before Leon shortly afterwards, and we walked the last 10 kms in together. His boots fell apart in the mountains yesterday so he delayed leaving Ponferrada this morning to have them glued and repaired. They were in his pack drying and he walked in runners grateful that it was a pavement day. We parted after many topics of conversation in Cacabelos and he walked on 8 more kilometres to Villafranca. I was tempted, but I was wise to stop after many kilometres of road, and at that point I’d already walked 17 kms further than he had. So we said heartfelt goodbyes and I expect our pathes may cross again in the next few days which would be nice. We move along at the same pace, so very comfortable walking together.

Annemarie has again helped me out. Appreciated!

Places of Significance: The Cruz de Faro is one of several places of significance for us on the Camino Frances. Each time Geoff has visited this place, he has had a memorable experience. We all have places like this in our lives; places we wish to visit and re-visit. In thinking about these places, I’m reminded of Dominic’s story about his brother-in-law’s desire to visit his childhood home. I have heard a number of stories about people with Alzheimer’s wishing to return to places that carry some significance in their lives. The purpose of visiting these places may be unclear, but they often bring comfort or soothe the spirit.


  1. Hello,

    I’m happy, sort of, that the snow melted, although the trail might’ve been less slippery if it hadn’t. But what can you do? We don’t get to order the weather we’d like.

    Thanks for the photo of the pink house where the woman gave us the figs. That’s such a nice memory.

    Isn’t the road to Cacabelos and after the narrow road in the valley, where pilgrims are separated from the traffic with concrete barriers? That’s the only part of the Francés I really don’t like. Yes, the Invierno would no doubt be nicer—your description of it has convinced me—but also no doubt there would be next to no accommodation.

    Given your experience now, I wonder what a walk in February would be like. Apparently there are just enough places open that it’s possible. Maybe the enterprising pilgrim would have to carry a bivvy sack, just in case?


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