Day 20 – To Hornillos del Camino

Burgos to Hornillos del Camino – 21 Kms, 29,195 steps

The Meseta is a vast, high plateau that takes a week to walk across. It’s famous for being without shade, without water, and without a lot of towns. Though the plateau itself is flat, the towns are often off the plateau, down by a river. This means there are some serious daily ascents and descents to and from the Meseta. Unsurprisingly, a lot of pilgrims choose to skip this area by taking a two-hour train ride from Burgos to Leon, as I did in 2019.

Leaving town was easy, just follow the markers

I wound my way through Burgos, around the cathedral and eventually made it to the outskirts of town. It was 49-degrees, so I wore my windbreaker for the first time. There were always a few other pilgrims in sight, as pre-dawn is a popular departure time.

A park near the University – notice the nice path surface

After an hour or so, I was walking though farm fields and another hour later brought me to the ascent up to the Meseta. It was a long, steep uphill climb and at the top, everyone was shedding their windbreakers and other outerwear. Luckily, it was a bit overcast, cool, and we had a breeze. Sometimes the path surface was nice packed grit, sometimes it as crappy hard rocks.

Typical Meseta scenery
The very occasional tree, with attending sheep flock

For the last few days, I’ve been keeping pace with a pair of young ladies I’ve dubbed The German Party Girls. They’re very blonde, very tan, and drink a lot of beer. They’re very attractive and they know it. I have little direct interaction with them but it’s fun to observe them when we’re at the same stops. They get full credit for doing the hard walking and carrying backpacks.

The GPGs stop to photograph the sheep
The sheep say baaaa

As always, what goes up must come down, so we went down a really steep descent. I protected my knees by making vigorous use of my hiking poles and taking short steps. I’d hate to do this in the rain! Several mountain bikes passed me on the way down, with speed but not difficulty.

I tried to keep my camera level, so you could appreciate the downhill angle

The picture above shows the steep descent and winding path to Hornillos del Camino. Hornillos means “furnaces” and refers to the kilns where ceramic tiles were once fired, a local tradition. The town has been around since the ninth century and generally exists now to service pilgims. Population: 70.

My luxurious private room

I was happy to arrive in the early afternoon at Hornillos Meeting Point, a well-run albergue. There was a line out the door to get in, but luckily I had a reservation for a “private room”. As you can see above, this means I did have my own room and bathroom, but the bunk beds were no different than those in the dormitory area. So, not overly luxurious but private nonetheless. I like my privacy but, more importantly, I have been known to snore and I wouldn’t want to inflict that on others in a dorm.

Tomorrow, more Meseta with a 20 Km walk to Castrojeriz. The weather forecast is for more of the same: cool morning, slight overcast, and dry. Excellent!

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