A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem - traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.
Final destination - Santiago!

Post Script: The changeable situation in Jerusalem has led to a change in plans. The Rome to Jerusalem leg of this journey has been changed to the 'End to End' in the UK, after which the journey will resume as above in Vienna.

Friday, 8 August 2014

........and more tough days!

Another three tough walking days, up hill and down dale.  Added to that I have had some fierce weather, very hot, with very high humidity.  When I was leaving Rifugio ca 'carne I could see rain in the distance coming my way.  Although there was thunder and lighting, in this instance I wasn't concerned as I was descending and not exposed.  The rain, when it came, was torrential and within about 10 mins I was soaked through.  Water was gushing everywhere, and I had to be extremely careful not to slip in the water and on the clay soil, just inching my way down the hill.  I continued to drip my way through the next village and up the next hill, and though the dripping eventually stopped the humidity was so high that I didn't dry out that day at all.
The rain is coming!

This delightful beast, part wolf, was part at home at Rifugio ca 'Carne.

Because I was dripping so much I lost enthusiasm to explore, but this is an old church on the outskirts of Brisigella.

This is the hill that I accidentally descended, and then of course had to ascend!  I went around the corner past the house in the distance, and down a very steep incline.  Pity I didn't decide earlier that it was the wrong way!

The path went through streets like this in Modigliani....

......... and went past what is left of this castle, Rocca del Continue Guidance, known as Roccaccia.

If you look carefully at the left bank you can see the flattened grass from the torrent that must have come down after the downpour earlier in the day.  This mediaeval humpback bridge, Ponte S. Donato, or "della Signora", in Modigliana was just around the corner from where I stayed.

I have started thinking of the day ahead by the number of hills I have to climb.  The easy days tend to be the one hill days, as it is usually a steady uphill plod and then down again, with a few severe steep bits thrown in for good measure.
Leaving Modigliani.

The three hill day was harrowing.  My accommodation was some distance from the village and my hosts gave me a lift in their camper van to the path, several kilometres away.  Soon after though there was a discrepancy in my notes and the signs and three times on the advice of people passing I went the wrong way, wasting precious early morning coolness, and energy!  Eventually I got it sorted and paused part way up the hill to check I was right - I was still heading to the "start" of the morning - when a man in a camper van stopped and assured me I was heading the right way.  "Nothing ventured nothing win" so I asked him if he could give me a lift to the top of the hill.  I hate hills!  He opened the back of the van and I perched on the bench at the kitchen table for about 600 metres.  We passed the sign where he told me I had to go, and continued on to his house.  He took me round the back of his house and pointed out where the path went over the first hill. Was I glad of that information later, as I pushed onwards, sometimes filled with doubt as to where I was, it meant I could call up that mental picture and reassure myself I was headed the right way.
This is one of the rocky bits on the three hill day!
and more paths.

What a way it turned out to be.  Steep narrow paths, one descent so steep I crawled down the slippery clay, making progress in 6 inch increments!  I had to clamber over gypsum outcrops, looking as if the path had been laid with glass mosaics, push the wet undergrowth aside as it dripped all over me, and at one point leapt out of my skin when a couple of feet in front of me a snake (probably a viper I'm told) wriggled into the undergrowth.

I was reassured seeing a set of footprints in the wet soil, telling me someone had passed by since the last rain twelve hours earlier, but it didn't look as if there was a lot of traffic on the path at all.  With this in mind, on seeing a car with three men in it, part way down the second hill I decided it was time to hitch a ride!

I love the men I'm meeting on this way!  Very chivalrous, kind, and generous.  These three men not only said yes to taking me to the bottom of the hill, but when I told them where I was headed they took me nearly there,  not the whole way because the road stopped.  They didn't leave me there, getting out and escorting me to the door.  I bought three beers that day - one for each of them as a thank you!  I was particularly relieved not to have to walk up that third hill, as, apart from it being stinking hot by then, I was staring to get a bit nervous about the terrain I had been walking in and I had been warned about watching for the signs because the grass was very long.  Prudence prevailed, and those three grubby men will never really know how grateful I was for their willingness to go out of their way and help me!  By the way, they were grubby because they had spent the day working on a new path - the crystal path - linking caves that the Romans used for gypsum.  They were speleologists. I might add my stay at Rifugio was a delight, capped off by a wonderful meal, again in the company of two charming Italian men, who for my benefit spoke English the whole evening.
It wasn't until the second last day of the Camino Sant' Antonio that I met other pilgrims, so this is a rare sight!  These three met me as I was ascending the two kilometres I had gone down, until I decided I was wrong and went back up again!  Not sure what they did because they didn't speak English, but I went back out to the road and went down there instead, having added another 7 kilometres to my 20 kilometre, 2 hill day!  Note the snow plough sign.

A memorial to cyclists. 
On the way into Dovadola the path goes past this church, an important site in re!ation to Saint Antonio.  I went in and was having a quiet sing when the three Italian pelegrini came in to have a listen.  They were surprised, and appreciative which was nice.  The first stage of the Camino di Assisi goes back up the hill to this site, but I don't do hills twice by choice so we will take a short cut!

The path into Dovadola goes down past the farm in the distance, and of course, just to finish the day off in style, there is a very steep narrow path to come!

I am now in Dovadola and Julie has arrived.  With our registration for the Camino di Assisi we have been given little maps and directions in English.  I have yet to point out to Julie the way I measure a day, but let me say there are quite a number of two and three hill days!  But more of that as we cover the distance.


  1. Camino di Assisi- so I will be counting the hills now- and I am sure it will inspire me to train hard soon. Next Easter I will be walking near Assisi, circling south first then heading up to Gubbio. I am hoping my route is better marked so I don't get lost!

    1. OK I just found your route. Mine will only coincide for the last couple of days from Gubbio. So if there are lots of hills on that part of the route take lots of photos so I am inspired to train hard!!