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Wastelands of Lugo
Wastelands of Eastern Lugo

From A Fonsagrada to Cádavo Baleira

Yet another day walking through the High Country. Average altitudes are between 800 and 1000 meters, but there are no serious hills to climb. In fact, with one exception, there is little to remember about the day. That exception is the rebuilt Hospital de Montouto, which was founded as a pilgrimage resource in 1357 by King Pedro the Cruel. It was described then as being situated "in a depopulated land where the poor perish of cold and snow." Even in a modern, more prosperous kingdom, it's still a depopulated area. The El Pais guide considers it one of the magical places on this Camino, with its broad views across the hilltops and, depending on weather conditions, cloud ponding in the valleys. The buildings shown in the photos were reconstructed recently by a builders technical school, but the feeling of the structures is authentically old, poor, small, and grim, in contrast to the natural beauty of the area.

Montouto Chapel Hospital Entrance The Well Other Structures Leaving
the Hospital
The Montouto Chapel Montouto Entrance The Hospital Montouto Buildings Leaving the Hospital

We took at rest stop at a small bar in Paradavella, up the road from Montouto. I asked the owner if she had much business, given the remoteness of the area, and she replied that it had been better once, but that most of the residents of the town and district had moved away. It was just too difficult to make a living there. That shows in the way so much of the land has gone back to evil plants. Gorse and heather on the hillsides are beautiful to see, but neither cows nor sheep can pasture on them and no one clears them out.

You approach Cádavo Baleira -- the day's end point -- quite suddenly. You don't see the town in the valley until you're almost on top of it. But shortly thereafter, the Camino brings you right to the front door of the Albergue. I liked it the best of the rural albergues on this whole route. Among other comforts, it has a solar where you can sit comfortably out of the wind in the afternoon sun and dry your clothes. The town is small but welcoming, with food services and everything a modern pilgrim needs except Internet access.

Gorse in Bloom Above Cádavo The Albergue
Hillside gone to waste Gorse in Bloom Above Cádavo The Albergue

Tips, Tricks, and Traps

No special tricks or traps for this stage. When the first edition of the El Pais guide was written, the descent from Montouto went through an area blocked by evil plants. A photo for that chapter shows a young man in shorts and a T-shirt trying to force his way through gorse, poor devil. For North Americans, gorse is pretty but a tough, invasive, fast growing, and seriously thorny shrub. Blocked areas of the Primitivo have been weed-whacked in 2008, but it remains to be seen if the local Amigos del Camino de Santiago Association will keep the paths clear.

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