Leaving Bercianos will be hard after realizing the good karma that the village and its people have, but the Camino de Santiago is waiting…
Nearly all the Camino de Santiago stretch from Bercianos to Reliegos will be following a dirt path parallel to a local narrow road with nearly no traffic at all. The town halls of these villages have done the beautiful effort of planting a row of sycamores on the side of the path whose shade will be appreciated when they grow bigger. Actually their shade is already appreciated since most of them are already medium size. Keep in mind it’s not that easy to grow trees in this desert like area.
In the middle of this stage of the Way of St. James there is El Burgo Ranero which also has a public hostel for pilgrims, also run by the Volunteers Hospitaleros. I was sent there once as hospitalero and know it well. The facilities of the hostel are very good. The hostel is on a really charming cob house made only 20 years ago by the village’s people. However, the town hall doesn’t allow the volunteers to arrange a communal dinner for the pilgrims (for the obvious reason of increasing the business of the local restaurants and bars) and although the stay in Burgo Ranero could be quite pleasant, it’s definitely not as touching as the experience in Bercianos. It’s really mad if you think how societies can change in the stretch of 8km, now we’re talking about the same country, region, province, shire and still people can be so different from one village to the next one.
Burgo Ranero is a really good place to observe the traditional farmer poor cob houses, made of earth and straw that were the only building materials that poor land can provide. Having said that, this type of houses are the most suited for that weather of freezing winters and torrid summers. Due to the good insulation properties and thermic mass of cob the houses are warm in winter and cool in summer. They might look poor but actually it would be difficult if possible at all to achieve that building a modern and expensive house which also would look completely ridiculous and out of place. These cob constructions are pure environment friendly buildings and will not leave any human footprint when abandoned since they’re made of earth and will become earth again quickly.
Then after el Burgo Ranero there is a monotonous 13km walk until Reliegos, but if you feel tired to walk them all, Villamarco is a village that the Camino de Santiago doesn’t go through but passes only around 800m to its right 8km after Burgo Ranero. A new hostel for pilgrims has been opened in Villamarco and pilgrims can take an easy deviation to this village which I never visited but that looked as nice and pretty from the distance as an oasis in the desert.
Finally, Reliegos is a village alike the rest. It has a hostel for pilgrims, small food and grocery shops and bars, but no ATM.