Today is the day you could climb to Galicia. I left Villafranca del Bierzo with that intention but little by little I discarded it since a 30km walk would be too hard if taking into account that the last 10 or 8 km would be a very steep ascend. So I thought to leave it for the following day in order to enjoy the breathtaking views in the morning when one is still fresh. However it is possible and very normal to walk in one day the whole thing from Villafranca del Bierzo until O Cebreiro, the first Galician village in Camino de Santiago, and in fact I have done it other times.
The Camino de Santiago follows most of the day the old national road that used to join Madrid with Galicia. However, it is a very pleasant walk because the road has nearly no traffic at all since the new highway which flies over the valleys along impressive bridges gets all the cars. There is also the beauty of walking most of the time along the green and deep valley of the Valcarce river whose rapid waters make a fantastic soundtrack for the day. This stretch of Camino de Santiago is definitely one of my favourites, the high mountains, above us, flanking the valley make the walk quite of a peaceful and enjoyable experience.
Besides, the little villages and hamlets are very charming along the Varcarce river. Trabadelo, Portela de Valcarce and Vega de Valcarce are verynice. I even took a refreshing bath in the river in Vega de Valcarce in a long siesta break.
Finally we stopped in Las Herrerias de Valcarce right before the start of the slope. Las Herrerias is very small and has very few services apart from little food shops. However, there was a recently opened vegetarian pilgrim’s hostel where they cooked a great communal diner for us and we enjoyed the soiree accompanied by other pilgrims and our nice host couple. It was a perfect stop to get ready for the big day.