Viana do Castelo – Caminha
14 April 2018
26.9km (Brierley’s Guidebook)
35.1km (Our walk)
So, how did we end up walking more than 35km, if the stage was supposed to be only 26.9km? Find out towards the end of this post …
According to Brierley’s guide book, you have two options of walking today’s stage – the alternative Senda Litoral (which is almost entirely by beach paths) or the Main route (mostly on quiet country lanes and 2km shorter than the alternative).
Because this was our last day that we could hike along the beach, we opted for the Senda Litoral – wise decision or not?
We left our hostel just after 7:30 and followed the signs to Praia Norte which would take us to the beach. On our way to the beach front, we had to follow the busy harbour road rua Alves Cerqueira into Av. Do Atlantico. It was the normal early morning traffic and we were glad when we finally reached the promenade at Praia Norte.
On our way to the beach front, we passed a few churches. Capela das Almas (Souls Chapel) on the left and the Church of our Lady of Agony on the right
We did not expect any rain today and although it was a bit overcast, there was (hopefully) not too much to worry about getting wet. The few clouds in the sky and upcoming sun, threw a beautiful light on the ocean and we stood still for a few moments to appreciate this lovely sight.
The ocean is illuminated by the sun’s rays at the beach promenade at Praia Norte
We were happy to once again see the comfortable boardwalks and beautiful pathways that were designed to walk with ease next to the ocean.
We were looking forward walking on the boardwalks again today
The pathways next to the beach were in good condition
A stone windmill along the beach of Viana do Castelo
However, we soon encountered some signs that indicated the boardwalks or pathways were discontinued and would follow within the next kilometre or so. We were not too bothered about this, because we would then just continue on the road until we got to the boardwalks again.
I was not so happy to walk on these cobblestones again
Many of the boardwalks were covered in a thick layer of sea sand, which is probably the aftermath of winter. We did see at some places that workers were busy cleaning up the beach to get everything ready for the summer season … we, however had to walk our way through the sand on the boardwalks.
A thick layer of sea sand covered the higher sections of the boardwalks (probably due to the strong winds during the winter) … not so easy to walk these while wearing hiking sandals and socks
The ocean was, as always, a beautiful sight. With no rain predicted and just a light breeze, it was pure heaven to walk next to the sea.
The colours of the ocean and white sand reminded us of the beautiful beaches we have back in Cape Town in South Africa
At some stage, the boardwalks ended and we had no option as to walk inland. It might be possible that we walked some part of today’s stage on the Main route (or not even on the Camino itself), because we did not see any yellow arrows.
It was also during one of these “inland” walks, that we came across a couple of workers that were busy packing out bricks to lay out a new road. It looked like quite hard work and astonishingly it was not just a small piece of road, but one that stretched for almost two kilometres!
Workers busy laying bricks for a new road – back breaking work if you ask me!
Today’s walk was a zig-zag stage! Sometimes, we would be next to the ocean and then, without warning, the road would get to a dead end and we had to walk inland to find a new road. Then, after a while, we would notice the boardwalks on our left next to the sea again and start walking back to those … just to walk back inland within the next kilometre!
Eventually we reached a high point and could see the ocean … we were wondering how we could get back there again, because we did not really want to leave the beach pathways (and at the same time, stay on the Camino route). We could see a small hiking trail going down to the ocean and followed that path for a couple of kilometres before we were back at the beach.
At a high point on our “inland excursion” from where we could find our way back to the sea
On a rock, close to the ocean, we decided it was time for breakfast. We have not found a single café on our route this morning and was quite hungry by now!
Breakfast with a view
As we walked down to the ocean, we noticed the road (once again) ended with nowhere to go. Berto decided that we had more than enough of “detours” and we took a hike through some bushes and trees to get back to the white sandy beach. We walked for another kilometre on the beach sand before we, once again, found a proper road.
What is a walk next to the ocean, without a walk on a sandy beach
About 23km into our hike we found the first café and enjoyed 2 cups of coffee each! We were not even close to Caminha and according to our Brierley guide book, this stage was only supposed to be 26.9km … how?
Back on track, everything went quite smooth … for maybe 2km! Then we got to unfinished walkways – some even filled with water of the previous rainy days. There was no way that we would walk back inland again and we continued along these walkways – sometimes we literally had to walk next to the walkway, but that did not bother us!
Some of the walkways went through woodlands … we definitely had all kinds of different roads today
And then … we saw Spain!
We knew now that we just needed to head on. For the first time today we saw a couple of yellow arrows again and after consulting our Brierley guide book, we knew we were now on the Main route … the one that leads to Spain!
Back on the walkways with Spain ahead!
It was close to 14:00 when we walked into Vila Praia de Ancora. Lunchtime was long overdue and we stopped at a restaurant to fill up for the last 7km.
A BIG sandwich, but well-deserved after this morning’s walk!
After enjoying a great lunch and resting our weary legs, we walked the last kilometre next to the ocean before we turned inland to follow the road to Caminha.
The last stretch along the ocean – I will miss the sea
When we reached Camarido (the town before Caminha), it was so quiet … it was just the two of us walking in the main road. Not a single soul was visible! I said to Berto it feels as if we were walking in a small Karoo town back in South Africa (there, the towns’ roads are mostly deserted on hot summer afternoons).
Walking through Camarido – without seeing a single person
It was however not the end of long roads yet! We had to follow a very long and straight road that eventually took us into Caminha … it was close to 15:30 when we finally arrived in Caminha … a very, very long day!
The clock tower (“Torre do Relogio”) in the square of Caminha
Accommodation – Caminha:
To see the Albergue Peregrinos de Caminha was definitely one of my highlights today 😂.
The welcoming sign of Albergue Peregrinos de Caminha
As we walked into the albergue, the staff started to sing “Happy Birthday” … I was a bit confused for a moment as why they were singing this, but then we were informed that Albergue Peregrinos de Caminha are celebrating their 6th birthday today 😊.
And so, after a frustrating and long day on the road, we were once again overwhelmed with the friendly and welcoming attitude of the Portuguese people! They had a table set with traditional Portuguese soup, bread, chicken and salad for all the pilgrims to enjoy and to celebrate their birthday with them.
We are sleeping real “Camino style” tonight … several bunk beds in one dorm and towards the evening (surprisingly) all the beds were taken. We had no idea where everybody came from, because we have hardly saw any pilgrims on our journey thus far.
Bunk beds for tired pilgrims
The ladies’ bathroom was a challenge for a conservative South African like me … open showers … but I was first and the only one there at the time (it was a quick shower!)
After we enjoyed the “birthday meal”, the owners of the albergue invited us for coffee at the café next to the albergue. They treated us like family whom they have not seen for a long time – the Camino spirit was truly well and alive here in Caminha! Afterwards, they invited us back to the communal area of the albergue, where they served us the birthday cake.
The birthday cake of Albergue Peregrinos de Caminha, celebrating their 6th birthday
After such a hard day on the Camino, the warm reception we received from this albergue’s staff, made us forget just how difficult we found today’s (unexpected) long stage.
And yes, this is then how we walked almost 10km more than what we were supposed to do … a day I will never forget 🤗.
Click here for Day 20 …