Day 14 Burgos – Hontanas – 30.5km
If you have stayed overnight in the albergue beside the cathedral it is easier to walk along the river and join the Camino at Puente de Malatos. Stay on the north side of the river, where there is a walking and cycle path, until the bridge. Otherwise pick up the Camino scallop shell signs at Calle Fernán González, then Calle del Emperador, then Calle Villalon will lead you to the bridge.
Today is a long day, and the first day on the Meseta, however stopping at Hontanas is an option. There is very little shade on the Meseta, and it can be very hot in the summer, however most of the day is along earthen tracks. Many pilgrims with less time decide to miss this part of the Camino. However it is very peaceful with wide open spaces; the Meseta is very different from my normal walking routes in Ireland and because of this I loved this section.
It is six days to Leon the next major city, if you need particular supplies e.g. contact lens cleaner it is best to purchase in Burgos before you leave, the villages are fairly small and rural for the next six days.
Unlike the slog into Burgos the walkout is beautiful and calm. There are two steep climbs and descents part way through the day right after each other from Rabe de las Calzadas. Most of the walking today is gravel and earth farm tracks.
Today there are two long stretches without guaranteed water. From Rabe de las Calzadas to Hornillos, a distance of 8km, where there are no villages and no water fountains. Between Hornillos to Hontanas, (10km), there is an albergue at San Bol,(after 5kms). Carry plenty of water.
Villalbilla de Burgos 7km, water, cafe
Villalbilla is a small suburb of Burgos with just over 1,200 inhabitants. For the historically minded there is little to hold you here and perhaps the most interesting sight will be the stork’s nest atop the Church of Asuncion. The Camino skirts the edge of Villalbilla and if you need facilities or water walk off the Camino into the village.
After Villalbilla the route now passes under the motorway, keep following the yellow arrows.
Tardajos 3km, water, cafe, bar, pharmacy, food shop
Albergue de Tardajos, municipal, Calle Asunción s/n, donation, 18 beds, Tel: 947 451 189, Open from March 19 till November 1 (approximately).
Albergue La Fábrica, private, 27 Camino de la Fábrica, €12-15, 14 beds, B, M, W€3,50, D€3, @, Bike, Tel: 620 111 939, Web: http://www.alberguelafabrica.com, open all year.
At the entrance to the village, and former important Roman town and cross road, you are greeted by a 18th century stone cross. Excavations in the area have turned up Roman coins and ceramics. Just over the river on the right are some Roman ruins.
Of the three churches that were here in the 13th century only one remains. The Gothic Monastery Church of Santa Maria was built in the 13th century, but most of its current construction dates from the 16th century. Inside there are five Baroque retablos, the central retablo contains an image of the Virgen de las Aguas who was venerated in the past by farmers praying for rain. The French influence can be seen again with an image of San Roque on the left retablo, who is often mistaken for Saint James as they are both often portrayed as pilgrims.
Pilgrims of 800 years ago had to find a way over swamp between Tardajos and Rabe, it was so well known that the follow ditty evolved:
From Tardajos to Rabe
may God delivery us.
And from Rabe to Tardajos,
you will not lack for troubles.
Rabe de las Calzadas 2.1km, water, cafe
Albergue Liberanos Domine, private, 10 Plaza Francisco Riberas, €8, 24 beds, B€2,50, M€8, W€3, D€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 695 116 901, Web: http://www.liberanosdomine.com Open all year.
Fill your water bottle before leaving Rabe as there is no guaranteed clean water for the next 8km. About 2.5 km past Rabe de las Calzadas there is a picnic area with water provide via a hand pump. There is no sign informing if the water is drinkable or not.
The village Church of Saint Marina has a 13th century portal, inside there is a small Romanesque relief of the Crucifixion. On the way out of the village you pass the reconstructed Hermitage de Nuestra Señora de Monasterio.
Hornillos del Camino 8.1km, water, shop, bar
Albergue de Hornillos del Camino, municipal, Plaza de la Iglesia, €5 (in winter €6), 32 beds, K, W€5, V, Bike, Tel: 689 784 681, open all year.
Albergue El Alfar de Hornillos, private, 8 Calle Cantarranas, €9, 20 beds, K, B€3, communal M€9, W€3, D€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 619 235 930, 654 263 857, Web: http://www.elalfardehornillos.es, Open April to October.
Albergue Hornillos Meeting Point, private, 3 Calle Cantarranas, €8, 32 beds, K, B€3, W, D, V, @, Bike, Tel: 608 113 599, Web: http://www.hornillosmeetingpoint.com, Open all year.
Hornillos has one main street, Calle Real, and only 66 inhabitants which makes it quite typical of many small villages on the Meseta.
The Gothic Parish of San Roman can’t be missed as it is only twenty meters from the bar where most pilgrims will stop for refreshments. The church was built on a pre-Roman castro, (fortified settlement), and resembles a fortified church; however most of the building is recent due to complete renovations.
San Bol 5km, it may be possible to buy some snacks and water during the summer months between April and Oct
Albergue Arroyo de San Bol, municipal, Arroyo de San Bol, €5, 12 beds, K, communal B€2 and M€7, Tel: 606 893 407, Open April to mid October.
San Bol is an albergue in the middle of nowhere. When I first stayed, in 2004, there were no toilets, no showers, no electricity, and no running drinkable water. However the albergue changed hands in 2010 and has been revamped; there is now running water, one shower and one toilet. In some English speaking guide books there is a legend about San Bol. They say if you bath your feet in the water here you will have no more blisters and will reach Santiago de Compostela; I reached Santiago, however I still developed a few blisters later – so half true.
About two 2km before Hontanas you walk through a landscape characterised by piles of stones known as majanos. Pilgrims have created many pyramids of stones and the area feel haunting due to the apparent desolateness.
Hontanas 10.3km, water, bar, food, cafe
Méson Albergue El Puntido, private, 6 Calle La Iglesia, €5, 46 beds, K, B€2, M€9, W€3, D€4, V, @, Bike, Tel: 947 378 597, 636 781 387, Web: http://www.puntido.com, Open all year (from December to February call in advance to check the availability).
Albergue de Hontanas, municipal, 26 Calle Real, €5, 55 beds, K, V, Bike, Tel: 947 377 035, 606 137 989, Open all year.
Albergue Santa Brígida, private, 15 Calle Real, €7, 16 beds, K, B€2,20, M€10, W€3, D€4, @, Bike, Tel: 628 927 317, Web: http://www.alberguesantabrigida.com Open mid March to mid October.
Casa Rural el Descanso, 16 Calle Real, single €30, double €35, triple €45, web: http://www.casaeldescanso.com/, free wifi, restaurant menu €9.
Another small village that owes it continued existence to the Camino Frances, population 68.
The 14th century Church of Immaculada Concepcion dominates the skyline. The only piece of interest inside is a Baroque altarpiece.
Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage
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