Cycling in Spain: Cangas del Narcia to Vilalba -148kms (continued......)

Wind turbines along the Sierra de Miera.

Lying between Marentes and A Fonsagrada, the largest built-up-area for more than 80 kilometres, was the Alto de Minida, a category 3 climb not dissimilar to Arthurs Seat, my favourite ‘mont’ back home in Melbourne. But for some reason, most likely that I didn’t see it coming, it felt more interminable than it deserved to be.

While not there much longer than it takes to get a bite to eat, A Fonsagrada seemed a nice enough place to stay for a day or two. Another haven for the Kerry slug, it has its surprises, just like the road’s steady incline towards it. The location is another crossroad for travellers commemorating the original pilgrim way, the ‘camino primitivo’. Commencing from Oviedo, it follows the first ever recorded pilgrimage made by the Asturias king, Alfonso II, who, after learning of the supposed discovery of Saint James’ body in 1813, made the trek to the site of Santiago de Compostela himself, to pay homage to the eminent apostle.

Typical Galician hills and valleys.

Like a scenic railway, a combination of remote secondary roads connects A Fonsagrada with the half-forgotten town of Meira, 40 kilometres to the west. Typical of Galicia’s inland heart, the area in between is a maze of valleys and hills, from the quirkily named Rio Eo to the lofty heights of the Sierra de Meira. Along the way I was accompanied by wind turbines; though today, they were just sleeping white phantoms, silently waiting for a breath of air to awaken them. Near-perfect conditions for cycling, I would soon have a long downhill road to look forward to all the way from the top of the range to our overnight stay in Vilalba.

A typical Roz (at dinner) with an empty wineglass.

Boasting an attractive main strip and ancient sites dating back to Roman times, Vilalba seemed otherwise, a humdrum place to stay. While yet another stopover point for long distance walkers heading towards Santiago de Compostela or further west towards the coast, it lacked the joie de vivre of many of the places we’d visited back east. Closely linked with the powerful Andrade family during the early Renaissance period, it once contained an impressive fortress. Rather sadly, a bit like our own temporary stay in town, little remains but the Keep which has since been converted into a hotel.

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