Day 1, Oviedo to San Juan de Villapanada, 30.6km

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  • Wednesday 1st October, 2014
  • San Juan de Villapanada Albergue, €5

This morning started off different to any other walk I’ve done because sunrise isn’t until 8:20am and I didn’t want to walk up into the hills in the dark with all the Asturian bears and wolves! (And I met a Spanish pilgrim yesterday who told me I shouldn’t start until at least 7:45am because it’s too dark). So I left at 8am and it was still dark but Oviedo was busy with all the locals on their way to work and I could find my way with the street lamps.

I’m doing the number one thing you should never do on a camino – breaking in a new pair of shoes and insoles. After 3 pairs of Salomon shoes in 15 months I decided it was time to try a new brand so I tried on every pair of women’s and men’s shoes and found that a men’s pair of Merrell non waterproof with a Vibram sole were the most comfortable… So this is their test!

The arrows out of the city were good and soon I was walking up into the hills with the smells of the country – that sweet, sickly cow manure smell! I stopped quite a few times just to listen to the cows and horses with their bells on, it really is a lovely sound.

Within about 2 hours of setting off I had already met 4 other pilgrims, French and Spanish. I walked with Alfredo (Spanish) for a while and then when I stopped for my morning cafe Americano, I met Neil from Australia. Neil has also walked the same caminos I have and has the same plan as me on this trip to walk the Primitivo then Ingles, so we may be seeing each other quite a lot!

We had the same pace so we walked together, up and down the many hills, through the lovely tiny villages and passed at least a dozen other pilgrims. I saw more pilgrims today than I saw on my entire Portuguese camino! The scenery was beautiful and it felt like a summer’s day. We walked alongside a river with rocky outcrops and small bridges, along country tracks, past quite a few horreos, lots of cows and quite a few barking dogs too!

The albergue we are staying at is quite isolated with no bar or restaurant nearby so Neil and I stopped at a supermarket in the town 4km before (Grado) and picked up supplies to make a salad and pasta for dinner. After leaving Grado the path suddenly climbed very steeply and I was glad to finally arrive at the albergue, even if it is 1km off the track!

I must admit my feet were a bit sore when I arrived (the new shoes!) and I have a blister at the bottom of my right toe, so I’ve taken out the new insoles and will see how I go walking tomorrow with the original Merrell insoles.

I’ve had a wonderful evening sharing meals and wine and stimulating conversation with Australian, Polish, Dutch, Spanish, Estonian, French and Italian pilgrims, I think there might be 20 people here. It was an excellent day!

3 responses to “Day 1, Oviedo to San Juan de Villapanada, 30.6km

  1. Very surprised to see you trade in your Salomon’s for Merrells! The Salomon’s were becoming your trademark. Both Jenny and I have the Merrells (Gortex version, which are now no longer waterproof!). We started our Camino training in Scarpa’s but 3 weeks before departing we bought the Merrell Moabs due to bruised toes. Interesting, I needed innersoles for the Scarpa’s as these were a slightly narrower fit, but didn’t need them for the Merrell’s. Took 2-3 weeks before we got any blisters and they were just the typical little pinky variety. Hopefully removing the innersole will do the trick for you!

    Keep us posted on how they go, but of more interested will be a post on a comparison of all the Camino routes so we know which one to do next!

    So does Merrell’s sponsorship pay more than Salomon’s?


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