I enjoyed a lie-in until 8:30 followed by a leisurely breakfast buffet in the hotel before moving on. Yesterday’s cheek cutting south-westerly had turned over night to a helpful north-westerly that pushed me through vineyards along the banks of the Duero to Castronuño where a barman told me his tales of cycling the Camino from Astorga and advised me to get off-road by heading to Nava del Rey and following a dirt track along side the railway that would take me to Medina del Campo. I took his advice, diverting to Nava del Rey, found the railway track and felt relief to at last be back on a dirt road. Until the track ended 1.5 km later, dumping me in at the corner of a particularly isolated field. I trundled my way back along the tractor-track and hooked up with the road once more. And so would continue much of this route through Castilla Leon. The landscape continued to be large and rolling, mainly made up of arable land, with few opportunities to follow off-road tracks, but plenty of covered country lanes to link desolate villages.
The rain in Spain rarely falls on the plain. The meseta plains of Castilla are generally fairly sparcely populated, in part due to the lack of water. The Green Spain of the northern coast and Galicia seems to have allowed for an even scattering of farms and homesteads to develop over the years, when travelling through Galicia you are rarely more than 5-10 km from a village or hamlet. The Castillians of Zamora and Valladolid on the other hand live in towns and villages and then commute out to their land when it needs tending. What little population there is in this part of Spain is concentrated in sleepy market towns and villages each separated from its neighbour by dozens of kilometres.
And so, when lunchtime came there was no bar or Menu del Dia on offer. I turned off and sheltered from the wind behind an irrigation shed to warm up a quick lunch of canned stew (look for the Litoral brand) with chorizo, bread and manchego cheese.
I then pushed on to Arevalo, where I found an adequate 1* hostal in which to rest.
Since leaving O Cebreiro on Monday morning, my daily average had increased significantly. A couple of 90km days stacked up with 118km on Wednesday and another 106km today meant that I was within striking distance of Avila, I was back on schedule to be home on Sunday.