Quintana de Fuseros → 11.80 → Labaniego → 1.80km → Arlanza

Altitude
785
To end of camino
45.60

Another 12 kms and you are at Labaniego. I have never stayed here, but Ender’s guide indicates there is “acogida de peregrinos.” This term means that you will find a place to sleep but no guarantees about bed or showers or hot water. Labaniego also has several casas rurales, and a couple are offered on booking.com. It’s a small place, several nicely restored homes, but no services of any kind that I can see on google. So I would be sure to bring food.

The Road

Day 20. Labaniego to Congosto (18.5 km).

I remember this day as having lots of beautiful views over the Bierzo region to my left. At some point the terrain changes to vineyards, but before that it is green and even lush. My memory is not exactly tracked with these stages, because these are not the stages I walked. These last few days into Ponferrada are very pleasant, because you are now firmly implanted in the Bierzo, which IMO is a gorgeous part of the country.

Such a contrast between houses, some beautifully preserved, apparently on their last legs.

In Cobrana, about 13 km beyond Labaniego, I slept in La Vieja Fragua. It’s a tiny house with a loft, and the owner rents to peregrinos. The bar owners are in charge, since the owner lives out of town, but a WhatsApp is easy to set things up. Gelines in the bar prepared me a “lunch” that was too much food for lunch AND dinner. She delivered it to the house after I was showered and dry. It had been one of those almost all-day rains. I can’t remember what it was, but I do remember some excellent cheese, bread and sausage on the side. In the afternoon, the rain let up, and I enjoyed some good time with locals who are, as seems to be generally the case along the route, hoping very much that the Camino Olvidado becomes more popular.

From Cobrana to Congosto is forest with beautiful chestnut groves. Before you get to Congosto, there is an ascent to the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Peña. As a dutiful peregrina, I walked up, but it was thick pea soup fog and there were no views to be had. But the views would be over the Bárcena Reservoir, and frankly, I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t much like reservoirs. Cañaveral, Arija, Aguilar de Campoó, and now Bárcena. All of the reservoirs I have walked by strike me as slightly depressing for some reason.

I have only slept in Congosto once, and it was on my first Olvidado when I once again was saved by the kindness of others. I called several casas rurales, and the owner of the Casa Rural Álvaro de Mendaña moved mountains to get her house opened for me. She was leaving town at noon be in Ponferrada for an appointment, but she prevailed upon her brother to open up the house when I called upon arrival. On the table were a bowl of cherries and some home made cakes. And the brother told me his sister had said to just leave whatever I thought was an appropriate amount. Highly recommended, though I would recommend giving her a heads up more than a few hours in advance like I did!

The house is right across the street from a restaurant, where I was overjoyed to find a cheap menú del día at 5€ because I had almost totally run out of cash. Pola de Gordón (day 15) was the last ATM I had seen. Hopefully others can chime in with information about ATMs I might have missed. Luckily, the next day was Ponferrada, but I was close to penniless by that time.