In Puente Almuhey, there was a municipal albergue, but it was closed upon a complaint filed by the owner of the town’s hotel because of its lack of accessibility. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I’m betting she did not have the needs of disabled pilgrims in mind. Upon Ender’s recommendation, we went to El Duende de Carricuende. The owners are super, really trying to accommodate pilgrims. We had a fabulous 2 bedroom apartment for 15 or 20 € each. They also run a restaurant/bar next door, and it is a fairly big notch above your average camino restaurant, a bit of a foodie place in fact. We had a great meal here.
If I remember correctly, an early morning breakfast in the bar was inclued in the price.
Day 11. Puente Almuhey to Cistierna (21 km)
This is a five star day, one pilgrim put it this way: “In fact if I wanted to show someone the essence of a camino I would take them on this stage. It has everything — gentle stroll through pastures with the donging of cow bells, woods and forests. Good tracks, including a little bit of very quiet road, rural tracks, forest trails and the equivalent of goat trails! There are panoramic views, picturesque churches ad a sanctuary as well as pretty lakes.”
Don’t miss the mermaids on the wall of the Romanesque church in San Martín de Valdetuéjar. Legend has it that several peregrinas on the way to Santiago seduced some of the monks (yeah, yeah, blame the women). The enraged abbot turned the peregrinas into mermaids and threw them into the river. He then ordered the monks to build the church of San Martín, adding the carved stone mermaids as a reminder of their sins.
The 17C Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Velilla (established as a pilgrimage site in honor of her many miracles) has never been open when I walked by but it is a nice spot and has a Santiago Matamoros on one end of the building.
From there, a not-too-severe ascent begins and it is beautiful. Wild country at its best, with some well-known León mountain peaks in your sights. There is some road walking at the end, inevitable as you are entering what used to be a big mining town and is now a sad remnant of its former self.
This is a hard day to break up. The online resources list Hotel la Velilla, in Mata de Monteagudo near the Velilla sanctuary. That would be a good way to cut the day almost in half, and leave the ascent for when people are fresh in the morning. But its website is no longer functioning. I will do some more research, and see if there are any other ideas out there.