When I walked by myself in 2014 I stayed in Guardo in the Real Hotel. The second time, we stayed in the albergue, which is great. Wonderful hospitalero. The albergue takes in a lot of groups, but they are used to having Olvidado pilgrims. We coincided with a group of mountain bikers and enjoyed the interaction, but I imagine it could get noisy. Both the albergue and the Real Hotel are outside of the center and up a hill, at least 1.5 km away. So bring anything you need with you unless you fancy walking back down. If you are going to take the “old” route to Puente Almuhey, these places are right on the Camino. If you want to take the Caminayo mountain alternative, you will have to go back down and through the center of town to get on that route.
As I look back on my notes, I remember one of those very wonderful camino moments on my first trip through Guardo. I arrived alone dragging my feet. It was a weekend, late afternoon, and I wasn’t sure where I was going to sleep, because a small hotel on the outskirts was full. I saw the ayuntamiento door was open, which surprised me, but I went inside. I heard some voices far in the back and scared the two cleaning people out of their skins when I came upon them and said hola. They then took it upon themselves to find me a place to stay, surely not in their job description. It occurred to me that I got much better treatment from the cleaning staff in this Ayuntamiento than I have gotten in others from the officials in charge. They were so sweet.
Day 10A. Guardo to Puente Almuhey 16 km
This route is flat and direct.
On my first Olvidado, the only way to Puente Almuhey was the first option, so I went about 12 km further on to a place that is no longer open. But when I went back in 2019, Ender had marked the 10B mountain alternative, which I’ll describe in my next post.
This route has been modified, much to its improvement.
Day 10B. Guardo to Puente Almuhey (32 km, 500-600m elevation gain, and considered here to be the alternate route)
As Ender’s passion is mountain walking (he lives near La Robla on the Salvador), he has taken it upon himself to provide some options to peregrinos who share that opinion. This one is beautiful.
The alternative mountain route goes down to the river in Guardo and then takes you through the abandoned mining town outside Velilla. Velilla itself has some places to stay, so if you wanted to do the alternative route, you could walk 24 from Tarilonte through Guardo and to Velilla. That would give you a 28 km day through Caminayo, which is what @omicko did. Omicko also gave some specific information. Hostal Stop. Also Casa Moura 979 861 098, 30 € with breakfast.
The rewards of this longer and harder walk are great. First in Velilla there are the ancient Támaricas Fountains. @alansykes reports that, according to Pliny the Elder, if the fountains are dry, you should be dead within a week. We had water, thankfully.
After the town, you enter an absolutely beautiful forest, with its very hard-to-follow path. Even with my GPS we got off piste and had to take some steep downhills to get back on the path. (My old GPS only takes 500 “points” per track, so at the micro level it is often hard to follow). But it was like a fairy tale forest. Then up and around one of several abandoned mines, and it is tricky. I remember warning @MikeJS about the confusion and he reported “Laurie’s advice about keeping high and left at the coal workings was invaluable. There are so many different tracks in this uphill section until you reach the coal workings it is extremely easy to take the wrong one... After that the way becomes more obvious and on a clear day the view is wonderful.” I felt like I had done a good deed. And that our 20-minute hunt for the trail had not been in vain.
From the forest, out to the ridge, with just gorgeous views. Finally you see the little hamlet of Caminayo below you — it is nestled in the hills and about half of the way down to the level you started at. The walk down is just as pretty as the walk up. Caminayo is a tiny village, but looks to be on a path of revitalization. Some new construction, beautiful old buildings. Two women came and opened the social center to make us coffee, bringing tortilla, cheese and bread from their own homes for us.
The walk down from Caminayo is very pleasant, extremely gentle slope, lots of shade, it is gorgeous. The last kms into Guardo are along the side of the road, but on a dirt track.
This is just one of those days where the views make you gasp, and the people shower you with kindness. No need for further explanation as to why in the world would anyone take a 32 km U-loop with some significant ascent when the straight shot is flat and 16 km. But don’t feel sorry for yourself if you decide not to do it — I think the newly marked direct route looks very pretty. And of course, the earlier you get to Puente Almuhey, the more you can enjoy the great restaurant and the lovely apartments in Duende de Carricuende!
For those who would like to go via Caminayo but don’t want a 32 km day, you can cut off some kilometers on one or both ends. First, sleep in Velilla the night before (cuts off 4.4 km) or get a taxi there from Guardo. Walk through the forest and up to the ridge, down to Caminayo, and then down to Morgovejo. It’s a nice little town with lots of weekend homes that have been renovated. That’s about 20 total. From Morgovejo, call Taxi Sabino in Puente Almuhey and see the last kms along the road from the taxi window.