Candanedo de Fenar → 7.20 → La Robla (Olvidado) → 1.20km → Llanos de Alba
La Robla has a good restaurant, Mesón La Bogadera, stores and cafés. The pilgrim’s albergue is excellent, and there is a pensión in town.
Day 14 bis — La Robla to La Magdalena (16 km)
I went from La Robla to Pandorado when I walked the first time, but a stop in La Magdalena makes for a perfect shorter day. Either 16 from La Robla, or 24 from Candanedo. I‘ve discussed lodging in Magdalena on the mountain alternative thread, so unless anyone has found something new, I think we have that covered.
The first thing you see leaving La Robla is a big mine. You will pass through several little villages, clearly struggling as the mining industry has totally collapsed. The first time I was in La Robla, there were huge banners flying from the Ayuntamiento — Save Coal Mining!!! Even then I think the writing was clearly on the wall, but they were still fighting. Ender was a mining engineer, and I think part of what energizes him is the thought that these caminos might bring back some semblance of prosperity if enough people walk them.
When I walked this part in 2014, I noted repeatedly that the villages had three types of houses — those that were abandoned and in ruins; those that were totally renovated and beautiful but locked up tight; and those that were habitable, sometimes just barely, but with real people living there. There is something sad about a town where the summer visitors live much better than the people who are there all year.
This is not a particularly remarkable stage, but I do remember a long chat with a woman who stopped on the highway to see if I was ok and to find out what I was doing. Her husband was a retired coal miner and they were sadly watching the whole area collapse. Her children live in León capital and they have been begging them to move there, but she says — NUNCA! I wonder if she is still there 7 years later.
Some more mountains coming up, so having a few flat days is not a bad thing!