The French walkers left at seven and we rose soon after. We breakfasted and attended to our bikes, then set off at 09:40. Again it was a cool, grey and misty start so we were denied the views as we coasted gently downhill for the first twelve kilometres enjoying the birdsong. We climbed steadily again before plunging down into Polo de Allende, a party of Spanish roadies giving us a wave and friendly greetings as they toiled up. We stopped for a picnic lunch followed by coffee in a bar, then a long climb up to Puerto del Palo at 1146m as the clouds thinned and broke up to allow some warm sunshine through. After a gradual descent to a dam we had the killer last 6km steeply uphill to Grandas de Salime.
There were six walkers in the small refugio when we arrived, three of them Spanish, one Flemish, one Dutch and one Irish. It was very cramped, with three storey bunks. There was hot water but only one bathroom, and nowhere to store our bikes. A notice prohibited bikes from the interior but the others said they had no objection to our leaving them inside overnight. We certainly weren’t going to leave them outside, as the notice advised.
There were no restaurants and the shop had closed early for Saturday, so we were stuck for food. We went to a very lively bar to obtain our stamp and I ordered a cider which one of the friendly customers poured for me. Tapas were on the bar free of charge, so these provided our evening meal – cheese and bread with potato tortillas. It was a strange place, with no beer taps. The customers drank sidra or bottles of beer and occasionally the owner would pop into the next room for an unlabelled bottle from which she poured a drink for a local.
Grandas de Salime to Lugo