Camino Ingles Day 3: Betanzos to Beche

I awoke this morning with some trepidation. I had woken up a few times during the night and in the morning my feet were a bit swollen. I rarely get blisters and my shoes were very well worn in so I don’t know why I had developed so many. On the plus side, they weren’t hurting much and I had plenty of plasters.

I spent quite a while stretching and then putting plasters on the tender parts of my feet. Everything seemed to be mostly ok.

After a breakfast of crushed tomatoes and olive oil on toast (just for something different) we sorted out our belongings then set off.

The Camino Ingles has two possible starting points that eventually join – like a ‘Y’ shape. We had started on the right fork of the route but, due to a lack of accommodation on that path, were planning on crossing early from one side to the other, before the two parts officially joined.

The route out of Betanzos was uphill for a couple of kilometres. I had contemplated catching a taxi to the top because of my hip pain but the stretching and sleep has possibly made a difference because up to the halfway point everything seemed to be ok.

The countryside was still very green and the undulations made it very scenic. I haven’t mentioned it before but from arriving in Ferrol we continually heard very loud booming sporadically during the day. It was still audible close to Betanzos so if anyone knows what it might be please comment!

Another feature of the walk has been these raised boxes/sheds. What are they for? I thought they might be pigeon cotes but some have crosses on them so I’m not sure.

We saw only a few other pairs and groups of people in the morning but stopped for lunch at a roadside bar.

We sat outside and had drinks then a family-looking group turned up, pulled out a guitar and started playing to the tables of people outside.

Danny was particularly loving the situation – in Ireland casual musical performances are very common and this part of Spain is very closely related to Ireland, being part of the Gaelic world. Locals we have met have been very pleased to meet Danny and find out he’s Irish. A couple of old men even took photos with us yesterday.

We decided to order food since the bar was so nice. The food took forever but the sandwiches were amazing when they arrived.

Being a public holiday most of the shops were shut and we had no idea what we would find for meals so being somewhere that was open was worth stopping for.

Everyone was loving it and then they stopped for lunch and another group of people came along with a piano accordion and did some more singing.

The lady with the accordion came over to talk to us and asked if there were any tunes we knew. Obviously at that point neither of us could think of the name of a single song so she said ‘Beatles!’ and played some Obla di obla da (is that what the song is called? You know the only I mean!).

The whole thing was a very quintessential Spanish experience but also felt like a pub session in Ireland. One of the old men asked Danny where we were from and when he said Ireland the man said ‘same same!’

I’m not sure, if I lived somewhere that had a constant stream of sweaty tourists, that I’d be quite as welcoming and friendly, but we’ve had a number of very charming interactions with locals and it’s really been the highlight of the walk so far. Well, that and the food and the scenery.

We sat for about two hours and had a delicious tortilla sandwich before moving on.

The parts of Galicia we walked through on this day were definitely more affluent than yesterday. The houses were in more subtle colours and everything looked neat and either historically old or new and fancy.

Most of today’s walk was along roadsides but, being a holiday, the roads were pretty quiet and it wasn’t too traumatic.

The last bit of walking was through a eucalyptus forest that felt like it was never going to end.

Eventually we made it to our accommodation, which turned out to be a stunning eco retreat cabin by a very popular dam and recreation area. Walking out of the forest to discover it was almost a religious experience.

It was really a cut above our previous, somewhat utilitarian, hotel in Betanzos.

The view from the front of the cabin is of the dam and people having picnics. Beside the cabin is a bar and restaurant but they closed at 5pm (not very Spanish hours but it is a public holiday) but I managed to snag a bottle of wine before they closed.

The wine was beautiful and local, there was also a bottle of red left for us in the cabin and Danny prefers red so that worked out well!

We had bought croissants and apples in Betanzos, knowing we might not see another open shop, so wine and croissants were our dinner.

Tomorrow is supposed to be 27 degrees so we plan to leave early and get most of our 17km done before lunch.

So far we have done over 70km, which is really good for us! I know some people manage much further in shorter times but we have stopped a lot, eaten great food and had great chats with people along the way.


The weather has become colder and today I had a few jobs to do before leaving to go south and then fly to Spain on Friday.

First, a quick trip to the post office.

It was not, in fact, a quick trip. It took over an hour thanks to me not reading the instructions properly on the stickers I had to fill in and having to re-line-up several times. Oh well!

Still, a literal weight was lifted when I passed it all over the bench and I went off to the museum.

The Keswick museum is small but contains some very interesting items.

Birds’ eggs. Very pretty!

A little tree hung with people’s methods of getting through lockdown.

And a giant musical instrument that was like a xylophone but made of pieces of slate. They had buttons in the display that you could press to hear the music, which was surprisingly ethereal.

Next I was going to buy myself a pair of hideous but comfortable hiking sandals (Spain being a lot warmer than Cumbria) and I like to think I succeeded and then some.

They fit perfectly, why do they look so huge? Like I’m about to go snorkeling.

I stopped in at the Oxfam shop too. No matter where you go in the UK there seems to be a plethora of second hand clothing shops.

I was excited to find a copy of The Idler, a book-style magazine that was the forerunner of one of my favourite books ‘How To Be Idle’. The magazine is full of articles on idleness. I’m generally a busy person and I live a busy life, but after I read this book years ago (and got two of my book clubs to read it, with mixed results) I re-examined my attitude to life. I make more time to do nothing now. I used to love doing nothing when I was a child, pottering around, or even just staring into space. Now I don’t feel guilty if I do nothing at times.

Anyhow, the magazine serves two purposes. First, I can read it, and second, I can cut it up to make some mail art. A few years ago my friend Fish and I did a collage course at a library. It was fun to just mess around with shapes and images. I thought I might make something to send to Kat, a friend of mine who loves getting things in the mail. Let me know when it arrives, Kat!

So I later spent several happy hours in the lounge of the B&B being creative, using receipts and fliers and bits and pieces I’ve collected in the last week to make a little fold-up collage that I could send tomorrow. As I was sitting there I wished it would rain and then it started raining, how lucky is that?

Other than that, I bought some insanely-priced hiking socks and a couple of tiny bottles of the other Kin vodka flavours so I could try them while I was here. A little toast to the first chapter of my journey ending and being such a success.

Pheasants and Robins

Today I took a bus to Dubwath, which is on the west side of Bassenthwaite Lake, thinking I would do some walking around there. I’d seen the gently-rounded hills from the bus on my trip to Cockermouth.

The bus stop I alighted at was over the road from the train station cafe that I had booked for Luke, Pete, Lea, Sue, Mark and I in May. I’d seen it online and booked it but had no idea what it was like so it seemed like a good idea to go have a look and see if I’d made a terrible mistake.

I had not made a terrible mistake.

I had coffee at the cafe, in one of their railway cars.

I used their bathroom, outside of which was a bookshelf and I think one of the books was about me!

I’ve been practicing my banter so much I think I’m definitely at an advanced level now.

Then I took a walk around the nature reserve over the road. It was a boardwalk over boggy ground. I took another photo to add to my collection of terrible quality photos of birds. I think it’s a wren but I’m happy to be corrected.

I know it was a bird, but this photo is so bad it could be a weird potato.

I had a look in the bird hide, where there was a whiteboard to record wildlife sightings.

Exciting stuff! I then had a chat to a man who told me about the African swallows (unladen) that had just started arriving and described their call to me and just as he did, one of them did their call. It was very fortuitous.

Then I took a walk up the nearest fell. It was a stunning day and the views were tremendous. The walk wasn’t super difficult but from the top I could see all the way to Scotland, the Isle of Man and I think I could see Northern Ireland too. I’m not going to post many photos because I think it would be an ideal walk to do with everyone before our tea at the train (weather permitting). Some of the walk was a corpse road, an ancient track along which people would carry bodies to the local church.

The amazing weather made it less creepy.

There were a few people around as the walk was very accessible. It’s the first walk I’ve been on where I’ve seen quite small children.

The way there and back from the bus stop passes the Pheasant Inn.

My favourite bird, as you may well know by now. I went in and had some lunch in their back garden area.

Roast beef roll and some cider.

A very tame little robin joined me.

I can now start a collection of high quality photos of birds. Finally!

After a long rest and soak in the sun, I took a photo of the hedge then returned down the road to the bus shelter.

High quality photo, poor quality bird.

The bus shelter was of a much higher standard than most, and a nice place to wait out of the rain.

I felt like I’d had a medium-effort day but my watch said I’d climbed 59 storeys. There certainly were a lot of ups and downs and I could feel it in my calves.

I got back to the B&B to find all my washing done – my hosts had asked if there was anything they could do to make up for the lock incident. The only thing I really wanted was clean clothes, so that was easy!

All my clothes are pictured except for the set I was wearing. I have attained my badge in ultralight packing!

I’ve also done a book swap with one of the owners here, since I finished the Matt Haig novel last night and there’s no reason to hold onto it. It’s the first book I’ve finished on the trip. I think writing the blog and listening to podcasts has been my main entertainment. Luke asked me what I do in the evenings and, aside from washing my pair of socks and underwear from that day, that’s about it.

I’ve been having trouble replying to people’s messages on the blog but thank you to everyone who has left comments and kind words, I’ve really appreciated them! Deb asked what I think of walking poles. As I was on the bus home I tried to think of ten reasons why I recommend them.

1. Better balance (four legs are better than two!)

2. They help me hoist myself up higher more easily.

3. They help me let myself down easier from high steps – they are great for relieving pressure on joints.

4. I can prod damp patches to see if they are deep or shallow and get across wide puddles more easily.

5. They are good for lifting spiky plants away from my legs.

6. They give me peace of mind. Charmaine broke her ankle and couldn’t come, she said if she’d had her poles she probably would’ve been more stable and not fallen. I’m not taking any risks I can easily avoid!

7. Numerous times I’ve gone out without them and regretted it but never regretted taking them!

8. I’ve had a couple of people say to me over the years that they think poles are for elderly people, so I like to use them because I’m not, so I’m normalising them for middle-aged people;-).

9. They do take weight off your legs so you get more of a workout for your arms and can walk further in comfort.

10. This is one of the things I notice almost immediately if I don’t use them; my hands feel slightly swollen when I walk briskly with them hanging by my side so I have to hold my backpack straps to alleviate the sensation. With poles, my hands are elevated enough to avoid this sensation.

I don’t use them on city streets or anything, but out in the countryside, particularly going places I haven’t been before, they make it possible for me to go further, faster and more confidently. So I say grab yourself a pair!



Despite the bus breakdown, the ride to Cockermouth was stunning, with mountain, lake and forest views along the way.

I did find a big mural with the history of the place. The town has been around for over 1000 years, which is pretty incredible!

Cockermouth is an ancient town, the first written record of it is almost 1000 years ago so it’s probably been around even longer. Apart from the castle it doesn’t look very old though and unfortunately the castle is a private home.

I walked around the Main Street and saw a new history mural.

There was an historical walking route so I decided to follow that around the town.

I noticed one of those historical plaques above a doorway.
If you notice this notice you’ll notice this notice is not worth noticing.
Somehow I crossed the wrong bridge and ended up on the other side of the river.

Cockermouth is most famous (to me, anyway) for being the home of William Wordsworth. I thought it was peak daffodil season because there were white daffodils everywhere, which felt like an odd choice, considering the famous poem is about a host of yellow daffodils. A lady I met on my detour told me that I’d missed the yellow ones by a couple of weeks.

We talked about how many times her house has flooded since she moved here from the south (twice) as she lives by the river. We also talked about how small towns like this are being affected by things like Airbnb, online shopping and younger people moving away. It’s the same story everywhere, really. The towns that are thriving are too expensive for locals and the smaller quiet places feel dead because the houses are empty except on weekends.

We also talked about the largest building on the river, the brewery, which was now for sale. The locals want a museum but it all depends on who buys it.

I returned to the trail, which took me through the main courtyard of the brewery.

A man saw me taking photos and jokingly asked if I’d like to buy it and I said I was just seeing how much I had on me. He said if I had three quarters of a million pounds it could be mine! Well, I said I’d have to ask my husband but why not?

Next was around the castle wall to have a peek through the bars, then down some back lanes. I quite like the name of this pub.

‘The Bitter End’

Next was the churchyard.

It’s always worth pushing on a church door, just in case you can get in and have a look. The stained glass looked like it might be worth a view from the correct side.


Very nice! But I think my favourite part was where it looked like they had the local primary school kids do a project on the church then put the beet one on display.


The buildings in Cockermouth are quite brightly coloured, which is interesting (well, to me!).

It was a nice day for a wander about. The little blister on my toe is getting better but I’d like it to be gone by the time I get to Spain so I’m having a couple of easy days. Plus it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

The last thing I did before I caught the bus back was have a chocolate eclair from a very nice bakery. I sat in the sun at the bus stop with an older lady and got chatting about chocolate eclairs and the weather and the buses and she said ‘You look very familiar,’ and I replied that there was no chance of her seeing me before as I’d never been to Cockermouth. Then we worked out that she had been on the bus that had picked me up from the broken down bus earlier that day.

When the bus arrived I once again got the front seat at the top (woo hoo!) and, since it was a different numbered bus it went back along the other side of the lake and I got to see the train cafe where Luke and his family and I have booked for an afternoon tea when we come back to the area in late May.

Before returning to the campsite I went back to Mrs F’s Cafe for some lunch. Pea and mint soup.


I asked what soup would be on tomorrow – curries butternut squash. I can’t wait!

Back to the campsite to enjoy the sun. The wind that had been predicted wasn’t affecting my little spot but, with two days of rain predicted, I decided to pack up and book a bed and breakfast.

Enjoying the view for the last time (this trip).
These people take their dogs EVERYWHERE!

As I was rolling up my gear another camper arrived, Chris, who was doing the Cumbria Way so we had quite a long talk. I had some time to fill before the 4pm check in at the B&B and it was nice standing in the sun.

On the way across town.

The bed and breakfast was only about 600 metres from the entrance to the campsite – Keswick isn’t very big, but I haven’t stayed in this area before, close to the lake park near the theatre (for anyone who knows the place). Also about 100 steps from The Wainwright, one of the best pubs in town.

The outside.
The inside.
The view from the room.
The pub!

I had a lovely dinner of steak and ale pie and read my book. A lady at another table asked me what I was reading so we talked about that.

She was there with her mum and the two of them looked like they were having a whale of a time, like a two person hen’s party, laughing at everything.

I returned to hop into bed reasonably early and it’s amazing how even just one night of camping can make getting into a real bed seem like one of life’s great pleasures!

Someone’s sticker collection in a shop window.

A Windy Walk Across Matterdale Common

After a late start I finally left the cosy confines of the Royal Hotel and set out uphill (as always) and on the way to Threlkeld.

Try saying ‘Threlkeld’ out loud five times quickly. On paper it looks like a perfectly normal name for a place but I feel like an idiot when I try to say it out loud. Ridiculous. I was afraid to meet anyone along the way in case they asked me where I was going, and considered changing my destination to avoid the awkwardness but the route I’d plotted looked so good I decided to stick to my plan.

OK, so it doesn’t look very exciting on paper and I seem to have added an extra pink line, but the point is, it goes through nowhere.

The skies darkened as I headed up hill and the wind picked up. Not good, but the meteorological wizards said it wasn’t supposed to rain and I chose, against all previous experience, to believe them.

Catkins, or pussy willow. Haven’t seen this since I was a kid!

Farmland gave way to Matterdale Common, which seemed very wide but there were a few cars in the car park right before the gate, so I thought I’d probably see a few people.

I did not, in fact, see anyone.
Over a little bridge and onto the common.

Up to this point I’d thought of commons as small green bits in the middle of villages, but this is the other kind.

Can you see the tiny path in the distance? It was about 6km away.

While walking across the common could’ve been dramatically improved by a severe reduction in gale-force, freezing cold winds, it was also magnificent to be out in such beautiful, open landscape alone.

I had bought a packed lunch from the Royal Hotel so I got to enjoy another uranium-enriched curry chicken sandwich and all the accompanying bits.

I did eat my lunch crouched over in a ditch to get out of the wind, but I still enjoyed it enormously.

I don’t know how something can look so bad but taste so good.

Walking is like meditation and it’s interesting to see where my mind wanders. I spend a lot of time re-writing song lyrics to suit my situation. I wish I could remember some of them now! I’ve never thought of myself as musical so I don’t know why this is where my brain goes.

All the grass is brown, and the sky was grey. I went for a walk on an April day. 🎶

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I like doing this so much (the walking, not the song lyrics). Being in this landscape is like walking through an art gallery all day, every day. Every flower is beautiful, every mountain spectacular, and I feel like it suits me and I fit in. No matter how the weather changes it just shows the landscape in a new light and damp and misty or bright and sunny, it’s as close to perfect as anywhere I’ve ever been.

I was talking to the family yesterday about Switzerland, as that is where their son lives. Switzerland is incredible. It’s the most dramatic scenery I’ve ever seen – but it’s inaccessible to me. I’ll never be fit enough or have the skills to climb those mountains. I don’t speak the language. Here it’s just right.

The long and winding road.

Eventually I made it across the common and met my first person of the day, another solo woman who was heading to Helvellyn YHA. We had a chat and moaned about the wind before parting ways.

The only other people I saw were some guys with dirt bikes.

Walking towards Blencathra felt like coming home, I’ve walked through the valley behind it several times.

Blencathra on the horizon.

After the common it was all downhill into Threlkeld and to the Horse and Farrier, a quite fancy pub that has been going since 1688, although probably not with nachos and waffles on the menu.

My feet were a bit sore from the rocky, uneven path and my knees had a few minor twinges so I spent the late afternoon off my feet on my room then had a delicious dinner downstairs, followed by zoom with Daniel to discuss the Spanish adventure in a bit over a week.

Super low beams.

Tomorrow a walk to Keswick. Can I actually be bothered to camp? It’ll come down to the price of accommodation and the likelihood of rain. Either way, I’ll enjoy it!