Camino Lebaniego Journal 3 : Mystical Mountains and Miradors
Created by Colleen Sims * 3 April 2023 * Updated 15 August 2023
The most amazing thing about the Camino Lebaniego is the beauty of this region. Every day a new vista brings more beauty. We were simply amazed but this stunning area. Regardless of whether you are walking the Camino Lebaniego or your just visiting; this area offers something for everyone.
But if you are walking this camino you’re in for a treat!
Camino Lebaniego : Lafuente to Cicera (and back)
Day 3: Lafuente to Mirador de Santa Catalina and Back Again
July 4 2020
We were walking the Camino Lebaniego, not in a conventional sense as these were not conventional days. COVID may have forced us to change our Camino plans but we were still lucky enough to journey to Spain and walk this glorious historical Camino.
I woke this morning with a song bouncing around in my head. I’d heard it a few weeks ago, it was the theme tune to a TV series about Sunderland Football Club. I’ve no idea why it was in my head this morning but it was and I’ve been humming it all day.
The sun was shining and last night I’d prepared. Our picnic was in the fridge, the tape for our toes was cut and ready, our bags were packed and instead of toast, we had cereal. I even remembered to put milk in the fridge so we could have cold milk on our cornflakes.
We had breakfast on the balcony and swallows flew around as we ate; so many on the wing. They seemed as joyful at summer’s arrival in the mountains as we were. Oh, it was a beautiful morning.
We were heading back to Lafuenta and as we drove I thought of my friends across the Atlantic in the USA… Happy 4th one and all. I miss walking with pilgrims. I miss the camaraderie that you find when walking the Camino de Santiago. But that is for another time; today we had the Lebaniego to walk!
Hiking from Lafuente
We followed the same road we took yesterday. Up and up under a blue, blue sky and on to the valley. The same old lady that saw yesterday was today sat on a bench in the shade; she smiled at us as we drove by. We parked in Lafuenta. Sun cream applied, bags checked and mask at the ready. We set off.
Up and up to start first and then things levelled. There are still more fields and fields of wildflowers but today we also spotted Eryngium amongst them; this is one of Gerry’s favourite flowers. These are really bright purply blue and were everywhere on the path. We oohed and aahed and decided that we should try to grow some at home.
Cows on the Camino
We crossed a cattle grid which always makes me nervous. I’ve seen a few videos of the Camino Lebaniego and I know there are cows. But I’m in a jolly mood so nothing can spoil my day. That is until there are cows. Lots of cows. Horned beasts with babies. Me and Gerry went through our usual routine :
- Me : I’m not going
- Gerry : yes you are
- Me : nope
- Gerry : it will be fine
- Me : nope
- Gerry : stay close to me
- Me : nope
I’m terrified of cows. It’s not a secret. I think it goes back to when I was a toddler and forced to go with my uncle as he went to milk his cows. But walking the Camino means there will always be cows.
As much as I didn’t want to walk by the cows, I knew that I had to keep going. Gerry was with me though, there were several cows and several babies on the trail. So we decided to climb up a little, off the trail and above them. I cursed the entire time but really it was pretty easy.
Hay Making at Circera
Back on the trail, we walked onwards with more fabulous views and more Eryngium; so many that the path was blue with them. We meandered. I took photos and we admired the view. We stopped to watch more eagles and bearded vultures. These birds are enormous, even from where we stood we could see they were huge.
I hummed that song again, Gerry said he had woken up with it in his head too. It’s melancholic but not sad, just a beautiful song. We played it as we walked, watching men cutting hay way below us in the fields around Cicera. Gosh it was a beautiful day.
We planned to stop in Cicera for refreshments and then keep walking. We could see the village below us in the valley. Everything was well in our world until we turned another corner and blow me there were more beasts!
Gerry scoffed; it was only sheep. It’s fine he said. They’ll move. They didn’t.
Beware of Working Dogs
You know that expression a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Well from amongst the herd came the wolf and he was not a happy dog! I ran. Gerry tried to reason with the nice doggy but it gnarled his teeth and moved towards Gerry and barked very loudly. Gerry decided to run too.
We ran back out of sight of the sheep and the dog. We caught our breath and stood pondering our options. I wasn’t going back to the cows and we couldn’t go towards the wolf.
I remembered seeing a marker a little earlier, it might be a path down to the village so we decided to try. Wolfie must have seen us move and started coming towards us, furiously barking. I didn’t look back. We scrambled down and down, off the trail, through rough grass with loose stones underfoot. I could hear the barks getting closer. There was a gate. Open it I called to Gerry! Open the gate! Open the GATE! He did. We ran through. We shut the gate behind us. Sheepdog on one side and us on the other.
As we walked into the village I said to Gerry You know those Eryngiums; they’re blinkin prickly aren’t they? He nodded and laughed.
Joking aside, this was a timely reminded that working dogs are doing a job and being friendly is not part of the job description. We’ve often found when walking in very rural areas that we have to show a healthy cautious respect to guard dogs.
Cicera : A Walkers Paradise
We arrive in Cicera. It’s a beautiful little village and surprisingly busy. We found a seat in the garden of the bar and ordered cold drinks. We’re familiar now with the routine; masks, gel, wipes and straws. Under the shade of a big old pear tree, we watched more swallows scoop and fly around us.
It was hot. So hot that we decided to make a plan B. If we were walking a ‘normal’ Camino, then we’d have started walking today at first light. It would be fool-hardy to walk in this heat. It was really hot and Cicera is surrounded by walking trails, so we decided that rather than walk up the big hill in the heat of the afternoon, we’d take one of the local trails before walking back to our car.
We set off to visit an hermitage a few kilometres outside the village. As we walked we could hear the sheepdog barking again and wondered if some other poor walker had just been chased off too.
All around us, farmers were cutting hay. A few were using tractors but most seemed to be cutting the hay by hand. Everywhere we looked the fields were full of workers. Such a bucolic scene in such majestic surroundings. There must have been some kind of local event but we couldn’t find any information.
After the visit to the hermitage we spotted a church, they always have a shady porch. We kicked off our shoes and sat on the cold stone bench in the perfectly cool shade and watched the farmers working as we ate our picnic. Did I mention how beautiful today was?
Mirador de Santa Catalina
We decided to walk to the Mirador de Santa Catalina. A really popular route from the Village. Gerry said the view would be worth the climb and it was only 1.6 kilometres. He never mentioned that it was 500 metres of elevation over the 1.6 kilometres. Thankfully the walk went through the forest, so we had shade. Every so often there were statues of goblins and trolls and flying monsters; enough to terrify a small child.
Up and up until we finally reached the top. It was worth it. The village was a dot in the distant valley and all around were the mountains and valleys of the magnificent Picos. The mighty birds of prey circled above and below, making huge sweeps and dives and flying back up again. WOW! You could see for miles.
What a Perfect Day
Cows and sheep and crazy dogs and the searing heat of the July sun couldn’t spoil my day. Usually, you’d walk from Cades to Cicera in one day. The distance for this stage would be 18 kilometres and the stage elevation is 683 metres. It would certainly be a stunning day although perhaps not in the heat of July. Cicera is glorious and the kind of place where you could happily spend a few days.
Accommodation in Cicera
We drove to the Picos, but we live in France so it’s easier for us. If you’re flying into Spain and wish to explore more of this fabulous region after your hike along the Camino Lebaniego, I thoroughly recommend you hire a car to make the very most of your trip.
Never leave home without travel and medical insurance. Accidents happen so make sure you have full travel insurance before leaving home.
Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.
TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions
Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me. although we’ve not used them personally.
We loved our Camino Lebaniego; especially walking so soon after COVID lockdown ended. This area is stunning and nothing can detract from the beauty of this region. And it’s an area that we’ll keep returning to again and again. Take a look at my video from that glorious Camino Lebaniego.