In Vegacervera, we stayed at the Albergue El Chaltén, whose owner is a real Camino supporter. The albergue is actually a group of cabins with bunks for about 12-16. There was a youth group there when we arrived, occupying about five of the cabins, and they put us in our own, away from all the excitement. It’s a very nice set-up. When the albergue is full, the owner will take pilgrims into his own home — he explained that he had promised Ender to take care of pilgrims and he will.
The Hotel Chousa Verde is supposed to give a good pilgrim rate, but @MikeJS was unable to get anything but a high priced room.
Ender took us to what is undoubtedly the best place to eat in this little town, kind of out of the way. The name is Mesón La Cocinona, and it is affiliated with a family-run embutidos factory. That may not be a ringing endorsement for vegetarians or vegans, however.
For those who like yoghurt, I cannot recommend the Coladilla yoghurt enough. It is made in a hamlet of that name (you pass through on the camino about 2 km after Vegacervera). The young owners took over the family operation and decided to go “artisanal.” They make a goat milk yoghurt that is just unbelievable. Though there are no grocery stores in Vegacervera, a couple of the embutidos factories have little stores selling their sausages and dried meats, along with a few grocery items. We found some for sale, along with some fruit, chocolate and “frutos secos” in one of them.
Day 14. Vegacervera to Buiza (16) or Pola de Gordón (24)
This is another great day, with one very difficult (some would say dangerous) descent, but it can easily be avoided. Another day where the GPS came in very handy.
It is very pleasant countryside as you leave town. You pass through Coladilla with its creamery. The route from Coladilla to Villar was along an untraveled road for us, but this is where Ender has moved it off-road and it is apparently very nice.
In the town of Villar, about 7 km from Vegacervera, there is a hairy descent. It’s not a path, just a bunch of sharp jagged rocks that you have to pick your way over. I think it took us about 30-40 minutes to descend what is probably about 100 m, though I am a bad judge of distance.
What I would recommend is that you go out from Villar to the start of the descent — it’s very close to the road — and then judge for yourself. If it looks hairy, go back to Villar and take the 5 km road walk into La Vid de Gordón.
There was some forum chatter about this a while back, and you should take a look at the video at the point I indicated in a post on it.
@alansykes did this descent in the pouring rain. I absolutely cannot imagine that. Here’s what he said: “Very lovely but the most difficult of my 500+ camino days thanks to the driving rain and almost sheer descent.”
If you can take the descent, you will be rewarded by a stroll through the gorge at the bottom, a truly beautiful beech forest, and a chance to see some abandoned mines.
The first town you come to after the descent is Ciñera. There are bars, and a mine elevator sitting in the plaza with the plaque saying — it wasn’t an accident, it was a murder. This refers to a mine explosion, caused by a methane leak (I think that’s the approximate translation of grisú) in which 6 miners were killed in 2013.
La Vid is just a short hop and a jump beyond Ciñera. It is another mining town and has a lot of what looks like “company housing,” now decorated with street art and looking a lot jazzier. You will rejoin the camino here if you took the road alternative from Villar.
Between La Vid and Buiza, the markings are few and the path can be unclear. Nothing dangerous, and you are unlikely to get too far off track because you know the general direction, This was another one of those spots where my GPS just couldn’t give me enough detail at the micro level, so we found ourselves wandering around a bit. But we never felt lost.
Once in Buiza, you can stay at the albergue there (but you should have food with you), or continue on the 7.5 km to Pola de Gordón. It’s all road, but very little traffic.