Well, there has been a real mixed bag in this section!
Day 4 – Jerez to El Cuervo – 29km
After a rest day in Jerez, during which I played tourist, tasted sherry and even spent an hour in the roman baths, it was time to move on again.
Today was another big day. I started walking at 7.15am and reached Guadalcacin on the outskirts at 9am. I had researched this section a bit better and really scanned the map, so I had a better idea of where I was going. Nevertheless, I still made a wrong turn towards the end – it didn’t cost me any distance (probably saved a little) but meant I walked the last 2km on the road, pretty boring.
Booked in at Hostal Santa Ana for €15 and had a siesta!
This is a really strange town. According to the Spanish guide it is a very old town, but it appears very new – it must have had a serious facelift, with neat straight streets, newish buildings as well as a lot of very new ones, and a modern statue just across the road from the bar. It doesn’t have any of the ambience of the places I have visited so far.
It is really interesting seeing the range of people in the bars. Early mornings are definitely for the men having black coffee and toast, and the older woman who sit around having milky coffee and chatting. Lunch time 2-4 is basically everyone. Late afternoons seems to be the woman meeting up for a chat before heading home. From around 7pm it is everyone, including the kids. Outside of those hours during the day, most bars I go past only have men in them.
Day 5 – El Cuervo to Lebrija – 12km
Decided to have a short day today. A pleasant walk, capped off by arriving in a charming town – I am glad I made it a short day and got to enjoy the afternoon and evening here.
Booked in to Hostal Mellizo at €20, as recommended by the local policeman!
Bonus – I found a cake shop with 2 gluten free options, tocino de cielo (egg yolks, sugar, water) and a coconut macaroon (€1 each). The tocino was so good that I bought another one on the way back after dinner! A recipe here:
Headed to the plaza for dinner and sat on the benches watching the world go by, with all the old men!
Day 6 – Lebrija to Las Cabezas de San Juan – 20.5km
An easy walk to start, but took some navigating towards the end. Las Cabezas is high on a hill and visible for quite some distance, and doesn’t appear to get any closer…
Enjoyed the luxury of a studio apartment for €40, new and clean with kitchen, washing machine and small enclosed courtyard, no wifi. Took the opportunity to wash everything, and it dried in no time in the heat of the courtyard.
No sello here as all the churches were closed for the Semana Santa parade.
Day 7 – Las Cabezas to Utrera – 34km
After a breakfast of potato tortilla at the services on the way out of Las Cabezas (good cafe and toilets), this was A VERY long and hard 9 hour walk – all paved or heavily compacted dirt, mostly along canals, railway and road, pretty boring. No shade, nowhere at all to stop along the way or buy refreshments. A good leg to skip completely.
Limped in to the Hostal El Marchinero, just next to the large shopping cente on the way out of town on the route via Alcalá, which I would be taking. €30, clean and tidy, but no wifi.
Sello at Iglesia Santiago – a very old almost crumbling church, where they wouldn’t accept a donation as I am a ‘pilgrim’.
Day 8 – Utrera to Alcalá de Guadaira – 18.5km
Nice 4 hour walk through farmlands and farmsteads, then suburbs to Alcalá. Only a bit of ‘boring’ walking. Perfect distance too, allows early arrival to enjoy the town before moving on.
Booked in to the Hotel Guadaira in Alcalá at €30 for the first night, then €44 over the Easter long weekend. I took a bit of a break here and stayed for 4 nights. I walked the 15km to Seville without the pack – what a luxury! – and then get the bus back. As I’m not a big city person, especially with the madness of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Easter, it was a perfect compromise.
I wanted to stop in order to write up my guide notes. There are currently no English notes that I could find for the Cádiz to Sevilla section (Via Augusta) except for the first 50km, so I’m going to translate the very sparse Spanish guide and add my notes. I’m going to pass the notes on to the various camino associations and forums that I accessed so that they can pass them on if they want.
I also needed to do some work (drat) and catch up on my diary! I’ve been using the voice recorder and it needs writing down before I forget – I’m already beginning to confuse places as it is all just rushing by.
Day 9 – Alcalá to Sevilla – 17.5km
First half of the walk was lovely, a path along river and through farmlands. Then it starts taking you away, towards the city, through some track works and a farm field that is also used as an illegal dump. From there it is on to the roads into the city for about 8km, firstly through industrial estates, then the less salubrious parts of town, steadily improving as you get closer to the centre. As I was walking without my backpack and walking poles, I didn’t really attract too much attention, nevertheless I kept a firm hold on my day pack after reading reports of pickpocketing and petty theft.
Via Augusta completed in 9 days of walking, 14 days on the road (including rest time at Sevilla).
I suspected I was not going to enjoy the long sections without any ‘recreation’ breaks. And realistically, on the long distances I’m not going to average more than 3.5km an hour all up.
I’ve decided that from now on I am going to bypass those sections by bus or train. That should also give me a bit more time to spend in each town, as when I do short distances I get to the destination by midday at the latest, I’m not knackered and have time to wander around. Getting in at 5pm, tired as hell, means that all I want to do is shower, eat and sleep!
I also want to do multiple day rest breaks more often; just walking every day means it is all flashing by, I’m not taking much in and not really getting a chance to speak Spanish or even find out anything about the areas.
After all, I am not in a mad rush.