I'd really enjoyed that morning in the mountains, climbing from Rabanal through the remote mountain villages of Foncebadon and Manjarin. From the Pass of Irago, and the Iron Cross, it was then gradually downhill to the further villages of Acebo and Riego de Ambros. The construction of the village houses was quite different from anything I'd seen earlier in Spain. Their overhanging slate roofs and wooden balconies reminded me of the Pyrenees (1st pic). Though the path never strayed too far away from the road, the road was quiet (2nd pic). Beyond Riego I saw a shepherd counting his flock. Here the path did head away from the road for a while, down to an idyllic dip in the hills, complete with trees, a stream - and a handy bench. It was perfect. Many pilgrims must have paused there in the past to contemplate the beauties of nature - or the state of their feet.
Then it was down to the valley of the rio Manuelo and the small town of Molinaseca. The 3rd and 4th pics are of its church and medieval bridge. Unfortunately I had to hurry through here to make Ponferrada before nightfall. Ponferrada (Iron Bridge) is a substantial town with a hugely impressive 12th century Templar castle - the Castillo de los Templarios - overlooking the river. Facing a delightful square (Plaza Virgen de la Encina) stood the 16th century basilica (Basilica de la Encina) in which a hearteningly busy exhibition told the story of the Camino. Many ornate treasures and paintings were on display. Encina is the Spanish word for the holm oak. I'd seen quite a few of these evergreen trees. In the past this whole area had been densely covered with them.