The weather forecast for this whole last week was uniformly awful for much of Spain. The country is in the grips of one of its worst winters for years. It had been deluged with rain in December and much of January - particularly in the south - and now this was continuing throughout February. Snowfall had been unusually heavy in the north, and it had even snowed in parts of the south which never normally see any snow. There had been bad storms and flooding in places like Cádiz, Jerez and the Canaries. Bridges had collapsed. Motorways had been shut for a while. Homes had been destroyed. The mighty Guadalquiver river had burst its banks east of Seville.
It was through such saturated countryside that I walked, so it was never easy from the start. Twice early on I had to turn back from rivers which were unfordable and seek an alternative route by road. I would spend a large part of each day just concentrating on the path before me - avoiding the deep, muddy bits where I'd sink in up to my ankles, skirting huge pools by clinging precariously onto the barbed wire fences or stone walls which edged the track. (Read Rebekah Scott on the Spanish weather here and here.)
So, in A Gudiña, I took a train to Ourense, and looked out over the lovely Galician countryside from the railway carriage window - little bright green fields enclosed by stone walls, densely forested hills. And rain. Lots of it! I spent a night in Ourense...
Here's my last scallop shell - set in a stone slab in the Plaza del Obradoiro, the impressive square which lies at the foot of the cathedral steps. I'd walked 800 km from Seville to A Gudiña over 40 days. That's an average of 20 km a day (though 7 of these days were for rest and exploration - when I'd stayed an extra day or 2 in historic cities such as Mérida or Cáceres, Salamanca or Zamora. I'm very glad I did this. It's not good to rush on all the time.) So my actual walking average - over 33 proper walking days - was just over 24 km a day. My walking speed averaged out at about 4 km an hour (5 km an hour if the going was good and I felt like pushing on; 3 km an hour if I was taking lots of photographs and felt like sauntering and stopping to look at things.)