On the misty heights between the tops of Puerto Irago and Punto Alto, half-way between Rabanal and Molinaseca, lies the tiny, abandoned settlement of Manjarin. Deserted - except for the very basic, rustic albergue run by hospitalero Tomás, the self-styled last surviving Templar Knight.
I'd heard a lot about him. Stuff that was bordering on legend. How he blessed the new day in an ancient Templar blessing ceremony; how he played tapes of Gregorian chants for the pilgrims; how he rang ritualistic bells. One pilgrim had told me of arcane knowledge he would pass on - if the mood was right - to some lucky pilgrim. Other pilgrims had disparaged him as a bit of a fake.
However I approached my audience with him in a state of anticipation. It's not every day you have the chance of being initiated into secret Templar lore. And possibly being told the meaning of life and your very destiny. Who knew what would happen?
As usual, when you look forward to something, the reality turned out to be far different from the expectation. The albergue was atmospheric (see photos). Tomás was friendly. He offered me a cup of coffee in its smoky interior. I stroked the cats. Then he said he had to leave. I shook his hand and awaited his words of wisdom. "Buen Camino!" he smiled, "Buen Camino!" I retreated outside into the cold mountain air.