After a gorgeous first day on the Camino Ingles under sunny skies, our weather forecast for day two predicted a constant drizzle with bouts of heavy showers. With the damp conditions outside, we were in no rush to leave the wonderful Pazo da Merced, and spent a little extra time enjoying the full spread breakfast buffet and Nespresso machine. Eventually, we had our bags packed and ready to go with light rain gear as worn clothing and full rain protection at the ready.
After cruising through our comfortable 10 mile first day, we were excited to experience our second stage of walking to Pontedeume. This stage would be close in distance to our first day, but with quite a bit more elevation. Most of our training hikes at home contained 1500ft+ of elevation gain, so the ~1200ft listed in my guide had me feeling confident.
Stage 2 Overview:
Point to Point: Neda to Pontedeume
Distance: 9.9 miles / 16 km
Elevation Gain: 1200ft / 365m
Trail Conditions: A mix of paved roads, dirt paths, and side streets. A little walking along busy streets and highways.
Food and Water: Well spaced out on-trail food options between Neda and Pontedeume. You can pack light for this section, as food access is not an issue. Potable water fountains were plentiful as well.
End of Day Accommodation: Hotel Camino do Eume
After leaving Neda behind, the Camino Ingles follows a line of asphalt and concrete pathways through residential areas. This stretch begins with a gradual 200ft climb before leveling out to reach the town of Fene. The best part of the uphill walking is that pilgrims get a beautiful view of the Ria de Ferrol to the west.
Just before reaching the small town of Fene, the Camino Ingles cuts through a few neighborhoods. It’s always fun to see the architecture and design of homes in different parts of the world. Owen really enjoyed seeing some of the smaller cars on the road as well. A few that we walked by were his size!
In Fene, we stopped for a second breakfast! This is something I do on pretty much every stage of every Camino I’ve walked. I’m a big coffee drinker, so an extra cup can never be passed up. I also have a hard time saying no to napolitanas (chocolate croissants) and tortilla bocadillos. It makes me happy that Julia and Owen have so readily taken to my love of ‘breakfast pt. II’.
One thing I noticed early on is that the Camino Ingles has abundant access to potable water fuentes (water fountains). The lady at the visitor center in Ferrol mentioned that they were placed almost every 5km, making it easy to pack light and fill up when needed. Many of the fountains are designed and inspired by the Camino spirit, which is always fun to see. This area near Fene was all-in on Camino design, with many homes bearing scallops on mailboxes and gates.
We have two mini-goldendoodles at home that are a big part of our lives. The only downside to traveling is having to leave them behind. To cope, we tend to stop and pet every single dog along The Way that looks friendly enough for us to approach. I think they sense our pure love of dogs, because none of them ever seem to mind. Just before Fene, we met a sweet little doodle that looked exactly like my dog, Isla!
From the town of Fene (2.5 miles into our day), we began a solid 500ft uphill climb. There was still a light drizzle in the air, but nothing that required a heavy rain jacket. The cool drizzle was actually quite pleasant for a maximum exertion uphill trek. I was wondering how Owen would fair on this section after racking up 10 miles on his feet the previous day. My concerns disappeared quickly as I saw him bolt up ahead without any concern for the steep uphill grade.
At around 4 miles on the day, we reached the top of our climb. This stretch of trail ran alongside highway N-651. To me, this is where the Camino Ingles really started to separate itself from the Portuguese in my mind. On the Portuguese route, this part of the trail would have been on or near the highway. I loved how the Ingles kept a healthy distance between highway and trail.
At the halfway point of our walk along this second stage, the N-651 highway intersected the AC-563. The Camino Ingles ascends the onramp/offramp area to cross the street at a roundabout. There is a large Gadis shopping center near the roundabout, as well as a bar/cafe called Restaurante Vilar do Colo. The patio for the restaurant is right next to Ortegal Oil, making it easy to spot. We stopped here for lunch just as the skies opened up with the heaviest showers of the day. It was the perfect time to indulge in hamburgers, fries, coffee, juice, and cake!
After lunch, we continued along the trail as it paralleled highway N-651 before heading downhill on some beautiful natural pathways. The rain continued to fall, but our spirits were lifted by a friendly horse near the trail, and a goat with three newborn kids. Naturally, we stopped and let Owen interact until his heart was content.
As we neared the final miles of walking for the day, we arrived in the town of Cabanas. Cabanas sits on the opposite side of the Rio Eume from Pontedeume. Although we were close to our final destination, we chose to stop for a long break in Cabanas while the skies opened up once more. We found a great bakery and enjoyed croissants, cookies, and of course…coffee.
When the heavy rain transitioned back to a drizzle, we departed Cabanas and crossed the bridge into Pontedeume. The history of Pontedeume goes back to its founding in the year 1270. From the bridge into town, you can see the Torreón dos Andrade (stone guard tower) on the right hand side. The tower used to me part of an attached manor according to the Brierley guide book, but is not a museum that people can visit.
The main street in Pontedeume is the only one on level ground. Everything else in town requires a brisk walk uphill! Our hotel (Hotel de Eume) was located centrally in a restored building that opened fairly recently. Like Pazo da Merced in Neda, we had two rooms with plenty of space for our family of three. This hotel also has a washer and dryer that is free to use for guests.
After spending a little time washing up and resting in our hotel room, Owen and I went out to explore Pontedeume while Julia continued her nap. Getting around town is a lot of fun with the narrow cobblestone walkways and steps cut into the hillside.
A benefit for pilgrims is that Pontedeume has an abundance of food and grocery options. While wandering around, we visited Gadis to stock up on snacks and scoped out a few potential spots for dinner.
After visiting Gadis, we made our way over to the Torreón dos Andrade guard tower. The base level of the tower is a visitor center to the overall museum. From the base, steps take visitors to three higher levels displaying art, castle replicas, and other interesting artifacts.
At the very top of Torreón dos Andrade, visitors get a fantastic view of the Rio de Eume estuary, the Ponte de Eume bridge, boat moorings, the fish market, and the town of Cabanas. Owen felt like a real super hero having made it all the way to the top!
After leaving the Torreón dos Andrade, we made our way back to the hotel to pick up Julia and found a great spot for dinner close to the river. Despite the rain, it was a beautiful walk from Neda to Pontedeume, and the forecast had abundant sunshine for our walk from Pontedeume to Miño the following day.