Walking out of Castrogeriz, you stride, not across a valley, but along a plain between two humps. Up ahead is a sharp rise known as the Cuesta de Mostelares.
From the top you can look back and see how Castrojeriz curls about the base of its hump.
On the other side, a much photographed vista of the meseta stretching west. I think part of this view was used to illustrate the cover of my Miam Miam Dodo guide. Here’s my own snap.
We come at last to the Pisuerga River and its bridge. The Puente de Itero del Castillo dates back to the eleventh century, and must have been an ambitious undertaking. It’s been rebuilt and repaired numerous times since then, yet it’s still an attractive structure.
On the other side of the river, we enter a new province of Castile and Leon, Palencia.
The flat, moist country supports a timber industry based on the poplar. (The lower section of my own river valley, the Macleay, offers a similar sight.)
I stayed the night in Itero de la Vega, a crumbly little town near a bend of the river. Seen in the winter light, it had its drab charm, worth a long stroll through siesta-deserted streets.
Spanish churches often support colonies of storks. The enormous nests often look unsteady. This one is the most unsteady I’ve ever seen.
Itero de la Vega has its own, and quite famous, rollo de justicia, a pillar to indicate that the town had its own jurisdiction, and the kind of jurisdiction. Like a picota, the rollo was also handy for floggings, executions and the like. When the Spanish founded a town in the New World, a nice rollo de justicia was the first accessory.
For snacking in my room at night instead of eating out, I had a number of handy items ready. These two, which I drew from my pack in Itero, were staples. A sharp local sheep’s cheese, bought at the bar in Castrojeriz, and solid quince paste made a feast, just with fresh bread and some strips of jamón.