It has become en vogue to hate the Meseta. Nobody really knows why, but the stretch between Burgos and the Cowboy Bar receives most of the dislike when it comes to walking the Camino Francés. That’s very dumb.
Sure, it’s mostly wheat and sunflower fields. But it’s also lush meadows, beautiful streams, wide open roads that stretch to the horizon and make your mind soar, and a camaraderie and closeness between pilgrims that is unrivaled anywhere on the Way.
Right after Burgos, a mere ten kilometers walk in the morning, the Spanish High Desert, the Meseta, begins. It is the country’s bread basket and if you spend some time standing in awe, you’ll notice the expansive irrigation system, built almost 100 years ago in its first iteration, that almost fully relies on gravity and brings water to the many miles of corn- and sunflower fields.
A few hills aside, it is flat. Daily walks are bookmarked by small villages, often sporting just one or two albergues next to each other (but always large enough to have a bed for you). This closeness leads to much more pilgrim interaction than, say, Burgos or León, where everyone does their thing and, if lucky, runs into each other occasionally.
The most overhyped “scare leg” of the Meseta are the 17 kilometers between Carrión de los Condes and Calzadilla de la Cueza. And while, in the mid 90s, there might have been a “no fountains, no stops” morning between those two towns, the formerly shadeless and flat walk can now be interrupted three times for drinks, shade, and even great food. Pilgrims still tell tall tales of hours in the burning hot sun, though most of them finished this easy walk a mere hour or two after sunrise, being it’s right there at the beginning of the day’s walk and flatter than my dad jokes.
And if all this beauty, all the streams and architectural miracles, the companionship, the wide open roads, the Milky Way at night, and some of the best food on the Camino won’t sway you… do you really want to miss crossing the geographical mid point of the Way? There’s even a nice half-Compostela to be had at the Tourist Information in Sahagún.