Daily distance: 45km / 28mi
Weather: 17 degrees, blue skies, 3 mph north westerlies
Dove Step 3 bird list: 97 species
Best birds: GREAT BUSTARD and BLACK VULTURE!!!
Cumulative Dove Step 3 distance: 351.5miles
Today was an absolute beast. A massive adventure, enjoyable – but a pure beast.
I started shifting early mindful that I had a full day of it at the 45km mark. As I came over the hill from Cáceres a pretty serious sunrise was going on…
I dropped down onto some more steppe type habit and readied my binoculars – Lapwing, Golden Plover, perched Griffon Vulture all great but not the target – I walked on – then over the skyline came the one. A Great Bustard! Absolutely superb. Prolonged flight views of this iconic and outright superb bird. I was really lifted by this and treated myself to a grande cafe solo as I moved through Casar de Cáceres.
I knew I had another 30km to do at this point. I didn’t know those 30km would be so testing, ruggard and utterly abrasive! The route went off into very rocky, steppe-type habitat for miles until it hit the most crazed man-made reservoir adjacent to the most ambitious road building I’ve ever seen! From the huge gouged out reservoir to the skyward half-built bridges it was pretty jarring!
What’s more the construction required a 2km re-route in the wrong direction. Not on my watch…
I studied the maps respecting natural features such as cliffs and rivers (which can cause issue) and picked a route to the required bridge crossing. This was pretty gnarled, lively terrain to say the least. Indeed, all I saw out there was Griffon and Black Vultures and Raven. Presumably feeding on the remains of hikers who had tried and failed before me. Although rough terrain (to put only mildly!) the cross-country effort kept my milage at the 45km as opposed to 50km mark.
Having contended with the terrain, road crossings made it over two bridges and remainded firmly on-track the last 10km were then grueling! Harsh single track gave way to really cutting rocks – my trainers have thinned over the last 350 miles and aren’t really up to task anymore. As such I’ll retire them tomorrow and transfer to my walking shoes – for hopefully a more comfortable day.
Each Dove Step we take on a challenge – a true challenge – something we aren’t assured of finishing. Today re-inforced that principle. I feel battered but contented with the daily and overall distance. Indeed we are past the half way mark! 350 miles done! The JustGiving is also rising at on a healthy 68% of target…