In Frómista: the Canal de Castilla - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

May 10, 2024

In Frómista: the Canal de Castilla

Frómista is a crossroads community.  East to west, it’s an important stop on the French Camino, the best known of the many roads to Compostela.  North to south it’s a stop on the Canal de Castilla, a waterway constructed beginning in the late 18th century to connect the heartland of the Castillian plain with the Bay of Biscay.  Frómista is also a waypoint on Eurovelo 1, which comes in from Valladolid and Palencia in the south before turning east toward Burgos.  It’s no wonder then that we see so much foot and bicycle traffic in our short stay here.

With our afternoon free and with nightfall not arriving until well after nine, we have plenty of time for a late afternoon walk.  We both head for the Canal and then follow it north.


You can read all about it in the linked article, but the canal has an interesting history.  It was initially conceived as a 400 km long transportation linkage, with the vision of barges shipping Castillian wheat to the port of Santander and returning worm the coast with goods imported from the Spanish colonies.   In the end, it never made it to the coast: its northern terminus is at Alar del Rey, just south of Aguilar del Campoo; and its use as a transportation corridor was short-lived when it was made obsolete by the coming of the iron horse.

The route of the Canal de Castilla. It’s an inverted Y, with two branches at the south into different regions of the Castillian plain.
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Some of the locks have been removed (in particular, the quadruple locks at Fromista we passed on the way into town), but parts of it are still navigable and support pleasure boats.  For us it makes an attractive waterside greenway, just right for an afternoon walk.  Rachael’s out the door first, walks twice as far (5.5 miles) and comes back enthused by her outing.  I start a bit later and take my time just getting to the canal, stopping at a few spots on my way out of town.

In Frómista.
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I stopped for a shot of this bike propped up on the curb and was startled when an old guy came out of a door behind my back, hopped on it and biked off down the street.
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Another bike in Frómista. Two’s enough. I’ve got a canal to get to.
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Karen PoretThank goodness you are not in the Netherlands..you wouldn’t get too far..you know why..bikes, bikes, and more bikes.;)
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1 week ago
Santa Maria church, the second of Frómista‘s three Romanesque churches. Two’s enough though. I’ve got a canal to get to.
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A can at least slow down to admire Santa Maria’s fine stork collection though. There are three nests crowning its roofline, all occupied.
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Looking back at Samara Maria’s church - unrestored, and to my eyes anyway more visually interesting than the renovated one.
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Some earth tones.
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Nice brick work.
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Karen PoretThe holes resemble (commercial) insect houses..do you agree?
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretI couldn’t say. The only commercial insect houses I know of are the ant houses I kept as a kid.
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1 week ago
Keith AdamsI'd have thought the holes would allow water and weather (and insects, for that matter) into the structure. That must not be an issue in the region, apparently.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsMy theory is that it’s conservation of matter, with the holes removed without weakening the structure. Like cinder blocks.
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1 week ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott AndersonSure, I've seen bricks with holes molded into them.

I was looking more at the orientation: laying the bricks with the holes exposed makes them much less effective at keeping wind, water, and insects outside, or so I'd have thought.
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1 week ago
Keith AdamsTo Keith AdamsPerhaps, if this is a barn or similar structure, exposing the holes in the bricks helps improve ventilation. If the wall is thick enough, it'd be unlikely to be penetrated by rain unless there was an accompanying stiff breeze.
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1 week ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonI was referring to the various types of insects houses that are made (nowadays) of wood like materials. They are very popular( and constructed ) in the Netherlands.
Sold at garden stores, primarily.
Thanks, Scott!
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Karen PoretOh, those! I know them as insect hotels. If you’d have called it an insect hotel I’d have known immediately what you meant. And yes, it does have that feel but I’m sure that wasn’t the intent. I don’t think anyone was concerned about preserving insect habitat centuries ago.
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1 week ago
Karen PoretTo Scott AndersonSo glad we do agree it’s some type of “inner city development” for a house, hotel, home for someone or something. 😉 Who really knows what the design was about “ when”!?!
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1 week ago
Once a factory, now just a stork prop.
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OK.  Now we’re finally out of town, after that leisurely quarter mile stroll.  First up, the visually striking quadruple locks we stopped for on the way into town also.

Amazing to think that there were originally four tightly spaced locks here to manage this drop. I wonder how long it took barges to navigate through this short distance.
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At the top of the locks is an information board with a photo from the past.
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The view north from the top of the quadruple locks. Later a small tour boat will pass by here and perform a strategic u-turn just above the cascade.
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One of Rachael’s shots, and one I’m glad she took because I’d meant to myself. Reeds are piled up against the one remaining lock at the top, and in the distance is the small tour boat.
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Like I said, Frómista is at an important crossroad.
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Along the Canal de Castilla.
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A bit of heritage canal infrastructure, maybe a storage warehouse.
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Along the canal. I’ll just see a mile or so of this and Rachael quite a bit more, but it’s obviously good for as long an outing as you want on foot or bike.
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Speak of the devil.
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About time you got here!
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Suzanne GibsonTime to see your hat again!
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonYup. And I didn’t let it bleed all over the sheets this time!
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1 week ago
Patrick O'HaraThat's a great shot of you Scott...
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraThanks! It’s the hat, the indispensable accessory.
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5 days ago

Rachael and I exchange words and then she heads back to town while I continue on for another half mile before turning back myself.

Along the Canal de Castilla.
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Along the Canal de Castilla.
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The view east.
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Back at the quadruple locks again, just before returning to town. There were bike travelers here every time we passed this spot.
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The guy on the left is a stonechat of course, but the one on the right is about half his size. Both were on the same utility line, and stayed put long enough for a decent shot. I was sure the smaller one was a new bird, until I studied it later - it’s just another stonechat too, but a fledgling. No wonder dad is staying put, keeping watch.
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An interesting eroded wall, with the remaining tiles acting like a resistant bed protecting the sandstone below.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like adobe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe
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1 week ago
The storks are still hanging out on Santa Maria’s roofline.
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How young storks learn to sing.
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Carolyn van HoeveHello! Yes, the Pyrenees! Picking up our stored bikes near Paris, making our way down France (using a few trains) and traversing the Spanish Pyrenees from San Sebastian, following Lyle/Kirstens trail (and your trail further on). Crossing back into France with stops in Ceret, Collioure, then a train from Toulouse back to Paris. Very Excited! A six week tour this time from the beginning of September. Maybe next year we'll get to do a full 90 days. Here's hoping.
I sent you an email some time ago, but I think it was to an old email address that you don't check very often.
Another great tour you're having!
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveNo, I remember you telling me this now. It sounds like a wonderful but ambitious trip. September should be a great time for it.
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1 week ago