Camino de Santiago (St James Way)
Guided walk across Northern Spain
Oct 5 - 15, 2019 (10 nights)
10 Night Itinerary :
2 - This
morning we drive from Leon to start our walk at Orbigo. It was here, on
the bridge at Orbigo, in 1434, that a knight, Suero, held what may have
held the last great medieval tournament. Having been scorned by his lady
love, Suero challenged other knights to a joust. Today, if you stand on
the bridge and use a little imagination,
you can almost hear the horses
whinny and the clash of steel. As we start to walk, the terrain changes
from flat plains to low foothills. The clouds ahead on the horizon soon
reveal themselves to be chains of mountains in the distance but the
walking is still quite easy. In the afternoon we reach Astorga with its
Cathedral built in 1471 and a fairytale Bishop's Palace designed by the
eccentric architect Antoni Gaudi which now holds an interesting "Museum
of the Camino". There is a Museum of Chocolate that tells the story of
the local chocolate industry which flourished when cocoa was first
brought to Spain from the New World. The town still prides itself in its
great chocolate and there are mouth-watering window displays.
Beyond Astorga we begin one of the most historically important parts of
the Camino over Mount Irago. Our bus takes us up as far as Foncebadon
and from here we ascend to the Cruz de Ferro (iron cross) under which
pilgrims of old placed a stone which they had carried from home as
penance. The walk is uphill but those who want to avoid the ascent can
take the bus to near the top. The surrounding terrain is rugged with
lovely views and in spring the wildflowers are gorgeous. From the top we
descend gradually into the lush Bierzo valley and along the way pass
through the village of El Aciebo which appears to be lost in a time-warp
from the Middle Ages. We continue down to the beautifully restored old
town of Molinaseca with its Roman bridge. Our reward at the end of the
day is staying at the lovely Parador at Villafranca with its heated pool
and spa. Villafranca is one of the most atmospheric towns on the Camino
and retains much of its medieval and Renaissance atmosphere. In medieval
times if a pilgrim was too frail to continue his journey the same papal
indulgences were granted as if he had reached Santiago. Distance
20 km or 12 km (you choose) Dinner included.
From Villafranca our bus takes us up the OCebreiro pass
where we visit the hamlet of OCebreiro. Legend says that the Holy Grail
(the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper) is hidden at
OCebreiro (although many other places in the world make the same claim).
We then descend into the region of Galicia. Gray and green tones
predominate and one hears the "Gallego" language (local dialect).
Villages are strung along this part of the Camino - sometimes just a few
houses surrounding a stone church. Fields are fenced with stone and
brambles and one sees the ruins of castles that once protected pilgrims.
We reach the quaint town
of Triacastela and then take a side-trip by bus to our accommodation at
the town of Monteforte de Lemos. In a monumental
From Villafranca our bus
takes us up the Cebreiro pass where we visit the hamlet of OCebreiro.
Legend says that the Holy Grail
complex, comprised of a
castle, a monastery and the Condes de Lemos Palace is housed the Parador
de Monforte and it is here that we stay the night. The origins of the
complex date back to the 9th century but today it is a magnificently
restored Parador hotel.
19 km or 12 km (you choose)
Day 7 -
This morning we return by bus to Palas de Rei and walk to
the town of Melide. Today is an easy walk with no hard ascents or
The history of the
village of Melide dates back to the 10th century. In 1320 Melide was
privilege of building a castle and village walls but in 1467 the town
offended the Archbishop and started a series of fights against his
power. Because of this, the walls and the castle were destroyed. For
centuries after that, like many villages in
Galicia, Melide suffered from emigration of its people to Cuba and
Argentina. It is only since the revival of the Camino de Santiago that
prosperity has begun to return Those interested in local legends learn
that this stage is dominated by St Julian. It seems that Julian was
tricked by the devil into killing his parents. To atone for his sin he
ran a pilgrim hospital and the church of San Julian do Camino
illustrates the story. But the Camino need not be about saints and
legends. In Melide we find shops, bars and restaurants scattered along
the narrow streets. Melide is famous for its "pulpo" (octopus cooked in
it’s own juice in large copper pots and sprinkled with paprika). If
octopus doesn't appeal, this region is also known for its wonderful
cheeses made from the milk of Galician cows who graze on the lush grass.
In the afternoon
our bus transfers us back to Lugo.
Distance 14 km. Dinner NOT included
Day 9 -
return to Arzua and continue our walk through pretty Galician
this stage, the path is easy on small dirt roads between villages, with
a few scents and descents alternating with flat stretches.
The countryside is a mix
pretty farmland and eucalyptus forests. We pass fields, oak groves and
small hamlets with cafes and bars catering to walkers. One enterprising
local brewer has labelled his beer “Pilgrim Beer” in several languages.
You will almost certainly meet walkers from many countries in these
cafes and bars. When we reach Pedrouzo our bus picks us up and returns
us for another comfortable night at our lovely pazo.
Distance 19 km (less if you prefer) Dinner included