El Camino Primitivo - Guided - Nine Days

El Camino Primitivo - Guided -Nine Days

The Pilgrims' Trail to Santiago de Compostela is one of the great historical 'walking journeys' in Europe. According to legend, it all began in the early 9th CE in the year 813 when the long lost tomb of the apostle St. James, whose bones were recovered in Palestine by his followers in the 1st CE and taken by boat to the north-western part of Spain and discovered seven centuries later in a village in what is now Galicia. Word of this important religious discovery spread throughout the Christian world, reaching (among others) King Alfonso II of Asturias. He undertook the pilgrimage making the arduous journey through dark woods and over daunting mountains, from Oviedo to Santiago via Lugo and invited fellow monarchs and nobleman to follow in his footsteps.

This 'original' route or 'camino' became very popular in the early Middle Ages, when areas south of the Cantabrian Range were subject to persistent Moorish incursions. This route, walked by millions of pilgrims or 'peregrinos' over the centuries, reveals many beautiful natural settings, historical monuments, verdant rural farmland and authentic rural villages of Northern Spain. Near Lugo, the 'Camino Primitivo' joins the more popular French route, which is almost entirely paved. From here, we continue by bus to Santiago de Compostela, making the requisite stop at Monte del Gozo, the hilltop which affords a pilgrim's first glimpse of Santiago. There is an option of walking the last few kilometres to enter the city on foot.

Day 1 Oviedo

Arrival in Oviedo, capital of Asturias. Visit of the Gothic Cathedral devoted to San Salvador, an important Saint for pilgrims enroute to Santiago. Enjoy the lively atmosphere in the old town centre, with plenty of cafés, restaurants, bodegas and cider houses.

Day 2 Oviedo - Peñaflor - Salas

We follow the Jacobean copper shells through the narrow lanes of the city centre and out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarred lanes and old foot paths take us through quiet villages, some of which still maintain hostals for pilgrims and historic inns. From Puerma we continue by car to the Cornellana monastery (founded in AD1024) and on to our castle-hotel in Salas.

Day 3 Salas - Villaluz - Tineo

To avoid heavy traffic, we first drive to El Pedregal, and from here we will walk the first 10km to Tineo to have lunch in the old centre. Then we make a side tour to the monastery of Obona, which was an important school and retreat for wise men in the middle ages. From there we walk another 3km along the Camino to Villaluz and continue by car to the friendly hotel in Tineo.

Day 4 Tineo - Palo Pass - Allande

We drive to Borres from where the original high "ruta de los hospitales" crosses the steep slopes toward the Puerto del Palo. Because of the extreme weather conditions in winter, several pilgrim's hospitals exist on either side of the mountain pass. Enjoy the superb views before we drive to a friendly hotel in the village of Pola de Allande; which had a certain 'grandeur' in the 19th century. An option of walking (part way) down along the alternative Camino through the valley.

Day 5 Allande - Berducedo - Grandas de Salime

From Allande we drive to the hamlet of Berducedo where we descend through the fields and woods to the village of Villapedre. Here a boatmen helps us to cross the lake of Salime (a reservoir of recent construction), which has blocked the original camino, and drops us near the modern hotel (with very good cuisine) at the edge of the lake. In the afternoon we can visit the ethnografic museum or take a dive into the local swimming pool.

Day 6 Grandas de Salime - O Cadavo

Since the old camino has been covered by a tarred surface on its way from Grandas to Fonsagrada, we first drive into Galicia. At Fonsagrada we take the oldest trail, high across the green pastures and extensive fields of heather toward the village Póboa de Burón, which once had a castle and a pilgrim's hospital, finally ending up at Paradavella. Short transfer to the nearest pilgrims' hotel in O Cadavo or more deluxe hotel in Castroverde.

Day 7 O Cadavo - Lugo

On our last walking day along the 'original trail' we really enjoy the countryside of Galicia, following quiet tarred lanes and dirt tracks from one hamlet to another, passing many beautiful examples of traditional architecture. The 'Pazos' and "Casas Grandes" are especially well preserved and impressive buildings of stone and wood, that are often dedicated to tourism. From Gondar we drive to Lugo, where the Camino Primitivo merges with the classic French Way. Here we stay in a comfortable hotel in the centre of town.

Day 8 Lugo - Santiago de Compostela

To avoid walking along the main road to Santiago, we drive to Monto del Gozo; the hill from where pilgrims first obtain their sight of Santiago. From here we walk into the city to share emotions with other pilgrims as we approach the St James Cathedral in the old centre of town. Free afternoon at leisure.

Day 9 Santiago de Compostela

Alas, the journey ends today!