El Camino Primitivo - Self Guided - Seventeen Days

El Camino Primitivo - Self Guided - Seventeen Days

The Pilgrims' Trail to Santiago de Compostela is one of the great historical trails through Europe. According to legend, it all began in the 9th century when the bones of the apostle St. James, murdered in Palestine, miraculously appeared in a village of what is now Galicia. Word spread round the Christian world, reaching (among others) King Alfonso II of Asturias. As the very first pilgrim, he undertook the pilgrimage - journeying through dark woods and daunting mountains, from Oviedo via Lugo to Santiago – and invited fellow kings and noblemen to follow in his footsteps. This original route became very popular in the early Middle Ages, when pilgrims aimed to avoid areas south of the Cantabrian Range which were in constant dispute between Christians and Moors. Throughout the centuries, the Camino has been walked by millions of peregrinos. Nowadays, the Camino Primitivo reveals an area of stunning landscapes and rural beauty where villages steeped in history have stood the test of time. We’ll follow ancient paths through gorgeous farmland where friendly locals greet you. Near Lugo the Camino Primitivo joins the more popular French route, which we then follow to Santiago, making the requisite stop at Monte del Gozo, a hilltop vista point which offers a pilgrim’s first glimpse of Santiago de Compostela. During this route you stay at comfortable hotels and rural guesthouses (rooms with en suite facilities) and enjoy the comfort of luggage transport and private transfers.

Day 1 Oviedo

Arrival in Oviedo Arrival in Oviedo, capital of the region of Asturias. Time at leisure to visit of the Gothic Cathedral devoted to San Salvador, an important Saint for pilgrims going to Santiago. Enjoy the lively atmosphere in the old town centre with plenty of cafés, restaurants, bodegas and cider houses, just around the corner from your comfortable city hotel.

Day 2 Oviedo - Grado - Sama de Grado

6.5hrs, 22.5km 200m ascent & 250m descent.
Follow the Jacobean copper shells through narrow lanes in the city centre, then out into the green Asturian countryside. Tarmac lanes and old footpaths take you past quiet villages, some of which still have pilgrims’ hostels and historic inns. From Puerma you continue along the main road, to Grado. From there, a short transfer to your charming rural hotel in Sama de Grado.

Day 3 Grado - Salas

6hrs, 21.6km, 350m ascent and 300m descent.
The first part of the route from Grado to Salas follows narrow trails and country roads through hilly countryside directly to Cornellana Monastery. Founded in 1024, this centre was of great religious and political importance throughout the early history of the Christian kingdom in Asturias. For the second part of today’s route, you travel from Cornellana to Salas. Your Hotel in Salas is located in the historical town centre, right next to the castle and museum of Pre-Romanesque architecture.

Day 4 Salas - Tineo

6 hrs, 20.4km, 500m ascent and 50m descent.
After a steep but beautiful ascent through woodlands near Salas, you follow the St. James Shells turning southwest through peaceful countryside to reach Tineo, capital of dairy production in Asturias. Your hotel is a palace founded in 1525, built in Renaissance style but with very modern decoration. It is also has an indoor swimming pool and SPA.

Day 5 Tineo - La Mortera - Allande

5.5hrs, 18.2km, 400m ascent and 300m descent.
From Tineo you penetrate further into dense woodlands to reach the monastery at Obona, the first Latin school in the region and retreat for scholars in the Middle Ages. From there you follow woodland tracks and quiet tarmac roads to La Mortera, for a short taxi transfer to the friendly family hotel in Pola de Allande, well-known for its tasty regional cooking.

Day 6 Allande - La Mortera - Berducedo

7hrs, 24km, 450m ascent and 325m descent
After a short drive back to La Mortera, you follow the original high route - or “ruta de los hospitales” - across the steep slopes of these barren mountains toward Puerto del Palo. Due to extreme winter weather, there were several pilgrims’ hospitals on either side of this pass. You will enjoy superb views before you start your descent, partly along the main road, to reach Berducedo. Overnight stay at a comfortable rural guesthouse.

Day 7 Berducedo - Grandas de Salime

6hrs, 20km, 250m ascent and 800m descent
From Berducedo, pilgrims have to make a detour across the dam, where a man-made reservoir of recent construction has blocked the original Camino. We have chosen a more interesting route through pine woods and open fields to the tiny hamlet of Villarpedre, where a boatman will ferry you across the Lake. Once on the other shore, it’'s just a few kilometres to your charming hotel situated by the lake (with tasty and creative cuisine). You'’ll stay here for two nights.

Day 8 Grandas de Salime

3.5hrs, 11km, 500m ascent and 100m descent
After your first week on the pilgrimage, you might want to take a day off and relax. You could also walk to the village of Grandas de Salime (5.5km, 300m ascent) to visit the ethnographic museum or take a dive in the local swimming pool. Or maybe you prefer to continue for another 5.5km along the Camino, to reach the village of Castro with its interesting archeological site of mixed Celtic and Roman origin. Taxi transfer back to the hotel (optional).

Day 9 Grandas de Salime - Castro - Fonsagrada

6hrs, 20.5km, 400m ascent and 225m descent
The taxi drops you off at Castro to continue your pilgrims’ tour with a section which more or less follows the main road to Puerto El Acebo (1030), gateway to the province of Galicia. Then a long descent awaits, with panoramic views and the soft whirring of modern windmills. Your day ends at a modern hotel in Fonsagrada.

Day 10 Fonsagrada - Paradavella - Fonsagrada

5.5hrs, 18km, 300m ascent and 400m descent
From Fonsagrada you first descend to the village of Póboa de Burón, to pick up the oldest Camino Primitivo trail, a high route across green pastures and fields of heather on the way to the ruins at Hospital de Montouto (another pilgrims’ hospital of ancient origin). After an easy descent to Paradavella, a taxi drives you back to Fonsagrada, as there is no other suitable accommodation nearby.

Day 11 Fonsagrada - Paradavella - Castroverde

6.5hrs, 23km, 425m ascent and 525m descent
A tough day awaits, with few highlights and lots of endless country roads and tarmac lanes. When you finally reach O Cadavo, you have left the last steep hills of your journey behind. You can now start to enjoy the friendly open countryside of Galicia, with its typical grey farmhouses built in granite stone and slate rooftops and huge Pazos or country estates. In Castroverde, you'’ll be picked up by your hosts, owners of a friendly rural guesthouse situated just 5km from the Camino.

Day 12 Castroverde - Lugo

5.5hrs, 24km, 100m ascent and 150m descent
On our last day of walking on the ‘original trail’, we really enjoy the beauty of Galician countryside, as we walk on quiet tarmac lanes and dirt tracks from one hamlet to the next, passing beautiful examples of traditional architecture until you walk directly up to your comfortable hotel in the heart of Lugo’s historical centre, just 100m from the splendid Roman walls, a UNESCO World heritage site.

Day 13 Lugo - O Burgo - Palas del Rei

Maximum 8hrs, 37.5km, 200m ascent and descent
From Lugo to Santiago there are several Caminos and they all mainly follow tarmac roads. We have chosen the least travelled, a quieter version via San Roman de Retorta to Palas de Rei. In the morning, you ride part-way with the luggage - to O Burgo - avoiding 8km of unattractive countryside outside Lugo. The rural hotel near Palas de Rei is known for its good cuisine.

Day 14 Palas del Rei - Arzúa

7 hrs, 30km, 225m ascent and 400m descent
You have now joined the French Route, or Camino Francés, the most popular of all the Caminos to Santiago. Suddenly you find yourself among a multitude of pilgrims from all over the world, as you follow trails, country roads and footpaths parallel to the main road. Your deluxe rural hotel is located just outside the village.

Day 15 Arzúa - A Rúa

5hrs, 20km, 200m ascent and 225m descent
This section of the Camino is one of the least interesting, as it principally follows the main road, but there are lots of new friends to make. The excitement shared with fellow pilgrims grows, combined with a weary feeling of soon having to face the end of your pilgrimage! Overnight stay at the best available hotel with friendly owners.

Day 16 A Rúa - Santiago de Compostela

5hrs, 19,8km, 175m ascent and descent

The last section of your pilgrimage brings you back to modern life as you pass the regional airport, cross the highway, railway track and ring-road around Santiago. Nevertheless, it’s still easy to imagine the sheer joy ancient pilgrims felt when they caught a first glimpse of Santiago and the spires off in the distance. From Monte del Gozo, pilgrims historically make one last stop at the spring in Lavacolla, to wash their faces and feet before presenting themselves before the Saint at the Cathedral on Plaza Obradoiro. Your hotel is located in the old town centre.

Day 17 Santiago de Compostela

End of your trip or extra nights in Santiago.