If you love hiking, want to be close with nature, and experience a bit of a physical challenge, then this is the Camino for you. Every little step of the Camino Primitivo has views that will take your breath away.
The Camino Primitivo is the original “Way of St James’’ and the oldest pilgrimage route. King Alphonse “The Chaste” is the first pilgrim in history to travel to Santiago de Compostela, creating a path of spiritual devotion that spread throughout ancient Europe and has continued until today.
Besides nature and history there are villages filled with slate roofed stone houses and pagoda-like structures called hórreos: wooden granaries raised on stone pillars to keep out the rats. Above the village hillsides sit densely wooded chestnut, pine, and eucalyptus trees.
For people who want to get away from the digital world, there is an opportunity to undergo a digital detox: to spend a period of time without digital media. On our first night our smartphones will be sealed. For safety reasons you will receive a basic phone which will allow you to only phone and text: perfect for a walking retreat! This sense of achievement every day, elation of exertion rising from a landscape that is formed simply and intensively.
22nd April -2 nd May
In Oviedo, we will meet in a typical ‘sidrerías’ and experience how cider is poured into the glass from a great height while enjoying the local food.
The cathedral Santa Iglesia Basilica Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador de Oviedo is the must-see highlight during a visit to the city, where we will get our pilgrim passport stamped for the first time.
The appeal of Oviedo is its old quarter housing numerous statues all over town including one of Woody Allen who is a huge fan of the city (and showcased in his hit film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Asturias is the only region of Spain not conquered by the Moors in the Middle Ages, it was the heart of the Reconquista and has the churches and palaces to back it up.
Day 1: Oviedo – Grado (26 km)
As we leave the suburbs of Oviedo, we pass through the untouched nature of Asturias (a region in northwestern Spain). We take in the astounding greenery of Asturias during our rural walk through towns such as Escamplero and Penaflor, taking in lovely views from across the valleys. Following looming mountains in the distance, we cross a Romanesque bridge over a peaceful river, along a dirt trail, all the way to Grado, our stop for the evening. Grado is a lovely town with very well preserved indiano architecture: buildings built by migrants to the Americas.
Day 2: Grado – Salas (23 km)
In the morning we leave Grado and head up towards San Juan de Villapañada, which was the scene of a major battle during the Peninsular War. After passing San Juan de Villapañada, we have a steep climb into Cordillera Cantabrica followed by a descent to Santa Eulalia de Dóriga, a semi-ruined monastery which was founded in 1024 in Cornellana. This part of the trail meanders through some pretty hamlets with medieval remnants, winding lanes, and the popular salmon rich waters of the Nonaya River. Finally, we arrive in Salas which is one of the best -preserved medieval village in Asturias, showcasing marble stoned pathways, a medieval tower, the palace of Valdés Salas, and the Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor.
Day 3: Salas -Tineo (20km)
From Salas we climb through the rainforest: surrounded by trees and ferns, the sounds of water rushing below, and a gorgeous mountain range in the distance. The climb levels out into a flat walk and finally we reach the village of La Espina. The church of Cristo de los Afligidos marks your arrival at La Pereda, with a wonderful mill and plenty of small villages that make a picturesque postcard. We stay in Tineo in a renovated 16th century building, which is an excellent example of Asturian Renaissance architecture. Around town you can see views of the valley from the main plaza or visit the parish church of San Pedro. But for those with sore feet or in need of pampering, you can make use of the sauna and steam room in our accommodation.
Day 4: Tineo – Campiello (13,9km)
In the morning, we follow a dirt trail into the hills affording more amazing views throughout the gradual climb to Navariego and the mountains of Sierra de la Guardia. If the weather is nice and there is no fog, you can see the Bay of Biscay from here. At this junction, you may take a detour to the Benedictine monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona, founded in the 7th century by Prince Adelgaster. The monastery has been abandoned and is almost in ruins, but you can still see the coat of arms of the Crown of Castilla y Leon as you enter the cloister through two arches. Our stopping point for the night is at an excellent albergue in Campiello for some much needed rest as the next stage will be one of the most memorable days on any of the Caminos. (We will also check the local weather forecast to decide about our upcoming route.)
Day 5: Campiello – Berducedo (27 km)
Depending on weather conditions and the preference of our pilgrims, there are 2 options to take in the morning: a higher shorter route called the Pola de Allande, or a lower longer day called the Hospitales Route. For both options, this is described as the most difficult day of all the Caminos, because of the physicality and also the lack of resources available on the track (food and water). Both options meet up in Puerto del Palo.
For Option 1 (Pola de Allande): we hike until we reach Borres where the route divides, 13 kilometers from here to Pola de Allande. In Pola de Allande (an old mining town) we can visit the town hall, the church of San Andrés, the palace of Cienfuegos and several other examples of Indiano architecture. There is a statue to locals who emigrated to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. We climb up to El Mazo and Peñaseita. This will take you to the road leading to the Puerto del Palo – one of the most beautiful stretches in the Camino. Climbing up to Puerto del Palo is difficult at 1,100 metres high, but a fantastic challenge for the adventurous sportsman.
For Option 2 (Hospitales Route): The Hospitales Route is recommended if the weather is not windy for its spectacular views although it is remote and without facilities. It is also the more ancient route boasting ruins of early pilgrim hospitales. You can find yourself very far from civilization: all we will hear are the tinkling of cowbells, the trickle of a stream, and wild horses foraging for food. We can rest near the twelfth century hospitales ruins. As we approach Puerto del Palo at 1146 km, cows casually surround the trail as they watch pilgrims pass by.
The Camino continues along the lonely mountain landscapes that separate the Rivers Narcea and Navia into the almost deserted village of Montefurado, boasting only one inhabitant. We continue on a mountain path with views of steep slopes and a lovely pine forest as we make our way into the village of Berducedo.
Day 6: Berducedo – Grandas de Salime (21,4 km)
We follow a stunning trail from Berducedo to La Mesa, continuing our gradual ascent to a slate-roofed chapel marking a downward path at Buspol. Down a mountainside and through a pine forest, we get our first view of the huge dammed Rio Navia. As we draw closer, we can see the dam wall at Embalse de Salime. After crossing the dam wall, we head towards Grandas de Salime – famous for gold mining and their excellent Ethnographic museum.
Day 7 : Grandas de Salime – A Fonsagrada (28,1 km)
From Grandas de Salime, we walk through the cute little village of Castro and the ascent to El Acebo begins. It is quite a steep climb heading to the mountain top where the wind towers are spinning away. We say farewell to Asturias as we head into Galicia. Be careful as signs for the Camino change and are now marked by the open side of the scallop shell, as opposed to our now familiar Asturian signs. There is a climb just before A Fonsagrada with stunning views, the village where we will spend the night.
Day 8: A Fonsagrada – O Cádavo Baleira (23,4 km)
We pass the tiny hamlet of Padrón, and more views of the surrounding mountains, then head down a forestry road into a lovely pine forest. At the top of the mountain we find Hospital de Montouto, a former pilgrim hospital, founded in 1390 by Pedro I, the Cruel. We have a steep ascent to A Lastra, formerly owned by the Knights of St John. We also pass by an attractive town called Fontaniera, before arriving in O Cádavo Baleira, the capital of the municipality of Baleira, and our home for the evening.
Day 9: O Cádavo Baleira – Lugo (30,5 km)
In the morning we climb to the top of A Vaqueriza, where you can see the A Terra Cha, a plateau in the province of Lugo. This region is one of the most important milk producing regions of Europe. After that we descend towards Vilabade and enter the municipality of Castroverde, where we visit the Gothic church of Santa María, a national monument. We cross many towns on our way towards Lugo – Castroverde, Souto de Torres, Vilar de Cas, and A Pallota. The first village in the municipality of Lugo is Gondar, where the route goes up the Costa Francesa. After Bascuas, Carballido, Fazai and Santiago de Castelo, we are just a few kilometres away from Lugo.
The route to the city of Lugo runs by fountains, stone walls, crop fields, traditional houses and forests. We then come into the oldest city in Galicia, Lugo or Lugo Augusti which was founded in 14 B.C. under the rule of Emperor Augustus. The city is surrounded by the world’s largest surviving Roman walls about 2km long, 8.5m high and there are 85 round towers. The wall has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2000. We enter the city through the Gateway of San Pedro and then head towards the welcoming Praza Maior and onto the impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria. Lugo is twinned with the Great Wall of China since 2007. The wall is now complete and you can walk around it for free.
What is included in your trip?
pilgrim’s kit containing pilgrim passport, scallop shell, packing list
digital detox tips to take home after finishing the Camino
my experienced guidance – we have a daily briefing at dinner
transport of your luggage – limited to one transport bag during the walk
accommodation so no race for the bed (basic, clean & quiet carefully selected by myself)
food: breakfast and lunch
concerning your Compostela: your credential stays valid so you can still complete your Camino and collect your Compostela at a later stage
a unique and amazing experience you will never forget!
The groups consist of up to 9 people. You can socialise as much or as little as desired – some people like to walk in groups, others prefer to hike alone. It’s your choice- it is your Camino!
Number of overnight stays: 10
Number of km to be hiked: 215,7 km
Price: 1.100 EUR
Other departure dates:
- 22 nd April (arrival Oviedo)- 2 nd May (departure Lugo)
Excluded in the price:
Flights and travel insurance are not included. Do not hesitate to refer to me for any travel related information.
The best way to travel to Oviedo, Spain:
Santander airport is served by many budget carriers, there is a direct bus from the airport by Alsa to Oviedo, passing by the Alpine landscapes of the Picos de Europa (3H25). For your return, Lugo is well connected by bus to the airport of Santiago (1H40 min).
“To arrive in Santiago like a young person, begin the Camino like an old man.”
Discover our three other pilgrimages:
“It’s the Kathmandu of the 21st century.”
“A time to be ourselves without pressure.”
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When did you live life at 4km/hr lately?