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Basic directions on walking the Camino del Salvador


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Updated March 12th 2009: As per Lauries request I add a link here to more updated directions to Camino del Salvador. They can be found here:

The instructions below may have some useful information, but may also be outdated.

I'm going to try to post my translation of the journal written in Spanish by Mario, friend of Javier. Thanks to Ivar and others for helping me figure out how to do this. (And if I haven't been successful with the attachment, will you let me know?)

In my translation, I have focused on the parts that deal with the route itself, the accommodations, and the places where things get tricky. I can't guarantee it's perfect, but since there seems to be so little information out there, I thought it might be of some help to someone.

And, if anyone ever does undertake this stretch, an update would be extremely helpful to those of us who would like to detour off the Camino Frances at Leon, so that we can meet up with the Camino Primitivo in Oviedo and then head back down towards Santiago, rejoining the Frances at either Palas del Rei or Melide.

I have heard from Judith on the apparently now defunct forum run by the Navarran government that it is a beautiful walk, and would be very interested in hearing from anyone else who has done it.



  • Camino del Salvador.doc
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My question is for Javier or anyone familiar with this route -- do you know what the status is of the marking between Leon and Oviedo? From Mario's diary, it seemed a big iffy and I wonder if any improvements have been made since then. I'm considering walking it in the fall, but have a terrible sense of direction. The instructions provided by Mario in the diary I translated would be very helpful, but I would feel a lot better if I knew the arrows had been updated. Thanks, Laurie
Hi Laurie,
I'm sure Javier will answer your question.
I just wanted to give you this wonderful website on the Leon to Oviedo way. It has strip maps, a lot of into on the various stages as well as on albergues. It might help with your planning.
Laurie, Sil,

It's a path not very well marked. A normal Camino has to be remarked every 2-3 years, because the weather and other reasons. So the old arrows sometimes are difficult to be found, it's something normal.

I've walked any Caminos like the Portuguese, the Camino de Madrid, the Camino Sanabres and some stages or the Camino del Norte or Camino Primitivo. Sometimes, in any places, it's necessary to stay any minutes to find the arrow. You have to take ten, fifteen minutes to find the right way. In a lonely Camino like the Camino del Salvador sometimes is possible to need any minutes to do that.

The experience walking caminos and the common sense are important at these moments.

I wish to walk this Camino with you!!!!

Buen Camino, always

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
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To Javier and any other intrepid pilgrim -- I hope to be walking this September, is there anyone who would like to try to walk from Leon to Santiago via Oviedo and the Camino Primitivo? Laurie
I just saw that the Asociacion Astur-Leonesa de Amigos del Camino has added a lot of new material on the Camino del Salvador between Leon and Oviedo: ... l_Salvador It now has maps showing elevation gain, etapas, kms, etc. What I don't know is if this also might mean that now the route is marked, because the little information I have been able to get has always been that the marking is really bad. I tried to email the association with the email address on their website, but it was returned as undeliverable. So if Javier or anyone else has any information, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
Hola Laurie,

I've just call by telephone to the local association (I don't know anybody who has recently walked it) and the person who answered told me that the way is correctly marked.

Mmmm ¿ walk in September...? sounds interesting. When exactly will you begin in Leon?

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
Hi Javier,
Thanks so much for finding out about the marking. It makes me less apprehensive about walking alone on that route. Though I have considered that I might be able to arrive in Leon, go to the albergues, and see if I can convince some adventuresome souls who are tired of the crowds on the Camino Frances to take this detour!

I hope to walk Leon-Oviedo-Santiago in September, probably starting later in the month. Are you considering it, too?

I am going to have a lot of opportunity for walking in the next year, and I'm going to try to walk as much as I can, so the Camino Ingles, and the Vdlp are also on my list for 2008-09!

For me could be possible the last weekend in September, but only the weekend. So, walking just saturday and sunday. This is my problem, to get more free days.

But would be a great pleasure to walk with you.

When will you know the exact days to be there?

Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
This is an update for those planning on walking the Salvador.
I walked the route in mid-September 2009 with Piers Nicholson of the Confraternity of St. James. He did a full GPS survey of the poorly-waymarked, wild-weather high-altitude portions of the route over the Sierra de Cuchillos, and will post the info soon on the CSJ site.

I should like to add a few comments as well for those who plan to walk this route.

Everything I wrote before about taking precautions still stands true. Parts of it are downright dangerous. Even with updated waymarking, the path is sometimes hard to follow -- the marks are hidden by brush or snow, or they just are not there when you want one. To make the Poladura de Tercia to Pajares etapa you should carry a good map and a compass, and gear to deal with very sudden rain or even snow -- we had a gale-force frozen-rain thunderstorm sweep ´round us... in September!

Once you are down from the heights things are a bit more predictable. On the Pajares-to-Pola de Lena etapa I very highly recommend taking the route described by Laurie in her notes, climbing down to the river in the morning and following along the western side of the valley. It is green and beautiful, even if it is even MORE uphill climbing -- plenty of little friendly villages pepper the pathway, and the Asturian ministry of environment is now taking over waymarking and maintaining the path. So far they´re doing an excellent job.

Also, even though the final day is a drag through the first 10 km. or so, (especially ´round Mieres) the final 20 km. are such a treat: more greenery, medieval bridges and cobbled paths through dapply apple orchards, donkeys, kittens, horreos, friendly, chatty people who still see pilgrims as a novelty. I think El Salvador is what the Camino Frances must have been like 30 years ago... except perched on a 15-percent grade. It is now my favorite camino of them all!

(I go into more detail on the blog: . (Yes, a shameless promotion.)
Rebekah, you and Piers are real Camino Angels. I can't wait to go back and try to go from Buiza to Poladura to Arbas. Javier, Nieves, and I wound up on the busy highway for a good 6 km and it was not fun at all. And even more frustrating was the knowledge that a short distance away was a path leaving us through high gorgeous mountains!

I, too, remember that day from Pajares to Pola de Lena as an incredible, magical day. I remember that you have been inside Sta. Cristina de Lena and described it so beautifully -- and I will definitely plan my next Leon to Oviedo jaunt so that I don't pass there on a Monday when the church is closed.

My sense from reading your reactions and impressions is that you would fall hook line and sinker for the Camino Primitivo. It is much like the Salvador in its finest, most scenic portions, very rural and unpopulated, and also in its opportunities for human contact. I've walked a lot of Caminos, but I've never had so many chances to talk at length with the people who live in the area -- whether they were watching their herds, sweeping off their parents' graves, picking nuts off the ground, tending bar, etc. It is definitely the Camino that calls me back the most.

I am sure your effort and your battle with the elements to show us the way will be appreciated immensely by many of us. Hope we can walk together sometime soon --- Laurie

p.s. Just to make sure people don't get confused -- my notes that Rebekah refers to are not the notes attached to this post. The notes are in a "sticky" post at the top of the Camino del Salvador folder entitled: Just Back from the Camino del Salvador. The notes on this post are a translation I attempted of a diary kept by some of Javier Martin's friends and I think they probably are now pretty out of date.

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