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Camino Primitivo May 2009

peregrina09

New Member
Reading posts in this forum was an important part of planning my walk at the end of May 2009. I would like to share my own experiences, in case they might be helpful to future pilgrims -- as all of your contributions were to me.

Certain stages of this route were TOUGH – physically demanding and the terrain proved a significant challenge. In spite of my best intentions, I was not prepared with the proper equipment, nor did I have an idea of just how difficult the paths and weather conditions would be. The first week in Asturias was predominantly foggy, misty and rainy. Though I only walked one full day in heavy rain – night time rainfall left many trails in Asturias wet and MUDDY.

I had purchased high quality walking shoes, which served me well in Galicia, but at times were a major impediment in Asturias. My socks and feet were constantly wet for a week. I would imagine that the weather in Asturias is variable depending on the time of year – but please consider the needs of your feet for these two very different areas of Spain.

Though the kms of the stages in Asturias may seem manageable distances – one must consider that walking there consists of constant climbing up - sometimes sharply steep - mountain paths and descending down again into valleys – over and over. Both can be hard on the knees and slow one down a great deal.

Were I to walk this route again – I would consider bringing shoes for wet and dry walking conditions. I realize that might add bulk to my pack. But in the long run – socks and footwear are crucial to a comfortable experience. And I would consider giving 13 - 14 days to reach Santiago.

Peregrina 2000 “Laurie” - posted an excellent description that I viewed many times. I believe she also contributed to the CSJ guide update – which I carried with me on the walk. She makes special notes of muddy areas on the route between Salas and Tineo. She is correct!!! If you are prepared with the proper water/mud resistant foot wear – then proceed – otherwise consider her alternate suggestions.

Having said all that: I wouldn’t trade any part of my experience or difficulty. Everything that we went through made us stronger and appreciate our arrival in Santiago all the more. And muddy or not, woodland paths are usually more pleasant than walking on asphalt. Just consider your footwear!

DOGS
I encountered many dogs on this route. Almost every farm has a dog and every dog has something to “say” about your walking into his territory. 97% are on leashes and just make a lot of noise – Maybe 3 or 4 were unleashed – and most stared at us, but left us alone. Possibly around Villardongo, when alone, an unleashed dog came after me, barking and giving concerning signals – but ultimately I kept walking and was not harmed. I was a little scared then though.

OVIEDO
I visited the churches of San Miguel de Lillo and Santa Maria del Naranco on my first day in Oviedo, where I stayed overnight to get myself oriented. The hill where the churches are located overlooking the city, is fairly steep and distant. I took a taxi there, which was reasonably priced. If you decide to visit here separately from the Camino - take the cell phone number of your driver, if possible, for the return visit back to the Oviedo town center. If you are walking there, the guide explains how you may visit and rejoin the Camino without backtracking.

For the start of my walk from Oviedo to Grado, I had the CSJ guide - as well as the city tourist map for the Camino in English. I still got lost leaving Oviedo several times! It was MUCH harder to get out of the city than I anticipated. If I attempted it today, I could probably find my way without any map. But at the time – I was flustered and lost an hour and a half. Sometimes the shells are helpful, and sometimes there are not enough to let you know if you're going the right way. I feel this could be made clearer for pilgrims.

For those who consider starting from Oviedo Cathedral and following the embedded shells to the outskirts of town – a big part of the adventure – I will try to describe where I went wrong:

It was at the point of trying to find Calle de la Arañgosa – and it was tricky for some reason. When I crossed over from the Calle de la Independencia to what the guide describes as a “roundabout” - the shell on the ground was pointing in an ambiguous manner – making me think I should go right... There was no other waymark nearby to give me a sense of direction here – and I was disoriented. Try to find the Calle de la Arañgosa, which is to the left at this juncture.

For those who would like to save time and energy – consider taking a taxi to Paseo de la Florida and the Parque Camino de Santiago where the first stage begins. This is just a personal choice. This option might be more obvious looking at the map you may obtain from the tourist office, rather than just reading the CSJ guide.

The Camino Primitivo is not easy but it is very rewarding. The Spanish countryside was spectacularly beautiful - even in the mist. I have posted a photo link above.

I am a female, and started the walk alone, but soon met friends on the way and we stayed together through the rest of the journey. I did walk alone for long parts of days when going at my own pace. If I can be helpful to any other pilgrims, I will be happy to answer your questions.

I will try to share more of my experiences when I have time. Just wanted to make these points for now, if someone is planning on leaving soon.

Buen Camino!
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
Thanks Peregrina09!
Here was I thinking that I was lacking a sense of direction trying to get out of Oviedo - twice round the Plaza de Liberacion and that was after asking the way the first time round. I arrived in Santiago on the 28 May so we cannot have been far apart. The dog you refer to came after me as well. I think it was a bitch feeding pups which made her somewhat agressive. She didn't get that near but it was a bit unsettling. It was my first pilgrimage and as far as I know my last, whatever - it was an experience that cannot be repeated. Thanks for the photos, you got some that I missed, like the track running with water. The only really dangerous bit on the whole route - steeply up hill, large stones and rocks and water . . .
The only question is what do I do next? Anything is possible!!
Every Blessing
Walk well and safely
Tio Tel
 

peregrina09

New Member
Hahaha – After the Primitivo – Mount Everest!!!

I will convey the disorientation issue at the Plaza de Liberación of Oviedo to the Amigos del Camino de Santiago and the CSJ when I can.

In fact, if I am not mistaken “mikel” has a picture of this area in his photo album, posted above...

Photo #7 - “Oviedo 4” in the series - “my camino primitivo, 2006”. This picture, I believe is looking back towards the fountain (or sculpture)?

At Calle de la Independencia you will see a yellow spray painted arrow indicating a left turn at the train station. Going forward, then up a slight right incline and across the street - you are then facing a pedestrian plaza area with a sculpture or fountain in front and checkered type buildings on each side.

You can choose here to walk up the plaza area pictured, past a public pay restroom kiosk – and at the end, cross the street to the left to reach...Calle de la Arañgosa.

Street signs are also not very apparent in this general area.

I would also hope that maybe someone in Spain, close to Oviedo would consider making the way out of the city much clearer for pilgrims starting the Camino Primitivo.

I agree about the pathway “that was all stream” - I fell into the stream trying to stay dry by stepping on stones – but it was too slippery. Having a good walking stick would have really helped here. I made it through and would have had an easier time just accepting that my feet would be wetter (as they were often wet)!

I wouldn’t describe the rest of the route as “dangerous” in any way... Just challenging, depending on one’s fitness and plans for covering big distances in one day. I was very ambitious in my original ideas of the distances I could travel with ease.

Best wishes!
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
peregrina09 said:
I wouldn’t describe the rest of the route as “dangerous” in any way... Just challenging, depending on one’s fitness

I was thinking of a stretch just before the really bad climb. Described in the CSJ Pilgrim Guide on page 41. PARADAVELLA . . . . ."Take care as the path follows the edge of a steep drop, . . . . . many people find it quicker and easier to stay on the road for this section." I used the path and again the problem was water: coming down the hillside and turning the path into a slippery bog. Hill on right hand, drop on left hand and bog in the middle. Maybe you (and others) followed the advice given!
I'm a Yorkshireman and do my own thing !!!

Walk well and safely
Tio Tel
 

peregrina09

New Member
You are quite right!

In most cases, I did not follow the guide’s mud warnings, either. However, at Paradavella we were cautioned by the gracious proprietor of Casa Mesón, Parrillada (a wonderful lunch stop at the bottom of Hospital de Montouto) - that the path between Paradavella and Lastra was particularly treacherous due to recent rains. He advised that the road, in this case, would take us to the same destination – but would be a more favorable choice. The proprietor was very certain about this – so this time, I listened. My amigo – did not – and said that stretch was very difficult. Perhaps the conditions vary in the summertime.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Tio Tel linked this post into another current discussion of getting out of Oviedo, and I just wanted to comment on the most recent entry above in case others have been reading it as well before starting out.

As peregrina09 points out, the Casa Meson is a great little stop, the first after leaving Fonsagrada, and everyone stops there for cafe and tostada. And I agree that the proprietor is a very nice guy. But I would take his warnings about the stretch between Paradavella and Lastra with a grain of salt. I have no doubt that there are many times when this path is muddy and difficult and hard to navigate. It has a short quick steep ascent at the end that would not be fun if conditions were terrible.

When I was there it had rained most of the night but no rain had fallen between our departure of around 7 and our arrival in the meson. He gave us all the very stern warning about how bad the upcoming stretch would be. I had walked the primitivo once before and remembered this stretch as a particularly beautiful one -- through a couple of abandoned , yet still very bucolic, hamlets, beautiful countryside, etc. So I decided to give it a try, after all you can always backtrack and take the road. The path was FINE, and so many people missed out and stayed on the side of the highway for those kms.

I'm not urging people to do dangerous things, but just remember that this proprietor thinks the path is unpassable many times when it is really quite fine. Buen camino, Laurie
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Camino(s) past & future
One every year since 2007
[...]So I decided to give it a try, after all you can always backtrack and take the road. The path was FINE, and so many people missed out and stayed on the side of the highway for those kms.
Excellent advice, Laurie! Weather conditions are commanding our walking experience. Consider therefore a few days forecasts in planning and take last minute alternatives once you're there.;)
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
There is a bar in Paradavella, near the old 'round house'. A second check on the state of the path up to Lastra could be made here. We took the bus, which stops at this cafe, as the total distance by either track or road would have been too far for me. Also Terry's experience of the track made us wary of injuring our knees. (There were folk leaving the Camino in Cadabo because of knee problems in 2009 and 2012.) We had checked the times in Fonsagrada at the tourist office - I think it reached Paradavella at about 14.40/14.45. We could have left the bus in Lastra and walked on, but headed for our hostal for a late siesta. After that we walked it all :)
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, tia,
Unfortunately, the bar in Paradavella is where the dire warnings come from. I would take anything this very nice man says with a huge grain of salt. When he told me not to walk that section, it had been pouring rain all night, literally all night, but had stopped around 7 am. By the time I got to the path, it was totally passable. Nevertheless, he had regaled my group with lots of warnings to avoid it, and the rest of them heeded his advice and as a result walked on pavement till Lastres and missed the beautiful stretch. Live and learn. Buen camino, Laurie
 

angulero

Active Member
Quizás sea porque yo estoy traduciendo mal, pero creo que estás mezclando el Camino del Norte, con el Primitivo. Lastres es un pueblo marinero cercano a Villaviciosa.

Maybe it's because I'm translating wrong, but I think you're mixing the Camino del Norte, with Primitivo. Lastres is a fishing village near Villaviciosa.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Thanks Angularo, edited and corrected. I should have got my book out.
Laurie, it was the bar keeper before arriving in Paradavella that I was thinking of and thought you meant. We had made our decision before actually reaching the village.
 

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