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Connecting the Camino de Madrid to the Via de la Plata

kptorrahk

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Sanabres (from Puebla de Sanabria) 2022
I have just finished part of the Via de la Plata walking from Puebla de Sanabria to Santiago in 10 days.
Last year after finishing my Camino del Norte /Muxia I walked the Camino de Madrid to Segovia and I´ve always wondered if it were possible to connect the Madrid to the Via de La Plata to avoid walking the Frances completely. And I think I have found a way using the Camino de Levante.

The plan is as follows.
Day 1: Segovia - Santa Maria de la Nieva (Hostal Avanto) - Camino de Madrid
Day 2: Santa Maria de la Nieva - Arevalo (not camino, alternative roads)
Day 3: Arevalo - Medina del Campo ( Camino de Levante)
Day 4: Medina del Campo - Castronuño ( Camino de Levante)
Day 5: Castronuño - Toro (Camino de Levante)
Day 6: Toro - Zamora (Camino de Levante)
Day 7: Zamora - Granja de Moreruela (Via de la Plata)
Day 8: Granja de Moreruela - Tabara (Camino Sanabres)
Day 9: Tabara - Calzadilla de Tera (Camino Sanabres)
Day 10: Calzadilla de Tera - Mombuey (Camino Sanabres)
Day 11: Mombuey - Puebla de Sanabria

I was wondering if anybody has considered this option or walked parts of it and, especially on the Camino de Levante, if it was easy to find accomodation. I expect total loneliness which isn´t my preference but I just really want to connect the two. Also don´t the roads get very boring on the meseta?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Many years ago I crossed from the Madrid to the Levante between Santa María la Real de Nieva and Arévalo. It was fine, and the crossing to Arévalo no problem, although mostly on tarmac. The Levante has regular albergues or other accommodation (as far as I can remember, I only had to sleep in a pensión in Toro, and that could easily have changed by now - there was a nice albergue in Santa María lRdN back then which is firmly shut up now).

But last year I carried on a few more days on the Madrid, to Puente Duero and then took a really nice walk down the Duero, joining the Sureste at Tordesillas. And then 3-4 easy days, all with albergues, and you're at Benavente, on the Vía de la Plata; another easy day (marked with arrows) to join the Sanabrés at Santa Marta de Tera (oldest known sculpture of Santiago pelegrino etc).
 
Many years ago I crossed from the Madrid to the Levante between Santa María la Real de Nieva and Arévalo. It was fine, and the crossing to Arévalo no problem, although mostly on tarmac. The Levante has regular albergues or other accommodation (as far as I can remember, I only had to sleep in a pensión in Toro, and that could easily have changed by now - there was a nice albergue in Santa María lRdN back then which is firmly shut up now).

But last year I carried on a few more days on the Madrid, to Puente Duero and then took a really nice walk down the Duero, joining the Sureste at Tordesillas. And then 3-4 easy days, all with albergues, and you're at Benavente, on the Vía de la Plata; another easy day (marked with arrows) to join the Sanabrés at Santa Marta de Tera (oldest known sculpture of Santiago pelegrino etc).
That sounds like an interesting alternative. I had heard of the Sureste but Gronze doesn´t display it.
Is the path along the Duero to Tordesillas signposted?
And the day from Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera, is it an offical camino/sign posted?
 
That sounds like an interesting alternative. I had heard of the Sureste but Gronze doesn´t display it.
Is the path along the Duero to Tordesillas signposted?
And the day from Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera, is it an offical camino/sign posted?
Mundicamino shows the Sureste.

You can either follow GR14 sendero del Duero north of the river or, what I did, use mapy.cz to track a route on the south side, mostly on pleasant forest trails, joining the Sureste between Rueda and Tordesillas. My route was about 10km shorter than taking the GR.

The final day of the Sureste, between Benavente and Santa Marta de Tera, is very well marked with mojóns and yellow arrows, going in the same direction as the main road N525 (which the Sanabrés criss-crosses all the way to Santiago).
 
I don’t have any advice, because I did this route rather quickly by road on my bike. But I will mention that I found Tordesillas fascinating. The museum there is a must. Find out how a pope changed the world.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.
I walked the Madrid camino recently, and was contemplating switching over to the Levante to avoid the traffic of the CF in Sahagun. The shortest connection point is between Villeguillo and Medina del Campo, about 30 km. Right after Villeguillo, there's a sign pointing to Olmedo, and then from there, it's a straight shot to Medina.
 
@alansykes your gr14 suggestion has actually made me totally reconsider my plans. I think it's a great idea to follow the Douro River but since it's so well signposted and there's a dedicated GR14 website describing the whole riverside route I thought I might as well keep following it all the way to Zamora. I'd rather avoid the dry, endless meseta.

Now I want to follow the Camino de Madrid to Simancas and then go west along the Douro to Zamora where I can start the Sanabres.

I wonder, has anybody ever done that?

Ps I found an eco lodge in Nieva through Airbnb which might be an interesting sleeping alternative to hostal avanto
 
This summer I went Medina de Rioseco > Villabrágima > San Pedro de Latarce (which I believe to be a historic route ; and from there on the Sureste leads to Astorga) > Vezdemárban > Toro > Zamora

There's a donativo/free Albergue at San Pedro, and a very decent bar-restaurant. Good food at Villabrágima too, and the initial small secondary tarmac road out of Medina de Rioseco is pleasant enough, and it leads to a local shrine to Saint James, and dirt trail for a while thereafter.

Toro has the most difficult sleeping situation.
 
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In the end I have done the following and I´m so happy about my choice!
Day 1: Puente Duero - Simancas - Tordesillas 32km (amazing airbnb place for 30 eu)
Day 2: Tordesillas - Castronuño 32km (albergue municipal camino levante, extremely friendly volunteers)
Day 3 Castronuño - Toro 22km (former convent Casa Fundacional HH del amor de dios, 30 eu incl bfast; this gem I found through the tourist info suggestion; hosted by sisters of the order and you get your own private room with bathroom right in the heart of the city)
Day 4: Toro - Zamora 34km
Simancas, Tordesillas, Castronuño and Toro were all amazing pueblos/cities to visit in amazing locations.
The route from Tordesillas to Castronuño wasn´t the most interesting until the last part (however I followed al alternative route signposted by locals from Torrecilla de la Abadesa along the river which made me not go crazy of the boredom of the rest of the route), and the 10km highway walking on the Toro-Zamora stretch was incredibly tedious but there were incredible legs along the river as well.
I think this route deserves an honorable mention as a great camino alternative to combine the Madrid with de la Plata/Sanabres.
The amazing bird life you find along the Duero river is a paradise for nature lovers and the presence of the river and its lush banks really is soothing
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I´d like to give a complete overview of how I got from Madrid to Santiago, where I spent the nights, any comments on the route and if I´d do anything differently so here goes.

I need to say I started my camino in Puebla de Sanabria and walked to Santiago in 9 days; only then did I start my mission to connect Madrid with Puebla.

Since I´m a resident of Madrid and I was working I did Madrid-Segovia in daytrips so I didn´t sleep anywhere.

* Day 1: Madrid - Tres Cantos 25,2km
The ´normal route´out of the city takes the endless Calle Bravo Murillo, but I would suggest to take Paseo Castellana to Plaza Castilla as there are a lot of green park stretches where you can walk under the trees, plus you stumble upon various beautiful monuments and buildings doing this. Lots of traffic, but the alternative is just as busy.

* Day 2: Tres Cantos - Manzanares el Real 25,3km
Gronze gives this route only 2 stars for landscape. I feel it deserves at least 3 stars since the looming mountains, especially towards the end, are really beautiful and impressive and the route through Colmenar Viejo is really nice. Plus it´s mostly off-road.

* Day 3: Manzanares el Real - Cercedilla 20,4km
This is a short day so I recommend visiting the castle in the morning (really nice stamp!). The ayuntamiento of Mataelpino has a nice Camino de Madrid stamp. Entering Cercedilla I got a nice sticker from the Monkey Business Garage shop as a stamp.
When you enter Mataelpino, I would get the stamp at the square and then double-back to choose the arrows that point onwards climbing out of the village because this route will get to a beautiful viewpoint looking back along the mountain range towards Manzanares.

*Day 4: Cercedilla - Segovia 30,2km
After you have left Cercedilla you can get a stamp at the Centro de Visitantes Valle de la Fuenfria (opens at 9am). The stamp is the same as the ayuntamiento´s.
At Puerto de la Fuenfria visit the nearby fountain! The waters from this area will follow you all the way to Zamora, which is a fascinating thought. Like that Madrid will continue to have a connection to your camino long after you have abandoned the Camino de Madrid :)

I did Segovia - Puebla de Sanabria in stages coinciding with long weekends.

*Day 5: Segovia - Nieva 36,4km (stayed at Vivero Organico Laurus/ La Veguilla Nieva on Google Maps/´sustainable eco farm´ on Airbnb)
I didn´t look forward to staying in Hostal Avanto along the road so I found an alternative on airbnb. In the summer/early fall the eco farm in Nieva offers outside sleeping in handmade pods; very unique. Plus the owners are amazingly lovely and offer dinners on request.

*Day 6: Nieva - Villeguillo 26,5km (stayed at albergue de peregrinos villeguillo)
Take some time to explore Coca as it has a rich history. Villeguillo is tiny and has nothing but the bar serves great food.

* Day 7: Villeguillo - Valdestillas 34km (finished there to go back to Madrid)
I simply didn´t have time to do it any other way but if I did it again I would probably stay in Coca, then in Alcazaren and then in Puente Duero with time to visit Valladolid. Now I never did the 9km between Valdestillas and Pte Duero because it was too much for one day.

Today we leave the Camino de Madrid and start following the Senda del Duero.
*Day 8: Puente Duero - Tordesillas 31,7km (stayed at airbnb apartment for 30 eu)
From Simancas the red-white GR markings along the river are easy to follow. You´ll get to the point where the Pisuerga and Duero river meet turning the Duero into the magnificent river it continues to be.
Tordesillas has an incredible story to tell of colonial world power; I was so happy to have had history rich Simancas and Tordesillas in one day. Only downside: no cheap places to stay here. You´ll have to splash out.

*Day 9: Tordesillas - Castronuño 31,2km (stayed at albergue de peregrinos de castronuño)
Tbh this is quite a dull day, except for the end. From Torrecilla de la Abadesa there is an alternative route indicated back towards the river. I recommend it to make today more worthwhile. Google maps will come in handy. After the river section follow the tractor path right through the Caserio San Juan de la Guarda in a NE-SW direction; when you reach the trees turn right and walk back to the road.
Closing in on Castronuño I recommend crossing the railroad-bridge (technically illegal but the locals told me everybody does it, plus its not dangerous) and not continue to the dam as it would mean you´d have to repeat part of the route tomorrow. The albergue volunteers in town are amazing and the town´s views are stunning.

Today and tomorrow we walk part of the Camino de Levante.
*Day 10: Castronuño - Toro 19,9km (stayed at former convent Casa Fundacional HH del amor de dios, 30 eu incl bfast, found with help from tourist info; extremely hospitable sisters)
Short day with the river never far away. Lots of birdlife. Toro is magnificent and once again with fascinating Spanish history. Toro is famous for its own denomination of wine very popular in the province of Zamora.

*Day 11: Toro - Zamora 33,7km (finished to go back to madrid)
Leaving Toro and looking back is magnificent. Once you reach the ZA-P-1102 road follow it and don´t get distracted by erroneous signs trying to make you leave it, until you cross a manmade canal; here you can start following the canal with camino signs towards Villalazan. Or you can keep following the endless road.

From here we follow the Via de la Plata!
*Day 12: Zamora - Fontenillas de Castro 35,6km (albergue de peregrinos de fontenillas de castro)
A long day but totally worth the trek because the hospitality of Paco and Angela is sublime, plus the albergue modern and warm. A detour to the old fort of Castrotorafe is very much worth it, its position next to the river offering amazing photo opportunities.

*Day 13: Fontenillas de Castro - Tabara 35,3km (albergue de peregrinos de tabara)
In La Granja we say goodbye to the Plata (for now) and start the Mozarabe-Sanabres. The Quintos area along the river is spectacular. Unfortunately the 10km into Faramontanos are relentless. More amazing hospitality at Tabara.

*Day 14: Tabara - Camarzana de Tera 29,4km (hotel vega)
Towards Villanueva an unending trek through a desolate burnt landscape (devastating fires summer 2022) so from there I took the main road to Santa Croya.
I stayed at hotel vega in Camarzana (because the albergue in Santa Marta was already closed), which offers good pilgrim prices (35 halfboard, 42 full board), but I´d have preferred to stay in Santa Marta.

*Day 15: Camarzana de Tera - Rionegro del Puente 23,4km (albergue de peregrinos virgen de la carballeda)
If you have the time I recommend making a stop at the Christian albergue in Villar de Farfon; I´m not religious but I had very good discussions with the owner about faith, plus he offers good English tea and cookies. In Rionegro is the restaurant ´Me Gusta Comer´; you should not skip this place as it offers the best food I´ve ever had on any camino and for a pilgrim price.

*Day 16: Rionegro del Puente - Asturianos 25,5km (albergue de peregrinos de asturianos)
It´s not indicated on Google Maps but there is a bar in the same building as the albergue, although you can eat far better in the restaurant in the centre.

*Day 17: Asturianos - Puebla de Sanabria 15,4km (finished to go back to madrid)
Most pilgrims continue to Requejo since the albergue in Puebla is closed down. But Puebla is an incredibly beautiful town worth a wander around. Staying in hostal los perales won´t break your bank so perhaps it´s worth considering.

*Day 18: Puebla de Sanabria - Lubian 31,2km (albergue de peregrinos de lubian)
The currently signposted route from Requejo to Padornelo avoids the road altogether and is slightly longer than Gronze; not recommended in very rainy weather.

*Day 19: Lubian - A Gudiña 23,7km (albergue de peregrinos de a gudiña)
Bar On in Villavella is a good place to rest in between.

*Day 20: A Gudiña - Laza 34km (albergue de peregrinos de laza)
This route gets way more credit than it deserves. I found climbing the hill in full darkness with the stars out magical, but soon the endless asphalt&construction roads get tedious. The alternative road into Campobecerros is nice. Plus both Campobecerros and Laza have a Playa Fluvial (riverbeach) where you can swim and cool down.

*Day 21: Laza - Villar de Barrio 20,1km (albergue de peregrinos de villar de barrio)
Don´t miss the unique albergue in Albergueria. Nice for a break.

Here I took the radical decision to take a taxi to Allariz and continue from there. The reasoning was that towards and from Xunqueira to Ourense was described as almost exclusively asphalt&industry, while the route from Allariz to Pereiras is incredibly nice.
If I could do this part again, I would spend a day on continuing walking to Xunquiera plus a custom 7,5km to Allariz along largely backroads (easily plottable with Google maps). This would then be the actual day 22.
*Day 22: Allariz - Ourense 26,5km (booked airbnb with several pilgrim buddies, but of course the albergue is totally fine)
! From Pereiras I plotted an entirely self-planned route that avoids the poligono altogether but makes it 4km longer. I posted this very beautiful(!) route here for your enjoyment: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...ligono-and-walk-in-nature.77399/#post-1077802

*Day 23: Ourense - Cea -- Tamallancos route 23km (albergue de peregrinos de cea)
I recommend making a detour to the Convento de Clarisas de Vilar de Astres, once you´ve climbed the hill out of Ourense. The amicable sisters sell delicious homemade cookies.
In Cea you can only eat meat based dishes at the only restaurant.

*Day 24: Cea - Silleda 43km (hostal toxa)
Despite the supposed mosquito infestation in the albergue a laxe, in retrospect I would have chosen to stay there as the last 10km to Silleda was simply too much. Though I have to say that 20eu for a private room with ensuite bathroom is an amazing deal.

*Day 25: Silleda - Ponte Ulla 21km (albergue-pension o cruceiro da ulla, 15eu for a private room)
Just before the dramatic descent to Ponte Ulla is a sign pointing towards a hill (miradoiro do alto do castro); I recommend climbing it. You´ll find amazing views all around you on the site of an ancient hilltop fort.

*Day 26: Ponte Ulla - Santiago de Compostela 21km (pension santa cruz)
Because of the shitty weather I opted for walking more than half of the way along the N-525 but I want to stress it felt quite dangerous. Next time I would try to get a bed in albergue reina lupa (another 10km from Ponte Ulla) to have even less distance to cover into Santiago.

In the end it came down to 722,6km from Madrid to Santiago via Zamora. But you should add 9km for Valdestillas - Pte Duero and 21,3km for Villar de Barrio - Allariz making the grand total 752,9km.

I did it in 26 days which averages at 27,7km per day on average (but ideally it would be 28 days). Of course some stages can be cut in half or changed to suit your preference.

 
Day 1: Madrid - Tres Cantos 25,2km
The ´normal route´out of the city takes the endless Calle Bravo Murillo, but I would suggest to take Paseo Castellana to Plaza Castilla as there are a lot of green park stretches where you can walk under the trees,
TOTALLY agree. Not sure why anyone would choose to walk up the Calle Bravo Murillo. I’ve got a couple of google map screenshots that will give a good way to get from the Church of Santiago to the Plaza Castilla.

This is a great post with lots of good information, thanks so much! Buen camino, Laurie
 

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