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Guide 2019 -- The camino through Barco de Valdeorras

If you walked the camino years ago, you will remember that option 2 was the only way out of town. I have heard from enough pilgrims that Option 1 is now the way to go. I have not walked the river route, only Option 2. I left Option 2 in there, not because I would encourage anyone to avoid the river, but because anyone who is going to sleep in the albergue in xagoaza has to take that option. So... hoping for comments and questions. Does this make sense?

OPTION 1. If you do not plan to stop in or visit O Barco (though it is a very lively town with all services, great wine, and good accommodation), you should stay alongside the river. (And of course, even if you do stop in O Barco, it's easy to pick up this route when you are ready to leave, just head back to the river). After you pass the cafés, parks, and playgrounds, you will come to a small wooden footbridge with two freshly painted arrows. This bridge does not take you across the river itself; it takes you over a small tributary emptying into the river. The path is wide and covered in gravel, so it is obviously a path used by townspeople. After about a km, take a sharp right turn, onto Camino Praia de Ouro, which leads to a roundabout. Take the road heading to the left (not the N-120, but a lesser traveled road that is slightly north of the N-120), which passes by the Gadis hypermarket, and you will soon merge back onto the Camino and enter the town of Arcos. This link will take you to the GPS tracks of the stage out of O Barco. You can zoom in to see the river walk, the roundabout, the Gadis, etc, and maybe that will help you. http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=8420979

OPTION 2. This route was the actual Camino route until a couple of years ago, when the riverside route was marked. Take it only if you plan to spend the night at the very highly recommended albergue in Xagoaza. I am not sure if the route is still marked through the town of O Barco, but it is easy to get to. Make your way to the railroad underpass at the end of Calle Eulogio Fernández, where you will see a blue Camino sign pointing your way west. At the roundabout just past the Repsol gas station turn left onto Rúa Estrada. At the modern Church of San Tirso, turn right. Then keep straight, and go through a narrow tunnel. Up ahead there is a marker pointing up to the hamlet of Xagoaza, where there is an albergue. Pay attention, because a 2016 pilgrim reported that there are no arrows to indicate the turn. You will return to this spot to continue on the Camino.

Albergue Xagoaza (Hospitalera, Gloria, tel. 639 921 679). This albergue is several km outside of Barco, and 1.4 km off the Camino. The hospitalera may provide meals if needed, but it is a good idea to bring your own food from O Barco, just in case. Reported quite nice by many pilgrims. Two rooms with 5 bunks each, large dining room with fireplace, two PCs and Wifi, completely furnished kitchen with stove, oven, fridge, and washing machine. Clean bathrooms and lots of outside space. 6€

Coming down from the Albergue you will join the camino at a point where it becomes an earthen path. This path may or may not be overgrown (different pilgrims at different times of year had different reports), but you should continue straight ahead. You will arrive back on the road, having gone around a nicely renovated home.

When you come to a metal sign with the words “Asociación de Desenvolvemento Valdeorras”, you have a choice. You can either go straight on the road or turn left turn. If you turn, you will soon come to a faint arrow on the ground, which turns off the road onto a dirt track. This is just before a gravel pit of some kind. When you get to the top of the pit, you will come into a clearing with a lot of grape vines. Turn left and keep on into Arcos, with the grape vines on your right.

If you have decided to go straight at the earlier mentioned metal sign (recommended), it takes you to a paved street, where the arrows take you right for several hundred meters (this option was described by some pilgrims as “easy but boring”). Either way you will arrive in:
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Can only say anything about option 1, that's the route I followed, well marked all the way to Arcos. After the green bridge you went on a road through what looked to me as a camping area or living area for travelling people, without naming anykind.
There were arrows the old way also, as I could see before locals led me back to the river.
I checked the Wise Pilgrim App map too, which seemed to be in the middle of the old and the "new" route, perhaps on the highway out of town.

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