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My stages on the Camino Primitivo

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have just finished walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago. It is a beautiful walk, more rural than most. There are guides to the route, but I thought I'd write up some comments for those who might be going soon.

DAY 1 – Oviedo to Cornellana (32 km)

If I were to do this again, I would shorten this day by walking up to see the churches in Naranco and then continuing about 9 km out of Oviedo the first day instead of staying in Oviedo for that night. It’s easy to find the way up to the churches and from there the CSJ guide tells you how to reconnect with the Camino Primitivo without backtracking into Oviedo. That gives you an easy walk to Escamplero, where there is an albergue and a couple of restaurants. And then the walk from Escamplero to Cornellana is a more manageable 23 km.

Grado is about 20 km from Oviedo and many people stay there the first night. Several pensiones and albergues. Some also recommend going on a few more km to stay in the albergue in San Juan de Villapanada, but I continued on to Cornellana. In Cornellana there is an albergue in an old monastery, the rest of the monastery is falling down, but this albergue has a kitchen with microwave, cold showers, and three rooms with sleeping for 8-10 in each room. It’s not dirty, but it’s not very well maintained either. There are a couple of good places to eat in Cornellana.

DAY 2 – Cornellana to Tineo (28 km)

Again, there’s an option in between – Salas is about 8 km from Cornellana, and many people do Grado to Salas for the second day. There’s a municipal albergue that, according to what I’ve heard, is in a very bad state. There is also at least one private alternative, a 2 star hotel in a XV century building (I had coffee there and it looked nice, but probably a bit pricey).

And about 6 km from Salas in a town called Bodenaya (about 1 km from a larger town La Espina) is the soon-to-be-famous private albergue run by Alex, who gave up his job as a taxi driver in Madrid and opened an albergue on the Camino Primitivo. I walked with several people who stayed there, and they all raved about it. Alex has put a lot of care into remodeling his house into an albergue, he lives right there too, and it’s one of those places where everyone eats meals together and pitches in together. I passed it too early in the day to stop, but if I walk this route again, I will definitely plan my walk so I can stay there.

Very nice walk, and I was happy to find that in spite of all the road construction that others have written about, the detours were well marked and not even I got lost. Tineo’s albergue is very nice, clean, has a very helpful hospitalero, and the town itself has some charm. There is also internet in the casa cultural.

DAY 3 – Tineo to Pola de Allande (about 25 km)

It had snowed the night before (in the mountains, not in Tineo) so there were lots of snow-capped mountains in the background. This is a pretty, rural walk, a fair amount of road walking but all very secondary. The albergue in Pola de Allande is in an old school building, has about 28 beds, a kitchen with one glass, one pot and a plate or two. Showers have hot water. The town itself has several grocery stores and a couple of hotels. The Nueva Allandesa Hotel has a restaurant that attracts huge crowds on the weekends. I ate there on a Sunday afternoon and it was very good and quite reasonable. There is also another albergue about two km out of Pola, in an old school house, I think, with a bar nearby.

This is the stage where the choice has to be made between going over Hospitales or continuing directly to Pola de Allande. I met a guy who has done the Primitivo 9 times (!) and he told me that the difference between the two routes is not one of elevation gain, you have to go up either way. The difference is that the route through Hospitales has a 24 km stretch with no towns, no water, no human habitation at all. Because of my own complicated schedule, I had to take the route to Pola de Allande, and to tell you the truth, the climb up from Pola to the pass of Puerto de Palo was beautiful and one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. But the Hospitales route also has its attractions, so if you want to do it, here’s one way:

You will have to spend a night either in Borres or Campiello. Campiello is the Bar Herminia (she has beds now and is building an albergue) and it’s a few km before the public albergue (very basic) in Borres. But Borres through Hospitales to Berducedo where there is an albergue is 26 km, a very do-able day. But you have to plan your days in such a way as to spend a night in either Borres or Campiello, because from Tineo through Hospitales to Berducedo, I think it’s too long for most walkers. Those I met who did it said that it is impossible to get lost, the marking is done so that even in dense fog you will be able to stumble along and find your way. If you take the hospitales route, you will join up with the Camino at a small hamlet called Montefurado, and a few km on is the albergue at Berducedo.


DAY 4 – Pola de Allande to Grandas de Salime (a very long day, maybe 33?) (The Astur-Leonesa site says it’s 39 km, so who knows)

With one substantial ascent, and one very substantial descent, this is a very long day. I found the descent to the reservoir interminable, it was the longest 3.8 km I have ever walked, if in fact it was only 3.8 km. The scenery is terrific though, and that kind of keeps you going. But there are albergues at both Berducedo and La Mesa (Berducedo has the advantage that there are bars and food in the town, La Mesa is a hamlet with nothing) and they would make good stopping points, and making it so that you would do the ascent one day and the descent the next.

Grandas is a town with a of recent infrastructure improvements – there’s a new park, a new plaza, a new way out of town and some refurbishing of the old chapels along the way. There are “rural apartments” for rent in what look like beautiful old stone buildings, and there is a two star hotel that has recently been redone from a more basic pension. The one thing they forgot to improve was the albergue. It’s disgusting, sorry to be so blunt, and two people told me they saw rats inside it. I stayed in the hotel for 30E.

DAY 5 – Grandas to Fonsagrada (27 km) (plus one to the albergue in Padron outside of town)

The bar La Barra (owners of the hotel) opens up at 7 on the dot, and there were workers in there when I got down at 7:15 or so for a good café con leche.

There’s a private albergue at a place about 5 or 6 km beyond Grandas at Castro, where there are ruins of ancient settlements, going back many centuries BC. There is a substantial museum or some official building nearby, but it was too early in the morning for anything to be open. People I know who stayed in that albergue thought it was fine if a bit pricey.

The road between Grandas and Fonsagrada was being widened, so there was a lot of construction, but detours were well marked and it didn’t really interfere with the walking at all. There is a new bar about 5 km past the very basic bar at the Acebo Pass, it’s called the 4 Ventos (4 winds) and is run by a young couple who spent a year remodeling an old stone house. It’s right on the Camino and food was good there. This is a nice day with lots of mountain views. The albergue is in what used to be the priest’s house. Hot water goes on at 4 p.m. It’s only a km outside of town, so walking back to the good restaurants isn’t a problem. Recommended most often is Casa Manolo.

DAY 6 – Fonsagrada to Cadavo (about 22 km)

The walk goes through some beautiful hardwood forests, pine, beech, birch, oak – and NO eucalyptus! Although you’re not usually far from the road, the paths themselves are wooded and go up and down some little valleys through some small (and some abandoned) hamlets. The bar in Lastra was a great stop. One of the day’s highlights was going by a pilgrim’s hospital in ruins on the top of a hill.

Cadavo has a couple of bars, a couple of supermarkets. The albergue is newly constructed, good hot water, lots of places to dry clothes. Maybe 16-20 beds. There is also a hotel that looked pretty uninteresting but would be an option if the albergue is full (and the hospitalera says it does get full a lot in the summer).

DAY 7 – Cadavo to Lugo (about 30)

Going into cities is usually an unpleasant walk, and this was no exception. The first part of the walk was very nice, but the last 5 or 6 kms were hot, sunny, industrial, construction, detours, wide paths over the highway, all in all pretty draining. But Lugo was the reward. What a beautiful city inside those walls. It was also fiesta time, San Froilan is their patron saint and we arrived toward the end of a week of fiestas. I could have spent an extra day here to visit the Roman baths and some of the other monuments, but I was with a group of three others who were forging on, so I went with the crowd.

DAY 8 – Lugo to San Roman (22 plus detour to Santa Eulalia de Boveda)

Leaving Lugo there’s a lot of asphalt and you go through the new suburban upper middle class construction, but soon you are out in the boonies. About 10 km outside of town, I saw the turnoff for Santa Eulalia de Boveda, a church where some Roman paintings from the 4th century were discovered in the mid 1900s. I had read a bit about it and it seemed like it would be a pity to be so close and not visit. As I was standing there wondering how many kilometers of a detour it would be, a car turned off the main road to go towards Sta. Eulalia. I flagged them down and they not only told me that the distance to the church was 1 ½ or 2 km, they also drove me there. The posted hours said it opened at 11, so after a ten minute wait, promptly at 11, the caretaker drove in. It was definitely worth the little detour, IMO. The two km walk back to the main Camino went quickly. I later learned that if you take this detour there is an easy way to get from Santa Eulalia to the town of Bacurin, which is right on the Camino, but I would have probably gotten lost if I had gone that way anyway.

The albergue in San Roman (actually about 800 m outside of the hamlet of San Roman) is a small building with two sleeping rooms of 8 beds each, plus a tiny kitchen in the middle. Bathrooms and showers in another adjacent building. It is in an area where there used to be a huge market on a weekly basis, and some buildings are still standing, but mainly it is just in the middle of nowhere. Totally peaceful, just a beautiful place. The bar in San Roman sells sandwiches as well as food for cooking.

DAY 9 – San Roman to Melide (about 29)

Our hope had been to spend the night before about 7 km further than San Roman in Ferreira in a Casa Rural called “Casa do Ponte” but they were full. (There are only five rooms, and you should call if you want to stay there). If you call ahead, though, they will serve you breakfast (otherwise there’s nothing till you’re almost in Melide), so after about a 1 ½ hour’s walk, we were drinking café con leche. The walk was really pretty except for the last 5 or 6 km on asphalt, and then – BAM – we were on the Camino Frances and in Melide’s albergue with 50 other peregrinos. The albergue had been fumigated the week before, and they were giving out paper sheets and pillow cases, so I guess the battle of the bed bugs continues. We saw lots of people with bites.

DAY 10 – Melide to Arca (30-32)

The only alternative to this long day was to stop in Arzua, but that was only about 12 km from Melide, so we used it as a coffee stop instead. This part of the walk is probably well known to everyone, I was surprised that most everything was still open for business (including the private albergue in Santa Irene, even though it was mid October and all the books say it closes in Sept. )

DAY 11 – Arca to Santiago (20)

With a relatively early start, it’s easy to get into Santiago in time for the Pilgrim’s mass.

The Camino Primitivo, like all Caminos I guess, is enjoying a burst of popularity and the infrastructure and accommodations are lagging behind the demand. I was surprised to hear over and over how things are full early in the day in the peak season. With the “outsourcing” of the administration of the albergues to a company that hires hospitaleros who issue receipts for your 3E contribution, there are strict rules about no overcrowding in the ablergues. You can’t sleep on the floor, on a couch, or anywhere other than a bed. This may make it hard to do in the summer, but I was there in October and never had a problem. And the private initiative is starting to kick in, too, so I assume that before long the supply of private albergues will be much greater.

All in all, I would walk this Camino again in a heartbeat. Laurie
 

lckgj

Active Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Thanks for this Laurie. Very interesting and informative. I had thought I might walk the Camino Portuguese next but now you have got me thinking....
Laura
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi Laurie,
I have been collecting diaries on the Primitivo for wanna-be pilgrims and this one will be invaluable. A recent diary described it as ' the hardest camino I've ever walked' but your descriptions (besides a few long tiring sections) don't portray it as a particularly difficult route.
In most books the Camino Frances is described as 'moderate' - mainly because of its length, not difficulty. Overall, how would you describe the Primitivo on a scale of 1 - 5
1 = easy
2 = moderate
3 = moderately strenuous
4 = strenuous
5 = difficult (rugged terrain, some scrambling, physically challenging)
 

lckgj

Active Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Fabulous photos Laurie, now I am well and truly hooked! Were you the only female on the route or did you only photograph the men you met?!! I assume you felt safe on your own?
Many thanks for sharing your photos.
Laura
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Beautiful photos. Planning on walking it!
Your whole walk was done in October? What were the temperatures? It looked cold.
And it also looked quite green.
Lillian
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi, Sil, Laura, and Lillian,

To answer the specific questions -- Sil, I have a hard time putting a number of difficulty on a Camino, but I did not think it was particularly strenuous. The leones-asturiano group's website has an elevation profile of the different stages, http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/?Las_Etapas (there's both a map and a profile for each stage) and I don't think there's any day with much more than 600 m ascent. Whether that's easy, moderate or strenuous is going to depend on the walker's fitness level. I had a much easier time walking up to the Puerto del Palo at 1140 meters, through shady hardwood forests, alongside a river nearly the whole way, through a few hamlets and with blackberries all around you, than I did walking into Lugo late in the afternoon on 9 km of hot, sunny, flat, barren tracks that lead to the commercial outskirts and finally into the old town. But if you are judging this camino only in terms of its elevation, I guess I'd say that there are more ups and downs on the Primitivo. I'm sure the weather also affects my evaluation -- walking up 600 m in driving rain would probably not have produced the same warm and fuzzy memory I have of the ascent to the Puerto del Palo. But another thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of ways to walk short stages, you can usually keep it under 20, I think. So that helps to ease the difficulty a lot.

Laura -- I walked with three different groups of people -- first Javier Martin and his sister Nieves, they got me going from Leon on the way up to Oviedo (I've posted those notes on the Camino del Salvador part of this Forum). Then a trio, two Portuguese guys and a guy from Estepa, Cordoba. Then the bigger group of five Spanish guys (the cathedral shots at the end). Between Leon and Oviedo, I was alone after Javier and his sister left, spent the night as the only person in two albergues. When I got on the primitivo, I found that the walkers were either French (and there were a few women, maybe 3 total, but I don't speak French and they didn't speak Spanish, and so we were reduced to sign language and bon jours) or Spanish. I speak Spanish and so that made the connections easier. In many if not most of the albergues on the primitivo, I was the only woman. I usually started out on my own in the morning, sometimes in the dark since daytime arrived as late as 9, particularly when we were in valleys. I remember one morning when I left Cornellana around 7:45, still dark, and as I got up to the top of a hill, I saw the glow of two cigarettes over on the right. The two men just said buenos dias, and lucky you it looks like a nice day for walking, and on I went. A little while later, I asked myself whether I ever would even consider walking in the dark, alone, in the middle of nowhere at home (U.S.) and you can guess the answer. I am not a particularly bold or courageous person, but I just never felt nervous or scared or anything like that.

Lillilan -- I started in Leon on Sept. 27, took a day off in Oviedo to visit the Naranco churches, took some days off in Pola de Allande so I could go visit my son who is teaching English in a town about 20 km away called Cangas del Narcea, back on the Camino on Oct.8, into Santiago on Oct. 15. There was snow in the mountains the night we were in Tineo (Oct.4) but that was at elevations over 2000 m I think. Temperatures were pretty nice the whole time, starting out cool and good walking weather. There were many times I was hot and sweaty. Maybe the coldest I saw was leaving Leon and seeing a sign flashing 5 degrees. I would sometimes, but not always, start out with a fleece and wool gloves, but I always ended the day in shirtsleeves. I was rarely cold (never cold walking), except for the night I was in the albergue at Fonsagrada/Patron, I had to wrap myself in a blanket just sitting around the table talking. I had one day of "tiempo variable," so that I took off and put on my rain poncho more than a dozen times, but no other rain to speak of. I don't know if this is consistent with averages for that time of year, or whether averages really mean anything anymore, but my experience was that this was a very good time of year to walk.

This Camino was very special for me. Maybe because of being alone, I frequently spoke with the townspeople in very small hamlets or villages. People were always interested and surprised that I was walking alone, and they were the ones to initiate the conversation usually. I had chats with many different people -- one woman cleaning the gravesites of her husband and parents, a woman picking chestnuts, the couple who drove me to the Roman paintings outside Lugo, a woman tending cows, a woman in a tiny bar who told me of her horrible personal tragedies, a couple in a once bustling mountain village who were now two of six remaining year round residents, a mother with two kids in a tiny village hoping that the number of school aged children will stay above 3 till her children finish so that the government won't close the school, on and on, it was really so different from my other Caminos in that way. It is more rural, the level of services may not always be what we have gotten used to on the Camino Frances, but it is a terrific opportunity to leave the rat race behind and to enjoy a part of non-touristy Spain. And I'll just put in one more plug for the four days from Leon up to the start of the Primitivo in Oviedo, the Camino del Salvador is even less travelled, though not as remote. Anyway, hope this rambling note answers your questions, I'm still in that immediate post-Camino phase in which I welcome any chance to go on and on about my experience! Laurie
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Most hiking trails have a grading to give hikers an idea of the difficulty of the trail. Beginners would not normally attempt a level 4 or 5 trail without some training.
Things taken into account (by Mountain Backpackers and the Ramblers) are distances hiked, multi day hikes, terrain, gradients, elevation etc. Nancy Frey graded the Camino Frances 'medium'.

This is the start of one of the Primitivo diaries I mentioned:

Dear Friends,
Warning: this is a long posting for hard-core serial pilgrims who might be thinking of walking the oldest of the paths to Santiago. The route is absolutely not for first-time pilgrims. My respect for Alfonso II and Saint Francis of Assisi, has shot up to great heights not only for their ability to do this route, but then to turn around and follow it back home as well. Even today, it's a serious test of your knees, your feet, your endurance, and your will power, but the rewards are extraordinary.

... and from another:

... the primitivo is the toughest thing I have ever done. Even as a 19 year old in the army, this was tougher. Afrikaans word af*** just about describes it. But, wow!!!! It was something else.

Laurie - you are a tough cookie!
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi Laurie - again you have made the camino come alive in your postings and photographs. As I've said earlier, we are going to walk Camino del Norte this spring (largely based on your previous postings and photos of that route!), but now I think we will take a turn at Villaviciosa onto Primitivo. This may be the best of both worlds despite my damaged knees... have others done this?

lynne
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Well, Sil, It's a good thing I didn't see those descriptions before I started walking. They do surprise me, though, now that I've done it. One of the French women I met was walking with her husband and they were both in their 70s. They did short days but because I took those days off in the middle, I ran into her in Santiago and they looked no worse for wear. For me, the only really difficult day was the one with the descent to the dam, it really took a toll on my knees (and I walk with two walking sticks). I think that more than being tough, I'm just stubborn and determined to finish what I start.

Lynne, when I walked the Norte, several of the people who walked with us went down to Oviedo and joined up with the Primitivo. Actually, we also went down to Oviedo but then went back up to rejoin the Norte at Aviles (missing the coastal route between Villaviciosa and Aviles). It's two days from Villaviciosa to Oviedo, and the first one to Pola de Siero is a long day. But we took a detour shortly after leaving Villaviciosa to visit the pre-romanesque church at Valdedios and the 16th (?) century monastery built next to it. It's an incredible place, this church from the 9th or 10th century sitting in a beautiful field in a valley. There's an albergue in the monastery, and if our timing had been different, I definnitely would have wanted to stay there. I don't know but I imagine there's a way to plan the stages so you spend the night at Valdedios instead of Villaviciosa (no albergue there, we were in a hotel). There is also an albergue somewhere after Valdedios and before POla de Siero, but I don't remember the name of the town. We wanted to get to Pola de Siero so as to have a short walk into Oviedo the next day. It's a large-ish town, has a 2* hotel we stayed in but not much else. So it's definitely do-able. Either way you will love it.
Laurie
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
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Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
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Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Wow,

Nice pictures. I walked The Camino Primitivo last year and can concur about the wooded and mountainous terrain. I don't consider the Camino Primitivo to be more difficult than Camino Frances. The reason is primarily the shorter daily distances (some days less than 20 km) which compensate for the elevation.

What I find surprising is the albergue between Lugo and Melide in San Roman. It wasn't available when I walked last year. That was the longest and toughest day I ever walked in all my caminos. It's nice to know that they have finally resolved the albergue from Lugo to Melide.

Other notables the sometimes lack of infrastructure. Some days my first coffee is after 12 pm. Many of the albergues are outside the town so many a times provisions needs to be bought before arriving. That means either eating before arriving, or cooking after arriving, failing that a cold meal. Put it another way, every cup of coffee or hearty Asturian meal taste like heaven.

This is a great route. That said, I have to also mention that this May when I walked the Camino via de la Plata, I was supposed to have reunion in Santiago with a couple of pilgrims I know from my first camino. One of them took the Portuguese way while the other two attempted the Camino Primitivo. Due to the very wet weather this spring, they had to give up after 2 days and revert back to the Camino Frances.

In short, wet weather can make big difference for this way, maybe more so than the other routes.

When I walked last spring, the only rain I had was my first day in Oviedo as you can see from the photos here.

http://picasaweb.google.com/straydog/CaminoDeSantiagoPrimitivo

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http://camino.wificat.com
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

peregrina2000 said:
...The road between Grandas and Fonsagrada was being widened, so there was a lot of construction, but detours were well marked and it didn’t really interfere with the walking at all... Laurie

I was painting yellow arrows in this part of the Camino during the Spring of 2,007. It's a very nice place to walk.

It's great to read about your experiences.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

juffie

New Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Laurie thank you for all the information. It's funny to hear that you dispell the myth that it is such a tough one. And good to know that we people sometimes do things without thinking too much about it and that very often those are the best things (decisions) we take, right out of the heart.

Warm regards,

I cannot really "give you a lot in return" as I haven't translated any camino stories in English yet (only in Dutch and German). I used to write short stories about the camino with pictures, they are to be found on my weblog; link Camino de Santiago.

Some of my stories (Kenya for example - starting from the 2nd story I think) are in English.

http://juffiegelukkigonderweg.web-log.nl/
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

OK - so its a year later - almost to the day - that Laurie added her fabulous post on her Primitivo walk.
I've had an email from a girl walking the Frances who wants to get a bus to Leon and then a bus to Oviedo to start walking the Primitivo to Melide.
She said that it has been surprisingly cold on the camino - "It is very very very cold here, and according to fellow peregrinos this is not normal for this time of year. there was frost/ice on the cars this morning. Do you think I can do that at this time of year?? I am planning on buying some warmer gear(clothing)."
Anyone in Spain in that area - what do you think? Can she walk the Primitivo now for two weeks?
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

sillydoll said:
OK - so its a year later - almost to the day - that Laurie added her fabulous post on her Primitivo walk.
I've had an email from a girl walking the Frances who wants to get a bus to Leon and then a bus to Oviedo to start walking the Primitivo to Melide.
She said that it has been surprisingly cold on the camino - "It is very very very cold here, and according to fellow peregrinos this is not normal for this time of year. there was frost/ice on the cars this morning. Do you think I can do that at this time of year?? I am planning on buying some warmer gear(clothing)."
Anyone in Spain in that area - what do you think? Can she walk the Primitivo now for two weeks?


Hi,

In my opinion may be is quite cold, but perfectly possible to be walked. But, I have to say, it's no easy,

- Because the loneliness
- Because the short sunlight time
- Because sometimes in albergues there's no heat available

But, in my 2 Caminos in winter, weather was not my principal problem.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain
 

jennysa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

peregrina2000 said:
I have just finished walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago. It is a beautiful walk, more rural than most, and beautiful. There are guides to the route, but I thought I'd write up some comments for those who might be going soon. This is a beautiful walk.

Hi Laurie. I have just found your report on this route and you have convinced me which route to walk. Camino Primitivo here I come in October.! Thanks for all your help and advice. Jenny
 

Trevhock

Member
The Camino Primitivo in October

I'm at the hotel in Grandas now and find what you've written very useful and interesting. Thank you. Pola to Grandas in one go.....wow! First three days rainy off and on, not too cold, last two with sun. Walking above the clouds is spectacular. Ripe chestnuts and beautiful Autumn colour. Another enjoyable camino !
Trevor.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi, Trevor,

Glad my notes are of some help. You've probably seen my updates from my Primitivo walk this past June, but just in case you haven't and they might be of interest, here's the link: camino-primitivo/topic14728.html

Tia Valeria and Tio Tel also have good information on their Primitivo posts.

Let us know how things are on the Primitivo right now -- crowded or empty or somewhere in between? Are you staying in the albergues? Sounds like typical Primitivo weather with a mix of rain and sun, enjoy this beautiful camino! Laurie
 

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
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Thanks for the nice comment Laurie.
Trevor:- Our info is here http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/camino-primitivo/topic14228.html and we only walked short stages using either private albergues or hostales.
Wonderful in spring, but it must be equally beautiful in autumn with all the colours.
Buen Camino
 

Normita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (2013)
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hello everyone, I have just read through different threads within the Camino Primitivo post and have gone through many of Laurie's posts. A lot of useful information from all of you, which I will definitely consider for my trip.

I am mid twenties girl, relatively well trained even though now with working life I pass most of my time sitting in the office. I will walk the Camino Primitivo together with a friend, with similar situation.
We have no pilgrimage experience at all but are sports people in general. As we do not have time to walk for a month or longer but still wanted to walk an entire route, we chose the Camino Primitivo. Additionally, as this route is supposed to be the hardest and most beautiful one, so our motto can be described as short an "intense". We will arrive on 25th June in Bilbao, will pass the day and then set over to Oviedo by bus. We have to leave in Santiago on July 13th.

I still have several questions and doubts coming up:

I saw that the tendency towards a bigger crowd on the camino primitivo is visible and I would like to know if anyone has been during end June-mid July on the camino primitivo and can tell me about the albergues and availability of beds there? I had thought that since this camino is not so crowded, beds shouldn't be a problem though but now i'm not sure anymore...?

how is the weather in this period? i could not really make out a tendency regarding temperature, rainfall, ...?

some people consider the camino to be impossible for pilgrimage-beginners, however, we are confident to make it (even though we do not want to underestimate it and be prepared as good as possible). is it comparable to other experiences regarding the physical struggles?

thanks and i'll remain in this forum to get inspired and informed until june. :)
Norma
 

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
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

I walked the Primitivo age 63 and had no problems. If you search our posts and blogs you will see that we shortened some of the 'stages' by using private hostals/albergues etc.
Having walked the Ferrol-Santiago Camino Inglés I found the Primitivo actually easier in many ways. My husbands comment re the Inglés was right 'If you can walk this you can walk the Primitivo' :)

Looking at the Norte after Santander and over the Picos from Llanes to Covadonga for this year. We love the mountains :)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi, Norma,

I think the Primitivo will be perfect for you. I personally favor my 2012 stages (12 days) which are described here: camino-primitivo/topic14728.html over my 2008 stages(11 days), which are laid out at the top of this long thread.

I say that mainly because the 12 day version put me in two great albergues -- San Juan de Villapanada (Day 1) and Bodenaya (Day 2). No matter how many days you have, or how you slice up the rest of the walk, don't miss these two places. They firmly cement the "camino feeling" and the group dynamic.

I would also say that I think Oviedo is well worth a day's visit at least. It's just a beautiful city, complete with Woody Allen statue, peacocks in the park, and some amazing 9th century (?) churches. And it would be a great opportunity to head for the Gascona (a street off the old quarter) and sit outside at a table enjoying sidra, the Asturian (slightly alcoholic) beverage of choice. The hospitalero of the albergue in Oviedo is somewhat flexible with the rules, and last year when I was there there were a number of people spending several days there, mainly because the albergue wasn't full.

With an arrival in Bilbao on June 25 and a departure date from Santiago on July 13, you might even have time to add on the Finisterre/Muxia days if you are so inclined. In any event, I think you have lots of time to comfortably walk the Primitivo.

I was there last year in mid-late June and there was really no crush for beds. I know that it does get really really crowded in August, in fact so crowded that the infrastructure is incapable of handling the crowds and some people just leave to return at a less crowded time. I think that your dates will not be problematic in terms of beds.

Weather-wise, Asturias is more like Galicia than Castilla, so of course you should be prepared for rain. But you are also going late enough that you are likely to get some of the glorious summer weather.

And finally, just to echo Tia Valeria's comment, I have no doubt that relatively fit mid-twenties youngsters can do the Primitivo just fine. The elevation gains and descents are sometimes extensive, but nothing you won't be able to manage. Erase your doubts and go for it!

Buen camino, Laurie
 

drkmtbc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Laurie and others,
Grateful for the ongoing and stimulating discussion on the Primitivo. I am planning my first camino for the same time frame as Normita, above, but plan to start somewhere on the Norte past Bilbao, maybe Santander. I am allowing myself around three weeks from there to Santiago. I'd appreciate hearing from you whether this sounds reasonable, and whether Santander is a recommended starting point. Well, actually, I suppose my home here in Georgia is my true starting point, but there is no way I'm walking to the Atlanta airport!
By the way, I'm a male in my mid-40's, in relatively good shape.
Thanks, all.
Doug
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi, Doug,

I think 9-10 days for Santander to Oviedo is pretty normal. I assume you've seen some of the online guides to the norte and can judge based on elevation gain and distance. I think Santander is a great starting point. I started there last year for my Vadiniense and enjoyed having a day to poke around. It's a very pretty city. If you're going to take a day to get over jet lag, it's a nice place to do that. Great food, lots of nice beaches nearby, and a pretty historic center.

The albergue is pretty small in Santander -- I was surprised, though, when I arrived last year in late May after 6 pm to find there were still beds available. If not, there's lots of private accommodation, and I met someone who stayed here and liked it; http://www.hostelsantander.com/ (it's in a great location).

So, with 9 to Oviedo and 11 or 12 from there to Santiago, looks like your three week idea will work. Buen camino! Laurie
 

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
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Terry recommended starting at Barreda just west of Santander to another pilgrim. There are trains every hour from Santander to Barreda and then you can walk to Santillana, or further, depending on your start time.
Doing this avoids the roads/industrial area out of Santander and also a walk on the railway bridge (or 11km detour to a river bridge) near Mogro. Alternatively catch the train across the bridge as some pilgrims and locals do.
 

Normita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (2013)
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hello again,

Thank you very much for your insights and thoughts on my questions, Laurie and the others as well! This reassures us we did the right choice with the camino. I also hope we can make it to Finisterre (otherwise by bus) to end the camino with the sunset at the coast. :)
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Tia Valeria said:
Terry recommended starting at Barreda just west of Santander to another pilgrim. There are trains every hour from Santander to Barreda and then you can walk to Santillana, or further, depending on your start time.
Doing this avoids the roads/industrial area out of Santander and also a walk on the railway bridge (or 11km detour to a river bridge) near Mogro. Alternatively catch the train across the bridge as some pilgrims and locals do.
You don’t need to do the detour or walk across the railway bridge - just hop on the train at Boo to cross the river and its free to pilgrims!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I took Laurie's notes with me on the Primitivo and found them very helpful indeed. I would preface my comments by noting that this is the most physically challenging Camino I have ever been on, and I have done the Catalan route twice, crossing the Sierra de Loarre.

Day I- we stayed in Grado, which at the time had four closed hostales/pensions and only one open-- the Hostal Auto Bar (985 75 11 27) by the bus parada-- this is a place which is visibly hit by the economic crisis. Day II- through Cornellana (it was not clear if the monastery albergue was open when we passed through) into the delightful village of Salas, where we stayed at the Hotel Soto, on the square beside the church, with its delightful duena and a great clothes-drying space on the terrace. Day III a steady slog into Tineo, where we stayed at the Pension la Posada on Gonzalez Mayo 25 , run by a nice young couple (985 83 00 37), on the further side of town. Just a few doors down from the Posada there are computers for public use at PC computers on Gonzalez Mayo 22-- they did not have change for my 20 euro note so if you drop in, please pay the very pleasant young man 1.20 on behalf of the Canadian pilgrim last October and I will repay you if you are ever in Ottawa. Day IV's very scenic and tough-enough route brought us into Pola de Allande-- while we stayed at the basic but correct pension Lozana, we ate at the Nueva Allandesa where the padron proved to be very entertaining (and the food excellent). Day V was an exhausting climb up the Puerto del Pallo to Berducedo, where we had a warm welcome at -- I think the Pension Santiago-- where I must have had the best chorizo casero ever made on the planet-- and the senora kindly left the bottle of orujo (also casero) for us on the table after dinner. Day VI was an exhilirating and debilitating climb up to Grandas de Salime, with a wonderful walk through the woods (albeit with about 200 metres of hillside which was difficult for the vertiginous, and with a terrifying crossing of the dam which I only survived with the assistance of my Californian co-walker-- without him, I would have had to wait for a vehicle to take me across) . If a pilgrim can arrange to see the museum and Joaquin Vaquero Turcios' turbine room mural at the dam, I would urge them to do so. Built by Republican prisoners in the late 1940s (between 100-300 died in its construction, suggesting a careless attitude toward labour safety statistics, if not for the lives of the workers), it is an extraordinary complex of buildings and a chilling monument to the economic fantasies of the Francoist period; pilgrims are not tourists, of course, but places such as these give us a deeper understanding of our host country.

While the hotel above the dam would have made a good stopping point for many reasons, our little Camino family of Catalans, Galicians, Californians and Canadians, headed on to Grandas where I stayed at the Pension A Reigada and admired the renaissance Colegiato de San Salvador. I visited the ethnographic museum at Castro de Chau Samartin (5km out of Grandas de Salime), where the curator walked me personally through the exhibit of Roman ruins, including some plaster-work where the 2000-year old painting was remarkably fresh, and whose Castilian seemed to have been tailored for the comprehension of a language-challenged pilgrim. The waymarking out of Castro was bad to terrible, and I ended up getting lost, but finding my way back by following wind-turbine maintenance road more-or-less parallel to the carretera. As the weather was good, it was a scenic detour, but if the weather be poor, I would advise returning to the carretera from the museum.

Laurie's recommendation of the 4 Vientos is thoroughly justified. Although our band came around just as the mid-day meal was finishing, they kept the place open for us, and replenished the platters which we emptied in a way which would have done justice to the Roman legions once passing through. The next day was another agreeable walk, albeit with a stiff climb, to O Cadavo. We were out of Asturias into Galicia, and had left the province of the truly delectable sidra natural which had fueled us all the way.

This was followed by a killingly-long 31km to Lugo (made likely 34-6km for me on account of losing my way heading into Lugo), and the only time in my six-Camino life where I thought of calling for a taxi to bring me in. Indeed, if it had not been for the hot chocolate in Castroverde to which Antonio the veterinarian from Lugo had treated me, my body might still be lying in a ditch somewhere in Galicia. Other pilgrims might wish to think of breaking their journey in Castroverde, which had a very nice-looking modern albergue, to make the walk to Lugo better. Aside from some vending machines, there is no sustenance-- no cafes, no bars, no brothels-- nada. From there on to Melide there is little to report-- only the shock of going from the 10-pilgrim a day life of the Primitivo the the autoroute of the Francese.

It is an immersion into rural Spain, and those wishing to vary their stages with a shorter or longer day are often out of luck, as services are sparse. Calling ahead to book rooms in pensions was useful, although the albergue accommodation in October was more than adequate for the traffic at that time of year. My Spanish improved incredibly on account of more frequent interactions and conversations with the helpful and hospitable people along the route-- they are not rich and their lives are hard, but they are warm to pilgrims and proud of their part of Spain. While I found it physically tough, it was this 60-year old pilgrim & his 61-year old fellow walker who made it through, while lithe 28-year old Catalans fell by the wayside, and fetching and athletic 36-year old Galicians had to take taxis into Lugo. The good weather made it possible and enjoyable--- miserable weather would have made it.... miserable. Instead, it was a walk through a Middle Earth with sidra natural.

Thanks again to Laurie for her very helpful notes, which we found practical and of great use.
 

angulero

Active Member
Built by Republican prisoners in the late 1940s (between 100-300 died in its construction, suggesting a careless attitude toward labour safety statistics, if not for the lives of the workers), it is an extraordinary complex of buildings and a chilling monument to the economic fantasies of the Francoist period; pilgrims are not tourists, of course, but places such as these give us a deeper understanding of our host country.

¿Estás seguro de eso?. Es que es la primera vez lo veo. Hasta ahora, lo que creía es fue construida por obreros venidos de toda España.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
The curator at the Ethnological Museum in Castro was the first who told me. Since then, I have seen two references in literature (and one in Wikipedia) to this. Most public works of the 1940s involved Republican prisoner labour including (a mention on a plaque in the church at Lavacolla) Santiago airport.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Great report, oursonpolaire. Some day I will pick your brain on the Cami Catalan, because it's on my short list, but after all the forum chatter about the salvador and the primitivo, I just can't imagine anything but a return visit for next year.

A couple of questions for you

-- Is the castro at Chau Sanmartin the same castro that the CAmino passes on the way out of Grandas de Salime? I have wanted to visit that castro for a long time but haven't been able to swing it. Any details on how you did this would be great.

-- I'd love to hear more about the museum at the dam. I certainly remember the now dismantled or in ruins little city on the hill above the dam but had no idea it was open to visitors.

Thanks much for the update, Laurie
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
@angulero and others: I have spent far too long trying to find the references about the Republican prisoners and I failed-- I should have taken note when I first saw them. As well as my discussion with the curator at the Castro Ethnological Museum, I can add comments from the senora at our restaurant in Grandas who commented about the difficult conditions for the prisoners. I will keep my eyes open and report back-- I know someone working on a book on the topic and may be able to give some precise references then.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for the information. Oursonpolaire, did you visit the castro as you were walking, or did you make a trip from Grandas after you had arrived? I've never been able to figure out a good way to visit the castro if I sleep in Grandas and set out the next morning, but it sounds like you went out to the castro and back to Grandas in the afternoon. That adds quite a few more kms but maybe it'd be worth it.

And the dam museum -- it's in the actual dam itself and not in the empty "workers city" that is falling in to ruins on the hillside?
 

angulero

Active Member
@angulero and others: I have spent far too long trying to find the references about the Republican prisoners and I failed-- I should have taken note when I first saw them. As well as my discussion with the curator at the Castro Ethnological Museum, I can add comments from the senora at our restaurant in Grandas who commented about the difficult conditions for the prisoners. I will keep my eyes open and report back-- I know someone working on a book on the topic and may be able to give some precise references then.

A ver si lo encuentras para salir de dudas. Yo sabía que la gente que iba a hacer la presa vivía en barracones que se hicieron para ellos y sus familias (creo que había seis poblados), pero hasta donde yo sé, era gente que venía de otras partes de España y de Asturias donde lo estaban pasando mal tras la guerra. Nunca había oído lo de los presos. Sí sé que en otras obras los había.

Saludos.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
@angulero- The main posting I saw was in a history forum, but I could not find it again (although I found other interesting things). The second posting I saw was linked from it but it did mention a Spanish writer on the topic-- if I had thought, I would have bookmarked it for reference. The website on the dam's building and the fate of the drowned villages mentioned no prisoners but, as we know, the civil war and its aftermath are still touchy subjects. I will likely have coffee with my historian friend before Christmas and will find out what I can--- he works with original sources from the ministries of Public Works and Restoration, as well as of judicial authorities, and is possibly the best person in Canada on this.

@laurie- If I recall correctly, the turnoff to the Castro museum is about 5km west of Grandas and then about half a kilometre up a hill. I walked out of Grandas a bit late for my taste, so got to the museum at 11 sharp, and the curator opened the door for me. The dam museum is in the turbine room, not in in the barracks, the ruins of which can still be seen.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@angulero- The main posting I saw was in a history forum, but I could not find it again (although I found other interesting things). The second posting I saw was linked from it but it did mention a Spanish writer on the topic-- if I had thought, I would have bookmarked it for reference. The website on the dam's building and the fate of the drowned villages mentioned no prisoners but, as we know, the civil war and its aftermath are still touchy subjects. I will likely have coffee with my historian friend before Christmas and will find out what I can--- he works with original sources from the ministries of Public Works and Restoration, as well as of judicial authorities, and is possibly the best person in Canada on this.

@laurie- If I recall correctly, the turnoff to the Castro museum is about 5km west of Grandas and then about half a kilometre up a hill. I walked out of Grandas a bit late for my taste, so got to the museum at 11 sharp, and the curator opened the door for me. The dam museum is in the turbine room, not in in the barracks, the ruins of which can still be seen.

I remembered this discussion about whether the dam on the Primitivo was built by prisoners. I haven't found any information on that specific project, but have read in the guide to the Camino Olvidado that Susanna and I are translating that prisoners were used to build a tunnel for a train line that was planned to connect Santander to the Mediterranean. I don't know if it's historically accurate, but here is our translation of that part of the guide:

1,5 km to Pedrosa de Valdeporres, (All services).
Nice views over the mountain from this town. Pedrosa was a very prosperous place in the 1940s and 50s with the (failed) plan for the train line from Santander south to the Mediterranean. In 1941, work began to connect the Valley of Valdeporres with the Valle of Pas, through a 7 km tunnel. Hundreds of workers, including some prisoners. The project was abandoned in 1959 and since then this area lost the “train of progress” along with the hopes that perhaps this area would recover.
 

Rextra

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Bibbulmun Track
Cradle mountain
Italian Walks
Ben Nevis
This is great, I am doing the primitivo in September so looking at options as well!
 

Orafo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Camino Francés, SJPP to Santiago and Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2013); Planned: Camino del Salvador-Camino Primitivo-Camino Francés-Camino Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2014)
This is great, I am doing the primitivo in September so looking at options as well!

When in September? I'm doing the Camino del Salvador with some friends, then the Primitivo. Expecting to leave from León around Sept. 22.
 

Rextra

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Bibbulmun Track
Cradle mountain
Italian Walks
Ben Nevis
We will leave from Oviedo on 2 September. I did the Frances in 2012 and just love it!
 

Orafo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Camino Francés, SJPP to Santiago and Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2013); Planned: Camino del Salvador-Camino Primitivo-Camino Francés-Camino Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2014)
Thanks. I did the Francés in Sept.-Oct. 2013 and loved it, too. I hope you enjoy the Primitivo; I'm really looking forward to returning.

Frank
 

Juan.Chen

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de France
Camino primitivo
Dear Laurie:
Read your post & really encourage me to start my plan for Camino Primitivo in this September.
I would like to know if there is any coin-laundry in albergues along the camino?
how did you deal with the clothes after 20~30Km walking & make then dry for next day? especially for walking in moisty weather or rushing-rain?

Thank you.

Juan
 

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
If you use the Gronze site and for each stage click on the albergues there is information about the facilities including washing machines. There is not always a drier and clothes are then hung out to dry. Handwashing essentials we did daily (liner socks and underwear), also under arm and collar of shirts to keep them fresher. We did a full wash when we were sure it would dry.
 

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
@angulero- The main posting I saw was in a history forum, but I could not find it again (although I found other interesting things). The second posting I saw was linked from it but it did mention a Spanish writer on the topic-- if I had thought, I would have bookmarked it for reference. The website on the dam's building and the fate of the drowned villages mentioned no prisoners but, as we know, the civil war and its aftermath are still touchy subjects. I will likely have coffee with my historian friend before Christmas and will find out what I can--- he works with original sources from the ministries of Public Works and Restoration, as well as of judicial authorities, and is possibly the best person in Canada on this.
.

The book
Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country's Hidden Past by Giles Tremlett
gives some "history"
of projects where prisoners were used as labour. I have the book on my Kindle and found it helpful in understanding some of the tensions which are still around in Spain - especially now when the monarchy is changing. I agree though, the buildings at Grandas do not appear to be dormitories for prisoners.

Blessings
Tio Tel

 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Tremlett's book is brilliant and worth a read-- I regret to note that my historian friend and I have not been able to schedule anything, so I've nothing yet to report aside from that my walking companion confirms my recollection of the landlady's account.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Dear Laurie:
Read your post & really encourage me to start my plan for Camino Primitivo in this September.
I would like to know if there is any coin-laundry in albergues along the camino?
how did you deal with the clothes after 20~30Km walking & make then dry for next day? especially for walking in moisty weather or rushing-rain?

Thank you.

Juan
Hi, Juan,
I think September should be a great time to walk the Camino Primitivo. The crowds are in August, and I don't think there's a big fall surge on the Primitivo like there is on the Frances. I walked at the end of September on my first Primitivo and there was a nice sized bunch of us at night in the albergues. Great walking weather -- it was cold in the mornings but sunny and warm during the day.

About washing and drying clothes, if you have quick-drying clothes (nothing cotton), you won't have trouble with them drying even without a dryer. I remember only a couple of dryers on the Primitivo -- a huge industrial one in Herminia's albergue in Campiello and one in Fonsagrada. But there may be others I am forgetting. Not to worry, if your clothes aren't dry in the morning, just pin them to your backpack and let them dry out as you walk.

Buen camino, let us know how you like the Primitivo! Laurie
 

Juan.Chen

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de France
Camino primitivo
Muchas Gracias, Señora Tia y Señora Laurie. Your information are really helpful.
I have booked my flight to Spain for Camino Primitivo in September.
Although I get 15 days only but I believe it will be the most unforgettable trip in my life.
It would be a great honor of mine to share all those experiences in camino.

Gratefully yours.
Juan
 

spik23

New Member
Hi Laurie,

thanks for sharing your valuable info about the route. Its 3 yrs after my Portugese Coastal route.
The time to get back in shape as i am planing to cross the mountains this year :)

spik
 

Towarddust

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo
Hey Laurie,
Thanks so much for this informal guide.
I've just booked flights to start the walk this August. I'm really looking forward to it, especially after discovering this forum.

I hope someone can answer this question for a complete novice to the Camino. Is there often more than one option for places to stay over night. If, for example, the albergue you go to is full for the night, what can you do?!
I'm slightly nervous at the prospect of sleeping in the middle of a trail alone!

Jessica
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Hi Jessica, Laurie will probably respond also, but in the meantime check out this link to a guide I have put together for the Camino Primitivo: http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/combined-guide-info-for-camino-primitivo.27873/ . I've posted a couple of revisions so make sure you scroll down and look at the most recent one. I also have posted it in the Camino Resources section of the forum. I have not walked the Primitivo yet, but I pulled together info from Laurie and several others who have posted detailed info in this forum as well as the Confraternity of St. James Guide, the Eroski web site and the Cicerone Guide to the Northern Caminos.

From everything I have read, there are fewer albergues on the Primitivo and you have to be a bit more careful so you don't end up with really long stages. But it appears that most places have a couple of choices and that there often are pensions and casa rurals at places if the albergue is full.

If you are taking a smart phone or tablet, check out the Eroski website on the Caminos de Santiago. It has the Primitivo all staged out and also seems to have the most complete listing of albergues with phone ##s etc. Eroski has an iphone app also. Its in Spanish, but really pretty easy to follow even if you aren't very fluent. Google Translate works well for viewing it from a regular computer. Otherwise the two good print guides in English are published by the Confraternity of St. James in the UK. You can order it online and it will arrive in about 10 days to most places in the US. It lists many albergues with detailed info on them and gives text walking directions but does not have maps. Or you can use the Cicerone Press "Guide to the Northern Caminos" -- I got it on amazon. It has small maps and good info on history and also on many albergues.

We are planning to walk the Primitivo in June 2015. You will love it! don't worry. Our experience on the Frances was that there were wonderful helpful people. From all I have read, there are fewer but just as wonderful people on the Primitivo!

Buen Camino!

Liz
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Jessica,

I have only skimmed Jessica's guide but it looks like a great combo of online info with eroski's schematic maps, which are very helpful. Updates are extremely useful, since things change so quickly.

And you can be sure that the changes are mostly in the direction of adding rather than subtracting new places to stay. Just one example-- since I walked two years ago, there's now a public albergue in Castroverde in addition to a nice pension where I stayed.

I did a few days of volunteering in the pilgrims office last week and heard a lot of different stories-- some said they saw virtually no one but some others told of crowded albergues. Must be that there are waves on the Primitivo, too. But I wouldn't worry about it. There are lots of private options as well.

Let us know how you like it! Buen camino, Laurie.
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
Hi I arrived in Santiago on the 22 July after starting out from Oviedo 13 days earlier. The route was busy with most albergues being full or next too. I started staying in pensions which if you know where they are you can ring ahead and book a place, these would fill up quite quickly as well. I left Lugo on the morning of Saturday the 19th, I was considering staying another night, but when enquired about accommodation was told that lugo was completely booked out by the influx of pilgrims coming in to do a 5 day walk to arrive in Santiago on the 24th, had the same responce in Melide arrived at 2pm and the 1st albergue we saw was the new San Anton one which was virtually empty but said we could have 10 bed dorm room to the 4 of us and the key to the door, but they said Melide was already booked out for the next night.
When places were full and people had no where to stay then they were finding themselves on the municipal albergue floor or in tents which people were taking with them, this was all ok there was about 10 North Americans and 15 Spanish who had formed a really good mixed group and where all taking care of each other.

I said on another thread that I would not walk this route again because how it was testing my knee, but I feel I will and it would be in July or August to try and take as much as possible slippy conditions out of the equation, and I probably would take a tent as well. Good Luck and dont worry too much because the Primitivo seems to form good groups amongst the pilgrims and we all seem to take care of each other.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
Mike, you experience seems consistent with everything I've read! The Primitivo gets crowded in July and August! I friended Albergue Bodenaya on FB and they post pics every morning of the pilgrims who stayed the night before. and they have been pretty full lately. BTW, friending them was a great thing to do because they post pics of the pilgrims who stayed the night before. It is a great way to really measure weather conditions -- seeing what equipment the [pilgrims have and how they are dressed is truly informative! LIz
 

pilgrim b

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Frances 2013-Ingles 2014-Frances 2015
St Cuthbert's Way 2017-Via Francigena 2018 & 2019
Re: The Camino Primitivo in October

Hi, Laura,
Well, I just took a look at what I wrote and see that I have used the word "beautiful" over and over. I guess I got a bit carried away with the adjectives. But here's a link to my pictures, so you can judge for yourself.

http://picasaweb.google.com/laurie.reyn ... rimitivo1#

Laurie

Great pictures Laurie beautiful in fact Is it possible to do shorter distances each day thinking about 20 to 24 km a day ?
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
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
Day VI was an exhilirating and debilitating climb up to Grandas de Salime, with a wonderful walk through the woods (albeit with about 200 metres of hillside which was difficult for the vertiginous, and with a terrifying crossing of the dam which I only survived with the assistance of my Californian co-walker-- without him, I would have had to wait for a vehicle to take me across) .

Can somebody say something more about crossing this dam? After reading some of the posts about the Primitivo I have decided to start from Oviedo middle of May. But reading Oursonpolaires post scared me a bit.
Randi
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
There is a road with sidewalk to cross the dam like every other dam in the world.
There isn't any danger but you can feel some vertigo if you watch the fall (obviuosly).
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
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
There is a road with sidewalk to cross the dam like every other dam in the world.
There isn't any danger but you can feel some vertigo if you watch the fall (obviuosly).
Thanks, Pelegrin, imagined som high stones to balance over!
 

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
Can somebody say something more about crossing this dam? After reading some of the posts about the Primitivo I have decided to start from Oviedo middle of May. But reading Oursonpolaires post scared me a bit.
As Pelegrin says there should be no problem crossing. Here is a pic of the road / pedestrian way over the dam itself. As our small granddaughter was heard saying to herself on the castle battlements "Don't look down, don't look down . . . ." There is a footway on the upstream side as well so even looking over the edge it is only a few feet down to the water.
Copy of DSCF2410.JPG
There may just be more of a problem on the hillside track down from Buspol to the dam. Again it is wide enough for two people to walk abreast so you can keep to the inside. It does seem a long way down to the water though.:eek:
.Copy of DSCF2408.JPG

You have walked plenty of Caminos and must have managed similar scenarios without much problem:).

Blessings
Tio Tel
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
The road over the dam is about 10metres wide, with a footpath at the side. There is no danger at all, but for those of us with vertigo, it can very difficult. Re-doing the Primitivo last October, I took a taxi over that stretch. Other people have no trouble with this and I have a friend whose idea of fun is ziplining and has experience walking a tightrope; but she must engage in these activities without me.
 

Orafo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Camino Francés, SJPP to Santiago and Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2013); Planned: Camino del Salvador-Camino Primitivo-Camino Francés-Camino Finisterre (Sept.-Oct. 2014)
I did not find crossing the dam to be unusually scary, and I'm not fond of heights. I crossed it on October 1, 2014. I highly recommend the Camino Primitivo, as well as the Camino del Salvador. A big shout-out to Laurie (Peregrina2000) for her very helpful advice on both routes. I keep meaning to write up a travel report, but just can't seem to find the time.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I did not find crossing the dam to be unusually scary, and I'm not fond of heights. I crossed it on October 1, 2014. I highly recommend the Camino Primitivo, as well as the Camino del Salvador. A big shout-out to Laurie (Peregrina2000) for her very helpful advice on both routes. I keep meaning to write up a travel report, but just can't seem to find the time.
Hi, Orafo, good to see you back! Glad you had a fine Camino Salvador/Primitivo. Are you planning another Camino or staying put for a while? Laurie
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
DAY 2 – Cornellana to Tineo (28 km)

Again, there’s an option in between – Salas is about 8 km from Cornellana, and many people do Grado to Salas for the second day. There’s a municipal albergue that, according to what I’ve heard, is in a very bad state. There is also at least one private alternative, a 2 star hotel in a XV century building (I had coffee there and it looked nice, but probably a bit pricey).
Laurie[/QUOTE

I know this is not a very recent thread, but it is one that many have read and probably revisit. Back then Laurie mentioned a 2 star hotel in a XV century building, but thought it might be a bit pricey. I emailed them yesterday to learn about their pilgrim prices: a single is 45 Euros, a double is 50. Not bad at all when you consider the venue. http://castillovaldessalas.es/index.php/reservas/tarifas

I know where I'll be spending a good night sleep! Thank you for the heads up Laurie.
 

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
DAY 2 – Cornellana to Tineo (28 km)

In Salas the Casa Soto is a cheaper option and is just behind the church. A warm welcome. The Duena even supplied clothes pegs so we could hang our washing on her line outside!
http://www.turismoasturias.es/en/organiza-tu-viaje/donde-dormir/alojamiento/hoteles/casa-soto-salas#
There appear to be two albergues in Salas.(opened 2010 and 2012). See Gronze etc. for details. The one referred to by Laurie was closed some years ago.

Blessings
Tio Tel
 
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A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
In Salas the Casa Soto is a cheaper option and is just behind the church. A warm welcome. The Duena even supplied clothes pegs so we could hang our washing on her line outside!
http://www.turismoasturias.es/en/organiza-tu-viaje/donde-dormir/alojamiento/hoteles/casa-soto-salas#
There appear to be two albergues in Salas.(opened 2010 and 2012). See Gronze etc. for details. The one referred to by Laurie was closed some years ago.

Blessings
Tio Tel
Sounds like a great place. Thank you. Right now I am debating between stoping in great spots - Cordellan and Bodeyana vs walking more 'normal' (ie 20km or so). I guess my flat feet and their plantar fasciitis will be making the decision for me ;0) But I think Salas might be a good luch stop while staying at both of these albergues, so I would get the best of the 3!
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
hello my question is on the primativo how much road walking? Also how much on the san salvador. Thanks in advance. buen camino
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia

winewalker

Go and do...because Life won't wait.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Camino Portugues 2014, Via Francigena Lucca to Rome 2016, Camino Frances, Way of St.
What a great resource you have provided, Laurie!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002-2019 Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Via de la plata, Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, etc.
I have just finished walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago. It is a beautiful walk, more rural than most. There are guides to the route, but I thought I'd write up some comments for those who might be going soon. This is a beautiful walk.

DAY 1 – Oviedo to Cornellana (32 km)

If I were to do this again, I would shorten this day by walking up to see the churches in Naranco and then continuing about 9 km out of Oviedo the first day instead of staying in Oviedo for that night. It’s easy to find the way up to the churches and from there the CSJ guide tells you how to reconnect with the Camino Primitivo without backtracking into Oviedo. That gives you an easy walk to Escamplero, where there is an albergue and a couple of restaurants. And then the walk from Escamplero to Cornellana is a more manageable 23 km.

Grado is about 20 km from Oviedo and many people stay there the first night. Several pensiones and albergues. Some also recommend going on a few more km to stay in the albergue in San Juan de Villapanada, but I continued on to Cornellana. In Cornellana there is an albergue in an old monastery, the rest of the monastery is falling down, but this albergue has a kitchen with microwave, cold showers, and three rooms with sleeping for 8-10 in each room. It’s not dirty, but it’s not very well maintained either. There are a couple of good places to eat in Cornellana.

DAY 2 – Cornellana to Tineo (28 km)

Again, there’s an option in between – Salas is about 8 km from Cornellana, and many people do Grado to Salas for the second day. There’s a municipal albergue that, according to what I’ve heard, is in a very bad state. There is also at least one private alternative, a 2 star hotel in a XV century building (I had coffee there and it looked nice, but probably a bit pricey).

And about 6 km from Salas in a town called Bodenaya (about 1 km from a larger town La Espina) is the soon-to-be-famous private albergue run by Alex, who gave up his job as a taxi driver in Madrid and opened an albergue on the Camino Primitivo. I walked with several people who stayed there, and they all raved about it. Alex has put a lot of care into remodeling his house into an albergue, he lives right there too, and it’s one of those places where everyone eats meals together and pitches in together. I passed it too early in the day to stop, but if I walk this route again, I will definitely plan my walk so I can stay there.

Very nice walk, and I was happy to find that in spite of all the road construction that others have written about, the detours were well marked and not even I got lost. Tineo’s albergue is very nice, clean, has a very helpful hospitalero, and the town itself has some charm. There is also internet in the casa cultural.

DAY 3 – Tineo to Pola de Allande (about 25 km)

It had snowed the night before (in the mountains, not in Tineo) so there were lots of snow-capped mountains in the background. This is a pretty, rural walk, a fair amount of road walking but all very secondary. The albergue in Pola de Allande is in an old school building, has about 28 beds, a kitchen with one glass, one pot and a plate or two. Showers have hot water. The town itself has several grocery stores and a couple of hotels. The Nueva Allandesa Hotel has a restaurant that attracts huge crowds on the weekends. I ate there on a Sunday afternoon and it was very good and quite reasonable. There is also another albergue about two km out of Pola, in an old school house, I think, with a bar nearby.

This is the stage where the choice has to be made between going over Hospitales or continuing directly to Pola de Allande. I met a guy who has done the Primitivo 9 times (!) and he told me that the difference between the two routes is not one of elevation gain, you have to go up either way. The difference is that the route through Hospitales has a 24 km stretch with no towns, no water, no human habitation at all. Because of my own complicated schedule, I had to take the route to Pola de Allande, and to tell you the truth, the climb up from Pola to the pass of Puerto de Palo was beautiful and one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. But the Hospitales route also has its attractions, so if you want to do it, here’s one way:

You will have to spend a night either in Borres or Campiello. Campiello is the Bar Herminia (she has beds now and is building an albergue) and it’s a few km before the public albergue (very basic) in Borres. But Borres through Hospitales to Berducedo where there is an albergue is 26 km, a very do-able day. But you have to plan your days in such a way as to spend a night in either Borres or Campiello, because from Tineo through Hospitales to Berducedo, I think it’s too long for most walkers. Those I met who did it said that it is impossible to get lost, the marking is done so that even in dense fog you will be able to stumble along and find your way. If you take the hospitales route, you will join up with the Camino at a small hamlet called Montefurado, and a few km on is the albergue at Berducedo.


DAY 4 – Pola de Allande to Grandas de Salime (a very long day, maybe 33?) (The Astur-Leonesa site says it’s 39 km, so who knows)

With one substantial ascent, and one very substantial descent, this is a very long day. I found the descent to the reservoir interminable, it was the longest 3.8 km I have ever walked, if in fact it was only 3.8 km. The scenery is terrific though, and that kind of keeps you going. But there are albergues at both Berducedo and La Mesa (Berducedo has the advantage that there are bars and food in the town, La Mesa is a hamlet with nothing) and they would make good stopping points, and making it so that you would do the ascent one day and the descent the next.

Grandas is a town with a of recent infrastructure improvements – there’s a new park, a new plaza, a new way out of town and some refurbishing of the old chapels along the way. There are “rural apartments” for rent in what look like beautiful old stone buildings, and there is a two star hotel that has recently been redone from a more basic pension. The one thing they forgot to improve was the albergue. It’s disgusting, sorry to be so blunt, and two people told me they saw rats inside it. I stayed in the hotel for 30E.

DAY 5 – Grandas to Fonsagrada (27 km) (plus one to the albergue in Padron outside of town)

The bar La Barra (owners of the hotel) opens up at 7 on the dot, and there were workers in there when I got down at 7:15 or so for a good café con leche.

There’s a private albergue at a place about 5 or 6 km beyond Grandas at Castro, where there are ruins of ancient settlements, going back many centuries BC. There is a substantial museum or some official building nearby, but it was too early in the morning for anything to be open. People I know who stayed in that albergue thought it was fine if a bit pricey.

The road between Grandas and Fonsagrada was being widened, so there was a lot of construction, but detours were well marked and it didn’t really interfere with the walking at all. There is a new bar about 5 km past the very basic bar at the Acebo Pass, it’s called the 4 Ventos (4 winds) and is run by a young couple who spent a year remodeling an old stone house. It’s right on the Camino and food was good there. This is a nice day with lots of mountain views. The albergue is in what used to be the priest’s house. Hot water goes on at 4 p.m. It’s only a km outside of town, so walking back to the good restaurants isn’t a problem. Recommended most often is Casa Manolo.

DAY 6 – Fonsagrada to Cadavo (about 22 km)

The walk goes through some beautiful hardwood forests, pine, beech, birch, oak – and NO eucalyptus! Although you’re not usually far from the road, the paths themselves are wooded and go up and down some little valleys through some small (and some abandoned) hamlets. The bar in Lastra was a great stop. One of the day’s highlights was going by a pilgrim’s hospital in ruins on the top of a hill.

Cadavo has a couple of bars, a couple of supermarkets. The albergue is newly constructed, good hot water, lots of places to dry clothes. Maybe 16-20 beds. There is also a hotel that looked pretty uninteresting but would be an option if the albergue is full (and the hospitalera says it does get full a lot in the summer).

DAY 7 – Cadavo to Lugo (about 30)

Going into cities is usually an unpleasant walk, and this was no exception. The first part of the walk was very nice, but the last 5 or 6 kms were hot, sunny, industrial, construction, detours, wide paths over the highway, all in all pretty draining. But Lugo was the reward. What a beautiful city inside those walls. It was also fiesta time, San Froilan is their patron saint and we arrived toward the end of a week of fiestas. I could have spent an extra day here to visit the Roman baths and some of the other monuments, but I was with a group of three others who were forging on, so I went with the crowd.

DAY 8 – Lugo to San Roman (22 plus detour to Santa Eulalia de Boveda)

Leaving Lugo there’s a lot of asphalt and you go through the new suburban upper middle class construction, but soon you are out in the boonies. About 10 km outside of town, I saw the turnoff for Santa Eulalia de Boveda, a church where some Roman paintings from the 4th century were discovered in the mid 1900s. I had read a bit about it and it seemed like it would be a pity to be so close and not visit. As I was standing there wondering how many kilometers of a detour it would be, a car turned off the main road to go towards Sta. Eulalia. I flagged them down and they not only told me that the distance to the church was 1 ½ or 2 km, they also drove me there. The posted hours said it opened at 11, so after a ten minute wait, promptly at 11, the caretaker drove in. It was definitely worth the little detour, IMO. The two km walk back to the main Camino went quickly. I later learned that if you take this detour there is an easy way to get from Santa Eulalia to the town of Bacurin, which is right on the Camino, but I would have probably gotten lost if I had gone that way anyway.

The albergue in San Roman (actually about 800 m outside of the hamlet of San Roman) is a small building with two sleeping rooms of 8 beds each, plus a tiny kitchen in the middle. Bathrooms and showers in another adjacent building. It is in an area where there used to be a huge market on a weekly basis, and some buildings are still standing, but mainly it is just in the middle of nowhere. Totally peaceful, just a beautiful place. The bar in San Roman sells sandwiches as well as food for cooking.

DAY 9 – San Roman to Melide (about 29)

Our hope had been to spend the night before about 7 km further than San Roman in Ferreira in a Casa Rural called “Casa do Ponte” but they were full. (There are only five rooms, and you should call if you want to stay there). If you call ahead, though, they will serve you breakfast (otherwise there’s nothing till you’re almost in Melide), so after about a 1 ½ hour’s walk, we were drinking café con leche. The walk was really pretty except for the last 5 or 6 km on asphalt, and then – BAM – we were on the Camino Frances and in Melide’s albergue with 50 other peregrinos. The albergue had been fumigated the week before, and they were giving out paper sheets and pillow cases, so I guess the battle of the bed bugs continues. We saw lots of people with bites.

DAY 10 – Melide to Arca (30-32)

The only alternative to this long day was to stop in Arzua, but that was only about 12 km from Melide, so we used it as a coffee stop instead. This part of the walk is probably well known to everyone, I was surprised that most everything was still open for business (including the private albergue in Santa Irene, even though it was mid October and all the books say it closes in Sept. )

DAY 11 – Arca to Santiago (20)

With a relatively early start, it’s easy to get into Santiago in time for the Pilgrim’s mass.

The Camino Primitivo, like all Caminos I guess, is enjoying a burst of popularity and the infrastructure and accommodations are lagging behind the demand. I was surprised to hear over and over how things are full early in the day in the peak season. With the “outsourcing” of the administration of the albergues to a company that hires hospitaleros who issue receipts for your 3E contribution, there are strict rules about no overcrowding in the ablergues. You can’t sleep on the floor, on a couch, or anywhere other than a bed. This may make it hard to do in the summer, but I was there in October and never had a problem. And the private initiative is starting to kick in, too, so I assume that before long the supply of private albergues will be much greater.

All in all, I would walk this Camino again in a heartbeat. Laurie



Thanks for the above Laurie. I've just printed it out and will start this Camino around the 22nd of October. Thanks again
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
WAIT A MINUTE!!!!! I thought you just walked from Almeria, why is this fair?! Lucky you, Kevin. But you should check out the other etapas I did because that was the Hospitales route. One is 11 days, one 12, but I can't remember which was which. Love the Primitivo. You may coincide with LauraK, who's starting on the Salvador next week. Buen camino, Laurie

other stages here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/back-from-the-primitivo-june-2012.14728/
 

IngridF

Intrepid Peregrina
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2015 ,2017, 2019
Thank you for posting all this. I will make sure to keep it on file for when I return to the Camino... (not sure when that will be). Having just come back from a 3 months stay, I got to digest this first. But the Primitivo is on my list (almost walked it this time at the end). I think it deserves time and attention and no rushing, so decided to be a tourist in Madrid and Valencia for the last 2 weeks and had a ball.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you all. Gobble Gobble Ingrid
 

Nandy61

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010 CF StJPP to Santiago
2014 CF Leon to Santiago
2015 Primitivo
Just back a week ago from the Primitivo and thought I'd post some thank yous, some thoughts and some warnings! Thank you all above, esp Liz for the advice and concrete guidance. I uploaded Liz's most recent guide to my iBooks app on my phone. It was most helpful! especially since I had no internet during the day. (had to wait to find wifi to use my smartphone) I walked from Oviedo on Friday the 11th of September. I walked into Santiago on the 22nd of September.
Thoughts: this was a simply spectacular walk. Buena vistas all around. And my memory does not include much road walking, but I'm sure thats because other incredible snapshots fill my mind when thinking back. But this walk is an ass-kicker! It is a tough, hilly route and we saw more than a few drop out and leave the trail. (all were first time pilgrims) What was a bit surprising to me was that many in our midst chose this route for their first Camino as they had heard how crowded the Frances had become. Well, the Primitivo was not much better. The race for beds started on day one! (The race is what really made the walk such an ass-kicker) San Juan was completely full at 7pm when 5 pilgrims came straggling up the hill. Domingo was kind enough to throw mattresses on the floor whilst one pilgrim offered to sleep outside. We heard that Escamplero had filled up as well. The next night, Bodenaya filled up. Cornellana was full as well. Often we would show up and every bed was taken or there were just a couple of beds left (and I was not a straggler!) There were many, many people who had to taxi ahead each night. The word is out on this Camino! And the infrastructure has not caught up with the demand. When the municipal albergues filled up (which they did every night!) the private ones would oft times be "filled" as well because people were calling ahead and making reservations. In reality they were not "filled" because those people had yet to arrive. There was a clash amongst the "traditionalists" and the "pragmatists" in our family. "Camino es no reservado!" the traditionalists would shout, whilst the pragmatists, realizing that the rules of the game had dramatically changed, would sneak off quietly and make reservations for us. When we arrived in Berducedo every bed in both the municipal and the private albergue (along with their private rooms) were taken and only one bed (matrimonial) remained at Casa Marques (I grabbed that and split it with another gal.) Dozens of people had to walk forward to the municipal in A Mesa, which also filled up. A woman who regularly offers meals in her house in that village (all reports said it was fabulous) also offered to shelter 4 pilgrims who were without beds at 9pm. This would've continued if one of our group didn't start calling ahead., which he/she did everyday after Berducedo. The rationalization was "at least we are walking and not taxiing ahead for our reservation." With the exception of Oviedo, there was not a single night that the albergues weren't completely filled. This is a tough walk in its own right; there were many people who were not truly able for it. Though they were not in proper physical shape for it, they were able to continue on it because they could taxi and phone ahead. Sadly,until many more albergues are established, I don't see this abating any time soon.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
A few years ago, the crowds on the Primitivo were limited to August, when is which most Spanish pilgrims walk. Then word got out to the non-Spanish world, and look at the monster we've created! I'm guessing more albergues will be opening -- better infrastructure always seem to follow, not to produce, crowds on the Camino.

But, if you're looking for peace and solitude and lovely caminos, I've got a few for you. Invierno, Olvidado, Vadiniense, Catalán, Aragonés, Levante, the Portugués from Lisbon to Porto -- I've walked all of these in the last few years and though they are all different, they are all there just waiting with their gorgeous scenery, serenity, and lack of crowds. The forum has subsections on all of these routes, and I can think of no better way to spend the upcoming grey dreary winter months (for those of us in the midwestern US) than to be planning a return to the Camino.
 

Jools

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo Juky 2015
I am really surprised by Nandy61's comments, I walked the primitive alone in July (my first Camino) and loved it, although it was challenging it wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated and I had not trained at all but I think the difference was I wasn't rushing to finish it in 10-12 days as many seemed to be and this is why I didn't have problems getting a bed - and many places I stayed were half empty. eg, the lovely albergue past san Juan de Villapenada at Cabrubnana (only 1.5km more) there was only 6 of us and yet San Juan was totally full I heard the next day - and the meal I had there was fabulous and so was the alternate walk to Cornellana the next morning (not only did it save 6km but had some spectacular views), Borras also there was only 5 of us and this really is a lovely village to stay thanks to the amazing Gloria and her wonderful hospitality, it also gives you the best head start for the Hosptiales route, I did my Primitivo in 16 days which allowed me some shorter days if needed so I didn't have to worry about the rush for beds, I think this may be the answer rather than pushing to do it in such a short time.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
I walked the Primitivo last spring. Like Jools I took my time getting to Santiago, 15 or 16 days I think (not wanting my platar fasciitis to come haunt me again). This meant that unlike those trying to walk it in 11 days or so I would arrive to the albergues around 4 pm, when so many arrived between 7 and 9 pm. I also beleive that because there are some beloved albergues (San Juan, Bodeyana come to mind) this creates bottle necks. Berducedo also a bottle neck because everyone is ready to crash after that day's walk, as is Borres because people wantto ne asclose as possible to the Hospitales route when they start that day.

So I did see some albergues and towns filled, but others practically empty: 7/26 bed taken in Esclampero, 2/20 or so in Castro, 50% or so in San Roman de retorta.

I think the problem may be people willing to walk mich longer days, in part because this is "a walkers' walk", skippimg some alternatives en route and arriving later in the day while those taking more time to walk the route have already settled in.

A tip, for those who are not super walkers, or super fit: if you walk the Hospitales route, leave early so that there are always others coming behind you in case you get into trouble and need some help.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
There was a clash amongst the "traditionalists" and the "pragmatists" in our family. "Camino es no reservado!" the traditionalists would shout, whilst the pragmatists, realizing that the rules of the game had dramatically changed, would sneak off quietly and make reservations for us. (...) The rationalization was "at least we are walking and not taxiing ahead for our reservation."

This is bad news for me. I want to do the Primitivo in summer 2016 but it seems very crowded. I've made one or two reservations myself in my days, but you mention people even going by taxi??? That's the limit for me. If I run into those people, you'll see Bad pilgrim go to Worse...

But as it is now an official camino and yadda-yadda, shouldn't this be increasing the amount of albergues by next year?

/BP
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Listed in my signature
Bad pilgrim, I think you misunderstand the "taxi-ing". I believe those pilgrims had walked a full day but found that there were no beds left at the albergue at their day's destination. With no where to sleep, they had to take a taxi to the next available albergue. Many pilgrims who have to do this will often take a taxi back the next morning so they can walk each step of the Camino. Best not to judge rashly, IMHO.
 

Nandy61

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010 CF StJPP to Santiago
2014 CF Leon to Santiago
2015 Primitivo
Bad pilgrim, I think you misunderstand the "taxi-ing". I believe those pilgrims had walked a full day but found that there were no beds left at the albergue at their day's destination. With no where to sleep, they had to take a taxi to the next available albergue. Many pilgrims who have to do this will often take a taxi back the next morning so they can walk each step of the Camino. Best not to judge rashly, IMHO.

Actually, they were doing both. Many weren't in shape to complete the stage of the day. With so few accommodations between the "stages" they would call for a taxi after having walked 2/3 of it, but many had already reserved a bed ahead of time anyways. Then there was the day in Berducedo when dozens had to taxi ahead. The whole town was completo. (In fact, I now recall that many had taxied TO Berducedo.) Many walked the 5K further to La Mesa, but even that place filled up. My point in sharing this is not to scare anyone off of the Primitivo, (well anyone who wants to really walk it!) but to let you know whats happening so you can prepare yourself. There still are not many people on the Primitivo itself, but the accommodations (before Lugo) are still too slim to keep up with the demand. I mean, there's still not one albergue in Grado?! Yes there are a couple of hotels, but at €25-€35 per night, its too expensive for some pilgrims who are walking on their own, /(esp since it is the 1st of 2nd day and they may not have made any acquaintances as yet.) As for rushing, I didn't feel like I was intentionally rushing. There were some places where I definitely wanted to stay, Bodenaya for one. But, generally I am a 30K/day walker on the Frances, its just my pace. I would've stopped earlier many times on the Camino, but there just wasn't the option.
Bad pilgrim, I think you misunderstand the "taxi-ing". I believe those pilgrims had walked a full day but found that there were no beds left at the albergue at their day's destination. With no where to sleep, they had to take a taxi to the next available albergue. Many pilgrims who have to do this will often take a taxi back the next morning so they can walk each step of the Camino. Best not to judge rashly, IMHO.
 

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
The gronze site also has good lisitngs of places to stay and you could check out the new (Primitivo) accomodations link on @Dave 's thread, here - Northern Caminos update
:)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
But as it is now an official camino and yadda-yadda, shouldn't this be increasing the amount of albergues by next year?
/BP

The Camino Primitivo has been an official camino for years and years. When I first walked it in 2008, I met a man who had been walking it yearly for ten or twelve years. There were definitely more albergues and pilgrim infrastructure when I walked it three years later, in 2011, and there was also a noticeable increase in the numbers. But I think the real surge has come relatively recently, though I haven't studied the numbers.

I'm planning to go again in late June, which is about the time of year I walked in in 2011, so I will be able to get a sense of the change. But as I look through the list of accommodations and albergues, I do see places that weren't around in 2011.

Hope to see some of you on the Primitivo (and Salvador) this summer! Buen camino, Laurie
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
I'm thinking of starting beg. of June from Bidart... So all being well could be in Oviedo around 22nd - (ish). Very much still at planning stage but oh soooo exciting! :cool:
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm thinking of starting beg. of June from Bidart... So all being well could be in Oviedo around 22nd - (ish). Very much still at planning stage but oh soooo exciting! :cool:

Well, we may just coincide on the Primitivo, but I'll probably be starting ahead of you. I'm starting at the mouth of the Ebro with @anniethenurse and we'll take about three weeks to get to Burgos, and from there hop ahead (she to Ponferrada for the Invierno, me to Leon for the Salvador/Primitivo). But I may decide to stay on the Frances from Burgos forward for a while, since it's been more than ten years since I've been on the Frances between Burgos and Leon. So maybe we will meet up!
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Well, we may just coincide on the Primitivo, but I'll probably be starting ahead of you. I'm starting at the mouth of the Ebro with @anniethenurse and we'll take about three weeks to get to Burgos, and from there hop ahead (she to Ponferrada for the Invierno, me to Leon for the Salvador/Primitivo). But I may decide to stay on the Frances from Burgos forward for a while, since it's been more than ten years since I've been on the Frances between Burgos and Leon. So maybe we will meet up!

Maybe we will as I may well switch back to the Frances if I don't like the Norte or the Primitivo! And I must say I am also curious to see if it is as crowded now as people say.... (I didn't find it bad at all in 2012/13)
Buen camino :)
 

Faye Cape Town

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
Hello all,

I have read through this thread and sounds great.

My only concern is the time of year I am planning my walk, August! Unfortunately this the only time I could do my first Camino and I have been so looking forward to this trip.

Are the crowds unbearable? Im not interested in fighting for a bed. I'm not in a rush so I can walk at my own pace, this seems to help the situation with over crowding in the albergues?

I am a fit person, used to hiking, so im not too concerned with the difficulty warnings for first timers.

I was looking at Camino Norte, thinking it would be nice to walk along the coast but I found there were a lot of industrial areas and high way walking which is a bit off putting, is this the case?

Any tips on a quieter walk in August would be much appreciated.

Dankie
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Hi Faye,

There are any number of solitary routes you could walk instead of the Camino Frances, like the Camino del Sureste from Alicante. Or, the Camino Mozarabe, Cmino de Madrid, Ruta de la Lana, Camino de Levante, Camino del Ebro etc etc etc. But, you won't get the full vibe and camaraderie that I'm sure you're expecting on the less travelled routes.
Even if it crowded it is wonderful to make the Camino Frances your first Camino. The crowds will be excited pilgrims just like you!
Many pilgrims start their Camino over the weekend, so try starting mid-week instead to avoid those crowds.
Stay at smaller places in-between the large towns in the Brierley guide. For instance, if you book a room at Orisson on day one, and walk and extra 3km from there to Burguete the next day, instead of stopping at Roncesvalles, you'll have a head start on the crowds starting from Roncesvalles the next day! Most pensiones in Burguete will take you back to Roncesvalles to attend mass and bring you back afterwards.
Use this website to plan a more-or-less walking schedule, choosing smaller places in between cities and towns. http://www.godesalco.com/plan/frances
 

ParistoCapeCod

"Come on mom this 14k isn't going to walk itself."
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese, Primitivo, Norte. Hospitalera
@Faye Cape Town there are not "a lot of industrial" areas on the norte. It is glorious walking along the coast. Leaving Bilbao there is a short stretch along the river with mills along the other side. There is also a beach at the end of that walk, where you can swim in clear seas. The camino provides!
 

Pierre Julian

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Ingles, VdP, San Salvador, Aragonese & Northern. Sections of Portuguese & Mozarabic.
I'm finding it really hard to make a decision for my Camino starting on 2nd or 3rd of August. I'm keen on the Primitivo because I love Spain, some camaraderie and I haven't done it, the down side to that is the bed racing I keep hearing about. I could continue my Northern Camino from Santander, but that sounds difficult for accommodation at this time of the year, or continue my Portuguese from Tomar, which is likely to be quieter, but it was quite lonely when I did it earlier in the year and it didn't have quite the feeling of the Spanish caminos. The Camino Aragones could be a good compromise: Spain, quieter, etc, it's hard finding information on it especially if I start in Pau. Does anyone have an thoughts towards helping me make a decision?? Thanks.
 

Saorsa85

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September-October 2016
Hi Laurie,

Thanks for such an informative post, I have only just discovered the Salvador-Primitivo alternative to the Frances and although I am starting in 2 weeks I think I may have to change my plans and make the detour!

Cheers,

Sean.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
Laurie, You said, " The leones-asturiano group's website has an elevation profile of the different stages, http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/?Las_Etapas (there's both a map and a profile for each stage)" I didn't see the maps and profiles on that site?
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
Laurie, You said, " The leones-asturiano group's website has an elevation profile of the different stages, http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/?Las_Etapas (there's both a map and a profile for each stage)" I didn't see the maps and profiles on that site?

After you select the Primitivo-Along the right side are the stages. When you click on the stage, just below it in smaller font it says "croquis y perfil". That takes you to a very basic map and profile.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Laurie, You said, " The leones-asturiano group's website has an elevation profile of the different stages, http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/?Las_Etapas (there's both a map and a profile for each stage)" I didn't see the maps and profiles on that site?

Hi, Jill,
When I wrote that post in 2008 there was no other online information about the Primitivo (hard to believe the increase in just 8 years!). Now mundicamino, Gronze, and eroski all have information and elevation profiles. They are all inconsistent, of course, but enough to give you a pretty good idea about the ups and downs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPP-Finisterre, 2015
CP, Porto-Finisterre-Muxia, 2016
Hate to ask, but what's the wifi situation like? I work from home and would need som access here and there to keep things running during the walk. Much wifi, or not really..? Thanks pilgrims!! <3
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Hate to ask, but what's the wifi situation like? I work from home and would need som access here and there to keep things running during the walk. Much wifi, or not really..? Thanks pilgrims!! <3
Readily available in most nars and restaurants. Less frequent in albergues. You'll be able to check in at least once a day.
 

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