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Planning a “25 km or less” Camino on the Invierno

peregrina2000

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Thanks to @Marbe for the interest in the Invierno.

A few years ago, I posted some shorter stages options for the Invierno. Since that time, facilities have increased and there are more options. So I am starting a day by day Virtual Invierno tour, following the examples of my good buddies’ @AJGuillaume and @VNwalking, who have done this for the Viejo, the Mozárabe, and currently the Lana.

So, here is what I suggest. Let’s talk about it one stage at a time. I will post the stage, give a couple of days for input (both questions and suggestions) and then move on to the next. At the end we should have a pretty good document to complement our Forum Resources guide. John Brierley has an Invierno guide now, which is available in the forum store. I think our forum guide is all you need, but the fact that Brierley has one is a clear indication of which way he thinks the winds are blowing!

The way we have done the Lana planning is a good guide for us, I think. We just completed Part I (Alicante to Cuenca). It had about 450 posts, and I went back and edited out all the banter so that the end product would be more helpful as a planning tool. We wound up with about 250 posts in the Part I document. So, let’s continue with that here, because the side chatter makes it feel more like a real conversation. At the end, I will go back and “clean it up.”

The unknown, of course, is how covid will ultimately impact the infrastructure, but we will just have to use our best judgment.

I will be back in a few minutes to get this started.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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peregrina2000

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Day 1. Ponferrada to Borrenes (23 km)

No need to introduce people to Ponferrada, the starting point. Lots to enjoy there, so maybe a rest day is in the cards before starting!

The first day has a fairly hefty ascent, up to the Castle of Cornatel, then down to Borrenes.

If you want to shorten the first day more, there is also a public albergue in Villavieja, about 16 km from Ponferrada. Villavieja is a charming little village (with no services), a bit below the castle. It is where the serfs and other castle support lived. The albergue had very spotty and sometimes shoddy service, but the license has recently been awarded to a new person and she gets very good reviews.

If you continue on to Borrenes, you will pass the castle and then have an on-the-road (not heavily traveled road) walk down to Borrenes. There used to be an off-road option, but the motocross people ruined it. In Borrenes, Marisol has accommodation for pilgrims. I’m not sure it is a full-blown albergue yet, but there are places to sleep.

The only debate I can remember over this part has to do with whether it’s worth it to visit the Castle of Cornatel. I have visited it once, but did not return on subsequent visits, mainly because of timing. You can climb around a bit, and there are some nice views, but it isn’t a full blown castle renovation liked Zamora or any of the many castles you guys have probably visited on different caminos.

The other point where people have had very different experiences has to do with bars. There is a good availability along the entire route, but opening times are typically later in the morning than you may see on other caminos. So if you leave early, you are going to find fewer options. In my several Inviernos, I have only found one bar open in between Ponferrada and Borrenes, but I leave early.

Hoping that others will now chime in with suggestions, questions, comments!

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Marbe2

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2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Thanks, Laurie and everyone who has done this route. The Invierno would be a new route for us which we might do in September2021, if we can find sufficient infrastructure to support our shorter days.
 
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Day 1. Ponferrada to Borrenes (23 km)

This is a pretty strightforward stage, and easily walkable. As Laurie says, you could possibly skip the steep ascent to Cornatel Castle, but it's worth it for the views (although some of the following stages have even better views).

I posted this in another thread a few months ago:

If, for any reason, you don’t want to walk all the way up to Cornatel Castle after leaving Santalla del Bierzo, you don’t need to do any road walking on that nasty stretch up to the Slate Factory at the top.
Instead, carry straight on at the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen (but be careful: don’t follow the path round to the right); ten metres past the chapel head upwards. It’s fairly steep for about 200 metres, then you cross the N-536, and head up the slate mountain (!) for another 150 metres to the top. It brings you out at the confluence of roads (N-536, the one coming down from Villavieja, and the one that takes you down to Borrenes).

As far as places to stop between Ponferrada and Borrenes, Laurie and I always disagree! But, I know what I'm talking about, believe me!

In Toral de Merayo, you have a couple of places. The cafeteria in the square just over the bridge opens around 9 o'clock, when the parents have left their kids in the school opposite. Bar El Puente, right on the bridge, was being renovated when I walked there in October. There is also a panadería just up the road, before you get to the church. Mesón Alondra is on the main road out of the village, but does not open until lunchtime.

In Villalibre de la Jurisdicción, you have two bars on the main road (a slight detour off the camino): Bar Ruta 98, and Mesa Para 2.

In Priaranza del Bierzo, you have El Sitio de Mi Recreo in the village, but it doesn't tend to open until the afternoon. You have two places on the main road: Bar Estanco Inés, and La Cantina.

In Santalla del Bierzo, you have Café Bar Ronda at the end of the village (on the main road, but you can walk down by the side of the bar to get back onto the camino).

See what I said above about the alternative route if you don't fancy the climb up to Cornatel Castle.

I have never stayed in the albergue at Villavieja, but most people write nice things about the place and people (and the dog!).

I have stayed in the Hotel Rural Cornatel in Borrenes, and it is highly recommendable. Not cheap, but Marisol and Saturno are extremely welcoming to all pilgrims. Their bar, Bar Marisol, just opposite the hotel, is now closed, but they have a wonderful bar/restaurant attached to the hotel. Saturno is busy constructing an apartment alongside the hotel.

Right, if anyone needs more specific information about things on this first stage, I'm not going anywhere!
 

Rowena

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Frances(2015, 2018) Le Puy-SJPP(2016) Geneva Way(2017) Portugués Muxia Fisterra(2019) Invierno(2021)
Thank you for starting this thread. My hope is to walk the Frances one more time, in the spring of 2022, taking the Invierno into Santiago. I’m interested in shorter days (18-22 km or so), since I’ll be 73 by then. I know it’s a way off, but I love to plan!
 
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I walked the Invierno in June 2019. Due to problems with my luggage which delayed my start from Ponferrada, I didn’t walk to the stage to Villavieja. To keep to my schedule I took a taxi to Villavieja.

Day 1 walked to Las Medulas. This is my memory and notes from the stage between Villavieja and Borrenes.

A quiet, foggy morning, starting through the village. I did have bit of a scary moment past the church when 4 dogs charged out of a driveway barking. They ran in front and then quite closely behind me for a few seconds as I continued walking, but then went back to their driveway. I also encountered the famous fierce mastiff but he’d obviously aged since the last accounts I’d read of him. He tottered out, barked a bit but then went back to his yard.

A pleasant walk through the village and into the woods. Soft paths, ancient chestnut trees and wildflowers. As the path started to descend, the fog and mist were lifting and suddenly, there it was! Castillo de Cornatel. A lovely sight high on the hill with the remains of the mist moving past and the colours of the foliage on the slopes. The attendant arrived in the parking area below the castle just as I did and he said the castle would open at 11:00am, in 20 minutes. He also told me that entry is free for pilgrims with a credential.

I didn’t find the walk up to the castle particularly tough or steep. Though I think now, perhaps it was because I hadn’t walked from Ponferrada! The attendant stamped my credential, gave me some historical info and left me to wander on my own. I was the only one there and I spent an hour or so exploring the site, taking photos of the stunning views from all directions of the castle walls as well as a variety of flowering plants and lichens growing on the stone walls. For those interested in stone wall ecosystems :)

Leaving the castle, part way down the path is the sign for “the most beautiful bench in Bierzo”. It really is worth it to follow the path to the bench for a spectacular view and different perspective of the castle.

Continuing on to Borrenes. Bar Casa Marisol was open, where I had a nice conversation with Marisol and a delicious lunch of eggs, potatoes and salad, before continuing on Las Medulas.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
So far we are a great team of three Invierno vets — me with the nuts and bolts; @Theatregal, who can be counted on for fantastic descriptions of the walk, the natural surroundings, the views, the feelings; and @Charrito with the details on every single watering hole on the Invierno (not to mention good restaurant recommendations). What more do you need?!

I will probably leave a day or two between posting stages, just as AJ and VN have done on our other planning threads. That way we have time for more commentary from those who are not as slavishly addicted to the forum and who may only o_O check in every few days.

But if those who have not yet walked have questions on this first stage, by all means, let us know.
 

peregrina2000

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I’m interested in shorter days (18-22 km or so),
Hi, @Rowena, Welcome to Invierno thread. I’m assuming based on your preferred stages that you would take the opportunity to spend night one in Villavieja. Borrenes is about 6 kms further on, most of it downhill on asphalt, but many people like to start with shorter stages at the beginning, and Villavieja is perfect for that. The new manager has stated that she will prepare food (or provide food) if needed, but that would be something to nail down before leaving because there is no place to buy food in Villavieja.
 

ranthr

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I agree with @Theatregal that the walk up to the castle fromVillavieja was not so steep, BUT the climb up to Villavieja from the N-536 was a bit tough for me in hot weather.
I luckily got into the castle before they closed at 2pm. On the way down I thought it had been easyer to drop Villavieja and walk the opposite way up to the castle via Charritos alternative. If so I could have reached Las Medulas for the night.
I Villavieja I was most concerned about the big dogs and did not even see the albergue. I do not think I would have stayed the night there.
Instead I stayed the night in hotel Rural Cornatel and was not impressed either of the room or the food in the bar. This was in May 2018.
 
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Marbe2

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Gronze lists from Ponferrada to Las Medulas as 27.8 km....
 

Marbe2

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All of these responses have been very helpful. I appreciate nuts and bolts, and location of every open bar, restaurant, and particular every food market along the way. Planner am I! Short cuts help too. Getting an aesthetic sense of the route is helpful as well. On Gronze’s map, I noticed N536 avoids villavieja completely, taking one to Borrenas a bit quicker? If it is a hot Sept. this could be an option as well. Can you tell me how much of this 27.8 km section is pavement? And is it consistently exposed, or are there shady sections.
 
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peregrina2000

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I realize that the distances are all approximate, but I notice that the 2019 guide shows 20.3 km from Ponferrada to Borrenes. Was that a typo, or are you getting your distances from somewhere else?
DRATS. I know I always mess up my distances, and I just keep on doing it. The distances in the form guide are all accurate with wiggle room.

Thanks for checking up on me. o_O

Ponferrada to Villavieja - 16 km
Villavieja to Borrenes - 4 km
Borrenes to Médulas - 7 km
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
, I noticed N536 avoids villavieja completely, taking one to Borrenas a bit quicker?
Yes, I am pretty sure we discuss that option in the guide. I personally think it would be a shame to miss both the really beautiful little village of Villavieja as well as the castle. But you are absolutely right that it would be a flat walk on the side of the road, missing the ascent totally.

As far as pavement on this first stage goes, we do go through a lot of little villages, all of which have paved streets. But the arrows and mojones really take you off road a lot. Specifically, the climb up to Villavieja as well as the much shorter climb from there to Cornatel are all off road. The descent from the castle to Borrenes is all on the road, though. Overall, I don’t have a memory of pavement pounding.

Oh, and did I mention that the Invierno is probably the most heavily signed camino in Spain?
 

Flogwail

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2020
I'm sure that like the Lana thread, this will prove to be a very useful resource, and It's great to get such an informed mix of view points based on other's experience. I had really hoped to make the Invierno last year, before it got 'discovered' by too many Iooking for an alternative away from the crowds! It is inevitable I suppose, but I really hope to make it before the end of the year.
 
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AJGuillaume

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So far we are a great team of three Invierno vets — me with the nuts and bolts; @Theatregal, who can be counted on for fantastic descriptions of the walk, the natural surroundings, the views, the feelings; and @Charrito with the details on every single watering hole on the Invierno (not to mention good restaurant recommendations). What more do you need?!
Thank you to the three of you for sharing your passion and knowledge.
As the days, weeks go past that we're not allowed to leave Australia, I keep working on plans to walk various Caminos, and this is another one. Hopefully we'll be able to walk before it gets too popular...
That way we have time for more commentary from those who are not as slavishly addicted to the forum and who may only o_O check in every few days.
I'll check in on alternate days when I'm not checking in on the Lana 😄
I will be taking notes!!
So will I!
Gracias y buen camino!
 

Marbe2

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Yes, I am pretty sure we discuss that option in the guide. I personally think it would be a shame to miss both the really beautiful little village of Villavieja as well as the castle. But you are absolutely right that it would be a flat walk on the side of the road, missing the ascent totally.

As far as pavement on this first stage goes, we do go through a lot of little villages, all of which have paved streets. But the arrows and mojones really take you off road a lot. Specifically, the climb up to Villavieja as well as the much shorter climb from there to Cornatel are all off road. The descent from the castle to Borrenes is all on the road, though. Overall, I don’t have a memory of pavement pounding.

Oh, and did I mention that the Invierno is probably the most heavily signed camino in Spain?

i am sure the Castle option would be lovely. I always like to have my options, in terms of routes...depending, on how we are feeling and current outdoor conditions.

Are there shaded areas...or all in the sun?
 

ranthr

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Astorga to SdC 2015
I noticed that from Villalibre to past Santalla the road had pavement several streches and I considered it would have been easier walking along the road than on the partly mudded path below.
Castillo Cornatel is a must whichever way get up there.
 

Marbe2

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I noticed that from Villalibre to past Santalla the road had pavement several streches and I considered it would have been easier walking along the road than on the partly mudded path below.
Castillo Cornatel is a must whichever way get up there.
What time of year did you go?
 
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peregrina2000

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I Villavieja I was most concerned about the big dogs and did not even see the albergue.
Hi, @ranthr,
Good to have another Invierno alum helping out!

Long-time forum members who have followed Invierno posts will know that “big loose dog in Villavieja” and “how to get out of Lalín from the river path” were the two biggest concerns for people who wanted to walk the Invierno. I experienced that huge loose dog in Villavieja on several occasions, and was scared, but apparently, since it is a mastif, I later learned it was just a lot of barking. No one has commented on that dog in a few years now, and I think the increase in pilgrims has finally convinced the owner (or someone has convinced the owner) that this dog can’t keep running around loose. I think that someone once saw the dog in a big pen, but I can’t confirm that. I will say with pretty much confidence, however, that the dog is no longer an issue. (Same is true for leaving Lalín, but we’ll get to that later!)

The albergue is one street up from the camino, I’ve attached a street shot. The camino takes you through “lower Villavieja,” past the casa rural, while the albergue is one street higher.

C37C09DF-5C91-4AE8-BF4B-24B3C2B2E98B.png
 

ranthr

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Astorga to SdC 2015
What time of year did you go?
I walked in May. Remember I was ¨in Puente Domingos de Florez on the 17 th, since it is the National Day in Norway.
 

Marbe2

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I walked in May. Remember I was ¨in Puente Domingos de Florez on the 17 th, since it is the National Day in Norway.
Sorry, I missed it earler. I noted your comment regarding the “mud” and thought it might be springtime.
 

Rowena

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Hi, @Rowena, Welcome to Invierno thread. I’m assuming based on your preferred stages that you would take the opportunity to spend night one in Villavieja. Borrenes is about 6 kms further on, most of it downhill on asphalt, but many people like to start with shorter stages at the beginning, and Villavieja is perfect for that. The new manager has stated that she will prepare food (or provide food) if needed, but that would be something to nail down before leaving because there is no place to buy food in Villavieja.
Thank you! I do plan on staying in Villavieja, walking there from Molinaseca. Great to know the scary dog is gone.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
Are there shaded areas...or all in the sun?
I remember ascent to Villavieja, and from there the ascent to the castle, as being forested and shaded. And every now and then you will get some fabulous views of the castle and you will wonder how in the world did they ever build that building way up there. You will see the answer when you get up there — they came at it from behind. But the views on the way to Villavieja are really impressive.

My memory could be off, so maybe others will chime in. I can say with certainty that it is not a meseta-like shadeless stretch.
 
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I noticed that from Villalibre to past Santalla the road had pavement several streches and I considered it would have been easier walking along the road than on the partly mudded path below.
Castillo Cornatel is a must whichever way get up there.
You get down to the road after Villalibre and then it's just a few hundred yards to Santalla. Pavements on both sides.
 
Instead I stayed the night in hotel Rural Cornatel and was not impressed either of the room or the food in the bar. This was in May 2018.
You are talking about the Hotel Rural Cornatel in Borrenes village, aren't you, and not the Casa Rural Cornatel up in the village of Villavieja?

The bar, as I said, is now closed. Saturno is an excellent cook and the food, in my humble opinion, and as one of Laurie's 'foodies', is very good.

The rooms were fine.

This was in October 2020.
 
All of these responses have been very helpful. I appreciate nuts and bolts, and location of every open bar, restaurant, and particular every food market along the way. Planner am I! Short cuts help too. Getting an aesthetic sense of the route is helpful as well. On Gronze’s map, I noticed N536 avoids villavieja completely, taking one to Borrenas a bit quicker? If it is a hot Sept. this could be an option as well. Can you tell me how much of this 27.8 km section is pavement? And is it consistently exposed, or are there shady sections.
If you are planning to spend the first night in Borrenes, then you have three different ways of getting there from Santalla.

1. Up to Villavieja and the castle, back down to the road intersection with the N-536 (by the slate quarry), then the local road down to Borrenes.

2. Follow the winding N-536 up to the slate quarry, then the local road down to Borrenes. This is NOT advisable, as there is no pavement and there are lots of 'blind' bends.

3. My alternative, after the chapel (as I posted yesterday):

If, for any reason, you don’t want to walk all the way up to Cornatel Castle after leaving Santalla del Bierzo, you don’t need to do any road walking on that nasty stretch up to the Slate Factory at the top.

Instead, carry straight on at the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen (but be careful: don’t follow the path round to the right); ten metres past the chapel head upwards. It’s fairly steep for about 200 metres, then you cross the N-536, and head up the slate mountain (!) for another 150 metres to the top. It brings you out at the confluence of roads (N-536, the one coming down from Villavieja, and the one that takes you down to Borrenes).

There was a post somewhere on the Invierno thread last year about the amount of road-walking on the Invierno. We had a few differences of opinion, I seem to remember!
 
every food market along the way
You won't find anything like medium-size/large supermarkets until you get down to Puente de Domingo Flórez, but most small towns/villages have the typical 'bar-tienda', where you can stock up on most essentials.

Based on past experience, though, and depending on the day or time of day when you set off, you might be advised to stock up in Ponferrada.
 

Marbe2

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You won't find anything like medium-size/large supermarkets until you get down to Puente de Domingo Flórez, but most small towns/villages have the typical 'bar-tienda', where you can stock up on most essentials.

Based on past experience, though, and depending on the day or time of day when you set off, you might be advised to stock up in Ponferrada.
Are there ant ATMs along this route? We can keep section to section as Laurie is organizing it. If you remember and, it would be appreciated.. Thanks.
 
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Are there ant ATMs along this route? We can keep section to section as Laurie is organizing it. If you remember and, it would be appreciated.. Thanks.
There are loads in Ponferrada, of course. You have Abanca in Priaranza, another Abanca in Carucedo (a kilometre and a bit from Borrenes, down on the N-536), and loads more when you get down to Puente de Domingo Flórez the following day.
 

peregrina2000

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I’ve never slept in Borrenes, so I can’t give any first hand comments on lodging. But, as @Charrito has pointed out, your only choice is the Hotel Rural Cornatel Médulas. I am surprised to see that it is a 3-star hotel — has there been some serious upgrading? @ranther, does the website look anything like where you stayed in 2018?

The bar, as I said, is now closed. Saturno is an excellent cook and the food, in my humble opinion, and as one of Laurie's 'foodies', is very good.

Charrito, a couple more Borrenes questions — is the bar permanently closed? I believe the bar was owned by/run by Marisol and Saturno, no? Is there now no bar in Borrenes?

Do you know what the pilgrim prices are in the hotel, if any? The website says 60€ for a double, that’s kind of steep.

I had heard that there is an albergue in the works, do you have any news about that?

Saturno is, I believe, the head of a local camino business organization, so he is definitely attuned to pilgrims and pilgrim needs.
 

jennysa

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DRATS. I know I always mess up my distances, and I just keep on doing it. The distances in the form guide are all accurate with wiggle room.

Thanks for checking up on me. o_O

Ponferrada to Villavieja - 16 km
Villavieja to Borrenes - 4 km
Borrenes to Médulas - 7 km
I have been to Medulas twice and the drive from Ponferrrada did not look to exciting. Would I miss much if I skipped this stage?
 

Raggy

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on the other hand, we want to keep it a closely-guarded secret, just for us!
I think you intended this as a tongue in cheek comment, but I can think of at least one pilgrim who writes that they want to keep the less frequented routes a secret. (I guess that they're serious, notwithstanding the irony that they raise the visibility of the routes that they're talking about by repeatedly posting this point of view on the relevant forums ...).

I think the "keep quiet" viewpoint is misguided. With the general trend toward depopulation in rural Spain, the danger of routes becoming less walkable because of stretches with no significant centers of population is greater than the danger of them becoming over-touristed. (Perhaps some smart Alec will gloat that it's fine for the distances between populated pueblos to increase, because the path will be all the quieter for them ... ).
 
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I’ve never slept in Borrenes, so I can’t give any first hand comments on lodging. But, as @Charrito has pointed out, your only choice is the Hotel Rural Cornatel Médulas. I am surprised to see that it is a 3-star hotel — has there been some serious upgrading? @ranther, does the website look anything like where you stayed in 2018?

Charrito, a couple more Borrenes questions — is the bar permanently closed? I believe the bar was owned by/run by Marisol and Saturno, no? Is there now no bar in Borrenes?

Do you know what the pilgrim prices are in the hotel, if any? The website says 60€ for a double, that’s kind of steep.

I had heard that there is an albergue in the works, do you have any news about that?

Saturno is, I believe, the head of a local camino business organization, so he is definitely attuned to pilgrims and pilgrim needs.
1. It has certainly improved over the last couple of years.

2. They closed the bar, and opened another alongside the hotel. There's a lovely garden and outside terrace, there's a swimming-pool, the restaurant (with its open fire) is beautifully decorated, and the welcome/food is excellent.

3. As I said, it's not cheap. There are reductions for pilgrims, but a double room cost us 50 euros.

4. No albergue in the works, but Saturno is busy constructing an apartment next to the bar.

I know the place had a few less than favourable reviews in the past, but it really is a lovely place to stop. You will be well looked after by Marisol and Saturno.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I’ve never slept in Borrenes, so I can’t give any first hand comments on lodging. But, as @Charrito has pointed out, your only choice is the Hotel Rural Cornatel Médulas. I am surprised to see that it is a 3-star hotel — has there been some serious upgrading?
I stayed here and it was very nice, but 3 star? It seemed like an upmarket CR, but without the bells and whistles that I tend to associate with three star hotels— like gyms and swimming pools. Well, I guess I don't know what is meant by *** exactly. And if there was a swimming pool and a gym I didn't pay any attention to that.

Besides the very nice room, there was a big comfy lounge downstairs next to the dining room. I do remember breakfast being quite satisfactory but I didn't write any notes so I can't remember what it was. I really liked the place and the owner, who also owns the bar across the Plaza.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have been to Medulas twice and the drive from Ponferrrada did not look to exciting. Would I miss much if I skipped this stage?
I hope other Invierno veterans will weigh in on this, but I think it’s a lovely walk. Along the river for a while, then through some nice small towns, some vineyards. Villavieja is just a beautiful little hamlet, and the walk up there and beyond to the castle is really nice, IMO. @Theatregal gave her impressions of the part from Villavieja to Borrenes (in post #8 above).

I’ll be adding another stage tomorrow, and we’ll talk about the Borrenes to Médulas stretch, but I think it’s not one to skip, at least not for the reason that it’s boring or unpleasant.

I’ve added a few photos. Can I ask anyone who adds photos to use the thumbnail option? The larger sizes are hard to handle for some with slow internet. Clicking on the thumbnail will bring up a larger image for you.

EB62A9BC-2A78-47C7-963D-FC6C3782DBEE.jpeg CB2EE099-0056-4E04-9404-39234094874D.jpeg 3C8CF0B1-5DE8-4E8C-97E0-BAFC7D5061A0.jpeg
 

VNwalking

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Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Would I miss much if I skipped this stage?
Jenny, I thought it was beautiful, first a gentle ramble through the Bierzo countryside followed by the climb up to the castle. The latter — and then the view from there— was hard work but really wonderful walking with both landscape drama and some of the most beautiful Chestnut trees I've ever seen. The official Camino between Borrenes and Las Medulas was less interesting, but you could always do the alternative route that goes up through Orellan, which is much more scenic.
20190603_110027.jpg 20190603_113451.jpg 20190603_123808.jpg 20190603_124223.jpg 20190603_130349.jpg 20190603_131418.jpg 20190603_131322.jpg 20190603_132952.jpg 20190603_135253.jpg 20190603_134005.jpg
 
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Marbe2

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I can think of quite a few stages on different caminos which are much more boring! There are some lovely stretches through the vineyards from Cacabelos to Villafrance del Bierzo.
Yes, you are right! But the walk as far as Camponaraya, I would skip...which I don’t...but if there was one section I would...after Leon, It would be this section. We do the first 8km in the dark before the stores open and then eat breakfast In Camponaraya. After doing the route thru the wandering grape vines, right before one arrives in VdB, we now stick to NVI entering the town from the South...which is close to where we stay.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
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Marbe2

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
some of the most beautiful Chestnut trees I've ever seen.
That is not an understatement. If anyone had asked me before the Invierno — “what is your favorite tree?” I probably would have answered with a blank stare. But when I walked on the Invierno that changed, I started to notice these amazing trees, with feathery white-ish spikes giving off a scent that I can‘t describe too well, but it’s sweet and tropical and pungent sort of. And then I started noticing how they grow and grow and grow, out of dead trunks, in an amazing affirmation of the cycle of life. In 2019, on the Olvidado, any time my nose caught the scent of those blossoms, I knew I was going to see more of these beauties.

I have never walked in fall, and I don’t like to eat chestnuts, but coinciding with chestnut blossom time and cherry picking time (there are lots of abandoned orchards and lots of uncultivated cherry trees just growing where you can pick without trespassing on an active orchard) is HEAVEN for me.
 

jennysa

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2011,2012 2013,2014, 2015 Aragones 2012, 2017 2018 Via Francigena 2016,2017 Primitivo 2018,2019
I can think of quite a few stages on different caminos which are much more boring! There are some lovely stretches through the vineyards from Cacabelos to Villafrance del Bierzo.
Thanks to everyone for their input. I am now convinced and I will definitely not miss the first stage.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
cherry picking time (there are lots of abandoned orchards and lots of uncultivated cherry trees
OMG. The cherries on the Invierno in June. The couple below were harvesting their trees in Villavieja, but barely making a dent in the abunance.

20190603_103741.jpg 20190603_125945.jpg
 
An interesting piece about the name of Villalibre:

1611075073000.png

Villalibre de la Jurisdicción (León)

Cuentan que es el pueblo de las tres mentiras y que todas se encuentran en su nombre. Porque resulta que ni es villa, ni es libre, ni tiene jurisdicción, ya que en realidad depende del ayuntamiento del Priaranza del Bierzo.

Si visitáis esta localidad en plena comarca del Bierzo disfrutaréis de los paisajes y la buena gastronomía -una de sus especialidades es el botillo, pero también son famosas sus manzanas, cerezas y castañas, además del vino de la comarca-.

If anyone needs a transation, I'd be happy to provide one.
 
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Adding the link to this thread, which has links to a plethora of live from the camino accounts from 2019:
Thank you for that VN walking
I've just read over our thread of the Invierno again and it feels almost like yesterday since we walked it
We had so much fun on this Camino perhaps
For some reason, and don't ask me why because I don't understand it myself but the Invierno has such a special place in my heart, and the word Invierno always jumps out at me on the forum!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
That’s where

Maybe it’s because that’s where we met. 😁
That's it Laurie, we certainly had a few good laughs there.
I still remember Monteforte and the beautiful Parador on the hill and wish we had gone in there for a nosey "nose"
Also Ponte Ulla and the beautiful meal.
I wonder how Alan is...have you heard from him?
He was a bad influence on Charlie I think ...although Charlie was more than agreeable and can't remember much of "the influence" ....
We did find that there seemed to be a lot of road walking albeit small roads but
It's a Camino I would love to do again ....although I think that with the new Brierley book, it may get a bit crowded.

Also so many new ones to explore when times are safe
Next one will be the Ingles and the Ruta du Mar and as the song goes..."we gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing we ever do"!!
 

Becky 59

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (May 2018)
Camino Ingles (Aug 2019)
I'm excited to see this thread starting; I am hoping to do the Frances + Invierno the next time I walk (I have done Sarria to Santiago, and don't need to repeat that crowded section, I'm thinking). I'm hoping to do shorter days of 15-20 km (although if I start at SJPP, by the time I get to the Invierno I may be able to handle longer days), so will watch your shorter-day posts with interest!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm excited to see this thread starting; I am hoping to do the Frances + Invierno the next time I walk (I have done Sarria to Santiago, and don't need to repeat that crowded section, I'm thinking). I'm hoping to do shorter days of 15-20 km (although if I start at SJPP, by the time I get to the Invierno I may be able to handle longer days), so will watch your shorter-day posts with interest!
Welcome to the Invierno thread, @Becky 59. Those of us on the forum who have walked the Invierno are a pretty tight group, but we are always eager to proselytize for new converts. Hope you will feel free to post questions. Buen camino, Laurie
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
For some reason, and don't ask me why because I don't understand it myself but the Invierno has such a special place in my heart
Ditto.
For me, part of that is because for years I was so hesitant to walk it alone. It felt like many days of triumph, just being there. That it was so beautiful and full of history from beginning to end only adds to that special feeling.
 
Ditto.
For me, part of that is because for years I was so hesitant to walk it alone. It felt like many days of triumph, just being there. That it was so beautiful and full of history from beginning to end only adds to that special feeling.
I've walked the Invierno many times on my own, and later with a friend and with my wife, but this camino does have something special that few other routes have. Nobody should feel hesitant about walking it alone, although I can fully understand some people wanting to be surrounded by dozens (or hundreds) of fellow pilgrims.

The Invierno is, indeed, a beautiful camino.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Is this what you want? A few pilgrims leaving Sarria on the Camino Francés!

View attachment 91577
This is precisely why I am interested in the Invierno, the VdlP, the Mozárabe, the Lana, the Levante... and in 2018 why we walked the Norte.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
This is precisely why I am interested in the Invierno, the VdlP, the Mozárabe, the Lana, the Levante... and in 2018 why we walked the Norte.
You won't be disappointed, AJ, but go soon before the numbers shoot up. A Brierley guide will likely cause more interest.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 2. Borrenes to Las Médulas (7 km) or Puente Domingo Flórez (15 km)

I know there are some who do not combine visiting sites with walking, they are on pilgrimage and not interested in external distractions. BUT... Las Médulas is a World Heritage UNESCO site and an extremely interesting place to visit.

So I’ll make the case for walking 7 kms and then stopping in Las Médulas, taking off the pack and spending the day walking up to the spectacular mirador Orellán (through a chestnut forest from the town of Las Médulas), visiting the museum and the visitor’s center, and taking some of the trails through the base of the hills.

9F696111-C6C8-47ED-A71B-4A26E96DE864.jpeg

You can find many descriptions of the place, but it was a Roman gold mine, and those clever Romans dug lateral channels across the mountains, channeled water at increasing speeds through narrowing channels, and essentially exploded the inside of the mountains to disgorge the gold. A museum has very interesting and informative panels.

About the walk. It is a 7 km ascent of about 250 meters, off road, no chestnut forest. But pleasant. I haven’t walked this way from Borrenes recently, so I don’t have clear memories, maybe others can chime in.

From Borrenes, though, there is an alternative that takes you up through the “back way” so that you arrive at the top of Médulas, sail right into the mirador de Orellán and then descend to the town after gaping at that view. The forum guide discusses the pros and cons. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but would not do it without a GPS because it is slightly confusing in places.

Either way, in Médulas there are several options. I’ve stayed both in Complejo Rural Agoga (good food, pilgrim friendly, not cheap) and Casa Socorro (information in the guide). Both are fine. Albergue La Senda is reported by some to be open, but others have found it closed. It’s not listed in Gronze.

If you don’t want to spend time in Médulas, continuing on another 9 kms or so takes you to Puente Domingo Flórez, a mid sized town, the last before Galicia. All services. Many pilgrims have stayed in Hotel La Torre. It’s on gravel most of the way, with views over the valley and some more modern mines, and then the descent to town.

B3BC7A40-F59E-4B26-BF91-D77B9223086F.jpeg

Ok, time for others to chime in!
 
Day 2. Borrenes to Puente Domingo Flórez (15 km)

If you have spent the night in the albergue in Villavieja, it's close to 5 kilometres of mainly road walking and downhill until you get to Borrenes. A stop-off in the Hotel for a coffee or some breakfast would be a good idea.

From Borrenes, it's mainly uphill. Eventually, you cross the road (CV-191-2), and proceed parallel to it for a while before coming back to the road and heading up to Las Médulas.

It's an eerie landscape, once you see it, but - as Laurie has pointed out above - it's well worth a halt. There's an 'aula arqueólogica' just at the beginning of the small village, and at the end of the village you can sign up for guided tours of the area.

Las Médulas is a one-horse village, so don't be surprised if you find it a bit dead! At weekends, especially in summer, it can get packed out, but there ain't a great deal going on during the week.

Last year, in another post on here about the Invierno, there were a few 'differences of opinion' about places that were open in Las Médulas. I'll copy it later.

If you get the chance, the views from the mirador in Orellán are amazing. You can walk there from Las Médulas (just 2.2 kilometres), or go straight there from Borrenes, although it's a pretty steep climb, with quite a lot of road walking. Here's the view from the mirador:

1611152627634.png

After leaving Las Médulas, there's a slight uphill stretch* , followed by a never-ending downward path to Puente de Domingo Flórez (a couple of kilometres longer than the wayposts tell you, by the way!).

*At the top, there's a short detour to the left to the Mirador de Pedrices, with more spectacular views back over Las Médulas:

1611153020310.png

I'll post more about the 'watering-holes' that I know about in this short stage!
 
Just a thought:

In the hotel in Borrenes you can hire electric bikes (24-hour notice needed). If you are staying there at the end of your first stage you could hire one of these and ride up to the mirador of Orellán. There is also a beautiful unspoilt village, Voces, a short distance away from the road on your left as you go up. Here’s a link, with lots of photos:

https://www.elbierzodigital.com/pueblos-del-bierzo-voces-borrenes/203772
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Day 2. Borrenes to Puente Domingo Flórez (15 km)

If you have spent the night in the albergue in Villavieja, it's close to 5 kilometres of mainly road walking and downhill until you get to Borrenes. A stop-off in the Hotel for a coffee or some breakfast would be a good idea.

From Borrenes, it's mainly uphill. Eventually, you cross the road (CV-191-2), and proceed parallel to it for a while before coming back to the road and heading up to Las Médulas.

It's an eerie landscape, once you see it, but - as Laurie has pointed out above - it's well worth a halt. There's an 'aula arqueólogica' just at the beginning of the small village, and at the end of the village you can sign up for guided tours of the area.

Las Médulas is a one-horse village, so don't be surprised if you find it a bit dead! At weekends, especially in summer, it can get packed out, but there ain't a great deal going on during the week.

Last year, in another post on here about the Invierno, there were a few 'differences of opinion' about places that were open in Las Médulas. I'll copy it later.

If you get the chance, the views from the mirador in Orellán are amazing. You can walk there from Las Médulas (just 2.2 kilometres), or go straight there from Borrenes, although it's a pretty steep climb, with quite a lot of road walking. Here's the view from the mirador:

View attachment 91592

After leaving Las Médulas, there's a slight uphill stretch* , followed by a never-ending downward path to Puente de Domingo Flórez (a couple of kilometres longer than the wayposts tell you, by the way!).

*At the top, there's a short detour to the left to the Mirador de Pedrices, with more spectacular views back over Las Médulas:

View attachment 91593

I'll post more about the 'watering-holes' that I know about in this short stage!
Yes, waterng holes are good!
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Can you tell me which place you might recommend in Puente de Domingo Florez to overnight in?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Can you tell me which place you might recommend in Puente de Domingo Florez to overnight in?
I believe the only option is HR La Torre, which I linked to above. It has a main hotel and an annex. It gets basically good reviews from trusted forum members, like Charrito and BP, but I have never stayed there. I typically stay in Médulas and have a coffee in Puente in the place Charrito recommends, which is off camino but very friendly.

There was talk about an albergue in Puente de Domingo Flórez, which would be a good location, IMO, but I have not seen any activity or news about that.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
there were a few 'differences of opinion' about places that were open in Las Médulas. I'll copy it later.
I think this is one of the posts (look at post 8 and 14) Charrito is referring to. In that thread, I have put the phone numbers of both Casa Socorro and the Agoga as well as assurances that they are open year round. The hotel at the entrance to the town is the one that seems to open and close. And of course it would be worth it to check on the post-covid situation.
 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR THIS SECOND STAGE:

SLEEPING IN LAS MÉDULAS:


Casa Socorro is closed down (hopefully just temporarily) due to family illness.

The new albergue turístico (La Senda) showed no signs of life at 11 o’clock in the morning last October, but it is functioning, apparently, with an Italian guy and his partner running it.

The Hotel Medulio is pretty basic and, in my view, overpriced.

The Complejo Rural Agoga is fine, but it’s not cheap!

SLEEPING IN ORELLÁN:

There are one or two Casas Rurales in Orellán village. O Palleiro is excellent, and the food there is good too.

EATING/DRINKING IN LAS MÉDULAS:

You need to realise that Las Médulas is a tourist site, but not many people actually spend the night there. Finding a place to eat on a Sunday lunchtime in summer is difficult, due to the masses of people who make their way up there and want to have lunch before going home. In the evenings, Las Médulas becomes a bit of a ghost town (village), with few people about. Therefore, it might be complicated to find too many places open for food, especially outside the summer period.

These are some of the places that you will find in the village:

Bar Tapería O Camiño Real (closed on Wednesdays?): my favourite place!
Mesón Durandarte (closed on Tuesdays?)
Cafetería Restaurante Mari Fe (closed on Thursdays?)
Casa de Comidas Arcadio Travieso (no information?)
Restaurante Agoga (no information)
Hotel Medulio (open daily)

Don’t expect to find much open before 11 o’clock on a normal working day.

ARRIVING IN PUENTE DE DOMINGO FLÓREZ:

For some strange reason the official camino sends you all the way around the town and adds quite some distance to the stage. My suggestion is to turn right along Calle el Toral; this takes you past the main square and brings you out just opposite Bar El Cruce.

SLEEPING IN PUENTE DE DOMINGO FLÓREZ:

The only place is Hostal (NOT Hotel) La Torre, at the end of town, but convenient for the next day’s stage. Reduced prices for pilgrims, and you’ll probably be put up in the annex.

EATING/DRINKING IN PUENTE DE DOMINGO FLÓREZ:

Apart from the hostal bar and restaurant (a decent menu del día), you also have the extremely pilgrim-friendly Bar El Cruce in town.

Café Los Arcos in Calle el Toral has closed down.

There are three decent places to eat/drink near the Día supermarket on Calle Chao do Marco:

Restaurante Thais is closed, as they function as a pub at night and haven’t been able to obtain a licence to open.

El Bom Vita, just round the corner, does a menu del día and has a large terrace.

Mesón La Colmena, in the street parallel to Restaurante Thais, has a nice garden terrace, and does excellent free pinchos. They also have a fairly large number of ‘raciones’ available.

As far as supermarkets are concerned, the biggest one is Día, very close to the hostal on Calle Chao do Marco. There are others (Coviran in Calle el Toral, and Claudio, close to Bar El Cruce).
 
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peregrina2000

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Well, I think we just all need to have Charrito on speed dial so we can call with our questions as we arrive in any particular town. 😁

As far as supermarkets are concerned, the biggest one is Día, very close to the hostal on Calle Chao do Marco. There are others (Coviran in Calle el Toral, and Claudio, close to Bar El Cruce).

Am I unusual, or are there others who avoid Día supermarkets except when there are no other options? I think it was Sara_Dhooma’s go-to place, but I just don’t like it. Covirán would be my choice.
 
I stayed 2 nights at Las Medulas – Saturday and Sunday staying at the Complejo Rural Agoga in a lovely room at the front with a little balcony. More expensive than anywhere else on the Invierno but this was my “special experience” place that I had budgeted for. 80 euro for the two nights including breakfast.

I arrived mid afternoon on Saturday, so had time for a good walk about the town. At that time (June 2019) there was no longer a grocery store in town. The only options for food were the restaurants. I had Saturday dinner at O Camiño Real, a little garden café near the entrance to town, next to the closed albergue. Sunday dinner was at Agoga. Both breakfasts (included in the room price) at Agoga. The food was very good at both these places.

A woman in the garden café told me the best time to go to the Mirador Orellán was mid to late afternoon when the light on the orange peaks of the landscape was best. So Sunday morning I explored the lower trails. A spectacular morning.

lm2.jpg lm4.jpg lm3.jpg

The information centre and museum at the entrance to town was closed on Sunday but there was another info centre near Agoga that was open, where I had a nice talk with a woman who was very knowledgeable on the history of the area. You can also get a stamp for your credential here.

The doors to the Iglesia de San Simón y San Judas were open - not to enter but to light a candle through the bars in front of the door. A pretty little church.

LM.jpg lm5.jpg

I enjoyed the steady climb up to the Mirador, most of it along a forested path. As expected the views were astonishing.

lm6.jpg

A little way down from the viewing platform and across the road is the entrance to the tunnel that takes you to the mouth on the side of the hill with a different perspective of the view.

lm7.jpg
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Well, I think we just all need to have Charrito on speed dial so we can call with our questions as we arrive in any particular town. 😁



Am I unusual, or are there others who avoid Día supermarkets except when there are no other options? I think it was Sara_Dhooma’s go-to place, but I just don’t like it. Covirán would be my choice.
Yes...Dia is generally my last choice of Supermarkets....
 
Las Medulas to Puente de Domingo Flórez

Leaving Las Medulas, it’s very pleasant walk out of town. Turn back now and then for last views of Las Medulas!

P2.jpg

At the top of the first rise, there is a junction with a sign pointing the way to the Mirador Pedrices. The camino points another direction and starts to descend. Beautiful vistas ahead as the quiet road winds it’s way down the mountain.

P1.jpg

Keep a close eye for arrows and signs at the forks along the way. At some point along this road I took a wrong turn and I walked off camino. I didn’t realize it until about 4 km along, a small village with the sign “Yeres” appeared ahead. *Later, @VNwalking who was a week ahead of me, solved the mystery 🙏 looking at her wikiloc tracks, it seems I went left, rather than right at the first fork after the mirador. It was all good – through a wonderful interaction with some people in Yeres, a walk along a lovely quiet farm field and then via Las Vegas continuing on to a busier (bit scary) highway with beautiful views, I made it to Puente de Domingo Flórez 9 km later, entering the town from another direction.

p4.jpg p3.jpg

I stayed at Hostal la Torre in the annex. A comfortable, quiet place to stay.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
I honestly don't see why numbers are going to go up just because some guy produces a guide.
Well Charriro
VN walking is correct and the" proof of the pudding will be in the pie"
Just wait till the dam opens and Brierlys book will do that ...and there was me thinking you'd be happy with that!!!!

Not everyone is as "adventurousness" as your good self!
You live in Spain and know the ropes and you've walked it a thousand times!

Some folk are travelling from other countries and without some information re infrastructure, they would not attempt this Camino
Certainly, we would not have without the forum guide written by Laurie and with contributions from yourself!

Why do you think that numbers increased from the USA after the film The Way
And all our German friends descended upon the CF after some comedian wrote his book on it.
We have a few now that we'd like to walk but we won't attempt them without some information...whether from the form or from a book

I'm too old to sleep under the stars and eat grass!!
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Las Medulas to Puente de Domingo Flórez

Leaving Las Medulas, it’s very pleasant walk out of town. Turn back now and then for last views of Las Medulas!

View attachment 91623

At the top of the first rise, there is a junction with a sign pointing the way to the Mirador Pedrices. The camino points another direction and starts to descend. Beautiful vistas ahead as the quiet road winds it’s way down the mountain.

View attachment 91622

Keep a close eye for arrows and signs at the forks along the way. At some point along this road I took a wrong turn and I walked off camino. I didn’t realize it until about 4 km along, a small village with the sign “Yeres” appeared ahead. *Later, @VNwalking who was a week ahead of me, solved the mystery 🙏 looking at her wikiloc tracks, it seems I went left, rather than right at the first fork after the mirador. It was all good – through a wonderful interaction with some people in Yeres, a walk along a lovely quiet farm field and then via Las Vegas continuing on to a busier (bit scary) highway with beautiful views, I made it to Puente de Domingo Flórez 9 km later, entering the town from another direction.

View attachment 91625 View attachment 91624

I stayed at Hostal la Torre in the annex. A comfortable, quiet place to stay.
gronze lists them both as hostals?? Which one did you stay in?

Bridge

Hostal La Torre IIAt the exit, on the way
  • € 45

  • € 56
Hostal La Torre I **At the exit, on the way
  • 26-34 €

  • 35-45 €

 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
not to enter but to light a candle through the bars in front of the door. A pretty little church.

But oh my, those look like REAL candles! It is really hard to find a church on a camino with anything but electric candles, and it is just not the same.

gronze lists them both as hostals
Hi, @Marbe2, they are actually one enterprise, a main building and an annex, but it looks like one has two stars and the other none. You know, over the years we have heard a lot about people paying different prices at this place, and this might explain some of the inconsistency. A two star place will usually cost more than a no-star place.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
But oh my, those look like REAL candles! It is really hard to find a church on a camino with anything but electric candles, and it is just not the same.


Hi, @Marbe2, they are actually one enterprise, a main building and an annex, but it looks like one has two stars and the other none. You know, over the years we have heard a lot about people paying different prices at this place, and this might explain some of the inconsistency. A two star place will usually cost more than a no-star place.
Yes, I understood the two star, but I was a bit confused by another post indicating hostal ...not Hotel.....and then saw post Re the “annex” ..sent them an email inquiring about Hostal I. Good to know that it is all the one place. Thanks.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
For some reason, and don't ask me why because I don't understand it myself but the Invierno has such a special place in my heart,
For me, part of that is because for years I was so hesitant to walk it alone. It felt like many days of triumph, just being there. That it was so beautiful and full of history from beginning to end only adds to that special feeling.
Let me be the third to say “me too.” I’ve now walked the Invierno three times, and I hope to return again. Not as many times as Charrito, I know, but there is something about it that keeps pulling me back. On my first Invierno, I remember walking through the tiny hamlet of Bendilló. An elderly woman sitting in a chair outside waved me over and we talked. She told me I was the first pilgrim she had ever seen and she gave me a big hug and kiss to take to the apostle. She was crying. It really touched me. There is just something about the natural beauty and the ancient-ness of this part of Galicia that gets to you. Maybe all the talk about witches in Galicia has something to it, but there is definitely a feeling of mystery and timelessness. I have to think that some of that magic will disappear if the crowds get too big, pilgrim menus appear all over the place, and the pilgrim becomes commonplace.
 
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ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
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
gronze lists them both as hostals?? Which one did you stay in?

Bridge

Hostal La Torre IIAt the exit, on the way
  • € 45

  • € 56
Hostal La Torre I **At the exit, on the way
  • 26-34 €

  • 35-45 €

I stayed in La Torre II, the annex, and booked on booking.com for 40 € in 2018, for a single room with breakfast. Menu del dia in the afternoon was good, room was ok, breakfast was like most other Spanish breakfast in a bar, killing or no use for diabeticos. Some noise from the bar at late evening. I would stay there again!
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
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 2. Borrenes to Puente Domingo Flórez (15 km)

If you have spent the night in the albergue in Villavieja, it's close to 5 kilometres of mainly road walking and downhill until you get to Borrenes. A stop-off in the Hotel for a coffee or some breakfast would be a good idea.

From Borrenes, it's mainly uphill. Eventually, you cross the road (CV-191-2), and proceed parallel to it for a while before coming back to the road and heading up to Las Médulas.

It's an eerie landscape, once you see it, but - as Laurie has pointed out above - it's well worth a halt. There's an 'aula arqueólogica' just at the beginning of the small village, and at the end of the village you can sign up for guided tours of the area.

Las Médulas is a one-horse village, so don't be surprised if you find it a bit dead! At weekends, especially in summer, it can get packed out, but there ain't a great deal going on during the week.

Last year, in another post on here about the Invierno, there were a few 'differences of opinion' about places that were open in Las Médulas. I'll copy it later.

If you get the chance, the views from the mirador in Orellán are amazing. You can walk there from Las Médulas (just 2.2 kilometres), or go straight there from Borrenes, although it's a pretty steep climb, with quite a lot of road walking. Here's the view from the mirador:

View attachment 91592

After leaving Las Médulas, there's a slight uphill stretch* , followed by a never-ending downward path to Puente de Domingo Flórez (a couple of kilometres longer than the wayposts tell you, by the way!).

*At the top, there's a short detour to the left to the Mirador de Pedrices, with more spectacular views back over Las Médulas:

View attachment 91593

I'll post more about the 'watering-holes' that I know about in this short stage!
This was the day when I lost some of what triggered me to walk the Invierno. Started out from Borrenes at 7 to have lots of time in Las Medulas. In the middle of the hill before town I saw a sign for a path to Orellan, to the left, 4 km. I should have walked there instead of following the camino marks. When I got to Las Medulas. too early in the morning, everything was closed and I did not know where to go. so I gave up and continued to S DdF.
The walk down was a nice walk and I concluded that nice nature was better look than seeing the result of a conquers killing of nature for gold. 6FB477F7-4859-433A-85BE-3B11FF6C3EE7.jpeg B032B922-2965-4F99-AB2F-F3CE0179F8BC.jpeg
 

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
So I’ll make the case for walking 7 kms and then stopping in Las Médulas, taking off the pack and spending the day walking up to the spectacular mirador Orellán (through a chestnut forest from the town of Las Médulas), visiting the museum and the visitor’s center, and taking some of the trails through the base of the hills.
I did this and was so happy that I did.
I haven’t walked this way from Borrenes recently, so I don’t have clear memories, maybe others can chime in.
Basically, it's a gentle uphill through scrubby Forest that looked like it had been burned in the last decade or so.
20190604_092846 - Copy.jpg
Las Médulas is a one-horse village, so don't be surprised if you find it a bit dead!
I was there on a Tuesday and it was more than a bit dead — almost everything (including the hotel) was closed. So if you come through on a Tuesday, bring snacks! there is an open bar near the center of town but with very limited food.
20190604_171554.jpg 20190604_191502.jpg 20190604_180010.jpg
The hotel at the entrance to the town is the one that seems to open and close.
Yes, when I went through it was completely shut, and I thought it might have gone out of business.

At the top, there's a short detour to the left to the Mirador de Pedrices, with more spectacular views back over Las Médulas:
Absolutely do this late afternoon if you spend a day in Las Medulas. You will be going near there tomorrow, but the morning light is not as good for photographs.

Another nice option for a gentle walk in the afternoon besides the usual walks in the old mines is 2 Lago Somido, about 2 km out of town in the same general direction. There are actually two smaller lakes here, one close to the road and one a little further away.
20190604_183556.jpg 20190604_184732 (2).jpg
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
When I got to Las Medulas everything was closed

I was there on a Tuesday and it was more than a bit dead — almost everything (including the hotel) was closed.

VN, I’m sure you must have told us, but where did you stay?

I just want to make sure prospective Invierno folks know that the modern-ish hotel at the entrance to town is not the place most pilgrims stay anyway. Both the Agoga (where @Theatregal and I have stayed for a nice splurge-ish night) and the Casa Socorro (clean, basic pilgrim accommodations with a kitchen) are open every day, even in the winter. If you find restaurants closed and haven’t brought food, the Agoga has a restaurant and a bar, so full meals or snacks are possible.

And if the albergue ever opens, it looks like it will be very nice indeed.

Agoga‘s price (make sure you tell them you are a pilgrim) includes breakfast and they will leave it out for you if you leave early. It’s a very nice family run place. They do lots of tour bus lunches, so it gets a bit crazy, but the food is much better than your average tour bus place. And as @Theatregal says, it’s a very pleasant spot.

BTW, in terms of tourist attractions, it’s the usual “closed Mondays” for the internpretation center and the museum, and the walk-through tour of one of the galleries/tunnels is closed on Tuesday. @Theatregal reports closed on Sundays for the museum, but I wonder if it was Sunday afternoon, which is also a “normal Spanish closing time.” But visiting Médulas is mainly about the natural (or un-natural) environment, so day of week is less important.

Totally agree about the late afternoon views!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
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VN, I’m sure you must have told us, but where did you stay?

I just want to make sure prospective Invierno folks know that the modern-ish hotel at the entrance to town is not the place most pilgrims stay anyway. Both the Agoga (where @Theatregal and I have stayed for a nice splurge-ish night) and the Casa Socorro (clean, basic pilgrim accommodations with a kitchen) are open every day, even in the winter. If you find restaurants closed and haven’t brought food, the Agoga has a restaurant and a bar, so full meals or snacks are possible.

And if the albergue ever opens, it looks like it will be very nice indeed.

Agoga‘s price (make sure you tell them you are a pilgrim) includes breakfast and they will leave it out for you if you leave early. It’s a very nice family run place. They do lots of tour bus lunches, so it gets a bit crazy, but the food is much better than your average tour bus place. And as @Theatregal says, it’s a very pleasant spot.

BTW, in terms of tourist attractions, it’s the usual “closed Mondays” for the internpretation center and the museum, and the walk-through tour of one of the galleries/tunnels is closed on Tuesday. @Theatregal reports closed on Sundays for the museum, but I wonder if it was Sunday afternoon, which is also a “normal Spanish closing time.” But visiting Médulas is mainly about the natural (or un-natural) environment, so day of week is less important.

Totally agree about the late afternoon views!
Sorry for butting in!
We stayed in casa Socorro which was very nice...closed now I believe due to family illness
We arrived on a Tuesday and yes, everything was closed including the hotel and all the cafes and restaurants ...I think that Tuesday might be the villages "day off"
We made do with cold tapas from the bar which filled the gap!
The tourist office was open though
The new albergue looked very nice and the owner gave us a tour of the place ...he said that they were hoping to open later that year...had a nice garden too
The motto of the story......try not to arrive on a Tuesday!!!
 
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Sorry for butting in!
We stayed in casa Socorro which was very nice...closed now I believe due to family illness
We arrived on a Tuesday and yes, everything was closed including the hotel and all the cafes and restaurants ...I think that Tuesday might be the villages "day off"
We made do with cold tapas from the bar which filled the gap!
The tourist office was open though
The new albergue looked very nice and the owner gave us a tour of the place ...he said that they were hoping to open later that year...had a nice garden too
The motto of the story......try not to arrive on a Tuesday!
On my first Invierno, I walked from Ponferrada to Puente de Domingo Flórez on the first day! I had been to Las Médulas many times previously, so I didn't really fancy spending the night there. To be honest, it was hard work, but I did have a lovely break for lunch at O Camiño Real.

1611231820428.png 1611231879477.png

I have stayed at the Hotel Medulio and Casa Socorro. As I said yesterday, the hotel is overpriced for what it offers. Casa Socorro is fairly basic, but it's fine for us. The new albergue has not necessarily been set up for peregrinos, but it looks very nice, both outside and inside.

Hotel Medulio:

1611231944979.png

My recommendation would be to spend the first night in Villavieja or Borrenes, then stop off in Las Médulas to have a good walk around (making sure that you also get up to one of the miradores), before walking down to Puente de Domingo Flórez and Hostal La Torre.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I really appreciate your perspective and your valuable concrete information and experience..I am fleshing things out...and your contributions are very helpful, Charrito. Sometimes a place is closed, for some out of the ordinary reason. I have gone through certain towns on the CF that indicate an albergue or bar is open, based upon their own self- reporting to this website‘s annual camino survey as well as google maps posted hours that very day....Only to find when we got to the bar or store, it was closed during normal operating hours. I completely trust your information, googles, as well as @peregrina2000 and et.al. Sometimes closures are due to weather ...or perhaps a family matter, or...who knows. Some of these places are small, and who can tell what happened. Maybe the town is at a funeral or wedding? Therefore, I never try to put myself or my 80 year old sister in a position that potentially could be problematic. So now I call on the way to check if the establishment is open. I always keep in mind what I learned when I was younger hiking in the austrian alps...to keep a reserve of food,energy, and especially water that you will have when you arrive at your next destination. I also carry a tourniquet (4oz), aluminum blanket and pills to purify water. Because even with the best made plans things can go wrong.

While reading @peregrina2000 the 2019 Invierno guide on-line, I noted that Movistar was recommended for best cellphone reception. If there are dead areas that you know of, would you let us know where you have experienced this.
Thanks!
 
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BTW, in terms of tourist attractions, it’s the usual “closed Mondays” for the internpretation center and the museum, and the walk-through tour of one of the galleries/tunnels is closed on Tuesday. @Theatregal reports closed on Sundays for the museum, but I wonder if it was Sunday afternoon, which is also a “normal Spanish closing time.”
I looked back on my notes and yes, it was unusual that the museum was closed the Sunday I was there. The woman at the info centre near Agoga said it was usually open on Sunday but not this Sunday.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Thanks, it's just that I wonder at times whether it's worthwhile making an effort to help.

I am not basing my information on just one trip. I know the whole area like the back of my hand, and have been to all of these places dozens of times (not always walking).

I have Movistar and it has probably the best reception of all. However, there are some stages on the Invierno where you will be some way from 'civilisation', and may have a problem or two.

I know you and others are kindly extending a lot of time and energy to help some of us who have never done this more isolated route. Of course, Charitto, you are the only one who can decide whether the time and effort is worth it to you. But I do want to emphasize that I truely am grateful for all of your input😀!
 

Flogwail

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I followed the 1st half Lana thread with great interest and I was delighted to be able to contribute from my own experiences and also to see and compare it from other's perspectives. It was a pleasure and I certainly wouldn't have seen it as time and effort.
I want to walk this way and I was happy to see this thread start, as I hope to learn from it too...
Not to offend, but for me, everyone's views are what make it interesting, not just the expert's view..
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am making the executive decision that we have had enough discussion of visiting Las Médulas. To summarize the high points

Accommodations
Hotel Medulio not recommended and may be closed anyway
Casa Socorro — most popular pilgrim place, rooms in a house with kitchen, 25€ for single, or thereabouts; no Tuesday closure, but currently closed because of family illness
Hotel Rural Agoga — very nice, restaurant with good menú del día, open all days, good breakfast, a bit pricey

Meals
As a tourist destination, there are lots of restaurants for the day trippers. For some reason, many/most close on Tuesdays. This can be confirmed by scrolling through TripAdvisor, where people give bad reviews to the Marife restaurant, noting that they had few choices because it was a Tuesday.

Tourist sites
The Aula Arqueológica is right at the entrance to town, near the Hotel Medulio. Good displays, very interesting. Hours here.

Visitor‘s center further along in town near the church. Hours here.

The gallery (tunnel) is closed on Tuesdays. Entrance and ticket office (there’s a very small fee) is next to the Mirador/viewing spot Orellán. Information and hours here.

But, as @Theatregal ’s experience shows, you just cannot be sure that even published hours will be adhered to. Many of these are small scale operations, and if the guy who is supposed to show up on Sunday is sick, the place will not open on Sunday. In Médulas, that’s less of a problem, because most of the beauty is outdoors. But you just have to be prepared.

If you see a mistake or have anything to add to this post, please send it to me in a PM.

So, tomorrow we will carry on, leaving Médulas behind. I really hope people can cool down and realize that everyone is describing their own personal experiences. No one is trying to deceive anyone or lie to anyone.

Most importantly, this is supposed to be FUN, not stressful and filled with sniping.

Buen camino, Laurie
 
Year of past OR future Camino
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I am making the executive decision that we have had enough discussion of visiting Las Médulas. To summarize the high points

Accommodations
Hotel Medulio not recommended and may be closed anyway
Casa Socorro — most popular pilgrim place, rooms in a house with kitchen, 25€ for single, or thereabouts; no Tuesday closure, but currently closed because of family illness
Hotel Rural Agoga — very nice, restaurant with good menú del día, open all days, good breakfast, a bit pricey

Meals
As a tourist destination, there are lots of restaurants for the day trippers. For some reason, many/most close on Tuesdays. This can be confirmed by scrolling through TripAdvisor, where people give bad reviews to the Marife restaurant, noting that they had few choices because it was a Tuesday.

Tourist sites
The Aula Arqueológica is right at the entrance to town, near the Hotel Medulio. Good displays, very interesting. Hours here.

Visitor‘s center further along in town near the church. Hours here.

The gallery (tunnel) is closed on Tuesdays. Entrance and ticket office (there’s a very small fee) is next to the Mirador/viewing spot Orellán. Information and hours here.

But, as @Theatregal ’s experience shows, you just cannot be sure that even published hours will be adhered to. Many of these are small scale operations, and if the guy who is supposed to show up on Sunday is sick, the place will not open on Sunday. In Médulas, that’s less of a problem, because most of the beauty is outdoors. But you just have to be prepared.

If you see a mistake or have anything to add to this post, please send it to me in a PM.

So, tomorrow we will carry on, leaving Médulas behind. I really hope people can cool down and realize that everyone is describing their own personal experiences. No one is trying to deceive anyone or lie to anyone.

Most importantly, this is supposed to be FUN, not stressful and filled with sniping.

Buen camino, Laurie
Yes fun, and that's what I remember most about this Camino, as well of course as the beautiful scenery and the nature.but most of all the welcome we received from everyone we met during our time there.

Also thank you for starting this thread....as for me, it has awakened all the excitement of walking this, or another Camino again when the time is safe for everyone.I must admit that during this pandemic my "joie de vivre" in regards to anything "Camino" was beginning to wane but here I am getting excited again at reading the wonderful descriptions of those who walked before us!

Now with that in mind......
This morning I popped THE question...
Didn't even have to get down on one knee!

"So pet, would you fancy walking the Invierno again?
"Wouldn't mind, good idea"
Eureka!! Job done!!
So here I am with the folder...and the PDF out again and things are looking up!!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Yes fun, and that's what I remember most about this Camino, as well of course as the beautiful scenery and the nature.but most of all the welcome we received from everyone we met during our time there.

Also thank you for starting this thread....as for me, it has awakened all the excitement of walking this, or another Camino again when the time is safe for everyone.I must admit that during this pandemic my "joie de vivre" in regards to anything "Camino" was beginning to wane but here I am getting excited again at reading the wonderful descriptions of those who walked before us!

Now with that in mind......
This morning I popped THE question...
Didn't even have to get down on one knee!

"So pet, would you fancy walking the Invierno again?
"Wouldn't mind, good idea"
Eureka!! Job done!!
So here I am with the folder...and the PDF out again and things are looking up!!
Annette, I actually find joy, in your joy, of planning your next camino!
I am an admitted planner. So, I find having a solid plan frees me to breathe in the beauty and enjoy the trail!

My biggest concern, so far is our ability to find the markers. I have read that the trail is well marked....but then have also read, in their personal accounts, how some pilgrims took the wrong trail. If we start in early morning in September, we would likely be leaving in the dark to avoid the heat. So prior study of the route is important to me. I have ordered Brierley’s guide to get his maps which were helpful on planning my first CF and CP. I do not do computer tracks.
 
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peregrina2000

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Staff member
Day 3. Médulas to Sobradelo (17.5 km) or O Barco de Valdeorras (27 km)

If you decided to go beyond Médulas to Puente de Domingo Flórez, you will have about 20 into Barco, but I think you see the consensus that a stop in Médulas is definitely worthwhile, food travails and all!

This day’s walk takes you from the region of Bierzo to Galicia, and there are some really beautiful kms along the side of the Sil River.

As you leave Las Médulas, you will have a chance to get another look down over the Médulas, from the Mirador Pedrices, which is about .5 km off-camino. If you’ve seen it from Orellán, this is a poor second. At least that’s my opinion.

Then the walk to Puente de Domingo Flórez is very pleasant, no towns, just dirt trails with views down to modern mines occasionally. The town has all services as we have described. When you cross the Sil as you leave Puente de Domingo Flórez, and enter Galicia, you will be walking with views of the Sil River for a while. The Xunta has put in some picnic tables, and it is quite pleasant. There is a fair amount of industry across the river which will interfere with your idyllic views, but of course we need industry!

Sobradelo is the first town you will come to, and it has all services. For accommodations, the only game in town is Bar Mar, where there is an albergue of sorts. I have no first hand experience, because I always walk from Médulas to Barco de Valdeorras. I have been photographed for his facebook page, though, a tradition in Bar Mar.

My favorite place to stop is across the street from Bar Mar at the Centro Social. Very nice people, home-cooked food with good prices.

If you walk down into town, there is a good restaurant at the other side of the historical bridge. I think it was @Rebekah who recommended it and has eaten there.

For those who want to go on to Barco de Valdeorras, it is one of my favorite small cities on the Invierno. The route from Sobradelo is pleasant, goes through some small villages with some stretches on asphalt.

There is a LONG slog on the side of the road going into town, and you think you will never get there, because the center is many minutes away from the entrance into the town, which has several barrios attached to its central core.

But the town is nice with lots of choices. I have stayed in both Pensión do Lar and Tortuga. Tortuga is a family affair, rooms in the apartment buildig next door, recently remodeled or sort of remodeled. The family is very kind but a bit unusual. They provide a huge breakfast. Pensión do Lar is attached to a very good restaurant (I had a great menú del día there, though I know others are not big fans).

The highlight of Barco for me is the river walk— tons of cafés, playgrounds, it is quite the place to be during nice weather. Kids swim there, and there is a small white water section in the middle where young teens whoop and holler as they get carried a few hundred years.

This is also where I got my failing shoes repaired by a very nice shoe guy — five minutes from closing, he turned his sign to cerrado and focused on my shoes till they were done.

So those are the two options for this day’s walk and I know there are lots with experience here! I hope there are lots of questions, too, because that helps us to focus our comments better.
 
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Annette, I actually find joy, in your joy, of planning your next camino!
I am an admitted planner. So, I find having a solid plan frees me to breathe in the beauty and enjoy the trail!

My biggest concern, so far is our ability to find the markers. I have read that the trail is well marked....but then have also read, in their personal accounts, how some pilgrims took the wrong trail. If we start in early morning in September, we would likely be leaving in the dark to avoid the heat. So prior study of the route is important to me. I have ordered Brierley’s guide to get his maps which were helpful on planning my first CF and CP. I do not do computer tracks.
Hi Marbe2
The Invierno is very well marked with many new bollards and markings ....even we never got lost on this one and that's got to be some sort of miracle!
We're no good at the tech stuff either so depend on the written word!
The forum PDF is brilliant and I believe updated since we walked it so even better now and that will be our first port of call.will also have a look at Beierlys book....need all the help we can get
Also I printed out both Theatregiel plus VN walking accounts of their journey
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
My biggest concern, so far is our ability to find the markers. I have read that the trail is well marked....but then have also read, in their personal accounts, how some pilgrims took the wrong trail.
@Marbe2,

I know how that is a concern on these untravelled caminos, but I really think that if people don’t get distracted, there is no problem. The Xunta has put in tons and tons of markers, and I’ll let others see if they agree with my assessment.

I was just set to send this when I saw @Annette london ‘s post come in. I totally agree with her. I have a GPS, which I used on my last Camino (which was Olvidado plus Invierno) but I didn’t even bring the tracks for the Invierno. I don’t like feeling dependent on it, and I remembered that the marking was good from my previous invierno, but this time is was spectacular! Even maybe too much.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
@Marbe2,

I know how that is a concern on these untravelled caminos, but I really think that if people don’t get distracted, there is no problem. The Xunta has put in tons and tons of markers, and I’ll let others see if they agree with my assessment.

I was just set to send this when I saw @Annette london ‘s post come in. I totally agree with her. I have a GPS, which I used on my last Camino (which was Olvidado plus Invierno) but I didn’t even bring the tracks for the Invierno. I don’t like feeling dependent on it, and I remembered that the marking was good from my previous invierno, but this time is was spectacular! Even maybe too much.
Great! As I said, we will likely leave in the dark. Upon arrival,
we always check while it is still light, our way out of town, to our next destination. But I wanted to make sure the signs are easy to locate as we progress. Vegetation in the winter is sparser, while in late summer foliage can obscure visibility. I purchased a couple of inexpensive LED headlights that are rechargeable with USB connection. They provide much better lighting so If the signage isn’t covered we should we fine. Thanks!
 
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My biggest concern, so far is our ability to find the markers. I have read that the trail is well marked....but then have also read, in their personal accounts, how some pilgrims took the wrong trail.
@Marbe2 I was one of those that took the wrong trail (out of Medulas) but it was because of my own inattention! The fork was well marked as I found out later - I think I was just in dreamland, wandering along, very happy with the beautiful morning. :D
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
@Marbe2 I was one of those that took the wrong trail (out of Medulas) but it was because of my own inattention! The fork was well marked as I found out later - I think I was just in dreamland, wandering along, very happy with the beautiful morning. :D
Theatregal, it is easy to do. We took a wrong turn on our last CF...which I had done 7 times....
 

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