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Thanks and just one more question re alternative routes

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
Firstly I would just like to thank all the people on this forum for all the advice that helped make our first half of Camino Frances in May such a great and enjoyable success. I bought New Balance trail runners instead of wearing my trusty Salomon boots, I wore Injinji toe socks even though they felt weird to begin with ,and therefore didnt have any problems with my problem feet (usually I get blisters and planter fasciitis on long distance trails), We split day 1 from St Jean into 2 and stayed at la Borda which was great and we used Caminofacil to preorder a taxi at Carrion de las Condes on a Sunday at the end of our walk . etc, etc, etc. Thank you all so much for these useful insights.
We have been home about a week and have now booked flights to Madrid in September so that we can continue and complete our Camino. I just have one more question . The second half of the Camino appears to have more detours or alternative paths , I think we have decided to do Samos but just wondered if any of the others are "must do's".
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Leaving Villafranca del Bierzo I recommend the "high" route that goes through Pradela.


And stop at least for lunch at Albergue Lamas in Pradela - I had delicious homemade cake and the best sandwich that I've had on the Camino with veggies from their garden.
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
Leaving Villafranca del Bierzo I recommend the "high" route that goes through Pradela.


And stop at least for lunch at Albergue Lamas in Pradela - I had delicious homemade cake and the best sandwich that I've had on the Camino with veggies from their garden.
Thank you, will take a look.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
The variant, diversion, to Vilar de Donas always draws me.
A very short stretch of the N-547 takes you to Meson a Brea and rejoins the marked Camino
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Another detour possibility is the
extraordinary monastery Sobrado dos Monaxes slightly off the beaten path just 20 km north of Arzua or Melide. This Cistercian complex is a Baroque masterpiece; when there I wandered through the many structures in awe. Visitors may stay in the pilgrim albegue or the more comfortable hospederia. Evening vespers service was held in a splendid circular contemporary space. All was either painted white or natural wood and lit by thick candles. The monks wore their white robes and responded in unison. It was truly timeless and memorable.
In March 2007 I detoured to Sobrado from the Camino Frances at Arzua; the round trip walk was roughly 50 km. When the porter saw my American passport he delightedly (and silently) pointed to several library shelves filled with the works of Thomas Merton, the renowned American Trappist.

Here is the monastery's current web page
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
You can find this more pleasant route as mentioned by C Clearly in the above post 7 km from Leon on the CF in
the town La Virgen del Camino.

Opposie the contmporary church/Basilica one can choose to either continue on the main CF which parallels the noisy N120 road or follow the peaceful alternate camino going slightly SW towards Villar de Mazarife.

However do stop to visit the splendid contemporary Basilica. Many pilgrims rush right past and miss a very special place.
 
Last edited:

lindam

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
The second half of the Camino appears to have more detours or alternative paths , I think we have decided to do Samos but just wondered if any of the others are "must do's".
Depending upon how energetic and fit you are feeling, I can highly recommend the Dragonte route as one of the options leaving from Villafranca del Bierzo. It is a challenging day's detour from the main route but remains as one of my all time favourite days while walking various routes with its spectacular views and peaceful surroundings. If you decide to follow this route, I suggest staying in Albergue Leo in Villafranca del Bierzo the night before. A lovely place with gracious hosts who will be able to answer any questions you might have about the Dragonte. You will also find details on the Forum about this lesser-travelled path and there is a FB group offering up-to-date information as well.
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Leaving Villafranca del Bierzo I recommend the "high" route that goes through Pradela.


And stop at least for lunch at Albergue Lamas in Pradela - I had delicious homemade cake and the best sandwich that I've had on the Camino with veggies from their garden.
I second this suggestion. Take extra water though. We headed down before Pradela because we didn't know anything was there but since I heard good things about the albergue.

This post has a map and picture to show how easy it is to find the route from Vilafranca.
 
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dbier

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
The variant, diversion, to Vilar de Donas always draws me.
A very short stretch of the N-547 takes you to Meson a Brea and rejoins the marked Camino
I just did the out and back to Vilar de Donas, since I had left my lame husband at the café just before the turnoff. July 2021.

Unfortunately, it was closed. Try to check first before you go😔
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
I just did the out and back to Vilar de Donas, since I had left my lame husband at the café just before the turnoff. July 2021.

Unfortunately, it was closed. Try to check first before you go😔
That is a shame. The little mural of the risen Christ, portrayed more like a bewildered man than a risen god touches my heart every time.
The custodian usually arrives at 11:00 but I’ve no doubt hours will be variable these days
 
Past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Leaving Leon, be sure to take the more pleasant route through Villar de Mazarife and not the one through Villadangos.

do stop to visit the splendid contemporary Basilica [in La Virgen del Camino]. Many pilgrims rush right past and miss a very special place.

I agree with both. You get to the church at or near the split of the ways. When we walked Vilar de Mazarife was the alternative route. Somewhere I've seen it recently as the main route. Either way it actually has wild meadows in addition to all those meseta agricultural fields you've seen plenty of before León.

Q09700-HOR.jpg Q11400-HOR.jpg
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Firstly I would just like to thank all the people on this forum for all the advice that helped make our first half of Camino Frances in May such a great and enjoyable success. I bought New Balance trail runners instead of wearing my trusty Salomon boots, I wore Injinji toe socks even though they felt weird to begin with ,and therefore didnt have any problems with my problem feet (usually I get blisters and planter fasciitis on long distance trails), We split day 1 from St Jean into 2 and stayed at la Borda which was great and we used Caminofacil to preorder a taxi at Carrion de las Condes on a Sunday at the end of our walk . etc, etc, etc. Thank you all so much for these useful insights.
We have been home about a week and have now booked flights to Madrid in September so that we can continue and complete our Camino. I just have one more question . The second half of the Camino appears to have more detours or alternative paths , I think we have decided to do Samos but just wondered if any of the others are "must do's".
Yes Samos is an excellent route.
From Sarria, if you have time, take a taxi to Lugo and back so you can visit the old city and walk around the top of the walls.
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
Yes Samos is an excellent route.
From Sarria, if you have time, take a taxi to Lugo and back so you can visit the old city and walk around the top of the walls.
Thankyou, we will probably have time for that.
 
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Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
I agree with both. You get to the church at or near the split of the ways. When we walked Vilar de Mazarife was the alternative route. Somewhere I've seen it recently as the main route. Either way it actually has wild meadows in addition to all those meseta agricultural fields you've seen plenty of before León.

View attachment 126845 View attachment 126846
Yes , I have been looking at this path and we will definitely take it. Thanks
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
I just did the out and back to Vilar de Donas, since I had left my lame husband at the café just before the turnoff. July 2021.

Unfortunately, it was closed. Try to check first before you go😔
Thankyou, we will check.
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
My only advice would be to take the bus from the center of Leon to Virgin del Camino. Saves walking thru the industrial area…Buen Camino.
Haha, thanks for the suggestion and I am no fan of industrial areas but think it would feel a bit cheaty.
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
Depending upon how energetic and fit you are feeling, I can highly recommend the Dragonte route as one of the options leaving from Villafranca del Bierzo. It is a challenging day's detour from the main route but remains as one of my all time favourite days while walking various routes with its spectacular views and peaceful surroundings. If you decide to follow this route, I suggest staying in Albergue Leo in Villafranca del Bierzo the night before. A lovely place with gracious hosts who will be able to answer any questions you might have about the Dragonte. You will also find details on the Forum about this lesser-travelled path and there is a FB group offering up-to-date information as well.
Thanks. I have quite dodgy knees that sometimes flare up after challenging terrain and so feel that I don’t want to risk them when I have so far to go before we reach Santiago. However if we ever do another Camino we will probably make it shorter maybe starting from Leon and then I would love to give it a try.
 
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Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
The variant, diversion, to Vilar de Donas always draws me.
A very short stretch of the N-547 takes you to Meson a Brea and rejoins the marked Camino
I have just had a look at the website, it looks beautiful, we will probably take a look.
 
Past OR future Camino
May 2013, Oct 2017, May 2022
Another detour possibility is the
extraordinary monastery Sobrado dos Monaxes slightly off the beaten path just 20 km north of Arzua or Melide. This Cistercian complex is a Baroque masterpiece; when there I wandered through the many structures in awe. Visitors may stay in the pilgrim albegue or the more comfortable hospederia. Evening vespers service was held in a splendid circular contemporary space. All was either painted white or natural wood and lit by thick candles. The monks wore their white robes and responded in unison. It was truly timeless and memorable.
In March 2007 I detoured to Sobrado from the Camino Frances at Arzua; the round trip walk was roughly 50 km. When the porter saw my American passport he delightedly (and silently) pointed to several library shelves filled with the works of Thomas Merton, the renowned American Trappist.

Here is the monastery's current web page
Thanks for this info. I have saved. I was not aware of this monastery.
 

Little TT

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (June 2020)
You can find this more pleasant route as mentioned by C Clearly in the above post 7 km from Leon on the CF in
the town La Virgen del Camino.

Opposie the contmporary church/Basilica one can choose to either continue on the main CF which parallels the noisy N120 road or follow the peaceful alternate camino going slightly SW towards Villar de Mazarife.

However do stop to visit the splendid contemporary Basilica. Many pilgrims rush right past and miss a very special place.
Thankyou, we are going to take that path. We will also stop and look at the Basilica.
 

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