Saturday, 30 June 2012

Diary of the Camino Primitivo 2012

In late April 2012 we left home to go to Tineo, near Oviedo, and walk the Camino Primitivo to Santiago de Compostela. Those who have followed our previous blogs will know that in 2010 due to bad weather, and lack of time, we turned back in Tineo and returned to the coast to walk part of the Camino del Norte. This year, rather than retracing our steps from Oviedo we decided to start in Tineo.

The diary below which tells of our travels and walk has now been edited to run down the page, rather than in normal blog format, so you can start at the top and read down.

There are some photos here and more on Flickr together with photos from other walks.

We have come to the end of our time on the Primitivo, but not the end of our walking. Most of the walking is in the UK but we hope to return to Spain to walk to Covadonga and the Camino del Norte in future years.

Any further walks will be on the Walking Around blog at

A few photos to start off :-

Reflective vests are useful, and required on the roads when the visibility is poor

Sheltering from the rain

The church in Fonsagrada

Snow ploughs still ready for action as we left Fonsagrada

Walking in the rain

Clouds over hills near Cádabo

Friday, 29 June 2012

Leaving home:- Saturday 21st April

Our time of planning, preparation and training are finally over. Our rucksacks are packed and it is time to go. We left home on foot to catch the bus to Plymouth, the first stage of our journey, and a night in the Travelodge.

Everything we need we are wearing or is in our rucksacs. Weights for hot weather walking - with fleeces etc but without water - just under 6kg (V) and 8kg (T).

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Plymouth to Santander:- Sunday and Monday 22nd-23rd April

Sunday started showery but it was sunny as the ferry sailed, although it soon became fairly rough and remained so until we reached Santander. The highlight of the crossing was the sighting of a dolphin leaping out of the water at breakfast time. We booked into our hotel, near the train station and went for lunch. Then we checked the train time and bought our pensioners' train passes which give us half price FEVE tickets.

The ferry in Plymouth

Santander Cathedral

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Santander to Oviedo - Tuesday 24th April

We caught the morning FEVE narrow guage train to Oviedo. This travels along the coast for part of the time with views of the snow on the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The sea looked very rough with what we think was a 'bufone' (water spout) visible near Llanes. Arriving in Oviedo we had a sunny, warm afternoon and walked to the Cathedral to collect our first 'sellos' (stamps) in our 'credenciales' (pilgrims passport) from the Cámara Santa.
We stayed in the Hostal Oviedo opposite the train station and also very near the bus station. The weather forecast for the next few days was good, but for the Bay of Biscay was very bad. Our crossing, although rough, has been the best one this week. (We later found out that all crossings for the rest of this week were cancelled due to the bad weather)

Sea and cliffs from the train

Oviedo Cathedral

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Oviedo to Tineo - Wednesday 25th April

We caught the 11.00 ALSA bus to Tineo, travelling past places we walked through in 2010. Some of the new road building is completed and the bus travelled on it for a short way after Salas. Salas itself is as it was when we walked under the archway onto the Camino towards Tineo two years ago.
Arriving in Tineo we made our way to the Café Central for a cafe con leche, then on to the Bar/Restaurante Tineo for their menu del dia. The owner also has the Pension Tineo where we stayed previously and had booked in for tonight. Once again it was lovely and warm, with the heating on. (So far we have had heating every night as it is fairly cold). Sellos from the ayuntamiento (town hall).
The forecast is good so we set off tomorrow to Campiello. There is snow visible on the far mountains, but the forecast gives it for over 2000mts so we should not have any as we will go to just over 1000mts in a few days time.

Salas; the bus turns left here, the Camino goes under the arch

Mountain view from Tineo

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tineo to Campiello - Thursday 26th April

13kms. Highest point: Alto de Piedratecha 820 mts (above sea level).

We had breakfast in the Bar Tineo at 7.45 and started walking at 8.30. There was a cool wind but it was sunny when we set off up the hill out of Tineo.

There are amazing views of mountains in the distance. The track passes through woods and over some ancient paved areas of the old road.

We ate apples at the top of the hill near the windfarm, and croissants later on by the roadside - sitting on the crash barrier. Two French pilgrims passed us here and we met them again in Campiello at lunch time. We arrived in Campiello, at Casa Herminia, at 12.30 to find her preparing lunch for a funeral party. Our lunch was promised for 15.00, but there was café con leche and a generous 'racion' of empanada to keep us going until then. The French pilgrims were going on to Pola de Allande and left while we went to our room, washed our clothes and had an early siesta before lunch. Then we sat in the hostal's conservatory in the sun. There were 3 other pilgrims (Italians) staying in the albergue section so it seems fairly quiet on the Camino at present.

Woodland track above Tineo

View across to the mountains from Navarriego

The ancient paving before Las Canteironas

Height marker at the pass

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Campiello to Pola de Allande - Friday 27th April

17kms. Highest points: Alto de Porciles 768mts; Alto de Lavadoira 820mts.

The 3 Italians from Campiello went over the La Mesa route but we took the 'low' road to Pola.
We set off in a slight mist with a 'rainbow shape' effect, quite eerie. However this soon burnt off as we walked to La Mortera where we stopped for coffee. There was a Spanish pilgrim having breakfast in the bar, presumably having stayed at Borres. After La Mortera we walked the road to Porciles to avoid a double descent and climb through valley bottoms. It was warm enough to carry our fleeces most of the way, having started off with both on.

Arriving in Pola de Allande we went to the Nueva Allandesa where we had booked a room. For lunch there was Fabada (Asturian stew), and then we went for a siesta. Our clothes were taken off to be washed for us and returned later in the afternoon, dried and at a reasonable rate. After siesta we went for a walk round the town and to look for food for tomorrow's snacks, along with a tin of peaches (our luxury item).

We returned to the hotel bar for supper - bocadillos (sandwiches). There were 2 German pilgrims so we joined them for Coca Colas while they waited for the evening meal (served at 21.00). Having eaten a hot meal at lunchtime we were happy with our bocadillos and decided an early night was a good idea as the next stage is a long one.
Mist near Campiello forms a rare fog bow

Looking back to Tineo with its cloud formations

View towards the mountains and the pass we will go through tomorrow

The Camino before Pola de Allande

View of Pola from our hotel window

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Pola de Allande to Berducedo - Saturday 28th April - 1

22.5kms. Highest point: Puerto del Palo - 1140mts

Wearing our fleeces, as it was chilly, and carrying our food for snacks and lunch we set off from Pola just after 8.30. This was going to be a long day, without accomodation until Berducedo and with a steep climb over the pass. We decided to walk on the road for some distance to avoid probable mud in the valley bottom and also the climbing down and up that this route would need. The road climbs more gently, with views of the Camino below, until it reaches the hairpins near the pass. We saw a deer running in the distance and earlier a cow and calf stood at the roadside.
At this point we left the road and took the narrow, often stoney, track uphill to Puerto del Palo itself. In 2009 because of the mist Terry had not seen the view from the top. It is breathtaking with mountains in the distance and the road winding down into the valleys below, with wild horses grazing nearby to add to the scenery. We sat near the top and ate our lunch before beginning the steep descent towards Montefurado. (Terry had to walk the road in 2009 because of the weather.)

The road near the track to the pass, which starts at the bend.

Valley and the track below, which comes up to join the road at the right

The track to the pass

View looking back, the track winds along the hillside and the road (with bend) is below

Two views looking forward from the top. We went straight down and across the road (twice) into the valley (Centre of the left hand photo)

Friday, 22 June 2012

Pola de Allande to Berducedo - Saturday 28th April - 2

After lunch, and the clouds were building up as we set off downhill. Later looking back from the old chapel at Montefurado we could see the top of the pass, by the power station and the track we had come down. We were glad to have come over it already as the cloud was beginning to come down on the pass itself.
Now we were going uphill again before a further section downhill. The Camino then passes along a very wet track and followed by a cruelly steep uphill road in to Lago. No coffee either as the bar was closed due to illness. We walked through some lovely pine woods and then rejoined the road, rather than another very muddy track, finally arriving in Berducedo at 16.30. Revived by a café con leche in the first bar we asked for directions to the Casa Antigua where we had booked a room. Having dropped off our rucksacks we had to go back up the slope into the village to the other bar where the kind, elderly lady made us a meal very quickly - soup and rabbit stew (with half a rabbit between us). We wondered if it was their meal for next day as it was already cooked and very tender. Then back to our room for a shower and bed early as we were very tired. The next stage is another long day with more steep hills.

Clouds below us

Looking back at the pass (at the power station) and track below it

Montefurado. The Camino climbs to the left of the field and up through the gap between the hills to the right of the pylon.

The track though the woods

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Berducedo to El Salto - Sunday 29th April - morning

17.5kms. Highest point: Buspol - 1120mts.

Berducedo to Buspol
Having enjoyed the quiet at the Casa Antigua and also a very good breakfast we set off at 9.30. It was dry with some cloud when we started the long climb, on good track, to La Mesa. The low cloud made some interesting views again. The Camino comes onto the road into La Mesa itself, 4.5kms from Berducedo.
We stopped to chat to one of the locals who told us that the private Casa Rectoral has closed permanently. For those who need accomodation there is a very nice little albergue, with contact phone number for the warden.
We continued along a good road up the very steep hill to the wind turbines at the top of Buspol. Round the corner and Grandas de Salime can be seen in the distance, before the Camino turns off along a track behind a farm house and a fascinating little old chapel. The track is 'fenced' with slate slabs and then runs onto the hillside. The first views of the reservoir in the valley give some idea of the distance still to be walked.

The view back to Berducedo

The road passes just below the windfarm on Buspol (1120mts)

First view of the next valley and Grandas de Salime (centre)

Capilla de Santa Marina de Buspol

View from the track down to the reservoir, at 12.00 and again 15 minutes later

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Berducedo to El Salto - Sunday 29th April - afternoon

Buspol to El Salto
The descent from Buspol begins comparatively gently, very deceptive. We began the descent just after 12.00, before our lunch break and in the dry. A short shower encouraged us to put our ponchos on and we then stopped for our bocadillos. (Bread and salami bought in the bar/shop the night before).
The rain stopped and we continued down an ever steeper, stonier and more winding track. This also then narrowed off to single file zig-zags on the lower section, then after a short, and welcome rise, turned left down to the road. Still very steep and hard on the knees and backs of legs, with care needed. The descent took us 2½ hours, excluding our lunch break. The views however were fantastic, even if the reservoir was still so far below us.
When we finally reached the dam we decided a night at the Hotel Grandas, 1km further on, at El Salto would be a good idea. The final stretch uphill brought us to the hotel which had a room and also a very late hot (lunchtime) meal at nearly 16.00 just before the kitchen closed. An excellent meal and we only needed a bocadillo for supper. We can recommend a stay here, especially for anyone using hotels/hostals.
That only leaves a short distance, all uphill, into Grandas de Salime itself followed by a rest day and museum visit.

12.28 Beautiful view and still a long way down

14.35 The dam is just visible, with a near vertical drop to the road and derelict construction buildings on the far bank

Fifty minutes later:- 15.24 El Salto and the hotel from the dam

15.32 The reservoir from the dam

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

El Salto to Grandas de Salime - Monday 30th April

5.4kms Highest point: Grandas itself at 600mts above sea level
The recommendation now is to walk the road up to Grandas as the old Camino is very overgrown. We followed this advice taking about 1½ hours to walk the last few kms uphill in to Grandas de Salime where we went to the Pension Barra. The new albergue is just past here, signed at the corner by the church.
After a comparitively early lunch (menu del dia at the Arreigada) we had a look round the church as it was open. There were a number of other pilgrims around and later some came into our pension as the albergue was full.
After siesta we had a walk around the town and up to the albergue where the very friendly hospitalero offered us a sello, but we had left our credenciales in the pension. We continued round the outer edge of the town, past the public barbecue area and back into town for 'own made' sandwich supper. Our washing was drying well and the museum will be open tomorrow so we made our preparations for a 'day of rest'. We can see Buspol from the window - with the thought 'we came over that'! (Having passed the windfarm we turned downhill where the pylon breaks the sky line in the photo, and then on behind the white building down to the track left of the fire break)

The view back down to El Salto and, from higher up, back to the dam

Still climbing. The view up the reservoir and, higher again, the last view of the dam

The church in Grandas

Buspol from the hotel, with fire break, and track to left. The main descent starts at the far left.