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San Salvador And Primitivo Combination

Discussion in 'Camino Primitivo or Original Way' started by Orava, May 1, 2017.

  1. Orava

    Orava Active Member

    Nov 26, 2014
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    Sorry for not posting here during my trip but I decided to walk the Frances, San Salvador and Primitivo combination in the end 28 March -27 April.

    Started in Logrono 27th March...here are a few observations etc...
    So I walked Logrono to Leon for a bit of "training". Logrono, Najera, Santa Domingo, Belorado, Ages, Burgos, Hontanas, Boadilla, Carrion de los Condes, Terradillos, El Burgo Ranero, Leon.

    On the Camino de San Salvador the first day out of Leon is easy to follow as the river Berganesga is always only metres away. I walked to La Robla first day which is a nice walk over some cute hills just out of Leon but the walk into La Robla is past a steel rolling mill, gas power station and a cement works. La Robla is an industrial railway town and has its charms but nott many. The great, clean and well equipped albergue (its greatest charm) is about 350m out of town to north, so quite a jaunt to the plaza and back. Smelled like coal was alo still in use in town's domestic stoves/ fireplaces. Basically La Robla is Stoke (uk) circa 1970's. (Sorry La Robla!). Great albergue though! Also I arrived on Sunday so everything closed.

    Second day La Robla to Poladura de la Tercia is nothing short of spectacular in terms of the change in scenery, elevation gain etc. More road walking than I anticipated tho. Pretty stiff climb out of Buiza (I had to "stop to admire the view" a few times despite being pretty fit by now.) Path not so steep after initial height gain and walk through high mountain passes and pine forests down to Poladura is spectacular.

    Not much in Poladura, so take anything you want to cook with you. There is a bar in the Casa Rural Posada. I also found an Artisan cider press (2€ per bottle flat scrumpy de Asturias 7% proof - hic. hic. Recomnended)

    Walked over highest point at 1600m next day Poladura to Pajares. It was very challenging right from the first few 100m out of Poladura. I planned to only walk to Pajares which turned out to be a good discision with 800m up and down etc. Spectacular is not the word to describe the sight of snow capped peaks and misty valleys. I was lucky to have blue skies and sunshine tho..I would not want to be up there in bad weather etc. You need to be fit. It is not a normal camino walk it is a trek/hike really. Do not take the dangerous descent ftom the abandoned Paradore hotel ( Dangerous in my opinion...I went down a short way but the footing is very questionable and it is a long way down .. ..I say that as someone with zero vertigo tendancies). Instead go to the rear of the cafe and follow the arrows from there. Still a steepish descent but not Himalayan death-plunge type. This will make sense when you get to the Paradore carpark to take a few landscspe shots ( fantastic viewpoint)). Beware that crossing the N630 road needs to be done at the apex so you can see both ways etc. The descent to Pajares is very steep and unrelenting (think descent into Roncesvalles x 3). Take breaks and take it easy. I didn't have poles which would have been handy. I would say this stretch is like walking the Snowdon Horseshoe in Wales in terms of graft up and steepness down so don't carry any emergency wine bottles or extra baggage.

    All the other walkers have been Spanish and I've been the only foreigner. Also has been the same group of 16 that have filled the albergues each night. Could be more bed pressure in high season although there are also casa rural options always. Maybe there are more Spanish walkers due to Semana Santa? Pajares was full plus 4-5 on foam pads on floor. I don't think they ever are " completo" so don't worry.

    There is a bar in Pajeres (closed Tuesdays and yes I was there on....Tues!). Hospitalairo Marisa will cook a pilgrim meal with wine if enough people notify in advance so It is a good idea to coordinate with fellow walkers on this! She is great!

    Fourth day was Pajares to Pola de Lena. Another spectacular mountain walk descending down (on average) but the route makers have you zig-zagging up snd down the valley sides so as to avoid walking on the N630. So plenty ups as well as mostly down. Massive descent from Pajares (think Roncesvalles x 3 and steeper). Walk is through beautiful lanes and up/down tracks. Plenty of gates to go through on this leg. Also some sheep dogs (70kg booming bark but tail wagging). Harmless...just wants a stroke and to sniff your pack pockets for biscuits etc. The tracks are also deep in leaflitter which would be great if there were not cobbles and boulders lurking under a foot of leaves. Tread lightly. Pola de Lena is not a pretty town for the most part but has a lively plaza and Sidreria etc. I am now an expert at pouring cider from a bottle above my head into a glass below my waist! . The alburgue is in the govt offices so very institutional in nature and no kitchen. "No eating in the alburgue!" They say as they stamp you in with two carrier bags full of groceries......Clean and tidy though.

    On the fifth day I walked the 33km from Pola de Lena to Oviedo which I do not recommend too highly due to there being 25km of tarmac walking and very straight sections following the N630 or along the river. There is also a 500m elevation gain and loss which makes the 33km that much tougher. Maybe I still had the mountain stages causing fatigue but I found it a bind. If you are short of time consider skipping a few towns along the river by hopping on the train that follows the route exactly.

    All in all I liked the San Salvador, especially the higher mountain sections or days 2, 3 and 4. More road walking than I anticipated especially on days 1 and 5.

    The Primitivo

    First day on the Primitivo was a pretty tough day after the San Salvador in my legs. Too much road walking. Too many dogs! Dogs all within their property boundary but rabid still the same. I much preferred the dogs in the San Salvador just " Doing their job but tails wagging like mad" . In one day of the Primitivo I've had more dogs bark at me than on all previous caminos combined. Did I say there are loads of dogs? Made me kind of pine for that big 70kg fella below Pajares who was "doing what sheep dogs do" but just wanted to be loved.

    Anyway. Great scenery and quite a bit of up and down to complete the stage...31km Oviedo to Dan Juan de la Villapena. Great alburgue by the way.

    Second day Villapena to Bodenaya 28km. Very nice walk and plenty of up and down. 400m plus final climb to arrive in Bodenaya. The alburgue is a donativo run by a lovely character David who will welcome you warmly with coffee. A log burning stove heated kitchen. Will do your laundry and cook a communal meal all for a donation. Heaven!

    Day 3 Bodeneye to Borres

    Day 4 Borres to Berducedo

    Day 5 Berducedo to Castro (very good albergue)

    Day 6 Castro to Fonsegrada

    Primitivo observations so far...

    All the munis in Asturias are pretty basic Franco era standard design school buildings now repurposed. All cheap thou at 5€. Muni kitchens very basic, sometimes only a microwave. Usually wery limited utensils and pans plates.

    More tarmac walking than I imagined the Primitivo would entail. Elevated sections and almost always having a splended view makes up for tarmac sections though. Many fewer dogs since leaving the Oviedo region.

    Very hilly. Feels like you are either climbing or descending and very little flat walking. Superb views and countryside. I would say the Primitivo is not the camino people should choose to do first and they really do need to be fit (no getting fit over the first few days unless you like torture.

    The Cantabrica albergue in Fonsegrada is first class. Bed sheets and duvets. Great kitchen. Dishwasher. Loads of washing machines and dryers.

    Day 7 Fonsagrada to Castroverde
    A newly built modern Muni albergue in Castroverde is very comfortable. Limited kitchen utensils though.

    Day 8 Castroverde to Lugo - Lugo is great town.

    Day 9 Lugo to Ferreira - There is a brand new albergue "a Nave" in Ferreira now. They do a good communal paella meal.

    Day 10 Ferreira to Ribadiso

    Day 11 Ribadiso to O Pedrouso

    Day 12 O Pedrouso to Santiago

    Best Primitivo albergues were San Juan de la Villapena, Bodenaya, Castro, Fonsegrada albergue Cantabrica, Castroverde, a Nave in Ferreira.

    Whole trip was:


    Day 1 Logrono to Najera

    Day 2 Najera to Santa Domingo

    Day 3 Santa Domingo to Belorado

    Day 4 Belorado to Ages

    Day 5 Ages to Burgos

    Day 6 Burgos to Hontanas

    Day 7 Hontanas to Boadilla

    Day 8 Boadilla to Carrion de los Condes

    Day 9 Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios

    Day 10 Templarios to El Burgo Ranero

    Day 11 El Burgo Ranero to Leon

    San Salvador

    Day 1 Leon to La Robla

    Day 2 La Robla to Poladura de la Tercia

    Day 3 Poladura de la Tercia to Pajares

    Day 4 Pajares to Pola de Lena

    Day 5 Pola de Lena to Oviedo


    Day 1 Oviedo to San Juan de la Villapena

    Day 2 San Juan de la Villapena to Bodenaya

    Day 3 Bodenaya to Borres

    Day 4 Borres to Berducedo

    Day 5 Berducedo to Castro

    Day 6 Castro to Fonsagrada

    Day 7 Fonsagrada to Castroverde

    Day 8 Castroverde to Lugo

    Day 9 Lugo to Ferreira

    Day 10 Ferreira to Ribadiso

    Day 11 Ribadiso to O Pedrouso

    Day 12 O Pedrouso to Santiago

    Approx 750km
  2. Dinah

    Dinah Member

    May 26, 2016
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    Antigua, Guatemala
    I am planning on doing the San Salvador and Primitivo in Sept. I have back problems and can't really carry my backpack. I know the Primitivo has taxi service to take one's backpack from one albergue to another. Is there the same service on the San Salvador? I really liked your description. It helped a lot
    Crepes4Suzette likes this.
  3. Kym G.

    Kym G. New Member

    Nov 3, 2017
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    Thanks for your notes. Although a couple of years old now, I've found them very helpful in our planning. We plan to start in Logroño as well, but on June 24. We also plan to take six days which I hope will break up some of the road walking from day to day.
    UnkleHammy likes this.

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