A thousand paths for your feet (Part 2)

Camino Norte Sobrado

The Northern Way

It’s the perfect route for lovers of tranquillity, for those who enjoy the green and lonely landscapes and don’t mind to deal with high physical demand in the highest stages. The sea, the mountains and the flatlands of Terra Chá go hand in hand in this journey also known as the Coastal Way, starting in Irún and continuing across the Cantabrian coastline to finally step into the Galician territory through Ribadeo.

From this point it goes inland until Lourenzá, whose monastery is a foretaste of what you’ll find at you arrival in Compostela, it is said its façade was a trial to build afterwards the one of the Obradoiro.

You’ll be amazed by the charming town of Mondoñedo, a provincial capital until 1833, its cathedral and its huge Gothic rose window, the seminary and the calm atmosphere of all these places seem to be at a standstill. Further on, in the mountainous area of Coruña, arises impressively in the middle of the valley the Cistercian monastery of Sobrado, one of the most important centres of ecclesiastic power in Galicia.

Ribadeo – Lourenzá (29 kms / 18 mi)

Lourenzá – Abadín (25 kms / 15,5 mi)

Abadín – Vilalba (22 kms / 13,6 mi)

Vilalba – Miraz (33 kms / 20,5 mi)

Miraz – Sobrado (26 kms / 16,1 mi)

Sobrado – Arzúa (23 kms / 14,3 mi)

Arzúa – Pedrouzo (18 kms / 11,2 mi)

Pedrouzo – Santiago (21,1 kms / 13,1 mi)

This path is consolidated, recovered and well signposted, even if the expansion of the Jacobean phenomenon seems to have surprised some of the villages.

 

The Primitive Way

Which was the first path leading to Santiago? There’s no clear and convincing answer to this question, but everything suggests that it could have been the Primitive, hence the name of this route starting at the foot of the Cathedral of Oviedo and entering in Galicia through one of its highest points, the pass of O Acebo, 1.130 metres high.

Only 4% of the pilgrims choose this option that will take them through deserted mountain areas of the less known Galician inland which has, without any doubt, the most outstanding landscapes. It’s the hardest path, especially when it rains or snows. Definitely it’s not the best choice for biking…

The Galician part of this itinerary can be completed in 8 stages with a length of 178 kilometres / 110 miles. The last pilgrim hospital of Galicia, the historic city of Lugo or the tranquillity of the mountain range of Careón, a protected natural area endowed with almost disappeared species of flora and fauna, these are only a few examples of its appeal.

O Acebo – A Fonsagrada (14 kms / 8,7 mi)

A Fonsagrada – O Cádavo (28 kms / 17,4 mi)

O Cádavo – Lugo (31 kms / 19,2 mi)

Lugo – San Román da Retorta (20 kms / 12,4 mi)

San Román da Retorta – Melide (26 kms / 16,1 mi)

Melide – Arzúa (16 kms / 10 mi)

Arzúa – Pedrouzo (18 kms / 11,2 mi)

Pedrouzo – Santiago (21,1 kms / 13,1 mi)

Keep in mind when you arrive to Santiago that you’ve been following the steps of the first pilgrim. It is believed it was king Alfonso II, following the discovery of the tomb of apostle Saint James in the year 813, he moved from Oviedo to check it in person. Thus started the Primitive Way. The final destination could be the imposing statue remembering the medieval king, also known as El Casto, located near the faculty of history and the plaza de Abastos.

Camino Primitivo

 

Vía de la Plata or the Southeast Way (through Laza)

The Vía de la Plata has the honour to be the Jubilee’s route with the longest path throughout Galician land. It crosses three regions (Ourense, pontevedra and A Coruña) and has a wide range of variations. Nevertheless, it remains unknown for many pilgrims despite its itinerary dates back to the Roman roads.

Starting from the very doorstep of Seville Cathedral, the Galician route of this path begins in A Canda, a 30 inhabitants town located near a mountain pass whose climb is just as hard as the famous ascent towards O Cebreiro.

Gastronomy, art and legends make the essence of this route which will give you the chance to try the delicious bread of Cea protected with designation of origin, soak up the spirituality of the monastery of Oseira and stare at the symbolic Pico Sacro from Ponte Ulla bridge, scenery of one of the miracles starred by the disciples pf the Apostle.

A Canda – A Gudiña (18 kms / 11,2 mi)

A Gudiña – Laza (35 kms / 21,7 mi)

Laza – Xunqueira de Ambía (33 kms / 20,5 mi)

Xunqueira de Ambía – Ourense (22 kms / 13,6 mi)

Ourense – Cea (22 kms / 13,6 mi)

Cea – Castro de Dozón (19,5 kms / 12,1 mi)

Castro de Dozón – Silleda (28 kms / 17,4 mi)

Silleda – Ponte Ulla (18 kms / 11,2 mi)

Don’t expect to find a bit of the precious material the itinerary name refers to along the way. Vía de la Plata derives from the deterioration of an Arabic word, bal´latta, which means stoned path.

Via de la Plata

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