December’s weather creeps into the Dordogne and we see less and less of our beautiful French blue skies and sun. Once I’ve sorted our Christmas plans my idle hands waver over the keyboard… itching to plan… where to next and when? It’s December and already I know I need to walk again next year. I’d had an idea but it wasn’t fixed… it is now 😀
We’re going to walk from Madrid on the Camino Madrid, cross over at Leon to walk the Camino San Salvador which ends in Oviedo. Gerry will leave me here and return home but I will continue alone, along the Camino Primitivo to Santiago.
The Camino Madrid is a modern route, designed by the Amigos de los Caminos de Santiago de Madrid. It runs from Spain’s capital in Madrid and goes north until it joins the Camino Francis at Sahagun. The route is beautiful, predominantly on footpaths where you rarely walk on asphalt and whilst a modern camino it does follow ancient cattle and trade routes.
It passes through several historical towns and cities like Coca and Segovia. It’s the land of wide open plains, the meseta and several amazing castles. It’s 330km long and whilst there is a lot of flat walking the route also crosses the mountains of the the Sierra de Guadarrama.
The Camino San Salvador is an ancient path. When the Moors swept northwards through Spain, the holy relics from religious communities in the south were sent northwards for safety. Many of them ended up in the Catedral del Salvador in Oviedo. Pilgrims were encouraged to first visit the Cathedral of Our Saviour in Oviedo before travelling onwards to Santiago. It was said that “The Pilgrim who goes to Santiago and does not pass through El Salvador, visits the servant and forgets the Lord.” As a result many pilgrims who walked the Camino Francés, arrived in León and turned towards Oviedo.
The Camino de San Salvador consists of five demanding stages over about 130km. It is a route with very few pilgrims but it is one of the most special, for its symbolism and landscapes. A notable part of this route passes through the Cordillera mountains, so we’ll have to be very well prepared! But, the historical depth of the route and the beauty of the landscape are incredible.
The Camino Primitivo or Original Camino is the oldest. This was the route followed by King Alfonso II in the 9th century and was the first Camino de Santiago when most of Spain was under Moorish control. Starting from Oviedo, the first stage of the Camino Primitivo, across the mountains, is one of the most challenging of all Camino routes but the scenery is breathtaking. In medieval times, thousands of pilgrims walked the Primitivo to reach the Tomb of the Apostle St James. Nowadays, it is often used as a link between the Northern Camino, which started in Irun. It crosses a mountain range at 1100m above sea level where you witness spectacular views of the Embalse de Salime, the River Navia and the surrounding mountains.
We’re going to drive to Madrid; we found a great secure parking in a small town just outside of Madrid. We’ll spend the night there and in the morning take the commuter train back to Tres Cantos and start walking on the 25th September!
The total journey will be around 770km and I have 33 days to complete this… and I’m just a tiny bit excited!