Day 1 : Bordeaux-ish (France) to Potes-ish (Spain)
How are you? How has life been for you during these difficult, difficult days? I am well. My loved ones are well and thankfully our life in South West France has changed very little over recent months. Of course we were restricted to home but we consider ourselves fortunate that our lives rolled on as usual. There has been no singing and no concerts and no music and so many walks have been cancelled. I was due to walk with two groups along the Camino Frances and also planned to walk the Camino Ingles… all dreams now. But there are always new plans.
At first we planned to walk the Camino Lebaniego starting the 8th June; this date came and went. Then we thought perhaps a week later on the 15th June but again this came and went. However, Spain announced that the border would open for us on the 1st July. That was enough for us. It was time to go walk.
Nonetheless, it would be foolhardy of us not to recognise that COVID-19 presents risks; to us and to the local populations. To avoid adding to these risks we have rented an apartment. We’ll take our own bedding, travel in our own car and cook our own meals. Not walking stage to stage means that each day we’ll need to walk ‘there and back again‘ but we have two weeks and we’re happy to do this because at least we can walk!
The History of the Camino Lebaniego
The origins of the Camino Lebaniego lead us to Santo Toribio, in the 5th century. Legend has it that the cross used to crucify Christ (the Lignum Crucis) was divided into several pieces and stored at various locations in Jerusalem or Rome. Whilst preaching Catholicism in the Holy Land, Santo Toribio found the largest piece of the Lignum Crucis.
In the 8th century the remains of the monk and the Lignum Crucis were transferred to the Monastery of Santo Toribio. The Monastery dates from the 6th century although today it is inhabited by just 4 Franciscan monks. Since its completion many pilgrims who were walking to Santiago de Compostela, diverted from the Northern Camino to this route to honour Santo Toribio de Liebana and the holy relic. Those pilgrims we often called “crucenos” or “Pilgrims of the Cross” and travelled as the cross and the remains of the Saint were said to have had healing and miraculous properties.
In 1512 the Pope granted the Camino Lebaniego its own Holy Year making it an important path for pilgrims en route to Santiago but also an important pilgrimage destination in it’s own right.
The path diverts from the Camino del Norte and starts in San Vicente de la Barquera. Once you reach the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana you can continue towards Santiago de Compostela by following the Camino Vadiniense which ends near Leon in Mansilla de las Mulas.
There are three stages to the Camino Lebaniego
1) San Vicente de la Barquera to Cades (28,5 Km)
2) Cades to Cabañes (30,53 Km)
3) Cabañes to Santo Toribio (13,7 Km)
We’ll be walking twice this distance to reach the Monastery. We’ve plotted our stages to allow us to park our car, walk part of a stage, turn round and walk back to our car. The next day we’ll return and continue. We have time to do this and the route is beautiful and we’ll be walking a camino.
We leave in the morning. We start walking on the 2nd July; I can’t wait!