El Camino Primitivo - from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela

The Camino Primitivo is the Camino de Santiago that goes from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela through the regions of Asturias and Galicia. It owes its origin to the pilgrimage of King Alfonso II of Asturias in the 9th century, the first of the routes to Santiago de Compostela (hence the name "Primitivo"). Other routes have developed over the centuries but this one holds a certain timeless magic.

Technical sheet
No. 3146880
A Oviedo walk posted on 15/04/20 by El Sud. Update : 05/11/20
Author's time Author's time : 14 days
Distance Distance : 191.75mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 25308ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 25226ft
Highest point Highest point : 3950ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 121ft
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Location Location : Oviedo
Starting point Starting point : N 43.362439° / W 5.843817°
Ending point Ending point : N 42.880505° / W 8.545787°

Step by step walk

This walk needs several days, please find the details below.

First Stage Camino Primitivo - Oviedo to Grado

Apart from the section going out from Oviedo, the route for the most part goes along paths and roads that lead through pleasant rural scenery, with frequent ups and downs, tracks through woods, meadows and small villages.

Second Stage Camino Primitivo - Grado to Salas

This stage follows the motorway and a couple of rivers. There's plenty rural scenery, some ups and downs, tracks through woods, small villages, past ancient monasteries and plenty of hórreos.

Third Stage Camino Primitivo - Salas to Tineo

This stage is a bit shorter than the two previous stages and only has a gentle climb at the start. At the beginning, the route follows the river Nonaya and borders the Sierra de Bodenaya. After crossing the river Casandrasín, our journey takes us along the valley with the Sierra de Tineo up to our right. Plenty to see and a few villages to explore, just hope the rain stays off.

Fourth Stage Camino Primitivo - Tineo to Borres

The day starts with a climb even though Tineo is already perched over the Villar valley. The route takes us along the southern flank of the Pico Navariego, staying high above the valley and the road below, finally dropping down to Obona and then a fairly flat stroll all the way to Borres.

Fifth Stage Camino Primitivo - Borres to Berducedo

This stage has two route options: the High Road or the Low Road, otherwise known as Hospitales or Pola de Allande. One deciding factor might be the weather as the higher route is quite exposed. On the other hand, the lower route means more distance (17.9 km as opposed to 15 km). The recommendation is for the Hospitales route as it appears more authentic and has less tarmac to cover.

Sixth Stage Camino Primitivo - Berducedo to Grandas

This stage has highs and lows, reaching 1,041 m above sea level (3,415 ft) and droping to 209 m (686 ft). The route goes past a wind farm on the tops and crosses over the dam that holds the water of the Salime Reservoir. Some spectacular views and changing countryside make this stage one to remember.

Seventh Stage Camino Primitivo - Grandas to A Fonsagrada

This stage starts gently but soon becomes tougher as it ascends to the border with Galicia. This is where we say goodbye to Asturias and begin our journey across Galicia towards Santiago de Compostela. This is a long day but full of interesting encounters with people and places along the way. The change of region is also noticeable in the markings and villages the route goes through.

Eighth Stage Camino Primitivo - A Fonsagrada to O Cádavo

The route is a delight with a succession of descents and ascents surrounded by domesticated rural scenery. If the weather is kind, this stage is as enjoyable as any other and much easier on the feet that the previous stage. This is authentic Galician hinterland with a warm welcome from folk all the way along the trail.

Ninth Stage Camino Primitivo - O Cádavo to Lugo

This stage runs through rural Galicia, with at least seven villages en route and plenty of places to stop for a rest (or even to stay the night if you want to split this stage into two or three mini-stages). Likewise, there are plenty of chapels, churches and fountains to visit. Our route follows the original way to Vilabade, which includes a visit to the church of Santa María, known as the "catedral de Castroverde".

Tenth Stage Camino Primitivo - Lugo to A Ponte Ferreira

This stage is the official route and avoids the detour to Friol and Sobrado dos Monxes. There is a fair amount of road walking but if the weather is unkind (i.e. wet and cold) that is probably a blessing. There are a number of villages to go through so plenty of opportunities to chat with local folk along the way. Santiago is getting closer and that will also probably mean more people on the trail but that can also be pleasant and conversation on the road will make the journey more entertaining.

Eleventh Stage Camino Primitivo - Ponte Ferriera to Melide

This stage goes through more rural landscapes, along small dirt tracks and quite a lot of tarmac with frequent slopes. In general, it's pretty moderate with the opportunity to visit small villages, a few of which have restaurant services. The route finishes in Melide, where we join the Camino Frances.

Twelfth Stage Camino Primitivo - Melide to As Quintas (Burres)

The route follows the N-547 but using local paths and tracks, sometimes crossing the main road but only walking short stretches of tarmac. The route is a bit up and down, crossing the River Boente and the beautiful valley of the River Iso to reach Arzúa. Then it's a pretty comfortable 5 km as we go along forest tracks, through woods and meadows to reach the albergue at As Quintas.

Thirteenth Stage Camino Primitivo - As Quintas (Burres) to Lavacolla

A comfortable stage with very few slopes; along tracks, crossing forests and meadows. As in the previous stage, the route runs parallel to the main N-547 road and the soon to be completed A-54 motorway. Our route passes O Pedrouzo and the airport to give us a short distance to walk in the next stage to allow us to get to the Pilgrim's Mass, which is celebrated daily at 12 noon in the Cathedral of Santiago.

Fourteenth Stage Camino Primitivo - Lavacolla to Santiago

The final stage of the Camino Primitivo, completing the 308.5 km. An easy walk to finish and still be in time for the Pilgrim's Mass at 12 o'clock midday. The route goes past the Monte do Gozo (Hill of Joy) which gives us a fine view of the three spires of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. From there, it's about an hour to the main door and entrance to the Cathedral and the end of this journey. However, the recommendation is to continue a few days more to Finisterre, on the Atlantic coast.

Useful Information

The route follows as best it can the official camino (way-marked by yellow arrows and scallop shell signs) but inevitably some changes have been made by motorway developement and other contemporary infrastructures. The 5th stage shows the ¨Ruta de los Hospitales¨ variant that takes the high path from Borres to Puerto del Palo. This long distance route has been divided into fourteen stages to get from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. It is recommended to continue the camino de the Atlantic coast at Muxia, finally ending up at Finisterre (the End of the World).

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

There are many caminos and even more variants that can be chosen. The wealth of heritage sites to be explored and rural areas to be discovered make it impossible to offer a definitive route and walkers should be flexible enough to choose their own route or at least adapt this route to suit their purposes. Meeting people, enjoying the countryside, discovering the history and traditions of the places you go through are all part of the camino experience. Take care of yourself and make the most of the moment!

Other walks in the area

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 15.44mi Vertical gain +1198ft Vertical drop -1795ft Durée 8h10 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Oviedo - Province de Asturias

Apart from the section going out from Oviedo, the route for the most part goes along paths and roads that lead through pleasant rural scenery, with frequent ups and downs, tracks through woods, meadows and small villages.

Organisation / Walking Club / Mountain guide
distance 13.95mi Vertical gain +2139ft Vertical drop -1532ft Durée 8h00 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Grado (Province de Asturias) - Province de Asturias

This stage follows the motorway and a couple of rivers. There's plenty rural scenery, some ups and downs, tracks through woods, small villages, past ancient monasteries and plenty of hórreos.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.