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Camino de Santiago: The Original Way (Camino Primitivo), Galicia, Spain - MW

 If you've made the famous Camino Frances, or if you prefer something more difficult, then this is Saint James's Initial Road, the first great pilgrimage route to Santiago and you won't see too much of everyone.

It was King Alphonse the Chaste, in 814, who made the first 342 km pilgrimage from the city of Oviedo, in Asturias, to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Since then, pilgrims have traveled on foot (and by bicycle) to the great Cathedral of Santiago by various "routes", the most popular being the Camino Frances, or the French route. It's hard to avoid the crowds these days. The Camino Primitivo, which crosses remote areas of Asturias and is relatively unknown, is particularly attractive.

Oviedo to Grado
Oviedo is the capital of Catholic Spain, when largely occupied by deserted fields and its church building lasted eight centuries. Surrounded by a charming network of medieval streets with shops, restaurants and a vast market, perfect for stockpiling supplies.

The weather was gray and a bit wet, but I left the city to look for charming forest traces that took me to Grado and to my dorm, just outside the small village of Rodiles. Marta, the owner, serves delicious food from her garden and tells me that Asturias is a neglected area of ​​Spain. Young people leave the city and the population drops significantly. Their location is occupied by wild animals, including bears and wolves, who settled there.
Grado in Salas
The next day, wary of dangerous animals, I passed many special rectangular grain stores, standing on pillars. Today, corn is sent directly to the market, so most of these "Horreos" are empty. The government wants to preserve them, but strangely, it will not allow them to be used as additional rooms.

There are many active streets today, but at least there is very little traffic and I went to the beautiful town of Salas to discover that I was in Castillo, a small castle located next to the main gate of the city.

There is also an Asturian Renaissance church, obviously a masterpiece, but like most churches, it was locked, so I could not visit it.
Salas in Tineo
The morning brings the sun and a 650m long trek through fields filled with spring flowers. As if to emphasize the sharpness of the landscape, there was an Autopista running on the floor next to me. The sound of the car engine constantly disturbing the silence, but at least it kept the traffic away from the roads I walked.
I continued to walk on the stains of cows and I saw lonely women tending to their sheep. Life here seems to be the same for centuries and people still wear traditional wooden clogs. Tineo is a thin town, lying on a hill, filled with old people and empty buildings, but a decent place to spend the night.
Walking Camino Primitivo

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Tineo at Berducedo
Today is a market day but I can't wait to continue because the sun is shining. I have the choice to go down the valley with Pola de Allande or the high level Route des Hospitales. The guide says it is the most demanding of all Caminos but the most rewarding. It is so isolated that three hospitals have been built to accommodate pilgrims.

This should be avoided in bad weather, but I am obviously rewarded with incredible landscapes by climbing trees. I don't see anyone and these days the hospital is just a pile of rubble. Further above are the remains of a Roman gold mine with small reservoirs, canals and tunnels and finally I arrived in Puerto del Palo, at an altitude of 1146m, the highest point of the road. From there it goes down to Berducedo, a small village far away without a telephone signal.
Berducedo at Embalse de Salime
In the morning there was thick fog, just the kind of weather that I was glad I had avoided yesterday. After an hour, the sun was shining and the road led me through a dense forest, recently ravaged by fire. The absolutely black trees allowed me to look at Embalse de Salime, a lake formed by blocking Rio Navia, below.

The construction of this hydroelectric project started in 1946 and when it opened in 1955, the reservoir was the largest in Spain and the second in Europe. It needs 3,000 workers and I can still build their abandoned houses on the hillside. The Grandas Hotel, just above the lake, was the manager's office and had a great view from the roof.
Embalse of Salime at A Fonsagrada
The next day, I walked along the lake before going to Grandas de Salime, a beautiful village with a 12th century church. From there, to a series of wind turbines, and I saw a deer Beat a place of early retirement. In front of me there was a bright red carpet and gorse and I left Asturias to enter Galicia.

I may be dreaming, but the landscape seems to really change. He became more careful, less wild and the mountains lost sharp edges. I went to A Fonsagrada where the legend says that St James came here and transformed the water from the fountain into milk. For the moment, there is no sign of that, but they celebrated Corpus Christi with a rock group playing Spanish tubes, on a large stage in the square. Pubs are very popular and I took the opportunity to celebrate my arrival in Galicia.
A Fonsagrada to Lugo
During the night, time turned and it was a rainy trip to the Pilgrim de Montouto hospital in the 14th century. Unlike the others I have seen, this one is intact, probably because it worked in the early twentieth century, it is a shelter from the rain and admire the nearby Neolithic dolphins. , almost invisible in the mist.

I crossed several Galician villages in dry stone, seeming to have been carved in the landscape before arriving at O ​​Cadavo Baleira. It is clear that Alphonso the Chaste fought the Moors here, keeping the pilgrimage path.
It continues to Lugo, one of the most impressive cities on the route. The Romans built huge walls, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can walk 2 km, admire the 12th century Santa Maria Cathedral, a wonderful blend of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical.

I decided it was a good place to end my trip. There were only two stages left before joining Camino Frances, on which I had walked and the weather was very rough. It was definitely more difficult than the other routes but there, the hike was shorter and I had the way for me most of the time. In addition to that, some of the pilgrims I met were veterans of Camino, whom I all wanted to see again.
MW

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