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A pilgrimage on foot – Spain’s Primitive Way

Uwe Schumacher

A pilgrimage on foot – Spain’s Primitive Way

Hiking Collection by Claudia Aguilar González

11-23

days

3-6 h

/ day

192 mi

23,650 ft

23,525 ft

Many people decide to hike a Camino to find a little headspace. Just as life has its ups and downs, so too does a pilgrimage like this. Getting out there enables you to refresh and make sense of it all.

On such adventures, you experience and feel different things. You may stumble on rocks, but you always get up stronger, ready to face your next challenge. Only those who try know the satisfaction that comes from overcoming obstacles. In this Collection, you’ll find many challenges. Tiredness will be your faithful companion. Experience is the memorable reward.

The Primitive Way takes its name from its history. It originated in the 9th century when King Alfonso II the Chaste pilgrimed from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela to discover the remains of the apostle. The route was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015.

This adventure is much less developed than many others. While other Caminos usually follow comfortable, well-marked paths and footbridges, the Primitivo runs through the great mountains of Asturias and Galicia, with the uneven ground this entails. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most difficult routes.

This Collection is a compilation of 11 stages that take you inland, through the mountains and villages of Asturias and Galicia. The 310-kilometre (192 mi) route entails steep gradients during every stage; you’ll reach remote places and landscapes of unparalleled beauty. However, bear in mind that this journey requires a lot of stamina. You don't need technical knowledge to do the Camino Primitivo, but you do need some experience of this type of multi-day adventure.

The best time to complete this route is from May to the end of October. However, both Asturias and Galicia are rainy regions, so the weather forecast can vary throughout the year.

The starting point is Oviedo and the destination, of course, is Santiago de Compostela. Both cities are very accessible thanks to their train and AVE (high-speed train) stations, bus connections and airports. It’s easy to reach from many European cities. If you decide to shorten the itinerary, you can go to Lugo by train or bus and start from there.

I’ve included information regarding accommodation and infrastructure in each stage description. Most villages have public hostels where you can stay with your pilgrim's credentials. Please note that places cannot be reserved and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want to secure a bed, you should get up very early. If you prefer to take it easy, you should book private hostels in advance.

In terms of what to bring, it’s very simple. The most important thing is footwear: wear comfortable, grippy-soled shoes or boots with some give. Take dressings and petroleum jelly for your feet. Bring warm clothing or a light down jacket for the evenings, regardless of the season. A waterproof coat and a cover for your rucksack are also a good idea. Always make sure you have plenty of water and snacks.

Remember to admire the scenery and breathe deeply so that the freshness of the northern air takes root in your lungs and somehow stays with you forever.

Have a good walk!

On The Map

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Una peregrinación por los orígenes del Camino Primitivo

191 mi

23,625 ft

23,550 ft

Last updated: November 2, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Oviedo to Grado – Primitive Way

    Difficult
    05:29
    15.3 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,275 ft
    1,800 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today is a very important day. Today you begin an 11-day pilgrimage through the places with the most history of all the roads that lead to Santiago de Compostela.

    

    It is not necessary to go too far to realize why the Camino Primitivo is one of the most demanding. In this first stage you face almost 25

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  • Difficult
    07:02
    18.6 mi
    2.6 mph
    3,500 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The second stage of the pilgrimage does not let up. As soon as you start, a climb begins that stretches for five kilometers and 300 meters of unevenness. However, it is noted that on this Route the city is getting further and further away and the environment is filled with forests and green meadows.

    

    Most

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  • Difficult
    05:42
    15.8 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,775 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In this third stage, not being the longest, the unevenness plays a determining role. The road is a continuous seesaw that tests your resistance. However, it is an amazing route.

    

    The tour takes you into the interior of Asturias, allowing you to visit increasingly remote and rural areas. Unlike in the first

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  • Difficult
    06:40
    17.1 mi
    2.6 mph
    3,325 ft
    2,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage is probably the most iconic of the Camino Primitivo. There are two alternatives, each with different slopes and distances.

    

    The first and most affordable is the one that passes through Pola de Allande. This Route is longer but the path is much more comfortable. In addition, you can stop to

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  • Difficult
    05:09
    12.6 mi
    2.5 mph
    2,225 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In this last stage before crossing into Galician lands, the route puts your knees to the test. It is the shortest Route of the Primitive Way, which with only 20 kilometers leads you through tracks and paths to the Navia river basin. That is why the negative slope is greater than the positive.

    

    However

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  • Difficult
    06:03
    16.2 mi
    2.7 mph
    2,750 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In this sixth stage you will cross the imaginary line that separates Asturias from Galicia. It is curious that this limit is right in the middle of the route.

    

    After a long and constant ascent of about 600 meters of positive elevation gain over 13 kilometres, a spectacular view from the top of Acebo will

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  • Difficult
    05:47
    15.2 mi
    2.6 mph
    2,100 ft
    2,825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From this stage is when you begin to see the true essence of Galicia. The ports and the great Asturian mountains are left behind. It is time to move on to much more rural areas, full of villages, forests and meadows.

    

    It could be said that the culminating point of the Route is the old Montouto hospital

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  • Difficult
    06:44
    18.8 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,475 ft
    2,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The eighth stage is very special. Except for the ascent at the beginning, the rest of the Route is practically a continuous descent through comfortable dirt and asphalt tracks that leave numerous churches and hermitages on each side.

    

    On this occasion, you have the opportunity to take a detour to the town

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  • Difficult
    06:01
    16.9 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,400 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today's stage, how could it be otherwise, is steeped in history. Lugo is a city of Roman origin where you can see numerous monuments that, today, take us back in time. Thus, part of the route runs along the old 19th Roman road (Antoninian itinerary).

    

    However, the traces of the past are no longer so evident

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  • Difficult
    07:34
    21.2 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,775 ft
    2,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You are in the penultimate stage and your body notices it. Today you come 34 kilometers closer to Santiago de Compostela along a route dotted with charming corners. They are true havens of peace where you will not be able to avoid stopping to refresh yourself and admire the landscape.

    

    This stage is marked

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  • Difficult
    08:28
    24.0 mi
    2.8 mph
    1,875 ft
    2,275 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You did not believe it but you have reached the final stretch. You can choose to divide this stage in two and spend the night in O Pedrouzo. Otherwise, you have almost 39 kilometers left to Santiago de Compostela. Think of the great personal satisfaction you will get in the end.

    

    This stage is another

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    192 mi
  • Duration
    70:40 h
  • Elevation
    23,650 ft23,525 ft

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