Doing the Camino Primitivo to Santiago
In this article we want to provide you with a brief summary of our Guide to the Camino Primitivo. One of the more difficult routes of the Camino de Santiago more, but also one of the most beautiful.
The Camino Primitivo (also called the Ruta Primitiva) is the one that joins Oviedo and the Cathedral of Compostela. According to the history of the Camino de Santiago, this was the first pilgrimage route that appeared, after the discovery of the remains of St James the Apostle.
Today, the Camino Primitivo is one of the least-travelled routes, as its route is quite demanding. However, all those pilgrims who are encouraged to reach Compostela following this path, are fascinated with the experience.
The Camino de Santiago from Oviedo is the beginning of the Camino Primitivo and offers a pleasant walk along forest trails through the Asturian mountains, enjoying magnificent views and passing through picturesque villages. If you want to complete this beautiful route, tell us more details about your trip and leave the whole organization in our hands.
In this short guide to the Camino Primitivo, we want to talk to you about the characteristics of its stages with its variants and deviations. Of course, we’ll also provide you with information on what to see and what to do on the Ruta Primitiva.
Guide to the stages on the Camino Primitivo
From Oviedo, in Asturias, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Camino Primitivo faces 316.2 kilometres of travel, through the northern interior of Spain. In our guide to the Camino Primitivo, we advise you to divide the itinerary into 14 stages.
However, when planning the stages on the Camino de Santiago, there are some factors that you must take into account, for example, how many kilometres are made on the Camino de Santiago, in order to organize your pilgrimage.
With this information, you can make changes and modify the stage distribution that we propose in our guide to the Camino Primitivo.
Of the 14 stages on the Camino Primitivo, the last three are carried out following the Camino Frances. In the town of Melide, the Camino Primitivo joins the Camino Frances, and soon after, the Camino del Norte joins them. Here’s what we can you tell about the stages on the Camino Primitivo, as well as the most popular starting points.
The start of the Camino Primitivo
The Camino Primitivo departs from Oviedo. A city with numerous points of interest, among them the Holy Chamber of the Cathedral of Oviedo. Therefore, we recommend that you book a day, or at least an entire afternoon, to visit the Asturian capital.
On this first stage, you may encounter pilgrims who join the Camino Primitivo section, having completed some stages on the Camino del Norte. You will also find people who come from León, following the Camino del Salvador.
The tour starts from the Cathedral of Oviedo itself, following in the footsteps of Alfonso II, the monarch who inaugurated this route in the 9th century, when the remains of Santiago the Apostle were discovered. After leaving Oviedo, this first stage runs through wooded environments dotted with small villas.
The first stage of our guide to the Camino Primitivo runs between Oviedo and Grado. A route totalling 25.8 km, characterized by continuous slopes. The most difficult point of the day is the promotion to the Alto del Escamplero pass.
From Grado to Salas (stage 2)
The second stage proposed by our guide to the Camino Primitivo has a total of 23.2 kilometres and ends in the town of Salas. Frequent uneven slopes will continue to be the travel companion of all pilgrims who are encouraged to travel along this route.
At the beginning of the day, you will have to face a long climb. First, ascending, you reach San Juan de Villapañada and then continue to climb to the Alto del Fresno. This demanding stretch ends with a steep descent to the Narcea Valley.
During the day, in addition to visiting small places such as Llamas, Quintana or Casazorrina, you will have the opportunity to divert to Cornellana. There you can visit the Monastery of San Salvador.
Stage 3: From Salas to Tineo
The third day on the Camino Primitivo is also not lacking in slopes, although these are concentrated at the beginning of the day. Then the Ruta Primitiva gives you a respite and presents several kilometres along an almost flat terrain.
This stage of our guide to the Camino de Santiago Primitivo has 20.2 kilometres. The tour links the villages of Salas and Tineo.
Stage 4 of the guide to the Camino Primitivo
The fourth stage of the Camino Primitivo runs between Tineo and Pola de Allande. This stretch of the route crosses valleys and wooded areas, in the company of several Asturian rivers.
Much of the stage is carried out in ascent. On the tour you will find several charming villages, where you can stop for a break. This stage is 28.2 kilometres long.
The fifth stage of the Camino Primitivo is the most feared, as it faces the climb to Puerto del Palo, located at 1,147 metres of altitude. However, the effort will be worth it because it is also one of the most beautiful days.
After the 600-metre ascent to Puerto del Palo, the route becomes much smoother. The stage concludes in Berducedo and has a distance of 18.2 km.
Stage 6: From Berducedo to Grandas de Salime
The sixth stage of our guide to the Camino Primitivo is between the villages of Berducedo and Grandas de Salime, the last locality in Asturias. The tour is much simpler than the previous days.
Slopes will be present, but in descent. One of the main features of this stage is the almost total lack of intermediate locations. The route has a distance of 21.2 kilometres and is mostly made over dirt tracks, in the company of the Salime Reservoir.
Stage 7: Onwards to Fonsagrada
On the seventh stage of the Camino Primitivo, you will enter the province of Lugo (Galicia). Throughout this stage you will be able to see how the pilgrim shell that mark the Camino de Santiago changes direction. Check out the article we dedicate to this pilgrim signal so you understand why.
21.9 kilometres separate Grandas de Salime from Fonsagrada. The route takes place in heavily livestocked areas and crosses various rural villages.
Two slopes mark this day of the Camino de Santiago. One is the ascent to the Alto de Acebo, where Asturias is abandoned, and the other is the final climb to Fonsagrada.
Stage 8 of the guide to the Camino Primitivo
Our guide to the Camino Primitivo proposes an eighth stage of 23.4 km, which concludes in Cádavo Baleira. The tour faces some steep ups and downs, but you can enjoy stunning views.
Stage 9: Arrival in Lugo
This stage marks a turning point on the Camino Primitivo, as the route from this point becomes much smoother. That is why many pilgrims prefer to start their pilgrimage from Lugo.
The ninth stage of our guide to the Camino Primitivo is a route of 30.5 km. The day takes place, for the most part, on dirt and asphalt.
During the journey, you won’t find many intermediate locations where you can stop. The only town with services you will find, before reaching Lugo, is Castroverde.
Stage 10: The Camino Primitivo from Lugo
At this stage many pilgrims will incorporate onto the Camino Primitivo, who only want to do the last 100 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago. However, this does not constitute a greater inconvenience to the tranquility that is encountered on this route.
The tenth stage of the Camino Primitivo is quite simple. Much of the journey is made on comfortable, mostly paved tracks.
In our guide to the Camino Primitivo, we propose finishing this stage in Ferreira. In total, 26.5 km travel.
Stage 11: The last proper stage of the Camino Primitivo
The last stage of our guide to the Camino Primitivo runs between Ferreira and Melide, where the Camino Primitivo joins the Camino Frances. This is the last stage of tranquility on the tour, since from Melide the influx of pilgrims will increase considerably, especially if you are travelling on the Camino de Santiago during summer.
In this stretch of the Camino Primitivo you will have the opportunity to visit various charming villages, surrounded by a beautiful rural environment. The tour is made on comfortable dirt tracks and paved paths.
After completing the 20.3 kilometres that separate Ferreira from Melide, do not forget to try Galician octopus and cloudy wine. It is one of the classic stops for all pilgrims passing through the town of Melide.
Stage 12 on the Camino Frances
Stage 12 of the Camino Primitivo is performed following the Camino Frances. It is a very simple and quite short stage, only 13.7 kilometres separate Melide from Arzúa.
Despite being on the Camino Frances, the route continues to present frequent ups and downs. However, for those pilgrims who have completed the early stages of the Camino Primitivo, this day is just a walk.
At this stage, as a faithful companion you will find the N-547 national road, which you will have to cross on several occasions. On the tour you will have the opportunity to visit Fonte A Saleta, in the town of Boente.
The stage ends in Arzúa. A village with a strong pilgrim tradition. Check out our guide to Arzúa to know what to do and what to see in the locality. In it, we also tell you some legends about the town that will surely surprise you.
Arzúa – O Pedrouzo (stage 13)
The penultimate stage of the Camino Primitivo ends in O Pedrouzo. 19.3 kilometres from Arzúa and 19.4 from the Cathedral of Santiago. The proximity of the final destination causes many pilgrims to complete this stage and the next in one day.
The course of this stage does not present any great difficulties. The biggest drawback remains the national road N-547, which cuts off the passage again to pilgrims on several occasions.
Stage 14: Last stage on the Camino Primitivo
On stage 14 of the Camino Primitivo, the desired goal is at last reached: the tomb of Santiago the Apostle. The route has a length of 19.4 kilometres and is made over tracks in good condition, without facing any big slopes.
The only relevant slope of the day is the climb up to Monte do Gozo, from where you can see, for the first time, the towers of the Cathedral of Santiago. In fact, as we told you in the article that we dedicated to curiosities of the Camino de Santiago, they say that the name of Monte do Gozo is due to the fact that pilgrims during the Middle Ages when they first saw the Cathedral of Compostela exclaimed: “mi felicidad o mi gozo”…”my happiness or my joy”.
If you start walking early, you have the option to arrive in Santiago de Compostela in time for the Pilgrim’s Mass, which is celebrated at 12 noon. Hopefully, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Botafumeiro swinging.
However, we recommend that you take your time to enjoy your arrival in the Plaza del Obradoiro. Here, we live very emotional moments and those first moments in front of the Cathedral of Santiago are engraved in fire within the memory of most pilgrims.
If you want to discover the history of the Cathedral of Santiago, we recommend that you consult the Article that we dedicate to this impressive architectural work. We also provide you with the link to our guide on what to see and what to do at the end of the Camino de Santiago.
Are you ready now to do the Camino Primitivo?
We hope that this summary of our guide to the Camino Primitivo will help you get an idea of everything that awaits you on this fantastic route of the Camino de Santiago. If you are walking, you can consult all the information about routes, stages, and difficulty of the Camino Primitivo.
And if you’ve decided to complete the pilgrim route on wheels, we recommend that you check out the most important information and tips for doing the Camino Primitivo by bike.
Whether you are walking, or on wheels, we do not want to say goodbye without first reminding you that if you want to have the support of an agency specialized in the Camino de Santiago, one that helps you organize your trip on the Camino Primitivo, do not hesitate to contact us.
To contact our team, you can use the form on our website, leave us a comment in a post of our blog or write to us through the chat on our official Facebook page. We’re waiting for you!