The Camino Less Travelled in Spain – Camino San Salvador

Walk Eat Sleep RepeatThis post discusses the next main path I will be stepping out on when I head to Spain in May 2020.

First will be the Camino Madrid starting from Madrid and second will be the Camino San Salvador from Leon.

Here is what I have found out about this little travelled path.

Camino San Salvador - Mountain View -
Heading off on the purple line from Leon to Oviedo. Source:

In reality I had never heard of this path until my friend Maggie walked it back in 2017. The Camino Frances seems to dominate the popular camino consciousness, it is the route that most people walk, however now it is the less popular paths that are capturing my attention.

My 2020 camino adventure will start with 12 days walking north-west from Madrid. After the relative solitude (I imagine) of this route, I will join the hustle and bustle of the Frances for a couple of days, walking due west until arriving in the beautiful city of Leon.

It is going to be quite a shock to join the Frances and also a delight to meet many other walkers. That is the most wonderful thing about walking the Camino Frances – all the interesting people you walk with and chat to along the way. With that comes significant demand on albergue beds and I am not looking forward to the pressure of securing a bed before they are all taken. I am hoping that by walking in late May, the Frances may not be quite so busy.

The majestic Leon Cathedral
Leon Cathedral. Source:

We loved Leon when we walked the Camino Frances way back in 2013. It has some interesting Gaudi architecture and a magnificent cathedral which offers an excellent audio guide tour. I try not to come down with ABC (another bloody church) when I travel, but I loved the Leon Cathedral as I learnt so much about its history and construction process.

But, back to the San Salvador…

The Camino San Salvador developed in ancient times when pilgrims decided the leave the main Camino Frances pilgrimage route with the goal of visiting the cathedral in Oviedo. “This is because within the cathedral is the Holy Chamber or Cámara Santa, containing the famous Shroud of Oviedo. This shroud or “Sudarium” is believed to be the very cloth that covered the face of Jesus at his crucifixion. There is a well-known Spanish saying that states, “he who goes to Santiago and not to San Salvador (the Cathedral in Oviedo), visits the servant and not the Lord.” Source 

Lush valleys on the Camino San Salvador
Looking forward to lush valleys. Source:

As the San Salvador is a completely separate camino, it is possible to obtain a passport specific to this path. These can be purchased from the Albergue de Peregrinos Las Carbajalas and receive your first stamp there too. I am not sure whether I will get another passport for this path as I will already have one from the Madrid. I suspect I will as I love all these sorts of mementos.

As well as being excited about this new path, I am even more excited by the fact that I will have company! No more Nigel No-Friends for me! From near Leon ‘K’ will be joining me on this walking adventure. This will be her first camino and I hope she loves the whole long-distance experience as much as I do. Fingers crossed she will still be talking to me at the end! 🙂

Our planned itinerary is:

  1. Monday 25 May – Puente de Villarente (on the Frances 12.5 to Leon) to Cabanillas. 32.5 km
  2. Tuesday 26 May – Cabanillas to Buiza, 25.5 km
  3. Wednesday 27 May – Buiza to Pajares, 24.3 km
  4. Thursday 28 May – Pajares to Pola de Lena, 28 km
  5. Friday 29 May – Pola de Lena to Oviedo, 35 km

As this is a less popular and less populated path there will be some days when we will have to plan ahead some more and carry additional food and water for the day. It is not that we will be super remote, it is just that the villages may be smaller or non-existent. Similarly, we may have to call ahead to let the albergues know we are coming. When the path is less busy, albergues may not be open all the time. To give you an idea of pilgrim numbers, in 2018 186 199 people walked the Camino Frances and only 1 663 (estimated) people walked the San Salvador.

Gorgeous stone buildings and houses on camino San Salvador
Gorgeous stone buildings and houses on this camino.

I hope I am not coming across as anti-social by wanting to walk these quieter paths. I am definitely an extrovert and love meeting new people. I like these less-travelled routes as they allow me to ‘walk my own walk’ without the stress and pressure of securing a bed.

A safe, dry bed dramatically increases in importance after a 30km day when all I want to do is pull off my boots and backpack and stand under a restorative shower. Simple things, but important things that I just don’t want to hassle for.

The terrain is going to be quite mountainous with some pretty decent climbs at times. This will mean cooler temperatures and possibly a bit wetter too, although I am hoping the wet stuff stays away. I can put up with a lot of different things when I walk, but wet weather really brings me down and puts a genuine dampener on my enjoyment of the day. I am expecting that my sleeping bag will get a fair bit of use on this camino, keeping me warm at night and meaning that I don’t have to wear every item of clothing I possess.

Misty valleys on the San Salvador
Misty valleys on the San Salvador. Source:

I am expecting plenty of glorious mountain views and mist covered valleys. There will be lush wooded paths and atmospheric stone villages. I admit to being addicted to stone walls, so I may never leave.

Here’s to the road less travelled and please share your Camino San Salvador tips, trips and knowledge.

Buen camino


A yellow arrow on the Camino San Salvador

#caminodesantiago #buencamino #pilgrimpath #caminomadrid  #santiagodecompostela #pilgrimage  #longdistancewalking #travelinspo #Spain #Leon #Oviedo #caminosansalvador


21 thoughts on “The Camino Less Travelled in Spain – Camino San Salvador

  1. What is it about stone walls? Lol. This route sounds intriguing to me. I like being off the beaten path. Do people ever do two parts of Camino in one 45 day trip instead of the entire Camino Frances?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I know all about the stone wall addiction. I got all fired up many years ago and built 5 stone walls around our house. Needless to say they look NOTHING like the fabulous ones you see in Spain!! 🙂 And yes, you can definitely design your own camino. The Camino Frances is the most popular one that people start with, but you can pick and choose depending on terrain and weather. I have heard of some people changing paths because they found it too busy, too quiet or too wet!! There is no such thing as a right or wrong way to walk a camino although you may meet people who are more ‘purist’ than moi! 😉 Melx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh god, were snakes getting in your yard? Lol. Ok, good to know. Doing it in 3 years, one way or another 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You and your snake phobia!! 🙂 Just joking! Believe me, the rock walls I built would keep NOTHING out! But they do look good…even if they are leaning slightly!! Maybe you should join me next year for one/all the stages??? 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. 😂😂😂 truth about the snake phobia! You never know, I could be a VERY last minute add to your trip. Though I’m looking at backpacking the Paria River Canyon at Utah in May. Depends on work!!! Boo.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Yes, damn work! It gets in the road every time…although the money does come in handy. Happy looking!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Another adventure in the offing, Mel! Sounds like a good one 🙂 🙂


      1. Not that you’re counting 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ABC… love it. I, too, get over-cathedraled very quickly. One and done, I say. I’m wishing you nice, dry weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for the blue sky wishes. I suspect I will need them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds amazing!! I can’t wait to read more about it. Best wiahes on your trip and blogging in 2020!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I am so excited about this walk and plan to blog along the way. Buen camino to you. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really want to do this one too. Oviedo is such a sweet town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so looking forward to getting away from the main camino paths. The photos of this path and the Primitivo look amazing! Buen Camino to you. Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, how we miss the Camino … would love to do this one … but when 😕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The camino is not going anywhere and will welcome us back with open arms when it is safe to travel again. Maybe 2022??? Although I understand the Pope has extended the Holy Year to include 2022 too, so it will be crazy busy! Buen camino.

      Liked by 1 person

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