The Camino Primitivo will be the last official section of my 2020 Spanish Camino adventure.
This Camino itinerary will be a bit like a burger ‘with the lot’ as it combines a number of paths – Caminos Madrid, Frances, San Salvador, Primitivo, Verde, del Norte and then a final stint of the Frances down into Santiago de Compostela on the last day. All combined in an effort to see new parts of Spain and to avoid the camino hordes.
Introducing…the Camino Primitivo
The Camino Primitivo starts from Oviedo right up the top of Spain, only about 30km from the coast.
The Primitivo is considered to be one of the original two caminos, alongside the Frances. Its importance revolved around the fact that “it is the path taken by the first reported pilgrim, Alfonso II of Asturias (c. 760 – 842), nicknamed the Chaste. The King left his capital, Oviedo, in the year 814 to travel to Santiago de Compostela where Alfonso built the original shrine to Saint James on the spot of the discovery (of St James’ remains). Until the city of León was established as both the capital of the Kingdom of Leon and the nexus of a safe route — the French Way — for pilgrims travelling across the Meseta, the Camino Primitivo remained the most frequented route for those going to Santiago for religious reasons”. Source
In addition, the cathedral in Oviedo is a sacred destination in itself. It is said to house the Shroud of Oviedo. This shroud or “Sudarium” is believed to be the very cloth that covered the face of Jesus at his crucifixion. I am starting to wonder if the Primitivo is almost like a Camino Greatest Hits by starting at the cathedral in Oviedo and finishing at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. How many brownie points am I going to accrue with this wander?? J
Oviedo is a city of around 221 000 people. Yet another highly attractive Spanish city, it appears to be the meeting point or hub for a number of caminos as people walk in from the north on the del Norte (tracking mostly in a westerly direction along the Spanish coastline), from the south on the San Salvador from Leon and then starting out in a south-westerly direction on the Primitivo.
The Primitivo is growing in popularity due to its relatively short distant (around 326km), easy starting point, beautiful scenery and reduced numbers of pilgrims. In 2018, 8 800 people walked the Primitivo compared to 186 199 on the Camino Frances. A vast difference in anyone’s books.
I will be starting my Primitivo with a rest day in Oviedo. Having just finished a pretty mountainous five days on the San Salvador and about to clock up more mountainous days, I am thinking I may need that day to psych myself up! J It will also give me an opportunity to explore this historic city and collect my credential after finishing the San Salvador and pick up my new passport for the Primitivo. Neither are compulsory, but they will become special mementos of this combo walk.
The itinerary for the Primitivo looks like:
Saturday 30 May – Oviedo – Rest Day
- Sunday 31 May – Oviedo to Grado/San Juan, 31.7 km
- Monday 1 June – Grado/San Juan to Bodenaya, 27.7 km
- Tuesday 2 June – Bodenaya to Campiello, 25.9 km
- Wednesday 3 June – Campiello to Berducedo, 27.1 km
- Thursday 4 June – Berducedo to Castro, 27.7 km
- Friday 5 June – Castro to A Fonsagrada, 22.5 km
- Saturday 6 June – A Fonsagrada to Castroverde, 35 km
- Sunday 7 June – Castroverde to Lugo, 22 km
- Monday 8 June – Lugo to Friol, 27.8 km
- Tuesday 9 June – Friol to Sobrado dos Monxes, 27 km
- Wednesday 10 June – Sobrado dos Monxes to Goimil, 21.4 km
- Thursday 11 June – Goimil to Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostela, 30.1 km
Yes, a few big days/distances in there that I am doing my best to ignore.
Normally (for ‘normal’ people that is) the Primitivo drops down from Lugo to join the Frances and you walk the last couple of days with the masses of Frances pilgrims. I have decided to follow Maggie’s footsteps by turning right at Lugo and heading off on the little known Camino Verde for a couple of days. It will still take me in the right general direction, but just off the beaten track a little. Apparently on this path I need to follow green (hence verde) arrows, not the usual yellow ones.
My path will then wobble around a bit as I continue cross-country, crossing part of the del Norte and finally forging my own path before joining the Frances for the last day into Santiago de Compostela. This may all sound a bit haphazard, but the camino grapevine is so strong on the ground that I am confident I will be able to access accurate directions and information once I am walking. The closer you get to Santiago de Compostela, the greater the awareness and support of any camino by the locals. They understand the religious significance of walking, the physical commitment of the distance as well as the enormously positive economic impact all the walkers have on their towns and villages.
Similar to the San Salvador I am expecting quite mountainous terrain on the Primitivo with stunning views. As I move from the Asturias region into Galicia proper, I will need to prepare myself for wetter weather. The rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia and on the past three caminos I have walked I always seem to score a stretch of wet weather towards the end. I am going to send out as many positive, dry vibes as possible and manifest glorious blue skies and sparkling sunny days. Ever the Optimist!
I am almost starting to feel sad that the walk is over and I haven’t even left home yet! I just know the wonderful feeling of freedom and connection to the world and nature that comes with walking a camino. It is just so liberating for mind and body, and also a huge privilege to walk in the footsteps of so many others through time.
Of course there will also be a huge sense of relief as I finally stand in front of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Arrived at last!
I look forward to sharing my adventure LIVE from the camino and no doubt there will be more camino chatter over the next four months or so.
Like all the other camino paths I will be walking on this adventure, I welcome any tips, tricks and information you have gathered from your own Camino Primitivo experience.
Buen camino everyone!
And wishing you all a very happy, relaxing and safe Festive season. Take care and I look forward to chatting to you in 2020!
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