Day One on the Camino Primitivo is a short and sweet walk, when combined with a 6.2 kilometer jaunt to the Naranco Sites, makes for a respectable first stage on the Camino Primitivo.
"It is often when the outside world fails us that we realize that the source of real resilience lives within. It is through the resources of the inward journey that we survive change, cataclysmic events, and even death itself." ~ Dr. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, "Pilgrimage - The Sacred Art: Journey to the Center of the Heart"
In total our day one on the Camino Primitivo was a bit more than 18 kilometers, which included our 6.2 km. walk to the Naranco Sites (click here for this route description to/from Oviedo). Or, if you arrive midday into Oviedo, this would be a nice afternoon walk.
After visiting the Naranco Sites, we decided just to walk back down the mountain, into town and pick up the route near the train station. We did this instead of taking a described shortcut from Naranco onward.
There were several reasons we chose to do this:
Firstly, I wanted to actually walk the complete route from town, mostly to challenge myself and my route finding skills, as I had heard that many people lost their way walking through Oviedo. We had walked the initial steps from the Cathedral of Oviedo the evening before, so we picked up the route from the Calle Melquiades Álvarez where it intersects with the Calle de la Independencia. (See map below.)
Secondly, I wanted to officially walk the actual Camino Primitivo. I wanted to do the Original Way from the official start to the official finish. Call me a purist!
The third reason I wanted to return to town was that I was nervous about the shortcut, even though it is described in various sources. There are no waymarks on the shortcut, and while I knew I could do it, it didn't seem that far out of the way to simply return to town.
When standing at the Miguel de Lillo Church (See the map on the Naranco page), it was not easy to find this shortcut. All we could see was a field where the path was supposed to be, looking quite uninviting. A young woman from Russia that we met at the church decided to try this shortcut. We wished her luck as she went on her way.
It barely took us 30 minutes to hoof it down the hill of Monte Naranco, back towards the train tracks and the Original Way.
Because so many folks get lost walking through Oviedo, please study the interactive map below. While it isn't always easy to find the Camino shells, if you pay attention to the signs you will be fine. The "signs," as in life, are there, if you are willing to see them! You must stay alert, know your route and be prepared.
While walking through town, pay attention to the street beneath your feet. For the first several kilometers through Oviedo, every time you come to an intersection, or are required to make a change in direction, there will be a bronze shell under your feet on the pavement!
Just beware that the direction of travel shown by the Asturian shells are from the rays to the point of the shell. In the photo, this means you are walking toward the benches in the upper part of the photo. This movement of travel is exactly opposite as what exists when you reach the region of Galicia, where the direction of travel reverses!
But the pilgrimage traveler is always open and ready to adapt to the situation she finds herself in, right? You will need to adapt in Asturias, or you will get lost!
Below is a map of our entire day one through Oviedo on our Camino Primitivo. The GPS maps which I have created on Google are entirely interactive. If you have a data plan in Spain you can just keep the map up to help you if you lose the shells.
There are plenty of services on this short leg's journey, that I placed on the map for your planning, such as cafés, grocery stores, albergues and other accommodations. For advance reservations in Oviedo, click here. I placed on the map the hotels that are the most economical. We have stayed in the budget Hostal Romero, and the economical Gran Hotel España and enjoyed them both very much.
There are several albergues in Oviedo, the privates Albergue Turistico La Peregrina, La Hospedería Oviedo and the HiHome Hostel, and the huge parochial Albergue de Peregrinos El Salvador at the Seminario Metropolitano de Oviedo.
Click on the map, move it around, zoom, expand and whatever you need to do to help you see where to walk! Click on the right upper hand corner square to get a large map in a separate window.
Because of our decision to first visit the Naranco sites on day one of the Camino Primitivo, our goal for the day was Escamplero, a short day. If you choose to go to Grado, the stage is much longer. Many pilgrims stop in Escamplero at the municipal albergue there, as we did. The albergue is shown on the interactive map above.
I was not prepared for the amount of hills present on day one of the Camino Primitivo! For some reason I expected it to be easier and it was not! Even on this short day there is a healthy climb of 150 meters, almost 500 feet, 10 kilometers into the day, as you walk into Escamplero. There are many ups and downs along the way, as you can see.
Here I am, below, at a typical concrete waymark in Oviedo. Again, note the direction of travel shown by the yellow arrow. Always go toward the point on the shell where the rays come together.
As you know, from the introduction to the Camino Primitivo, the official start is at the Cathedral of Oviedo.
You leave the cathedral at the plaque directly across from the statue of King Alfonso II just to the left of the main entrance (see article on Oviedo for more information.) This street is the Calle del Águila. Walk a few meters north and take the first left onto the Calle Schultz. Walk barely 100 meters, and turn right onto the Plaza San Juan. 50 meters later, turn left onto the Calle Jovellanos followed by an immediate right onto the Calle Luna.
After 100 meters along the Calle Luna, come to an intersection with two parallel streets running ahead. Cross the intersection and turn left and then an immediate right onto the Calle Santa Clara. It is important to not go immediately across to the street ahead but to take the more left street you see across the intersection.
Don't forget to continue to look down on the pavement for a bronze shell, whenever there is an intersection, to confirm that you are going the correct way! There are there, but very easy to miss.
Follow the Calle Santa Clara, which becomes the Calle Covadonga, which becomes the Calle Alvarez, then the Calle de la Independencia, for a total of about 800 meters, until you come to the main route, the N-634. If you stay on the south side of the street (left side) as you are walking westward, you will see a bronze shell on the sidewalk at every intersection, to assure you that you are still going the right way. At the intersection with the Calle Uria, you cross on the left side towards the small church on the corner.
When you come to the N-634, a very busy, multi-lane highway, stay to the left as you join it. Cross over the very first intersection with the Calle Asturias. Immediately cross over to the north side of the N-634 as directed by the shells. Walk by a row of bizarre high rise buildings, made of brightly colored squares. You will finally begin to see yellow arrows through here to assist you.
In about 230 meters, at the next large roundabout, follow the first street to the right, avoiding the roundabout, to head northward a few meters until you see a lovely pedestrian way to your left. Turn left and cross the intersection as it leads you toward another row of brightly squared high rises. There are new blue Camino signs with arrows that now appear. Follow the arrow and take this pedestrian way and walk for 150 meters, by fountains and the colorful buildings.
Come to the end of the pedestrian way, and another large roundabout. Cross to the left, continuing around the roundabout, picking up the second left-hand street, called the Calle Argañosa.
Follow the Calle Argañosa for 3/4 kilometer. Come to a small roundabout, stay right and turn right onto a side street and pedestrian way toward the Argañosa train station. You will see the Bar Choque on the corner, and your first concrete waymark (mojón) and information board ahead. Follow the yellow arrows to cross the railroad tracks up and over on a pedestrian bridge. This is a key landmark to find.
After crossing the railroad tracks, stay high and to the left and take the first left turn onto the Calle Bermudo I. Walk on this street for about 100 meters to the first roundabout, staying straight through. Walk one block to the next larger roundabout and take a right turn onto the Calle Cudillero, passing the large Lidl Market. Walk another couple hundred meters until you come to another large roundabout with the lovely divided street called the Paseo de la Florida. Take heart because you are almost through town! You can see and feel the mountains ahead!
At the roundabout, you stay straight on, crossing the Paseo de la Florida. A few meters ahead you approach an open park, appropriately called the Parque Camino de Santiago! Here you will see your first official Camino Primitivo sign accompanied by another mojón! (Too bad it was messed up by graffiti when I took this photo.) Below is a photo of my husband at this park. Welcome to the Camino Primitivo!
At the park, turn left onto a paved walking path. Follow the paved walkway down the hill 140 meters, and then to the right for another 90 meters, following the waymarks to the Calle Muros del Nalón. Another 140 meter on this street and you did it! You are through Oviedo. The countryside is wide open and you continue onward and the signs are relatively easy to follow from here.
Once the pilgrimage travelers reached the Calle Muros del Nalón just outside of Oviedo we happened on a hunched little old man with a walking cane approaching us.
He stopped us and in Spanish (which I surprisingly understood) told us not to take a right where the signs would indicate, but continue on the Calle Muros del Nalón for a while longer, then take a shortcut to the right on Calle San Lázaro de Paniceres instead.
Even though I understood the man, I double-checked my map, and sure enough, it appeared to be a reasonable shortcut so we took it. Gotta love the locals! (I did not mark this shortcut on the map, but only included it in this narrative, because it is not that significant).
Did this little old gentleman ply this street on a daily basis, just to interact with the many pilgrimage travelers so that he could assist them?? I will never know, but I sure wanted to believe this to be true. What a lovely interaction it was!
During our shortcut, we got ahead of two Spaniards that had been closely following us. Now I know we are not supposed to be in a race on the Way of St. James, but I still noticed my competitive tendency!
Further along, we found this lovely spot, below for our lunch break with a grand view!
This lunch spot is where the young Russian woman that we met at the Naranco sites, caught up to us to tell us that the shortcut from Naranco was not good. She stated that not only did she get lost, but because there was no path through the brush, she got her bare legs all scratched up. I was glad to have made the choice we did, to return to town.
Her "shortcut" took longer than our sojourn back to town, which was longer by 2.3 kilometers. This is an interesting life metaphor, don't you think? Shortcuts may seem appropriate, however, they may not be as effective as the "slow" journey!
In the late summer, we encountered many roads or lanes flanked on each side by hedges of black raspberry bushes. The photo below shows them in all their fruitful glory!
My husband, Rich, a die-hard berry picker, was in heaven. Every chance he could get he'd stop to pick a handful to jam into his mouth! I would look back often, to see him picking! I would also stop and I too would gorge on the wonderful, sun-ripened fruit.
The Camino Primitivo wanders on quiet pavement for about 1.3 kilometers after leaving the outskirts of Oviedo. At about 4.9 kilometers from the start at the Cathedral, it leaves the pavement and turns onto county lanes. About 1.7 kilometers later, after climbing to a high point, it passes the first feature of interest, the Ermita del Carmen (Llampaxuga), not pictured. You can stop here and reflect on your journey.
In about another kilometer, continuing on nice downhill country lanes, you arrive in this first lovely little hamlet of Lloriana, below, and the 12th century church of Santa María de Lloriana. You can see that as you enter town, you also rejoin the pavement.
By the church is a fountain, where you can soak your tired feet. We had heard, later on our pilgrimage, that a fellow peregrino had become ill with gastrointestinal symptoms on the 2nd day on the Original Way. He blamed one of the first fuentes (fountains) on day one of the Camino Primitivo for his illness. We did not drink from this one, so I cannot validate this talk.
Just check the signs by the fountain for “potable,” then you will know the water is safe to drink.
The church was surrounded by gorgeous hydrangeas, and the path was so inviting. However, the church was closed, as many are along the Camino Primitivo.
From this waymark, shown below and sitting opposite the church, you may be able to see that Escamplero is only 2.9 kilometers.
The Way after Lloriana continues strongly downhill and takes the pilgrim along a wonderful country lane for about half a kilometer before joining the AS-371 after a right hand turn. There is a café bar on the corner if you need one.
The quaint countryside along the way enchanted me. This is a hilly, verdant country! I shot photos of so many cows and other animals.
The stone walls that lined the country lanes also enchanted me. Here is Rich walking on as I stopped to breathe in this photo.
I truly was in some euphoria on day one of my Camino Primitivo!
A local's iron gate served as a reminder that we had only just begun our pilgrimage ~ 296 km to go! I sent a silent blessing to this Camino supporter as I captured this moment in time.
So many eye-catching treasures to relish! The personal grotto and the towering delphiniums, both shown below.
Thanks to one of my readers, Olatz Urturi, I have been informed that the statue in red on the ledge in the photo, below left, is not Santa Claus, but Our Lady of Covadonga and the grotto next to her is the shrine where she is (you can see another smaller Lady of Covadonga inside it). She's the patron saint of Asturias. He says the actual grotto is in the mountains over a waterfall and is a beautiful place. See Our Lady of Covadonga for more information.
After you join the AS-371, you will remain walking on it for the next 1.4 kilometers approximately. You will not join it again until you near the albergue in Venta de Escamplero, still about 4.0 kilometers away.
In 630 meters after joining the AS-371, it takes you onto a medieval bridge, the Ponte de Gallegos (Galician Bridge) via a small diversion off the highway. This 13th century bridge, below, also has an interesting stone sculpture.
I love the region of Asturias, because all the historical sites are so well marked, along the Original Way!
After the Ponte de Gallegos, the pilgrim has to climb a long hill that you see in the elevation profile, about 9.0 kilometers into the day. First, it is about 600 meters on the highway, the AS-371 and through the town of Gallegos. It is not as pleasant. Here is the beginning of the long hill, below.
Shortly after leaving the town of Gallegos, the Way suddenly veers off the AS-371 and joins a path into the forest as I show in the photo, below left. The path drops down about 50 meters initially, then starts the long and final climb into Escamplero.
The forest path eventually joins a dirt lane for continued relief from the pavement for the next 1.5 kilometers, on our day one of the Camino Primitivo.
Eventually the lane turns left onto a narrow side road in the town of Escamplero, which after about 400 meters, once again joins the AS-371. The walk through town constitutes the final steps of the climb. The ongoing long hill finally ends after turning right onto the AS-371, at the top at the intersection with the AS-233. Here the pilgrim needs to leave the AS-371 and turn right onto the AS-233. Then it is almost immediately left onto the AS-234, which takes you to the restaurant in Venta de Escamplero after 100 more meters.
As it turned out, had we stayed on the AS-371 after Gallegos we would have walked a more direct and shorter route into Escamplero. It is almost exactly 1.0 kilometer on the road, versus about 1.85 kilometers on the off road path. Choose your own route as you see fit.
You are exactly where you need to be when you see the sign to the El Tendejón Restaurant, shortly after joining the AS-234. The restaurant sign is shown below. They also have three rooms here, called the Pensión Tendejón.
If you walk down the hill from the sign, the main entrance to the restaurant can be found, with outdoor tables and a marvelous view of the mountains to the west. It is here in the bar that you register for the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Escamplero. If you want the rooms, inquire here as well. They have two double rooms and one triple.
The municipal albergue itself is actually about another 350 meters down the road from the restaurant where you sign in, so it can be confusing. If you go to the albergue first, you must go back to the Restaurante El Tendejón to register and pay for the night.
Although the photo doesn't show it, the restaurant indoors was packed at 3:00 pm with locals finishing their long Saturday lunch. If you don't know the Spanish culture regarding meal times, you may want to read my Camino Trip Planning Tips to ensure that you are not caught during siesta when getting nourishment is a challenging proposition.
We hung out on the patio, had a beer and then a café con leche. This was often our pattern - a beer followed by coffee - one to refresh us, and then one to wake us up again so we wouldn't fall asleep! We didn't want to miss a thing.
The Asturian San Miguel beer was especially light and refreshing that first afternoon on the Camino and it soon became our favorite.
Please keep in mind, that if you are planning to cook in the albergue there is no tienda here. There is a butcher shop down the street from the Tendejón, which I recall had some other items for sale in addition to meat, but this is a small town and your best bet may be to get your groceries in Oviedo if you plan to cook.
Since we arrived early in the afternoon, we decided to chase down a site marked by a brown signpost we had passed, at the top of the hill where the Camino Primitivo left the AS-232. There was a church called the San Pedro de Nora that appeared to be worth a look, just outside of town. We thought this because the sign was a brown one, the color used to mark sites of cultural interest in Asturias, Spain.
We set off to find the church, but as the road wound down the hill ever more steeply, I decided I was too tired to climb back up the hill on the return and turned around. 19 kilometers was enough for the first day. I was disappointed that I had not found the church when I looked up where the site was on Google, when I put this article together. It is a fabulous, well-preserved, 9th century Romanesque church! Had I realized it was so glorious, I would have taken a taxi to see it.
When looking on the map, the San Pedro de Nora is a full 3.4 kilometers from the Restaurante El Tendejón! It would have been a long, long walk down the hill to the Nora River and back up.
Below is the picture of the municipal albergue of Escamplero. It has several rooms, two that contained two bunks and slept four, one with a triple bunk that slept three and two large open rooms containing quite a few bunks.
We were lucky enough to get the room down the back stairs with the triple bunk, but no one took the highest bed, so we had a private room. The albergue was not totally full in late August when we were there. Don't count on this now, though!
It was clean, comfortable and very basic. We did not join the other pilgrims in cooking here, as we wanted to try the wonderful looking restaurant that was so packed for lunch!
The "Comida Tipica" (typical food) on the menu for dinner was typical for the region of Asturias. It started out with an ensalada (salad) with sugar-coated walnuts and blue cheese, followed by veal thinly cut with ham and cheese stuffed in between the two filets. Absolutely one of the best meals we had in Asturias, and I highly recommend the Restaurante El Tendejón. Indeed, the portions were quite large, so consider sharing this meal if you decide to have it!
It was here in Escamplero on day one of our Camino Primitivo that we first met a wonderful lady that my husband was to dub the "Camino Mother." If you continue to follow my daily stories, you will see that she became a vital part of our Camino Family.
At first, Camino Mother was not very appealing to us, since we thought she was rather loud and bossy. In fact, we made a note to ourselves to avoid her! However, as good families do, she soon was to be absorbed within our group, a vital part of its cohesiveness and its uniqueness.
Luckily for us, despite the misty start of the day, it never did rain, allowing our day one on the Camino Primitivo to be very enjoyable. The whole day was euphoric for me, as it was my first day back on the road again! The Camino Road, that is. And I was lovin' it!
May you too find your own pilgrim's way along the ancient and Original Way on day one of your Camino Primitivo. May you walk between the liminal spaces of security and adventure, where you are better able to meet yourself in the moment! Buen Camino!
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