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"
All total our day one on the Camino Primitivo was a full 19 kilometers, which included our 6.2 km. walk to the Naranco Sites (click here for this route description to/from Oviedo).
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 thru 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 One 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 well described in the Combined Guide. 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, I decided to map our route through town. While it isn't always easy to find the Camino, 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 using your Combined Guide or perhaps my maps, below, pay attention to the street beneath your feet. For the first several kilometers through town, every time you 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 on 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 culture she finds herself in, right? You will need to adapt in Asturias, Spain, or you WILL get lost!
Below is the first map through town on day one of our Camino Primitivo. My maps I created on Google and they 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.
(If there are any techies out there who have ideas about how to make my maps look better, please contact me or leave a comment below!)
Click on the map, move it around, zoom, expand and whatever you need to do to help you see where to walk! Click on "more options" to get a large map in a separate window.
The route thru the first map is relatively straight forward. The direction of travel is from right to left, starting at the Cathedral.
The second map shows the way on the Calle Argañosa. When the street ends at the roundabout, go right, looking for a pedestrian footbridge across the railroad tracks. This is a key landmark to find.
There are more yellow painted arrows now, through this section, to guide you.
After crossing the railroad tracks, a few zigs and zags and you are on the Paseo de la Florida. Take heart because you are almost through town! Turning right at the next roundabout, you approach a park on the Calle Corvera where you will see your first official Camino Primitivo sign accompanied by a waymark! (Too bad it was messed up by graffiti.)
Below is a photo of my husband at this park.
From the park, the Calle Corvera becomes a paved walking path. Follow the paved walkway down the hill and then to the right, following the waymarks to the Calle Muros del Nalón.
You did it! You are through Oviedo. The signs are relatively easy to follow from here.
Here is the entire day on Camino Primitivo route map from Eroski Consumer for their recommended first stage, without including the Naranco sites. As you can see, this is a very long day one on the Camino Primitivo, and it is a difficult first day if you are starting in Oviedo. Many pilgrims stop in Escamplero at the municipal albergue there, denoted by the blue shell on the map.
(All municipal albergues are marked on the Eroski maps with a blue shell).
After Escamplero, it is a long, long way to the next albergue, down a long hill and back up again. 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! The day starts off with a real bang, after you leave Oviedo, so take heed!
Here I am, below, at a typical waymark in Oviedo. Note the direction of travel shown by the yellow arrow. Always go toward the point on the shell where the rays come together. (This is only while in Asturias, it changes in Galicia!)
Once the pilgrimage travelers reached the Calle Muros del Nalón just outside of Oviedo (see Map Three above), 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 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!
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!
The shortcut allowed me to be able to relieve myself in more privacy further on, an urgent necessity at the time!
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 a road or lane 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 hand full 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.
On day one on the Camino Primitivo one arrives in this first lovely little hamlet of Lloriana and the 12th century church of Santa María de Lloriana.
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 (fountain) on day one of the Camino Primitivo for his illness. We did not drink from this one, so I cannot validate this talk.
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, opposite the church, you may be able to see that Escamplero is only 2.9 kilometers.
The Way after Lloriana takes the pilgrim along a wonderful country lane for about a half kilometer. The quaint countryside along the way enchanted me. This is 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 breath 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 on the left and the towering delphiniums on the right.
If any reader knows the meaning of the statues in the niche on the left, please comment to all of us at the end of the article! We thank you!
(Please see the comments, below. A kind reader educated me on the grotto and its meaning. It is to Our Lady of Covadonga, the patron saint of Asturias. Please see the link in the comment for more information. Thank-you Olatz!)
Unfortunately, there is a lot of pavement walking on day one of the Camino Primitivo. My lovely country lane soon gave way to the AS-232, which you must walk a lot of the way from here to Venta de Escamplero. The road takes you through Ponte de Gallegos (Galician Bridge) thru a small diversion off the highway, to this 13th century bridge, below, with a stone sculpture.
I loved the region of Asturias, Spain, 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 on the highway, AS-232 and thru 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-232 and joins a path into the forest as I show in the photo below.
The forest path joins a dirt lane for much continued relief from the pavement on our day one of the Camino Primitivo.
Eventually the lane joins a narrow side road in the town of Escamplero, which goes on to rejoin the AS-232, as it climbs the ongoing long hill finally to the top. Here the pilgrim needs to leave the AS-232 and turns right onto the AS-233 then left on the AS-234, which takes you to the restaurant and municipal albergue of Venta de Escamplero.
As it turned out, had we stayed on the the AS-232 after Gallegos we would have walked a more direct and shorter route into Escamplero. However, one cannot complain about the more scenic way, I guess.
You are exactly where you need to be when you see the sign to the El Tendejón Restaurant, shortly after leaving the AS-232 in about a half a kilometer. The restaurant sign is shown below.
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. The Combined Guide was not very clear on this.
The municipal albergue is actually about another 300 yards down the road from the restaurant where you sign in, so it can be confusing. If you find the albergue first, you must go back to the Restaurante El Tendejón to register for the night.
Although the photo doesn't show it, the restaurant indoors was packed at 3 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.
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 a 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 winded down the hill ever more steeply, I decided I was too tired to climb back up the hill on the return. 19 kilometers was enough for the first day. I was disappointed that I had not found it.
I was even more 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! Check out this website and the photos of it here. 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 in Asturias, Spain. 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.
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 Typica" (typical food) on the menu for dinner was typical for the region of Asturias, Spain. 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!
I hope you enjoyed your vicarious walk as I led you from Oviedo to Venta de Escamplero on day one of the Camino Primitivo!
May you too find your own pilgrim's way along the ancient and Original Way. 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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