The final day six into Oviedo on the Camino de San Salvador is a short but lovely walk, up and down scenic hills with stunning views of Oviedo ahead.
"The mountain remains unmoved at seeming defeat by the mist." ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Most of our day was indeed misty as you can see from the photos below, adding a mystique to the journey. Our spirits were high, eager to arrive at the great city and cathedral of Oviedo once again and its treasured Catholic relics.
Here is our Google map of our day, including services and accommodations. While it may appear that you can get food in El Padrún, plan on your first stop being in Olloniego at about 7.5 kilometers. There are many cafés there and the ones in El Padrún were not open when we walked by in the morning.
There are no accommodations after Mieres and La Peña on the entire route until Oviedo. Once you arrive in Oviedo, there is the Albergue de Peregrinos de Oviedo and many other choices of accommodation, if you do not prefer the albergue. Click here to see them.
As you can see from the elevation profile below, the day is full of many ups and downs. The total elevation gain is 771 meters (2500 feet) and the loss is 730 meters (2400 feet). 2500 feet of elevation gain is a considerable effort, but because the mileage is short, it was a more reasonable day.
I always prefer the last day on a Camino to be relatively short, so I can visit the destination town with extra hours. I was very happy that we did not have to walk another 15.5 kilometers from La Pola de Lena, almost twice as far as from La Peña! For me, with the degree of effort needed for the final hill climbs shown below, it would have been way too much.
We started out before daybreak from the Albergue de Peregrinos de Mieres in La Peña. After first turning right onto AS-242, within 200 meters, come to this roundabout and walk straight on.
A few meters after the roundabout, at only 400 meters into day six, first pass the 17 kilometer marker on the AS-242, then the Bar La Peña, shown in the photo below. The bar is right along the Camino del Salvador and is open 24 hours, so there should be no worries about getting an early start and having your café con leche and tostada prior to your journey if you wish. It is pilgrim's paradise, isn't it?
Almost immediately after leaving the bar, the first climb of 185 meters (about 600 feet) of day six begins. You can see the highway below, to your left, you as you climb, leaving La Peña behind.
The pitch steepens a bit soon after passing the sign for the next town of La Rebollá. Pass the sign for the town about 500 meters after the roundabout.
My left knee didn't mind the climb, in fact, it relished it! However, I was more worried about the downhills to come.
The Way becomes more rural as you climb towards your first landmark the Iglesia de Santa Maria Magdalena de la Rebollada. Enter the town, shown in the photo below, turn the corner and the church is on the right.
You will reach this lovely little historic church at 1.2 kilometers into day six on the Camino de San Salvador. It was built in 1923, according to the Conceyu Mieres, on a 13th century foundation. Little else is know about the church's history. Click on the link to the Conceyu for more details.
Upon leaving the very small hamlet of La Rebollá, the San Salvador begins to climb steeply on switchbacks, up the mountain. On a clear day, the views all around are phenomenal. Even through the mist it was still grand! Here is a look back down on the climb we had just done on the AS-242.
Continuing the climb, you come to the next hamlet of El Rollu. It is just a cluster of a few houses.
Almost immediately after leaving El Rollu, come to the next town of Copían.
Through this stretch we could see nothing but mist ahead. We could see lots of industrial buildings below, lining the Caudal River valley. We missed seeing the mountains we knew were there, but happy not to see the industries too clearly.
We could also hear the tinkle of animal bells in the pastures above us, but could not see them either. Perhaps they were cows or goats.
At 2.34 kilometers, after passing the sign leaving Copían, the Way flattens out a bit for a brief reprieve. We hoped this was the top of the first climb, but of course, it wasn't.
Next, pass by the sign for the hamlet of Santa LLucía. Where is the hamlet?
Farther down the road at 3.38 kilometers into day six at kilometer marker 14 on the AS-242, we came to the row houses in the photo below. There is nothing much more this town!
I was really bumming that I couldn't see the view off to the left through here, because I knew it would have been amazing. When I looked on Google Earth, indeed it is! Hopefully your weather will be better. I did feel gratitude that at least it wasn't raining!
The mist seemed to thicken as we left the town of Llucía.
At 4.3 kilometers into day six on the Camino del Salvador, we came to a fountain, and the sign for the town of Aguilar. The road once again flattened out a bit here, albeit briefly.
Walking through Aguilar, pass the 13 kilometer marker.
After walking through Aguilar, almost immediately come to the sign for El Padrún and yet another town fountain. This is at about 4.7 kilometers into the day.
The town of El Padrún doesn't actually begin until about 120 meters after the sign as it climbs just a short way longer. As we reached the row of buildings, my knee immediately sensed the change in elevation as the road flattened. I knew that the first climb had ended.
We heard our Spanish compadres tell of café bars in town here, but when we walked through around 9:00 a.m. the two we passed by were both closed. They were actually cider houses, from their names, so I doubt they open very early in the morning.
I located the two cider houses on our Google map above, in the event your walk brings you through here later in the day. I wouldn't count on stopping here for breakfast.
Just before passing the second cider house (sidrería), pass by the sign welcoming you to the Consejo (Council) de Oviedo! Not quite 12 kilometers left to go to Oviedo.
Just after passing the second cider house, come to a path, shown below, that descends very steeply toward the next town of Casares. The Camino takes this path, designated by the concrete waymark below the town sign.
I relied heavily on my poles to take my weight off my left knee, as I continued my half-march down the hill. I discovered that if I picked up my left knee, rather than pulling through in extension, that I could avoid a deeper knee pain.
We walked along this lane towards Casares. The Way was quite muddy when we passed through, so it must have recently rained a significant amount.
In only 250 meters the Camino joins the pavement again as you come into the town. Make a left hand turn in town and again a few meters onward at this waymark below, just across from the town fountain. You can see the Way ahead along the road.
In only 120 meters later, the Camino turns right onto yet another path through the fields. This path was quite overgrown in the fall of 2018, and the vegetation was quite wet after the recent rain.
As you can see, the path is quite overgrown in sections. I used my poles to push away the wet vegetation as I walked. This is another "Where's Rich (Waldo) photo!"
In the not quite 1/2 kilometer that you are on this path, there are nice sections as well.
At 5.95 kilometers into day six of the Camino de San Salvador, the path eventually meets up again with the AS-242, so you could easily continue onward on the asphalt in Casares, meeting up with the AS-242 and turning right to re-join the Camino farther down the hill. This would avoid the path altogether. (See our Google map). The road option is is quite a bit longer as it switchbacks down the hill.
(You could even stay on the AS-242 from El Padrún, farther uphill and miss the muddy lane to Casares as well, if it is really raining and muddy.)
Once you meet the AS-242, you will be walking on the pavement for the next 2.95 kilometers, continuing along this road.
Pass the 10 kilometer marker on the way to the next town of Olloniego.
Within 700 meters of joining the pavement, you reach the sign letting you know you are entering the town of Olloniego.
This is at 6.68 kilometers when you reach this sign. This town marks the low point before the second climb of the day.
In only about 85 meters after the sign above, take a left hand turn onto this side road, shown below, toward "La Estacion" or the train station of Olloniego.
Following the train tracks on your right, pass by the historic fountain, the Fuente de los Llocos, built in 1776.
Prior to reaching the train station, find a pedestrian tunnel on your right. This tunnel will take you under the railroad tracks. Most likely the colorful graffiti will still be there to guide you!
After emerging from the tunnel, it immediately connects to a pedestrian bridge over the A-66 motorway, and takes you directly into the center of Olloniego.
After the pedestrian bridge, join up with the AS-242 again, which is now the main street through town. Turn left on the street, now called the Carretera Oviedo! How appropriate ~ the Oviedo Street. Getting closer now.
There are many cafés along the Oviedo Street in town for your second breakfast. We stopped at the first cafe that was open, the Sidreria El Testeru, at about 7.42 kilometers thus far.
Our stop here was not quite halfway into day six, with about 9.5 kilometers to go to Oviedo on the Camino del Salvador. There are no more available cafés after Olloniego until the outskirts of Oviedo so you may want to resupply your pack with snacks here if needed.
There may be many cafés in Olloniego but there is absolutely no accommodations! In fact there is nothing on the entire day six on the Camino del Salvador until you reach Oviedo. This is especially why I think it makes sense to make the stage from La Peña instead of Pola de Lena. If you get stuck on a long day starting in Pola de Lena, it is a long, long way to Oviedo, through rural countryside if you get too tired.
As you leave town, you come to this beautiful picnic area, which gives you the signal that the medieval historic center is actually behind you. We almost missed this historic site, because you don't see it until you are past it.
You will not miss the historic site if you know to look for this picnic area. In addition the Camino del Salvador starts to climb once again as soon as you pass the site. It is at about 8.0 kilometers into day six.
The heavy mist was finally dissipating as you can see in the photo below. This would be a lovely place for a picnic, if you prefer not to stop at a café in town. It is a nice resting place at the lowest point, before the second climb to Picullanza that is ahead.
To your left, before the picnic area is the cluster of buildings, the 14th Century historic center of Olloniego or the "Conjuncto Histórico de Olloniego." The complex consists of the bridge, built first, then the palace with its circular tower, the Torre de Muniz and a small church, the Chapel of San Pelayo.
There is some dispute regarding the date these buildings were constructed, some scholars say the 13th century, and most the 14th. The chapel is believed to be the oldest. Despite the current structure built in medieval times, it may have initially been built in the pre-Romanesque time.
The current ruins have seen some small restorative endeavors, and perhaps more is on the way. Click on the link above for more information regarding the historic site.
Just beyond the cluster of buildings is the medieval bridge, with the typical arches, the center being taller that the ends.
This bridge is now dry, after the river Nalón was diverted in the 18th century after a major flood.
The bridge was a toll bridge, and the circular tower, the Torre de Muniz was constructed to guard the bridge to prevent any crossing without paying the toll first.
After visiting the historic site, begin the second climb of the day on the AS-242. Be very careful as there is no shoulder on this road and it is very busy! You have not quite a kilometer to negotiate this busy road, quite the long way. Walk on the left, facing traffic!
Walk by a sign for the town of Cruze, with a few buildings. Come next to the large interchange with the AS-116. Stay on the AS-242 and walk under the AS-116 after the Camino sign below.
Come to the Río Nalón and cross the historic 18th century bridge, the Puente de La Carretera de Castilla, not pictured. I saw the Camino de Santiago sign for the bridge, but I didn't realize that it had arches as we walked over it, otherwise I would have tried to get a good shot of it. The arches are out of view as you walk over the bridge.
At the far end of the bridge, enter into the town of Portazgo. Immediately after the bridge on your left at about 9.22 kilometers, is the historic Oficina de Peaje del Real Portazgo, or the Royal Toll Office of Portazgo, built in 1833.
This toll house was also a place to collect a toll from those crossing the bridge in the 19th century. Supposedly, the pilgrims were exempt from this toll, according to the blog in the link below.
Common sense tells me that when the medieval bridge was no longer in use after the diversion of the Río Nalón, this bridge was built and the tolls were now collected here. I have not validated this from any historical reference, but it makes sense, doesn't it?
If you look to your right, standing in front of the toll house on the AS-242, a few meters along, you can see a Roman league marker, below the supporting wall of the Roman road above. It is along the bend in the road by a red brick building. It may be covered in bramble, so look closely.
Unfortunately, I did not do my homework well enough to realize that this marker was here. The league marker notified the traveler that Oviedo was 1.5 leagues away. A league in Roman times was meant to measure the distance a man could walk in one hour, roughly 2.2 kilometers or 1.4 miles. Because of its inaccuracy, the measurement was later abandoned.
You can click here to see a photo of the league marker in Portazgo and learn more about the history of this area.
After finding the league marker, pass by the toll house again and continue straight up the hill to find this path, to follow the old Roman road. Turn right onto the path. It is waymarked very well.
The path is not well-maintained through here, so I nicknamed it the "Senda de Machete" or the Machete Trail! Raspberry brambles, ferns and scrub oaks were all competing for space, interspersed with a lot of eucalyptus trees.
Farther along, the trail widens, and rocks lining the path on each side tells the tale of the established Roman road.
The cool mist that had finally burned off was now replaced by ridiculous heat and oppressive humidity!
The Way comes out to the pavement, shown below and to a soccer field, after about 3/4 kilometer on the path. It turns left.
At about 10.16 kilometers into day six, the Camino del Salvador makes a diversion to the right. Here is where we leave the paved secondary road for another path that is a continuation of the Roman road for another 1/2 kilometer. There is a blue camino sign and a pylon here at the turn, shown below.
The old Roman road is better preserved through this section. You can see a canal under the pavers, placed on top of the rocks on each side of the road. I always love to walk on these ancient roads and am fascinated by the engineering that is still visible to this day. Quite the feat compared to our modern roads!
When we passed through this section it was a muddy slog fest, with extremely slippery rocks on a very steep path! With my bad knee it was tricky to say the least. Proceed with caution if your conditions are wet.
The downside of walking on the wonderful historic Roman paths is that the sections that are well preserved through the mountains are almost always super steep, regardless of the Camino. This is at least my experience.
Your next landmark, right before the town of Pico de Lanza is the power line shown below.
At 10.83 kilometers Come to a T-intersection with a paved road and turn right at this yellow house and onto the Carretera a Picullanza (Picullanza Street). You are now in the town of Pico de Lanza.
The name of the street is significant, because the top of the second climb, known as the Picullanza takes its name from it. The steepness does abate a bit when you walk on this street.
As we walked through town we were hopeful that this was the top. Not so, but we were almost there.
Next, you come to this Y-intersection, and bend to the right, of course continuing uphill.
At about exactly 11.0 kilometers, the Camino del Salvador comes to an intersection where you go left near the top and onto a more primitive road shown in the photos farther below.
You are approaching the next town of Venta del Aire, which is only a mere cluster of homes.
You are reaching the sky when you do this climb! Arduous but oh-so-beautiful views off to the left! The mountains were solid, unfazed by the mist.
The final ascent to the top is shown below, in Venta del Aire.
When you reach these few houses along the road, shown in the photo above and below, at about 11.2 kilometers, you know that you have arrived at the Alto de Picullanza! The views of Oviedo open up ahead and will enthrall you! You can see prominent features of the Oviedo, including the big white archway of the Modoo Shopping and Convention Center.
I would have loved to linger here over a snack or a cup of coffee, but alas there is no place that invites you to stay awhile. Even though there is one remaining small hill climb, the difficulties of the day are ended here and I knew it! I wanted to breathe in the views and expansiveness for awhile.
I wanted to relish in the accomplishment! Despite my bum knee, the "mountain" that was me remained solid. I would complete this journey.
The land now becomes more pastoral as you descend steeply from the top on farmer's lanes than most likely continue to follow the old Roman road. We will see more vestiges of this ancient road ahead.
And then, about 740 meters from the top, you arrive in the quaint little town of San Miguel de la Pereda. Its attractiveness is unparalleled with these lavishly embellished hórreos. You can rest here in all the loveliness at the provided bench, shown in the second photo below.
After leaving San Miguel de la Pereda, walking straight on in town by the hórreos, in a few meters the pavement gives way to a dirt road. The gorgeous countryside with views of Oviedo continue to grace your walk. It was so spirit-lifting for me!
The road descends steeply and as we walked onward on the path for 3/4 kilometer, it became increasingly evident that we were once again on an old Roman road. I loved this section and barely noticed my left knee, even as I continued my half-marching gait.
The Romans never went around a mountain, but did a direct assault up and over them! (This was extremely true of the Roman road on the central route of the Camino Portugués from Ponte de Lima to Rubiães on our day eighteen, the famed Alto da Portela Grande de Labruja.)
And then, after 3/4 kilometer, our ancient Roman way ends and joins the pavement here for the remainder of day six on the San Salvador. The Camino turns left and takes you about 120 meters down the hill to the next small drainage and an hórreo at the bottom.
Once dropping down to the arroyo, the Camino de San Salvador now begins the third and final climb of day six on the other side. Don't be fooled, this is a significant "little" climb of 125 meters (410 feet), especially on the hot and humid afternoon that was given to us! Another climb on hot pavement!
As the day was growing increasingly hot, we grew tired and hungry once again. In about one kilometer from the arroyo crossing, when we came to the area of Prietos, and saw the picnic area in the shade by the fountain, we seized the opportunity to take a reprieve from the hot pavement. We were not quite yet at the top of the third climb here at 13.68 kilometers into day six on the Camino del Salvador.
We rested and snacked from the food in our pack, a necessary thing on any Camino and were content.
270 meters or so onward from the picnic area, you come to a T-intersection in the town of Los Prietos and turn right. Continue on your steady climb on the pavement for another 300 meters.
At about 14.23 kilometers into day six, the Camino del Salvador takes you to a small triangular square with benches. This is finally the top of the third climb of the day in an area known as La Manjoya.
From here, you may be able to discern in the photo above, a path leading straight on, that you would think is the Camino. It is not. The Way turns to the left here and continues on the paved road, essentially staying straight on, all the way into Oviedo for the next 1.2 kilometers.
Glimpses of the city abound as you make your descent. Below, you can see the views westward, with the prominent architecture of the white archway on a large building containing the Modoo Shopping and Convention Center.
The views of Oviedo and its surrounding hills are wonderful. You may be able to make out the tall white statue on the distant hill in the next photo. This is the famous Monumento al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús or Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can visit it when you walk to the UNESCO churches of Naranco on the hill just below it. Click on the links for a view of these sites to perhaps put on your bucket list when you visit Oviedo.
Also just past the white terrace walls on the right side in the photo below are the ruins of the 15th century Ermita de Santiago de la Manjoya. There is very little left of it, hence I have no photo, but there is a Camino sign marking its location. The current church of Santiago de la Manjoya is down the hill a bit more on your left.
And then shortly after, the very welcoming sign appears, letting you know that you have entered the city limits of Oviedo!
Continue the strong descent into the city, passing under the A-66 highway, until you reach the bottom of the hill at this park below.
At 15.4 kilometers, the Camino del Salvador turns left into the Parque de Invierno, staying high on the paved pedestrian pathway. This is the final small hill climb into the main part of the city.
After approximately 200 meters on this pedestrian way, come to a T-intersection with the Calle Gil Blas. Turn right. We did not see a directional arrow at this intersection leading us to the right! We walked around a bit before finding the next arrow and were lucky to go in the correct direction.
Take the immediate left on the next street, the Calle Aurelio de Llano and walk for another 120 meters. Come out to a small traffic circle that intersects with the wide Calle Muñoz Degraín and this statue of St. James as a pilgrim.
Also on this corner is the restaurant, El Horno de Lucky, where we stopped for something to eat. We had the best hamburgers I think we have ever had!
There are also grocery stores in this area (check my Google map) which is important since the albergue is just a few meters ahead.
After snapping your photo at the Santiago statue, cross over the wide Calle Muñoz Degraín and pick up the Calle Leopoldo Alas on the north side.
You can actually see the brown buildings of the Seminario Metropolitano de Oviedo dominating the view ahead, a mere 100 meters onward. This is the complex, which also houses the Albergue de Peregrinos El Salvador de Oviedo. It has 50 places.
At about 16.1 kilometers into day six on the San Salvador, the Camino comes to the brick monastery wall, shown below. Look for the door in the wall. The gate here may be locked if you arrive before 2:00 p.m. (5:00 pm in winter) when the albergue opens. Through the gate is a set of stairs, leading you up and to the right on a path to the albergue. The albergue is shown above the wall, and to the right in the next two photos.
To finish your final steps (about 800 meters) on the Camino de San Salvador on day six, continue northward on the Calle Leopoldo Alas. There are now lovely shell waymarks on the sidewalk to guide you, a common sight in Oviedo.
In 400 meters from the albergue, come to an intersection with a small triangular median. Cross over on the right side of the median and pick up the pedestrian street, continuing straight on and northward. You are now in the heart of the center of Oviedo and very close to the cathedral!
About 160 meters after entering the pedestrian way, come to the Plaza de Constitución, and the massive town hall building, shown below. The Camino del Salvador actually goes through the archway in the middle of the building and continues on the pedestrian way.
When we arrived here there was free symphony performance in the plaza and crowds of people. If you look left (west) the lovely Iglesia de San Isidro can be seen, shown below. You can see the orchestra set up in front of it. May you be so lucky!
There is also a tourist information center to the left of the San Isidro Church, if you need it.
After passing through the archway of the Oviedo town hall, it is less than 200 meters to the Plaza de la Catedral! When you see this opening ahead, the plaza is almost before you!
And then suddenly, as you enter the plaza, the cathedral rises up to the right, before you! It is a marvelous sight, as it must also have been to all pilgrims over the centuries. It is especially lovely after having navigated the difficulties of the high mountain ranges.
We still had our packs on our backs when we arrived at the cathedral. We had entered the plaza just before two in the afternoon.
You get treated like royalty when you enter the cathedral after having walked the San Salvador, let me tell you! I have never felt so special. We were escorted to the small office where the Salvadorana is issued, and the receptionist was the friendliest I have ever met. I am sure it helped that we were sweaty and weary-looking, with our packs still on our backs!
I used my Tarzan Spanish, to the best of my ability, even though she spoke perfect English and understood that our entrance to the cathedral was free. She stowed our packs for us and guided us in the direction of the Cámara Santa by the stairs directly above the office.
Because we arrived in Oviedo on a Saturday, the sanctuary was being used for a wedding! We could visit the Cámara Santa and the museum without problem, which we did.
After our visit, we decided to check into our Hotel Astures, clean up and return for a cathedral visit later that evening. The Astures is a nice hotel to the north of the cathedral and is a good value. Click on the link to see it.
There are many other accommodations in Oviedo, if you prefer something other than the albergue. We have also stayed in the Pensión Romero, near the train station to the west. It is an even greater value, but clean and accommodating and very close to the Camino Primitivo if your goal is to continue on to Santiago.
For more information about the cathedral, the city of Oviedo and its wonderful sites, click here for my article on it. The UNESCO world heritage churches of Naranco, in the outskirts of town are also a must see!
Oviedo is full of wonder and history, and is the origin of the very first Camino route, the Camino Primitivo. Spend some time here if you can! It is a glorious city. And consider walking on to Santiago. The Primitivo is a lovely mountain walk, longer, but less difficult than the San Salvador in my opinion.
Our day was a very enjoyable day, not too difficult and with gorgeous scenery. The 17 kilometer distance was perfect, and allowed for slow walking with plenty of breaks and lots of time left over for exploring Oviedo.
I had made it, despite my knee, but as a result made the executive decision not to push my knee more by going farther on the Camino Primitivo. This was our plan, but it was not in the cards for this trip. My second journey on the Primitivo could wait.
The San Salvador is not for the weak hiker. In my opinion, it is best to ignore the five standard stages, as we should have done, and take it slower over more days. It is a beautiful walk, and I would hate to see others suffer as I did.
It was a humbling experience for me, always the strong, mountain climber from Colorado! But the mountain remained unmoved, for sure. My own spirit was not as strong as the mountain this time, at least not in the way I had approached it.
This journey for me was not about moving mountains, but about adapting to them. It was about taking their steep slopes slower and for less daily steps. All in all the journey was still completed, even in the mist where no surety could be expected.
And so it was.
May your own day six on the Camino de San Salvador and your entire journey to Oviedo be slow and steady as you navigate your own mountains, internal and external. May your mist not be too thick as you approach the unmovable mountains with reverence and care! Ultreia!
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