Day Three on the Camino Primitivo ~ La Doriga to La Espina, 22.9 Kilometers (14.23 Miles)

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If adversity builds character, then day three on our Camino Primitivo was a character-building day for me! It only took my husband and I until the 3rd stage of the Original Way to run out of our emergency food. Combine this lack of preparedness with the lack of support facilities on the Camino Primitivo, and the set-up for a miserable morning was in place. 

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars...and they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ St. Augustine, Confessions

Day Three, Camino Primitivo Maps and Stats

Here is our Google map of the GPS tracks for our day three on the Camino Primitivo. Fortunately, for our aching feet and shin splints, the pavement walking was only about 50%. We encountered more lovely forest paths on this stage of the Original Way. 

Approaching Cornellana in the beginning part of the day, there are two options of walking. A scenic alternative to the monastery is available, if you do not need anything in town - note this alternative route in orange on the map, before Cornellana. This used to be the standard route, but more recently the Camino was re-routed through town. This is a good thing if you need groceries or a café and are planning to stay overnight at the monastery. 

Looking at the elevation profile map, shown below, you can see the many ups and downs of day three from La Doriga (3.0 km before Cornellana) to La Espina. 

The long climb of about 570 meters (1870 feet), without much reprieve from the low at Llamas, about 4.5 km after Cornellana, to La Espina will feel strenuous!

Elevation Profile, Day Three on the Camino Primitivo, La Doriga to La EspinaElevation Profile, Day Three, La Doriga to La Espina

The Journey

Our day three on the Camino Primitivo started out well enough at 07:30, at daybreak on this day in August. There was no sunrise to speak of, my shins felt better, and my throat that was sore yesterday seemed to only be a bit of post-nasal drip this morning. I breathed in deeply as I walked, sending loving, healing energy to my throat on the exhale, willing it to be OK. 

We left our private albergue without breakfast. We had no food in our pack, as Doriga was a tiny place with nowhere to buy food. I broke my cardinal rule of having nothing to eat when we set out for the day. (See Camino Planning Tips for more useful suggestions.) First mistake - poor planning. We should have obtained more food in Oviedo or Escamplero.

The sole proprietor of the albergue was working so hard the day before, a Sunday, with a full house that was partying all day and well into the evening. He would have gotten up early for us to ensure our breakfast, but he looked so exhausted on Sunday night that we told him we could walk the 3 km to Cornellana for breakfast, without a problem. Hmm, second mistake. 

In hindsight, what we could have done was ask if he had any food we could purchase from the bar the night before to keep for the next morning. We have also learned to carry packets of Nescafe, or tea bags for a hot (or sometimes cold beverage) to go along with bread or muffins in the morning. Live and learn!

Our day three on the Camino Primitivo started out on a nice semi-paved road as it left Doriga and quickly turned into a smaller quiet lane. 

Looking Back on Doriga in Early Morning Light, Asturias, SpainLooking Back on Doriga in Early Morning Light

This country lane was lined with wonderful juicy blackberries. We stopped to pick and eat several handfuls for our breakfast. 

The Camino Primitivo Provides Luscious BlackberriesThe Camino Primitivo Provides Luscious Blackberries
Inviting Country Lane, near Doriga, Asturias, SpainInviting Country Lane After Doriga

The Camino crosses under the A-63 flyover, by about 750 meters into the day, and 100 meters later leaves the country lane and turns left onto a nice path. 

After a zig zag down the slope through the forest and within 650 meters, the Original Way yields to the AS-15. Fortunately, there is a worn path initially, then a designated pilgrim’s path on the side of the road on which to walk safely for the required 3/4 kilometer that you are on it, until intersecting with the N-634.

It is at this intersection’s large roundabout that you will find the Donativo Albergue Casa Roca Madre, +34 638 176 862. Look for the sign above the giant hórreo if you wish to stay here.

The Original Way then leaves the AS-15 and turns left onto the N-634 (which it follows nearby for most of the day), heads West and crosses the River Narcea into Cornellana. Immediately after crossing the bridge, is the alternative route along the river, shown as the more southerly route on the map above. This was the old route, turning left after the bridge to follow this lovely footpath by the river, towards the monastery, shown below. 

This alternative is the path we took, before the route changed to stay on the N-634 through town. 

The Original Way on Footpath After the Bridge Into Cornellana, Asturias, SpainThe Original Way on Footpath After the Bridge Into Cornellana

If you stay on the standard route through Cornellana, you will pass by many cafés and a supermarket on your way to the albergue in the monastery. 

After about one kilometer on the N-634, you turn left, or south and head for the monastery which you will encounter after 1/4 kilometer and a total of about 3.5 kilometers from La Doriga. The supermarket is just after the turn. 

The Albergue del Monasterio de San Salvador has 26 places and I have heard lovely reports about staying here from fellow pilgrims. 

As we approached the monastery from the alternative river path, its hugeness was a surprise!

Approaching the Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana, Asturias, SpainApproaching the Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana, Under Construction

The interior of the church is 12th Century and the façade is 17th Century. We hung around the monastery for about 15 minutes, absorbing the energy of the place. I felt some regret that we had not stayed here. It was a fantastic place. 

The Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana, Asturias, SpainThe Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana

It was 8:15. The monastery was on the outskirts of town. We guessed that a walk into town was about a half kilometer or more. It was too bad for us that the new route through town had not yet been established.

Our experience was that very few café bars open up prior to 9:00 or 10:00. We made the decision to keep on going, thinking there would be another open bar along the way soon. Third mistake. (There are now several bars in town that may open at 06:00, with the explosion of peregrinos now on this route).

Because of the blackberries that we had already eaten earlier, my stomach was content in this moment. We went onward. 

Leaving the Monastery and Cornellana on the SL-7, on the Original Way, Asturias, SpainLeaving the Monastery and Cornellana on the SL-7

After the monastery we began a long climb uphill after turning right onto the SL-7 behind the monastery and towards Sobrerriba, the next hamlet. The sunlight was dancing on the distant hill as we entered the town on day three of the Camino Primitivo.

Entering Sobrerriba, Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainEntering Sobrerriba

Sunlight continued to glow on the town of Sobrerriba as we approached the main cluster of buildings. 

Sobrerriba in the Glowing Light, Asturias, SpainSobrerriba in the Glowing Light

A lovely, but abandoned homestead near Sobrerriba is pictured below. It was near this spot that we came across three young Spanish pilgrims, chatting with an older, local man, who was working outside in his yard. 

Old, Abandoned Homestead along the Camino Primitivo, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, SpainOld, Abandoned Homestead

As we strolled by, and said hello, the Spanish pilgrims joined us and we chatted amicably as we walked down the road together. 

All of a sudden, a car coming towards us slowed down to talk to us. It was the same local man, who had quickly jumped into his car to come and tell us that we had missed the Camino turnoff onto a path, a bit farther back down the road. 

What an angel! We were so busy chatting that we missed the turn, admittedly it was a bit obscure, but if we had been paying attention, most likely we would have seen it. 

The local gentleman must have been watching us, as we walked on by the turnoff! I think he may have placed himself outside, for this very purpose. Who knows? Whatever the case, he was yet another Camino angel. 

It is about 1.2 kilometers on the single-lane, paved SL-7 from the turn by the monastery, just before a big bend in the road, that the Way turns left onto a side road that shortcuts the same bend, only to cross over the SL-7 and carry straight-on, and onto an off-road path into the wooded countryside. The turn to the path is after about 5.0 kilometers into the day. 

Shortly after walking through Sobrerriba, on day three of our Camino Primitivo, The Way provided an apple tree. It was going on 9:00 a.m. and without food except for a few berries, I agreed that my husband could pick me an apple. Even though I felt like I was stealing, I did note that many apples were falling to the ground. Indeed, the tree looked unattended. I guess I would be forgiven if I ate the apple! (No parallels intended here!)

As the saying goes, whatever the pilgrimage traveler needs, the Camino will provide. Indeed, the tart apple, though gnarled and small, was a welcome respite to my empty belly. 

apple treeThe Camino Provides Apples

About a half an hour later down the road, Rich stops and says - "Check out these!" There were nuts on the ground below his feet. I had totally missed them. He cracked one open, and ate it. It was a hazelnut!

While it was a bit difficult shelling them, we did eat quite a few of the hazelnuts. Yum!

Hazelnuts on the Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainOn Day Three of the Camino Primitivo, it Provided Hazelnuts

The path we missed from the SL-7, led us into the woods, for a brief reprieve on our feet and shins. Any path that diverts off the pavement is a good one! On day three the way was almost entirely on pavement up to this point. My shins still hurt, but not quite as badly today. Finally they were adapting to all the pavement walking. If you look closely at the photos of my husband farther down, you will notice that he moved his elastic supports from his knees to his shins! Ha ha!

The walk on the wooded path lasts for just shy of 2.0 kilometers, walking up and down a ridge along the way, then the Camino comes out by a stone quarry, turns left and walks toward the next hamlet of Llamas on another quiet road.

On this road we encountered another raised Asturian horreo, which made a picturesque backdrop for the Camino waymark and hydrangea bush. 

Asturian Horreo, Waymark and Hydrangea Bush along the Original WayAsturian Horreo, Waymark and Hydrangea Bush

I had no idea for what this interesting, round building is used, below left. Thanks to  my reader, Nell Spillane, she thinks it is a dovecote. If there are openings up under the eaves, these buildings were used to house doves for human consumption. The openings allowed the doves to come and go freely! I did not know to look for these openings at the time I was walking, so I cannot confirm this. As you walk by, check it out and let us all know! 

Entering the Hamlet of Llamas, Original Way, Asturias, SpainEntering the Hamlet of Llamas

The Camino ambles through Llamas, where the paved road turns to a dirt lane 1/2 kilometer west of town, then alternates between farmer’s lanes, pavement and dirt roads on the two kilometer walk through the countryside to the next town of Villazón. 

When the dirt lane reaches Villazón, the Camino avoids walking into town, by taking a sharp left onto a paved road at a 5-point intersection, to parallel Villazón to the east. 

One-quarter kilometer later, at the next 5-point intersection, the Camino goes to the left where there is a fuente (fountain) with a foot pool, and very nicely shaded picnic tables, at approximately 9.5 kilometers total.

2/3 kilometer after the fuente with the foot-bath, you encounter yet another rest area, with a fountain and a rain shelter for pilgrims. Since we had absolutely no food, we did not stop. It sure didn't stop me from thinking about my plight, however. It was around 10:00 and my stomach was really gnawing on me! The more I tried to forget about it, the more impossible it became.

At least my feet and shins were relatively happy, as day three on the Camino Primitivo diverted once again onto a path in the forest for about another kilometer or so. It was a nice, gradual uphill as well, here, which relieved my shins as well. 

Forest Path, Day Three, Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainWaymark into the Forest, Yay!

When the Original Way rejoins the pavement, it lets you out by a mill-like building adjacent to the Rio Nonaya. This is a lovely and peaceful place, and we encountered very few pilgrims. 

The Way to Casazorrina By a Mill on Day Three Camino PrimitoThe Way to Casazorrina by a Mill on Day Three of the Camino Primito

The N-634 is easily seen to the north on your right shoulder as you enter Casazorrina, and it is only about 300 meters north that one can find a Repsol station with a restaurant at the round-about. There is also a new albergue in Casazorrina, the Albergue La Figal de Xugabolos, barely 100 meters off-Camino. Instead of turning left in town go straight towards the N-6-34 and you will walk by it. If you walk to the highway, the roundabout with the restaurant is to the right.

We had walked about 11.4 kilometers by Casazorrina with very little food. I actually thought that it was only a bit more than a kilometer to Salas from here. (Wishful thinking as it is more like three). Since I had already come this far without food, I thought I may as well go onward. We agreed to push on to Salas. It was 10:20 (But who was tracking, other than my stomach??)

The Hamlet of Casazorrina, Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainThe Hamlet of Casazorrina

The Camino crosses under the N-634 in about another kilometer farther on and essentially follows it to the north on a dirt track before turning into and toward the center of Salas, another two kilometers later. 

As one reaches the center of town, the Castle looms overhead, built in the 14th Century we were told by the locals that day, but according to other sources, it was in the 10th century.  

This castle was the birthplace of Fernando Valdés-Salas who was the founder of the University of Oviedo, Archbishop of Seville and an Inquisitor General of Spain. 

Castillo de Salas, Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainFortifications at Salas

We rejoiced to find the Bar La Luciana at the foot of the fortifications. It was 11:00. We had walked a full 14.5 kilometers on a few handfuls of blackberries, a small apple and a few hazelnuts! I think I ordered everything on the menu!

Eventually, pilgrims that we had just met joined us, and several more that we would meet that day. Most of these folks would go on to be our Camino family for most of the Original Way. By day three on the Camino Primitivo, our "family" was becoming well formed. 

We felt very grateful that we were able to stop, eat and rest in this most historic place!

Café Bar in Salas, in the Shadow of the Castle, Original Way, Asturias, SpainCafé Bar La Luciana, in Salas, in the Shadow of the Castle

I was amazingly surprised that when we went to pay our bill at the bar, the lady said, "wait a minute" and then brought us each a banana and a mini-bocadillo (sandwich) for the road! I was humbled by this sweet act of kindness, when we could so easily afford to pay for our own! Please visit the Bar La Luciana, if you stop here in Salas! The food is great and so is the view! Plus they support us peregrinos!

After our lunch we took a few minutes to have a look at the 16th Century church of Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayo, in the center of town. Not very ornate or brilliant, but impressive, non-the-less.

Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayo, SalasColegiata de Santa Maria la Mayo, Salas

While waiting for our food to be served, I took a spin through the mini-market close to the square and bought lots of snacks for the road. As we set off, my belly was quite full and content, and my pack was full of lots of food!

If you decide to end your day here, there are six albergues, the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Salas, a few blocks north of the center, one donativo, the Albergue El Rey Casto and four privates ones, the Albergue Valle del Nonaya, the Albergue el Tulipán de Salas and the Albergue La Campa. These are clustered around the center. The fourth private albergue, the Albergue Casa Sueño (also has private rooms, click here for the hotel), is another 300 meters after the castle gateway, along the Camino.

There are also two hotels in the center, the Hotel Castillo Valdes Salas and the Hotel Soto (+34 985 830 037). Plenty of options!

The afternoon of our day three on the Camino Primitivo took us through the castle gateway in Salas until it gave way in another 1/2 kilometer to a beautiful large track for about 2.5 kilometers of no pavement!!

Camino Primitivo near Salas, Asturias, SpainNew German Friends on the Camino

After Salas on day three of the Camino Primitivo, it is a long, steady uphill, following the valley of the Nonaya River. It was during the afternoon sometime that my right big toe started hurting. More settling in, I suppose. Dang, this was harder than I thought! Even with a full belly!

I could at least be grateful that it wasn't raining! It was indeed a gorgeous, clear day. 

Camino Primitivo West of Salas, Asturias, SpainUphill West of Salas

In this photo you can clearly see that my husband, Rich, is sporting his knee supports on his shins. I tried the same for a while! Our knees were fine - it was our shins that were hurting. I didn't really feel that putting the supports on my shins helped all that much, but I did it anyway, just in case! 

At about 16.4 kilometers into the day, cross the first historic bridge the Puente de Borra, not pictured.

After about one kilometer more, the lovely forest path is marked with a Camino de Santiago signpost. There is also a sign for the Nonaya waterfall to the right, a short diversion of about 150 meters if you desire to see it. 

Camino de Santiago This Way!Camino de Santiago This Way!

Next, the forest track reaches this second historic bridge, the Puente del Carcabón, as the signpost shows. 

Puente del Carcabón

The Way continues to climb, up and through the forest for most of the afternoon's walk. There are very few towns, and mostly forest and countryside walking from Salas to Bodenaya!

Lots of Forest Walking on the Afternoon of Day Three Camino Primitivo, West of Salas, Asturias, SpainLots of Forest Walking on the Afternoon of Day Three ~ Camino Primitivo

There is a stretch where the Original Way crosses and joins the N-634 for 850 meters, as it goes under the motorway and continues the climb towards Porciles. This section of roadway is very busy with no shoulder, so be careful!

Joining the N-634, west of Salas, Camino PrimitivoJoining the N-634
Busy Road N-634 - No Me Gusta!Busy Road N-634 Under the Motorway - No Me Gusta!

Despite the hardships of day three on the Camino Primitivo, with about an hour left to go, all-in-all I felt wonderful! This was in spite of the fact that it is a significant climb from Salas to La Espina, an elevation gain of almost 500 meters (1600 feet) in the first six kilometers. Not for the faint of heart!

The Track to Porciles, Original Way, Asturias, SpainThe Track to Porciles

The countryside shimmered with the green of late summer as the sun continued to shine brightly on our walk. I felt lucky. My outlook had greatly improved with a full belly. Plus the uphill climb actually invigorated me in this particular moment!

Asturian Country Bliss on the Original WayAsturian Country Bliss

Fortunately, after the N-634 the Original Way follows a service road along it on a track to Porciles for another 1.5 kilometers. 

Porciles Countryside, Camino Primitivo, Asturias, SpainPorciles Countryside

There are three accommodations now in Porciles, but only one that is practical for the pilgrim, the donativo, the Posada de Peregrinos Fontenonaya about 325 meters off Camino to the west and along the N-634. If you have a group of six, you may want to check out the Casa Nueva Salas. There is also the Casa Cinco Robles, but it is very expensive and requires a four night minimum!

The country lane to Bodenaya is shown below, another 1.6 kilometers away.

Road to Bodenaya, Original Way, Asturias, SpainRoad to Bodenaya

A crucero marks the pilgrimage travelers entry into the hamlet of Bodenaya. La Espina is just a short kilometer away on quiet country lanes. The donativo, Albergue de Peregrinos de Bodenaya right along the Camino is here, and comes highly recommended, but we continued on for one more kilometer. 

Crucero (Cross) de Bodenaya, Asturias, SpainCrucero (Cross) de Bodenaya

This day three on the Camino Primitivo was a hard one for me. The Original Way is more uphill and downhill than my actual body realized it was going to be. My mind knew it, from all my reading, but on this third day, my body really needed to acclimate as I pushed through the day.  

The donativo albergue, El Texu, in La Espina where we stayed, was very comfortable and had private, double rooms with queen-size beds in addition to the dormitory-style bunk room. It also had a nice kitchen and you could have the hospitalero wash your clothes for a fee, instead of doing it yourself. (El Texu may be closed, as it is currently for sale or rent.)

Albergue El Texu, La Espina, SpainAlbergue El Texu

There is a donativo albergue, the Albergue de Peregrinos El Cruce, a bit farther along the Camino on the west end of town, with only 12 places. Right along the N-634 in the center of town there is also the very economical privado, the Albergue Casa Aladino, with 18 places and the budget Pensión Dakar, with 6 places and three rooms, right in the center of town. See the map for their exact locations. 

In addition, another easy 1.3 kilometers farther along on the Camino, is the Albergue el Minero (+34 607 31 47 46), in the town of La Pareda if needed. 

Here is a photo of our evening celebrations in the albergue, left to right - my husband, Rich, Lisbeth, Augusto, Andreo, Saskia, and Glyvia. A lovely meal with new friends to end our day three on the Camino Primitivo.

The Family

They all confirmed that staying at the monastery in Cornellana is an experience not to be missed! Oh well, I guess this gives us a reason to go back.

Reflections From Day Three on the Camino Primitivo

As I reflected later about my morning without food, I thought that I would have been a lousy pilgrimage traveler in days of yore. I simply could not get my mind off my hunger. The medieval pilgrims must have suffered tremendously, relying on the charity of the townsfolk along The Way, never knowing where they would get their next meal. 

Clearly, I was nowhere near starving, but I was quite grouchy, even though I kept it to myself. Whether or not it was a purely mental obsession with food, I was so close to sitting down and saying to my husband that I just could not go on. Yet what good would that have done? 

My husband didn't seem to focus on the lack of food. I honestly think he could have gone all day without any. The combination of my shins hurting, my sinuses dripping and my belly growling was just too much for me on this day three of my Camino Primitivo! I guess I am not as spiritually mature as I think!

Somehow, I did manage to go on, despite my unhappiness. I did have it in me, because I did it. However, I vowed that never, ever again would I set out without any food in my pack. 

I had to closely examine my relationship with food and what deprivation might truly look like. This may have been the closest I have ever come in my life to real hunger. Yet, what was it really in relation to world hunger? 


May your own Camino de Santiago be filled with the wonders of your own way of being. May you be prepared well, and may you face adversity with awe and wonder at your own pre-conceptions of reality. 

May the wind be on your back, the sun on your shoulder and the fruit of the earth be manifested for you on your own day three of your Camino Primitivo!

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