Day two on the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes, leaves behind the scenic coastal hamlet, climbs vigorously toward the tranquil Cistercian monastery of Armenteira, affording breathtaking views of the coast and the Ría de Pontevedra along the way, passes through the unforgettable and incredibly scenic path along the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga and ends in the heart of the Rías Baixas wine region. It is an incredible day of beauty.
"Nature lulls me in her enchanted woods; soul flowing through greens, and roots, and tangled loves." ~ Angie Weiland-Crosby
"Deep in the pure wild woods I run; where my heart can breathe and my soul finds love." ~ Angie Weiland-Crosby
This day's walk will more deeply immerse the pilgrimage traveler into the beauty, rich history and culture of Galicia! For me, it is singular in its compelling beauty, and the most beautiful day of all Caminos!
Here is my interactive Google map of the day, with all the services placed on it.
As you can see from this day's elevation profile, the climb from the coast towards Armenteira is not to be sniffed at. There is 420 meters (1380 feet) of elevation gain to accomplish over about 6.75 kilometers.
If you are ending your day in Armenteira, there is approximately another three kilometers to the monastery (total of 9.6 kilometers), in addition to whatever distance you must walk to your accommodation. If you are walking to Barrantes, the remainder of the day is a 9.5 kilometer downhill cruise.
We begin our day two at the waterfront of Combarro, on the beach, the Praia do Padrón. As you walk along the beach there is a nice cobblestone walkway. First pass the cross, the Cruceiro Praia do Padrón and the first hórreo, shown below.
The town structures were glowing in the early morning light, just after daybreak. I took so many photos of this glorious sight. What a perfectly enchanting way to begin day two on the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes!
After passing the beach and its two crosses, (one not pictured but just a few steps onward), the walkway becomes the Rúa da Fonte. This street leaves the beach and heads up the hill, seen below.
Round the bend and a few meters later, arrive in the Fountain Plaza with its historic fountain, the Plaza do Fonte, below, and make a right turn onto the Rúa Pedaporta, shown next.
In a few more steps you come to the PO-308. Cross it straight onward and continue on the Rúa Pedaporta.
Continue uphill about another 50 meters and come to the Cruceiro Pedaporta. Turn to the right here, onto the Camiño do Redondo.
Continue along the Camiño do Redondo, bending to the left at the historic washing well and stunning terraced vineyards, shown below.
Come next to a T-intersection, turning right to stay on the Camiño do Redondo. Look to your left along this street, to see the view of the Ría de Pontevedra begin to open up.
Not quite 100 meters later on the Camiño do Redondo, turn right once again at this hórreo, onto a very narrow paved lane.
A few steps later, turn right again at another similar hórreo that you can see in the distance in the photo above, and onto the Camiño Cidrás. Continue on this narrow paved road for about 350 meters until you come to this house with a converted hórreo, shown below.
You will turn left after the house and continue the climbing on the Camiño Regueiro. There is a fountain here that you can see in the lower left of the photo.
This house is the Casa Combarro, a 4-bedroom rural home accommodation. If you have eight people, the views from the terrace are magnificent.
The Camiño Regueiro keeps climbing steeply, passing a pump-style fountain along the way (not pictured).
It isn't until you finally leave town and reach about 1.25 kilometers total and an elevation of 116 meters that the real views open up of the Pontevedra River below.
We have finally left the town behind and are now on the way to the next one, Armada, on this very quiet and narrow paved lane.
Along the way, pass yet another water fountain and a picnic table on your right (not pictured).
In about one kilometer from the turn off at the Casa Combarro, pass the first Armada town cross, continuing steeply uphill and arrive at the town's edge, shown below.
Once in town at the second town cruceiro and the blue bus stop, to the left of the photo below, you will arrive here, at a lovely little pilgrim's refreshment stand. How wonderful! I couldn't even see a donation jar.
You have walked about a total of 2.15 kilometers from the beach in Combarro at this refreshment stop and not quite 1/3 of the day's climb.
After the bus stop, stay left, leaving town and head for the hills! After another quarter kilometer, stay left again at this Y-intersection shown below.
Walk along the tree-lined, narrow paved road for another one-and-a-quarter kilometer, staying left at another Y-intersection, until you arrive at the turn-off for the Mirador do Loureiro. This look-out over the Ría de Pontevedra is a few meters from the roadway.
Here is the information board for the area. I don't have a great photo of this view, as I was shooting straight into the sun. But it is a stunning view!
There are benches to pause here awhile if you desire. You have reached approximately 2.7 kilometers into the day and 280 meters. You are not at the top of the climb yet!
After your pause, continue on the paved forest road for another 300 meters, when you will turn left onto a gravel forest road.
It feels quite high and far-removed from civilization here! I loved this huge spreading chestnut tree.
After one more kilometer on the dirt road, the pilgrimage traveler comes to another mirador with a picnic table, this one unnamed, but just as lovely. This would be a terrific place for a picnic break if the timing is right for you.
However, you are not at the top yet at almost exactly 5.0 kilometers from Combarro and 343 meters of elevation gain from the beach. The climbing from here is now more gradual and not that noticeable.
After the mirador, stay to the right, as this signpost directs and continue onward through this serene forest on the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes.
About 1.5 kilometers after the second mirador, come to a T-intersection with the paved CF-102 and turn right. Remain on this road for only about 200 meters, before turning left again, onto another dirt forest road.
The sign at the turn says the "Ruta do Viño" and Rías Baixas, designating the wine region. Also it points to some petroglyphs ahead.
And congratulations, at this very same turn, you have reached the altitude top at 6.75 kilometers total and 423 meters of elevation gain!
We never did chase down the petroglyphs, as there was no sign denoting the turn that we could see. According to Google, there are a few swirls on the rocks to the right side of the road, about 400 meters after the turn.
After about 1.5 kilometers on this forest road, when you come to this Y-intersection, stay to the left and begin a strong descent toward Armenteira, only about another kilometer away.
After about another 350 meters, take a hard left and onto a nice, narrower forest path, pictured next.
As you descend through the forest, you will catch glimpses of houses of Armenteira along the way.
Just before the path ends on a roadway in town, it drops dramatically on a steep grade that was even washed out at the bottom when we passed through.
The path ends at a secondary paved road, and you walk less than 100 meters, on the road, until you see this left hand turn below, where you leave the pavement to walk on a path into the center of town.
Cross a stream on a lovely little concrete bridge, take the quaint path for about 150 meters...
... and come out at this information board across from the Café Bar O Comercio.
This bar is right across from the Armenteira Monastery gate. There is actually a 2nd bar, just to the right of this one. We decided that after 9.6 kilometers, we would take a coffee break. And this is the view we had for our break!
After our pause, we entered the courtyard of the monastery. There is an immediate sense of other-worldliness as you arrive by the cross in the courtyard of the monastery on the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes.
This ancient Cistercian monastery, the Monasterio de Armenteira, tucked away in a serene valley, offers a peaceful respite for tired pilgrims. Unfortunately, it no longer offers reservations for accommodation unless you are staying here on retreat for three days.
The pilgrim community believes accommodation for pilgrims is no longer offered because many pilgrims were disrespectful and disruptive of the nun's way of life. What a shame!
However, pilgrims staying in other accommodations in Armenteira can still attend a daily pilgrim's blessing at 7:00 p.m, Oración (prayers) de Completas at 9:00 p.m. and Eucaristía (Eucharist) at 7:30 a.m. Maybe you can meditate and deeply connect with the monastery's spiritual legacy in this manner, or when walking inside along the cloister pathway.
The building's impressive Romanesque architecture, built initially in the 12th century, is crowned by the carved rose window of the cathedral.
The 16th century cloister and carved capitals are also of Romanesque artistry.
When we arrived, only the cloister and gift shop were open, so once again we had to content ourselves with a walk around. There are no gardens to speak of, so the cloister was the only place for any repose. And so it was.
You can purchase hand-made soaps and creams by the nuns, and other miscellaneous gifts if you desire to support them.
If you wish to roll the dice, the monastery's website states that it will accommodate pilgrims for one night, on the same day, and only if there is a place available. With the popularity of this place, I would not take my chances, but book well in advance at the only albergue in town, the now-private, 32 bed Albergue de Peregrinos de Armenteira. You must call or text them via WhatsApp for a reservation at +34 619 53 40 87. The albergue is another 2/3 kilometer down the Camino path.
There are other accommodations in Armenteira, but most of the ones close to town are rural homes and are quite pricey. You can check them on booking.com for Armenteira.
The inexpensive places to stay, unfortunately, are far from the monastery, and you will need to arrange for transportation, which they will happily provide. Some of the more economical choices, to the south are Habitación en A Armenteira Ideal Peregrinos and the Casa Carballo de Prado 1900 (+34, 697 22 21 48) and to the north, the Villa Laredo.
After our pause, we left the monastery, to continue onward, the anticipation quite high for the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga, or "Stone and Water Route." This picturesque trail weaves through ancient mills (muiños), cascading waterfalls and moss-covered woodlands, offering pilgrims a sense of tranquility and communion with nature. We quickened our steps.
From the gate of the monastery, the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrentes heads west for only a few meters, before turning right onto the dirt road trail system that follows the east bank of the Rego da Armenteira river. You will see a sign for the albergue at this intersection, also guiding you to the right.
Continue on the dirt road for a bit more than 400 meters, coming to this intersection, below, where it is obvious which way to go! The green path takes you to the other side of the Rego da Armenteira.
However, if you were to turn right and go up the road about 150 meters, you will find the 32-bed Albergue de Peregrinos de Armenteira. This used to be a municipal albergue, but is now run privately. It is approximately 10.2 kilometers from the beach in Combarro at this turnoff.
Returning to the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga, the trail immediately descends to the river and around a huge bend is the first waterfall (that you can just see a peek of in the photo below) and muiño!
This is the Muiño Da Ponte (Bridge Mill) and is one of the better preserved mills that you will see along the route.
Over the next 4.5 kilometers along the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga you will see no less than 20 muiños and several more cascading waterfalls. Relax, breathe and let your soul find love, as the beginning quote suggests! The path is easy to follow, and you cannot get physically lost. But beware, you may get lost in time and space! It is an ongoing feast for all the senses!
You will want to go slowly through this walk on the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga, not only to lose yourself in time, but because of the moisture in this verdant place, the rocks, the steep stone stairs, the mud and jutting tree roots can be slick and trip-worthy!
You will see 17th century muiños in many different stages of preservation, stairways leading you down by the river banks, canals that channel the water into the mills, information boards explaining what you see, moss-covered trees and lots of shades of the greenest greens you have ever seen. This is a magical place that is a walk back in time! I now treat you with some of my best shots.
For most of the way the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga is quite steep and rocky and full of tree roots, but eventually it does widen and flatten out a bit.
At approximately 13.5 kilometers into the day, we came across this unnamed muiño, my favorite of all! Its preserved, (or restored?) platform and wall, in addition to the building itself, were superb.
Soon after my favorite, you have the option to stay straight down by the river, or go up a small hill to see the recreated Galician village called the Aldea de Pedra (Stone Village). It's an interesting outdoor museum of stone carvings in miniature, depicting the typical life of the Galician village at the turn of the 20th century.
In retrospect, I could have just as easily skipped it, but of course my curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't miss anything on the Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes!
After the Stone Village, the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga continues for another kilometer on flatter and more open terrain. After reaching 14.7 kilometers and having just passed toilets, a café (open only in season) and the Muiño do Montiño, the route meets a paved roundabout of the EP-9507.
Continue straight onward through the roundabout, and soon pass by the Peneira Restobar on your right. With only a few more kilometers left in our day's walk, we thought it appropriate to take a quick refreshment break here.
While passing the Restobar, look ahead towards the overpass tunnel of a major highway in front of you and walk towards it. Find a path through the parking lot on the way, cross the highway entry ramp, and walk through the tunnel to the other side of the highway. Look carefully for the Variante Espiritual waymarks on the other side. This is what they look like, below.
This casual footpath continues on the other side of the tunnel, crosses the highway exit ramp, then turns right onto a paved lane to follow the ramp as directed by the sign above.
Walk along this paved lane for only a few meters, before turning to the left onto this path, shown below.
You are immediately rewarded with the continued Ruta da Pedra e da Auga along the southside of Armenteira River. With the river on your right, as you walk along you will also be graced with the lovely vineyards of the Rías Baixas wine region, famous for the Albariño white wines.
Within 400 meters or so, come to this picturesque stone footbridge. You can cross it or not and come to the same place a few meters later. The official way is to stay on the path, to the left of the river, come to an intersection, turn right and then right again to cross the river on a roadway bridge.
On the north side of the river, both directions come to the picnic area and muiño shown below. We did not see a waymark here, but the Variante Espiritual follows this path, now on the north side of the river once again.
Continue on the north side of the river, about 350 meters until you come out to this roadway intersection, below. Walk up to the roadway, turn left to cross the bridge, and then immediately turn right to follow the pathway now on the south side of the river.
This section of the Ruta is called the "Ruta Dos Muiños de Barrantes," or the Route of the Two Mills of Barrantes. The town of Barrantes is not far now.
After passing the first mill above, and the second one a few meters onward, after a total of 300 meters or so, come to the ultimate end of the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga at this monolith below. Pass the Chiringo de Concha restaurant on your left, just before the monolith.
Join the VG-4.2 highway at the monolith, turn right, but stay to the right (east) when a large roundabout presents itself.
At the northwest of the large roundabout is a small brown tourist information kiosk. If you have any extra energy or extra days, you may wish to see some of the sights in the area, including the Bodega Pazo de Barrantes, a nobleman's wine estate, just up the street a bit farther.
At the northeast end of the same roundabout is our destination for the night, the Hospedaje Rústica and Restaurant Os Castaños (+34 986 71 02 36). This is a very attractive and comfortable place by the river, where we had a large, late lunch. It was quite delicious but also a bit pricey.
Later that evening, we returned to Chiringo de Concha for a later supper, and being the only one in the place, the proprietors treated us like royalty! They brought us more food than we ordered, and we weren't all that hungry. But the value was fantastic, so I would highly recommend it over the Os Castaños.
However, the Hospedaje Rústica was an adequate accommodation, and was a good value. They also redeemed themselves the next morning with an amazing breakfast of juice, fruit, lattes, toast, and yes - eggs! In my pilgrim world, there is nothing like a substantial breakfast to make me happy!
Suffice it to say, that this day was my favorite of all Camino walking days! The Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes offers a spiritually enriching journey that perfectly combines the natural splendor, cultural richness, and spiritual heritage of Galicia. Amen!
May your own Variante Espiritual from Combarro to Barrantes "lull you in her enchanted woods; soul flowing through greens, and roots, and tangled loves."
And may you "run deep in the pure wild woods; where your heart can breathe and your soul find love."
Nothing could describe this day more perfectly than these quotes. My own heart sang with love and joy, and may yours as well! Ultreia!
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Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thievesbefore getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )