We start this stage in Astorga. Asturica Augusta in Roman times and an important road junction in that period which keeps an important heritage. After passing through other small villages linked to the cult of St. James, we will finally reach the mythical Cruz de Ferro and Ponferrada. We get into the region of El Bierzo, well-known by their gorgeous food and wine and we calmly walk to O Cebreiro. The entrance of the French Camino in Galicia.
(* Remember that the check-In date is the night before starting walking)
We start in the Cathedral of León and by following the scallop shells signs we will arrive at Hostal de San Marcos. After crossing Bernesga River and an industrial area we will get to Trobajo del Camino. Once we had crossed the railway through the footbridge, we will continue our route that runs in parallel to the N-120 towards Virgen de Camino. Once we had visited the shrine we will continue the way to Villadangos del Paramo.
From Villadangos del Páramos we arrive in San Martín del Camino and we continue along a path between farms that bring us to Puente del Paso, Honroso and Hospital de Órbigo. Then, we take a diversion to go to Villares de Órbigo and Santibánez de Valdeiglesias. We continue our route to reach the cross of Santo Toribio, located on a small hill from where we see the city of Astorga for the first time. San Justo de la Vega and a small valley lead us to the final part of this stage, the cathedral of Astorga and the monumental city center.
After walking the barren plains of the last stages, the landscape changes substantially and we start walking in the mountains of León. We leave Astorga towards Castrillo de Polvazares. We visit the chapel of Ecce Homo and take a path that leads us to Murias of Rechivaldo and then to Santa Catalina de Somoza and El Ganso. We will be walking among oak trees. After passing the chapel of Cristo de la Vera Cruz we will finally arrive at Rabanal del Camino.
Once we leave Rabanal we get to Foncebadón and continue towards Cruz de Ferro (1500 m). This is a legendary place of the French Camino where pilgrims usually leave a stone at the base of the cross to protect them during their journey. We go down to reach Manjarín. This is an isolated place where we can meet Tomás, a peculiar person who offers his help in our walk and who describes himself as the last Templar member. We go on descending by the Irago mountain towards Acebo and Riego de Ambrós. We cross the bridge of Meruelo river to Molinaseca. The last 8 kilometers go to Ponferrada, capital of El Bierzo, where we can admire its beautiful castle.
We leave Ponferrada over the bridge of the Sil River and we set out towards the villages of Compostilla, Columbrianos,Fuentes Nuevas y Camponaraya. In our way we will see the vineyards of the famous Mencia wine as well as some wineries. Later on, we will arrive at Cacabelos, famous for its cherries. We go across the bridge over the Cúa river and we reach the Shrine of Virgen de las Angustias. The final part of this stage takes us along the old N-VI to Pieros and Villafranca del Bierzo. Here, we will have all the services we need.
After the toughness of the fields of Castilla and the vineyards of El Bierzo, today it´s the great day to arrive in Galicia. This mountainous stage finishes in O Cebreiro which is an important place of the French Camino. We leave Vilafranca going across the Burbia river and face the first part of the stage. We will find picturesque villages that have preserved their Jacobean style. We set out towards Pereje, Trabadelo, La Portela de Valcarce and Ambasmestas, and we will reach Vega del Valcarce.
We leave Vega del Valcarce and arrive at Herrerías. It starts here the hard ascent to O Cebreiro, 8 kms of an exhausting walk. Both the hardness of the mountain and the beauty of this part of the way will leave us breathless.