The mountain range of Atapuerca separates us only and exclusively from the plain Castellana, a hill loaded with holm oaks that in the highest keeps a magnificent treasure which it will share with us a few moments. The stage of the French Way passes from the calm and tranquillity of the fields and mountains of Burgos to the hustle and bustle of its capital full of history, on the banks of the river Arlanzón.
The expansion of the city and the large volume of pilgrims who make the route have conditioned the historical route of the Way of St. James being forced to be modified by offering various variants that converge in Burgos. Atapuerca, in the valley of the river Vera is the starting point of this stage 11 Atapuerca-Burgos of 20.2km, we cross the mountains that keep in their entrails one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. The mountain range of Atapuerca offers us, in its highest part, a splendid panoramic view of Burgos and the Castilian plateau as far as the eye can see.
The French Way takes us, in its descending course towards the capital, to pass by small towns such as Villalval, and others not so small as Cardeñuela Riopico, Orbaneja Riopico, and then Villafría, if we follow the usual route, or Castañares, if we follow the variant. The mountains give way to cereal fields and these in turn succumb to the expansive force of the city. The different variants that arise in this short stage diversify the always heavy access to a big city. Castañares is one of them and leads us along the nearby banks of the Alarzón to the capital. Burgos welcomes us with its imposing history closely related to the Way of Saint James. There were more than 30 pilgrim hospitals and it has one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, which began to be built in 1221 taking 3 centuries to complete.
Among its historic buildings are the church of San Nicolás, the church of Santa Gadea, the Puerta de San Esteban, as well as the Cistercian Monastery of Las Huelgas. Its architecture allows us to enjoy monuments ranging from Romanesque to Gothic style.
The beginning of this stage in Atapuerca (0h 00min) takes us to continue along the road that brought us here, now Way of St. James street, the few meters that separate us from the outskirts of the town.
To our left we have a wide esplanade that shows the marks of the pilgrims that shorten for her a few meters of Way. On reaching the outskirts of Atapuerca just between an old house and a small park with a sculpture of the pilgrims, begins on our left a dirt track that will lead us to the Atapuerca mountain range.
The track, now in quite good condition begins a gentle ascent passing a rest area protected from the relentless sun, by the poplar where it is.
When we arrive next to the fence that delimits the land belonging to an agricultural pavilion, we find ourselves with a detour. In this place we must go straight on along the path on the right, leaving on our left a green track that ascends directly towards the hill.
Our path continues with the same type of pavement, beginning to show signs of what we will find later. The ascent step by step is becoming more evident and the comfortable track gives way to an abrupt terrain that meanders between the holm oaks and gains height.
The track, bordered at all times by a broken barbed wire fence, almost disappears in some moments if it weren't for the passage of the many pilgrims, who leave a good footprint on the itinerary to follow.
After leaving on our right a path that joins us we pass the wildest part of the ascent to reach a wide plain where a large cross welcomes us to the top of the hill.
The Way of Saint James continues in front of us, on the left it continues to accompany the wire fence that led us here, leaving a couple of paths on the right. One of these tracks is where we would arrive if the previous day we had decided to make night in Olmos de Atapuerca, more than interesting option if we do not find accommodation in Atapuerca.
A large metal sign gives way to one of the largest panoramic views of the entire Camino. The immense Castilian plain that awaits us in the next few days is shown before us with a deceitful Burgos even further away than it seems.
We then begin a decomposed descent, which quickly loses intensity to become a track of good firm and say goodbye to the wire fence that we leave behind us.
Shortly after, the dirt track meets the crossroads that leads to Villalval. The Way at this crossroads offers us the possibility of going straight on along the main track, or descending towards the town.
Going straight on, after a short time, we find the track that leads to the quarry, leaving it on our right. At the next junction, definitively leave the old route of the Way that led directly to Villafría and that no one follows anymore, turning left and descending towards the access road to Villalval (1h 15min), where we will find the other option.
Or taking the track on the left and without abandoning it, descend towards the town to cross it and take the road where both options join again and save us a few 200 m.
Once unified both variants the Way follows the course of the narrow local road, without leaving it in any moment and that little by little will approach us towards the next population of the day.
After passing by an agricultural pavilion and leaving behind a couple of plots of land, the road introduces us to Cardeñuela Riopico (1h 35min), taking us to travel the long journey that crosses this town.
The narrow road, without hard shoulder and with more traffic than desired especially on working days due to the lorries that come and go to the quarry that we left behind, will accompany us at all times to the outskirts of Burgos.
This stretch between agricultural plots and recreational farms leaves more than one road on the left and right and also, shortly after leaving Cardeñuela de Riopico, the access road to Quintanilla de Riopico.
Without practically a gram of shade this stretch with the heat of the summer and the asphalt becomes somewhat hard. Luckily we do not separate too much distance from the next town where we can refresh and prepare for the entrance to the capital.
To Orbaneja Riopico (2h 00min) we enter as usual following the course of the road that will lead us through this town.
We cross the town following the route of the road that leads us between the houses and leads us to pass a small wooded area next to some pavilions.
Leaving on the left a couple of roads and after a short stretch of sidewalk, again the road will be our traveling companion. The route brings us closer to the motorway, and shortly after crossing it we find the access to an urbanization that rises to our left.
It is in this place where the Bifurcation of the Way is located (2h 10min), moment in which we must decide if we continue straight for the highway towards Villafría, following the habitual layout, or on the contrary we turn aside to the left leaving this one to go towards Castañares.
This variant, increasingly used by pilgrims, as the working days avoid us passing through the interior of the industrial estate that precedes the capital. It takes about 500 m more of road and leads to the meeting of the andadero that next to the national arrives to Burgos from almost San Juan de Ortega.
This variant deviates to the left following in a first term the limits of the urbanization, for shortly after deviating us to leave the street that enters in her and to continue by the track of earth that descends by our left heading again towards the highway.
The route borders the slope of earth that serves as a base for the buildings of the urbanization, turning to the right and leaving to our left a road that is closer to the nearby motorway. The dirt track we walk along continues between fields, crossing a path that communicates with them.
Our path is usually in good condition is likely to find something muddy, or even waterlogged at some points, rainy days, given the clayey characteristics of the soil.
We continue without leaving the track at any time until we are forced to turn sharply when we find the fence that delimits the enclosure of the airport of Burgos.
The itinerary then follows the limits of the airport, turning again shortly after and leaving on our left a track that goes back to the motorway.
We follow at all times the fence of the enclosure that will accompany us a good part of the track, leaving us for an instant, as a stream gets in the way.
Crossing this stream we leave on our right a service road from the airport and continue straight on along the comfortable dirt track that brings us closer to the next objective.
In Castañares (3h 00min) we arrived after leaving behind us a junkyard and the well of the water, finding us in front with the national one that so many times we have crossed in previous stages.
As soon as you reach the height of the national road, the Way turns right and continues along the narrow sidewalk next to it. The short stretch of sidewalk ends after crossing a street in a conditioned walkway that will make it easier for us to follow the Way.
The Andadero, which is closer to the road than would be advisable, overcomes the obstacles it poses. It skirts a large roundabout passing under the motorway and crossing the accesses to it, which even with painted pedestrian crossings on the ground and well signposted, are still somewhat dangerous.
The route continues to bring us closer to Burgos, crossing the limits of the large industrial estate that if we had followed the usual route, we would have had to cross.
Shortly after starting the industrial zone we find a stream, normally dry, the path descends to cross it and return to recover the lost height.
In the case of finding it with water, it is not necessary to go down we have two more options, one is a mini path that runs along the edge of the road and the other is to jump the guardrail and follow those few meters by the shoulder of the road.
After overcoming this reef, we continue into the city until we reach a large roundabout. It is at this point where it is more complicated to follow the signs of the Way, as they tell us that we must turn left in the middle of the roundabout, which is a real temerity. A few metres further on we will see a couple of pedestrian crossings that will allow us to cross to the other side of the old national road.
It is at this moment that two possibilities open up for us. The first is to go straight on without deviating at any time by the sidewalk with the company to our right of the road, until arriving at the roundabout where the monument to the pilgrim is located.
The second and usual is to follow the sidewalk next to the road a few meters ahead of the second pedestrian crossing for nothing more to find us with the next street to our left to turn and to continue for her, leaving to our back the national one. Shortly after turning we arrive at a small park where to our right begins a bicycle lane that inexplicably ends quickly.
This lane brings us back to the direction in which we had advanced to the pedestrian crossings, and now turned into a dirt track leads us back to the capital.
This somewhat abandoned area runs parallel to the road and ends in a wooded area where we have to go up a small slope to cross the street and definitively enter the capital.
Go straight on along this first street until you reach a wide avenue that forces us to turn right to find in front of us with the pilgrims' roundabout and the national one.
Converted the national highway now in the avenue of the Spanish Constitution takes us in its straight layout to the meeting of the street Vitoria where is the point of Union of the Ways (4h 00min), to already together to continue in search of the end of the stage.
If we decide to continue towards Villafría, a long stretch of road awaits us, without hard shoulders and without the protection of trees that give us some shade.
The airport has remodeled the old route of the Way through this area and the road we go along leads us bordering its enclosure. In our route we will not have too many problems and practically all the tracks that we cross are bounded and it is possible to pass through them, in addition we only have to follow the run of the road that takes us to a roundabout.
When we reach this place we have to turn right and continue along the road that crosses the train tracks and takes us to Villafría (2h 40min), crossing the town to the meeting of the national one.
On reaching the national road, just next to a large heavy machinery car park and a petrol station, a long, straight route begins on our left, which introduces us to the industrial estate that crosses this road and precedes the capital.
Little by little and without deviating at any time we are leaving behind roundabouts and crossings, almost without realizing the industrial warehouses have been giving way to the large buildings so characteristic of the cities and the heavy traffic of trucks to the frenetic traffic.
The national road now converted into Calle Vitoria takes us to the point of Unión de los Caminos (3h 55min), right in a wide roundabout where in front of us we see a petrol station.
On the right side of the building that houses the gas station, San Roque Street begins where we continue, leaving the straight street that brought us here.
As soon as it is possible we have to pass to the left sidewalk according to the direction of our march since the signs continue for that sidewalk, or to follow the bicycle lane that will take us until the next detour.
Soon we arrive at another roundabout, it is time to continue along the street Farmacéutico Obdulio Fernández, a wide avenue to our left that leads us to the center of Burgos.
Continuing along this street almost to its end we reach the height of a park at the foot of a striking building, the Way crosses the avenue and goes through the park to a passage that crosses this building communicating the park with Cantabria Avenue.
As soon as we pass this passage, we see in front of us the street where the route follows, but we have to go up the avenue a few metres to be able to cross it by the pedestrian crossing that is a little higher.
After walking backwards but on the other sidewalk we continue along Calzadas street, preferably on the sidewalk on our left, as this is where the signs are.
Without deviating from this street at any moment we arrive at the Monastery of San Juan, place where, now yes, we will leave the street that brought us here and that turns to the left to continue straight for the square of San Juan.
This pedestrian square surrounded by magnificent monuments takes us to one of the entrance gates to the historic centre of the city through which we will enter after crossing a decorated bridge.
As soon as we cross this door, we continue straight on along San Juan street, leaving on our left the other option that is presented to us in this place. Crossing all the streets that come out of our path we arrive at the end of the street, just at the height of the Alonso Martínez square, which is on our right.
At this point we have to follow the street Avellanos that is situated in front of us leaving to the left the street that would take us until the Cathedral of Burgos.
Soon this new street comes to an end, when we have to continue on the right to instantly turn left again and face the short distance that separates us from the rear of the Cathedral, where it ends in Burgos (4h 45min or 4h 40min) today's stage.
The final destination in Burgos will determine the total distance to be covered.
We will not have a great variation of time depending on whether we choose one or the other variant, since the differences are not very significant, not getting to be greater than 1 km the longest route, whic:in this terrain means around 10 min.
The route throug:the mountains offers spectacular and very different panoramic views in eac:period of the year. Moreover, the proximity of the big city facilitates somewhat the most extreme circumstances that we could find in the summer and winter months.
Comfortable footwear, recommended boot for the first part of the journey. Sportswear according to the time of year and weather conditions, also we can not miss the water, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat or cap. The usual, canes, equipped backpack and camera. Consult our list of material and equipment to make the Way. Read more
Without a great distance and in clear descent almost all the route, it is in the first part of the stage where the greater physical exigency is found when having to ascend the Mountain range of Atapuerca, The ascent is not too long but if something uncomfortable by the state of the land and some hard ramp that we have to assume. The other conditioner is the heat, whic:added to the asphalt that accompanied us most of the day, can harden a relatively easy stage.
The greatest danger that in all the Way you can find a pilgrim, as usual, are the sections by road and crossings and at this stage are most. However, local roads do not withstand excessive traffic. However, their narrowness and lack of shoulders mean that we must take extreme precautions and not fall into the error of walking as if it were a dirt road, that is to say, in the middle. In the national road, in bot:entrances to Burgos, the traffic is denser and althoug:the route goes throug:walkways and sidewalks, they will not prevent us from having to face crossings which, althoug:well signposted and equipped wit:pedestrian crossings, are still dangerous due to the speed of the vehicles and the ignorance of many of the drivers who are crossing part of the route of the Way of Saint James, and pilgrims may be found on it. Another point where we have to walk wit:caution to avoid unnecessary stumbles is in the initial ascent, more than anything by the state of the land, be careful wit:the usual frosts in this area and not only in winter that can leave us the rocks tremendously slippery. Beware also the wire fence that marks the limits of the road, is barbed wire, this fall in many areas and totally rusty whic:makes it difficult to see in certain circumstances.
Althoug:signposted at all times, the different variants offered by the route, added to the variations that its original layout has undergone, mean that this stage has some areas that are prone to confusion. In the first part of the Sierra de Atapuerca, the route sometimes blurs among the large amount of stones that make up the terrain, not being as defined as we are accustomed to. The fence on our left can serve as a guide in case of doubt if the visibility is not good, watc:out for foggy days. In the section close to Villalval, where the original Way that led directly to the national without passing throug:any locality until Villafría is no longer followed, offers us two variants being the one that does not pass throug:the population the one that has in its crossings the somewhat more hidden signs. At this point there is a large sign wit:an aerial map of the area clearly draws the two routes. Another point of confusion is where the option of Villafría or Castañares is proposed to us, the two routes are well signposted, althoug:in this place a little more information about the two variants is missing. In the section that goes from Castañares to the outskirts of Burgos is where we can have greater complications, since when arriving at the height of a gas station the marks indicate us a change of direction in a place where to follow their indications is very dangerous to have to cross the national in full intersection and without pedestrian crossing. If we go a little further we will find two regulated pedestrian crossings where we can cross. These indications that we leave behind us really mark the need to change sides because a little later we have the option to continue, somewhat more separated from the national, by a walkway that leads to the city. We have to have clear indications to follow in this short stretc:since the signposting from the gas station to the beginning of the andadero is null. For the rest the typical thing of the big cities that have the custom to make the marks in a single side of the street reason why we will have to go attentive and to follow by the sidewalk signalized.
|30T 458230 4691683
|30T 454486 4690889
|30T 453890 4689820
|30T 451830 4689918
|5-Bifurcation of the Way
|30T 450891 4690171
|30T 449266 4690513
|7-Union of the Ways
|30T 444236 4688751
|30T 442021 4688014
|30T 448330 4688145
|2-V-Union of the Ways
|30T 444236 4688751
|30T 442021 4688014
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketc:of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic wit:the pat:is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrantes 200, 201, 1:50.000".
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems wit:the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
La entrada en Burgos del Camino de Santiago Francés me resulto un poco pesada, como suele pasar al entrar en cualquier gran ciudad. De las varias posibilidades que hay quizás la más entretenida es la que va por el río, aunque no sea la más conocida.
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Inside the Cathedral of Burgos is the sepulchre of the Cid and above the triforium the famous Papamoscas, an automaton that gives hours by opening its mouth and wielding the clapper of a bell.
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The walk around Burgos. The city, loaded with a magnificent artistic and historical heritage, founded in 884 by Count Diego Rodríguez Porcelos and head of Castile during the reigns of Fernando I and Alfonso VI, houses true architectural jewels.
From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go.
Besides sharing with all of us your experience on the route we would be grateful if you could write to us to inform us of any erroneous or outdated information you may have found, or simply to let us know what you think at Thank you.
This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 21-09-2018. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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