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The French Way enters Castile

The first stage of the French Way integrally by the singular plateau Castellana, that took us to cross from Burgos up to Hontanas an endless fields of cultivation, in which the high mountains that accompanied us up to here have left step to a plain that extends as far as we can see. The small hills together with some solitary tree break a landscape that, on the other hand, offers a beautiful perspective, along with some beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the day.

Stage 12 Burgos-Hontanas of the French Way


Step by step we are approaching the limits of the province of Burgos crossing Castilian towns loaded with history linked to the Jacobean route. The stage 12 Burgos-Hontanas of the Way of Saint James with 31,9 Km leaves next to the Cathedral of Burgos that bids us farewell, as it could not be otherwise, showing us part of its treasures, as they are the temple of San Nicolás or the herreriano arch of Fernán González, first count of Castile. The bridge of Malatos serves us to cross the Arlanzón and to introduce us in the beautiful park of El Parral, near the famous Convent of the Strikes of Gothic style, that will take us until the Hospital of the King and its plateresque cover of 1526. The hermitage of San Amaro pilgrim takes us definitively out of Burgos, leading us towards the outskirts of Villalbilla de Burgos, a town through which the Way of Saint James used to pass in the past and which has now partly recovered its original layout along the banks of the Arlanzón River. After saying goodbye to the pleasant freshness provided by the poplar trees on the banks of the river, the route goes as far as Tardajos, welcoming us with a typical French Way cruise.

Pilgrims on the Way

The locality, located on an old Roman town that was located in the middle of the Roman road that joined Clunia with Juliobriga, shows us its history linked to the pilgrims. The church of Santa María de la Asunción from the 16th century marks the route that crosses the town towards the nearby Rabé de las Calzadas, where the palace of the Count of Villariezo, from the beginning of the 17th century, awaits us. The inhabitants receive us proud of their parish church dedicated to Santa Marina and of the hermitage next to the cemetery, which keeps the image of Our Lady of the Monastery. From here the French Way enters an immense plain broken by small hills. At the top of one of these hills we find a humilladero and the view of Hornillos del Camino, at the bottom of the valley formed by the river Ruyales. The town stretches along the Way of Saint James allowing us to enjoy its sturdy houses and the late Gothic church of San Román.

Some lonely trees on the Castilian plateau


The extensive plateau invades everything again, leaving small orchards such as that of the stream of San Bol where the monastery of San Boal or San Baudilio was located in the past. Hontanas, with its curious church of the Immaculate Conception of Gothic origin but reformed in neoclassical style, breaks partly with the plain, as it is situated in a valley that seems to us to be steeper than it really is, undoubtedly affected by the kilometres travelled up to here.

The Trick

Getting up early will avoid having to face the tremendous heat of the central hours of the day that the area records the summer months. The option of finishing the stage in Hornillos del Camino is used by many as if it were an oasis in the middle of the desert.

Pet area, the Way of St. James with my dog

Stage complicated by the distance, there are many miles of dirt tracks in quite good condition, but they can cause some problem if our friend is not accustomed. The care and hydration of their legs is essential to avoid injuries. Keep an eye on the road areas, they are short but without hard shoulder.

As for the water, except in the localities through which we pass and a couple of intermediate points, perhaps too close to them, we will not find it. The sections, even dividing the stage in different ways are long and without shade, so being well equipped with water is essential.

The flocks of sheep graze on these fields and we can find them almost anywhere, except in winter. A couple of farms, some agricultural pavilion and the usual pets of the towns are the ones we will cross.

Sendigrino Ico_Hotel Ico_Albergue Ico_Hostal Ico_Restaurante IcoCafeteria Ico_Supermercado Ico_Farmacia Ico_Cajeroautomatico Ico_Veterinario Ico_Taller_de_BTT
Burgos Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok
Tardajos Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok    
Rabé de las Calzadas   Ico_Ok Ico_Ok   Ico_Ok          
Hornillos del Camino   Ico_Ok Ico_Ok   Ico_Ok          
Hontanas Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok Ico_Ok        

Description of stage 12 Burgos - Hontanas of the French Way

From Burgos to Tardajos 11,7 Km

The exit from a big city, and Burgos is not an exception, it becomes long and complicated, the itinerary meanders through the streets making it difficult to follow it without making a mistake, even being well signposted. The stage begins next to the back of Burgos Cathedral (0h 00min), where we arrived in the previous stage.

We leave the historic centre of Burgos

From here our way continues straight on following the street of Fernán González that leaves behind the cathedral and the church of San Nicolás and changes its good firm for the uncomfortable paved one.

The Way continues through the park


We pass by one of the gates of the wall that are still conserved to walk without diverting a pleasant walk that takes us to another of the gates of the city.

We leave the walled enclosure

As soon as we cross it, we find ourselves on the left hand side with some stairs where we go down to continue the gentle descent down Emperador Street, which is opposite them.

The route continues along the street in front of the stairs

This long street leaves the monastery of the Benedictine sisters behind and continues until it meets another crossroads, at which point we have to turn left to continue along the Villalón street that leads us to the Arlanzón River.


But before reaching it we have to be careful, since at the next crossroads the Way still does not deviate by this street that turns a little to the right and the marks in the crossroads can confuse us, because wanting to point out the pedestrian crossing what they really seem to do is to tell us to continue by the street on the left, when we have to go straight.

At this crossroads the marks send us to the left, but actually point to the pedestrian crossing.

Once this crossroads has been crossed, Villalón Street flows into the alameda that accompanies the flow of the river. Just in front of us, hidden among the leafy grove, we find the bridge where we cross to the other bank.

We cross in search of the bridge

As soon as we cross the river, the old N-120 that joined Burgos and León, now converted into the wide Avda. de José María Villacín Rebollo, stands in our way. On the other side we see the military hospital of Burgos, in front of it the walls of the Parral park and a small door through which we access it.

Entrance door to El Parral Park

We have the option to follow the route of the avda. but we will miss a beautiful and pleasant walk. The Way crosses, parallel to the avda., this park leaving it by a wide street marked on each side by a row of robust and leafy trees.

At the end of the park we will return towards the avenue

As soon as we cross the door of the enclosure we see in front of us the wayside shrine of San Amaro Pilgrim and on our left the building of the Rectorate of the University of Burgos. We have to go towards the nearby avda. that awaits us on our right to, when we reach it, recover the direction of the march and cross under the bridge of the old railway line.

We recover the direction of the march, following the bicycle lane and crossing under the bridge of the track.

Following the bicycle lane, the avda. takes us definitively out of Burgos. After passing a roundabout we arrive at a crossroads where the avda, already converted into a road, turns left. At this point you have to leave it and cross to the right, continue along Benito Pérez Galdós street, which starts at this point.

We leave the road to continue on the street to the right

This street follows the rectilinear route that brought us here, escorted on one side by the last buildings of the city and on the other by, it could be said, the last area of trees that we will find in a few kilometers.

The street becomes a dirt track

Without deviating at any time the street gives way to a dirt track that we will not abandon in any of the roads that come out to meet it.

We didn't leave the main track on any occasion.

This track ends with a road next to a conditioned park around a small chapel. Not long ago in this place the Way was diverted from its traditional itinerary, to go towards the nearby Villalvilla de Burgos by the road on our left that leads to it. From there, always by road, you will come across the original route of the Way of Saint James a little further on.

The track comes to an end

Now the works on the dual carriageway have recovered part of the traditional layout that avoids running along the road. At this point, leaving on our left the road that leads to this town, a pedestrian crossing allows us to cross to the other side and continue along the dirt track that begins next to a small stream.

We cross the road to enter a new dirt track

This track leaves behind the hermitage and the park to go, looking to the left Villalvilla de Burgos, towards the new railway line. When we reach its height we find a road that comes from the nearby town and crosses the track thanks to a small tunnel.

The Way goes through the tunnel

Leaving the road and just crossing this tunnel begins to our left another dirt track where we follow.

Returning to the dirt track, as soon as you cross it.

This dirt track, wedged between the railway track and the dual carriageway, continues to cross cereal fields until it reaches a crossroads.

In this place the Way passes to the other side of the highway

At this point the Way makes us follow the track to the right, to go to cross over the nearby highway that awaits us a few meters ahead.

We turn again

Once crossed the highway we will quickly arrive at a new crossing where we will turn again, this time to our left, to return in search of the company of the highway.

We passed under the highway.

Now we see ourselves advancing parallel to the dual carriageway as we approach the junction and bridges that we must cross. Luckily for now we do not have to face the always dangerous road junctions.

We did not leave the Way at any time

After crossing under the different bridges and tunnels of this network of roads we will see ourselves leaving behind us some path while we go towards the banks of the river Arlanzón.

We're still on the right.

Once again we will see ourselves passing under a new dual carriageway to partly follow the course of the river in search of the next junction that we have to find, junction in which we have to follow the path on our right.

We crossed the road

Leaving the dual carriageway behind us, we come across the old national road, which we must cross and so follow on the other side the path that will take us across the river to continue along the road that leads us to the first locality of the day.

A track parallel to the national one avoids us to walk along it, taking us to the nearby town.

The route, leaving on the left some crossroads reaches the height of one of the so characteristic cruises of the French Way. From there it continues next to the national road through the first buildings of the town. When you reach a small square, turn left and continue a few metres down the street, leaving the road behind us.

We leave the national to enter the Tardajos

This curious double-height street takes us to a crossroads where the route turns to the right and continues along the Calle Real that definitively introduces us to Tardajos (2h 45min).

We enter in Tardajos by the Real street, to the right of the building


From Tardajos to Rabé de las Calzadas 2 Km

Following Calle Real we reach a large square, the route through the town goes straight on along the narrow street in front of us towards the church whose tower stands out from the houses.

The tower of the church serves as a reference.

The Way continues straight ahead next to the church, leaving all the streets to the right and left.

We continue next to the church

Shortly after saying goodbye to the church, the street leads us to the road that leads us to the next town on the stage.

Last street of Tardajos

On reaching the road, the route continues along it, turning left and bidding farewell to Tardajos.

We're on a short stretch of road.

The itinerary follows at all times the course of the road, which in a long and continuous ascent runs through an area of urbanizations.

We continue along the road

At the end of this gentle ascent the route describes a curve to find a street on your right, where it continues, and a little further on the square and the town hall.

We entered Rabé de las Calzadas

This first street takes us to the interior of Rabé de las Calzadas (3h 15min), where the route, leaving behind a fountain, goes straight on along a narrow street that leads us to a wide and beautiful square.

A beautiful square awaits us behind this narrow street

From Rabé de las Calzadas to Hornillos del Camino 7,7 Km

Another long stretch awaits us with no intermediate points that leads us, between fields and hills, to the next town. Just at the end of the square, as we reach it, the street that takes us out of Rabé begins to the right.

The Way of Saint James leaves from Rabé de las Calzadas

The route leaves the locality behind between agricultural pavilions, leaving it definitively passing by the cemetery of Rabé de las Calzadas.

Hermitage of Our Lady of the Monastery

The route follows the main dirt track without deviating from any of the numerous paths that we find in our way.

We follow the main road, the one on the left.

The well-defined dirt track, with good road surface, gradually gains height with the typical ups and downs that, without being so pronounced, is reminiscent of previous stages.

The track is gaining height

The track is gaining heightThe area, free of shade, offers us a small oasis where we can refresh and rest, the Praotorre fountain is the last shaded area we will find in a long time.

A few meters ahead on our right is the Fountain of Praotorre

The route follows the uncomfortable ascent that takes us to the top of a hill from where we enjoy magnificent views that include the still distant town of Hornillos.

Panoramic view of Hornillos del Camino

It is time to start the descent towards it, the track in this area although better than years ago is still somewhat cobbled and it is better to take it easy the first ramps, the steepest.

Cross the road heading towards Hornillos del Camino

Step by step, the path softens its unevenness and recovers its relatively good road surface, approaching the crossroads with the road that gives access to the locality, but not before leaving behind some path or other.

The Real street guides our route

The narrow road leads us to the nearby town and converted into Calle Real, it leads us to Hornillos del Camino (5h 25min).

From Hornillos del Camino to Hontanas 10,5 Km

This locality is usually the final point of the stage given the distance that separates us from the next inhabited nucleus, so it is advisable to assess well if we continue.

When leaving the locality the Way continues by the right

We do not leave the straight Calle Real that takes us out of Hornillos del Camino until the end of it, where the route leaves a track that goes straight on to continue on the right.

We left the track with good firm to continue for another one in worse condition

Shortly after leaving the locality and after passing a water well, the route leaves the main track to continue to its left for another that undertakes a gentle ascent that takes us to half slope between two rounded hills.

We ascend without great unevenness

This section will not stop ascending until it reaches a plateau whose beginning is marked by curious mounds of stones.

The French Way reaches the plain

This part of the route, where our vision is lost in the horizon, encounters a large number of tracks that we will leave behind us.

The humilladero marks the beginning of a new descent

The plateau seems to come to an end when we find the humilladero that marks the beginning of a new and cobbled descent. From this point we can see another small oasis of the path, which although separated from it by a few 300 m, the hot summer days is shown as a recommended detour.

In this point we have the option to divert to the nearby San Bol

The fast descent takes us to the crossroads with the path that leads to the orchard of San Bol that we leave to our left to begin a new ascent towards a new plain. When we reach it, we will take the straight road crossing a lonely road.

The itinerary follows its straight course at all times

Leaving to both sides how many dirt roads we found, we continued the walk passing near the wind mills that seemed so far back.

We leave the track to descend towards Hontanas by the andadero

The next locality is not shown before us until we reach the apex of this plateau. At this moment, leaving aside the path we are taking, we descend towards the hollow where Hontanas is situated, through a andadero that avoids a long curve in the path.

Calle Real will take us to the final point of the stage.

This andadero becomes the Calle Real that takes us next to the church of Hontanas (7h 35min) where this stage ends.


Technical details of the stage

ico-distancia-totalDistance. 31,9Km

Our route through the interior of Burgos will mark the final distance of the stage.

ico-tiempo-totalTime. 7:35h

It is a long stage and if we need it we can come to rest and refres:ourselves until the area of San Bol, to the time of rest we will have to add a few 20 minutes of round trip.

ico-calendarioTime of year

The beginning of autumn and the end of spring are the most pleasant months to visit these lands. To the colorful fields are added the softness of the days that allow us to enjoy the route. Summer and winter show all the harshness of this area wit:its demanding conditions.

ico-materialRequired equipment

We can not miss the protection for the sun, cap, sunglasses and sunscreen, along wit:the canteen wit:water, are our most precious companions. The terrain allows the stage to be carried out practically in its entirety wit:more comfortable footwear, unless the rain leaves parts of the dirt road very muddy and even waterlogged. For the rest the habitual thing, clothes and sport footwear according to the time of the year and to the meteorology, backpack, canes. Consult our list of material and equipment to make the Way. Read more


ico-dificultadDifficulty. Remarkable


The hardness of this stage lies in the distance to whic:we have to add the weather conditions that we can find. The virtual absence of shaded areas makes it a toug:test on hot days. Without great unevennesses to save that are concentrated in a pair of valleys, the descents are more pronounced than the to go gained height that is made smoother. It is important to calculate our forces very well before venturing to the next locality, since the distance between them, especially those at the end, is important.


Every exit from a big city is a moment of precaution, we have to be attentive to the signs so as not to get lost in it, but that does not have to make us forget that the traffic is intense and there are many streets to cross. In the past, the stretc:of road was greater than the one we are now forced to travel, even so they are roads without hard shoulders and where we do not have to trust ourselves, no matter how little traffic we see. Watc:out for the water, we won't find many fountains and those that exist don't ensure their consumption or availability. The two most pronounced descents that we will make, althoug:they are not so strong wit:others that we have left behind, they are the sections in whic:we will find the worst firm, wit:quite a lot of loose stone.


Leaving behind a big city is always complicated, are many crosses and even if well signposted cause more than some absent-minded. In some crossings in Burgos the signs, more than indicating the street to follow, indicate the pedestrian crossing to use to continue the correct way, the river can be our reference in case of doubt, since the Way of Saint James goes up its channel to its passage by the city. The rest of the Frenc:Way is along tracks throug:fields and in almost all the crossings we do not have to deviate.

Important places to pass through
1-Burgos 0:00h 875m 0Km 30T 442021 4688014
2-Tardajos 2:45h 825m 11.7Km 30T 432618 4688868
3-Rabé de Las Calzadas 3:15h 835m 13.7Km 30T 431191 4687848
4-Hornillos Del Camino 5:25h 830m 21.4Km 30T 423692 4687777
5-Hontanas 7:35h 870m 31.9Km 30T 413922 4685027

Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84

Stage Profile

Profile of Stage 12 Burgos-Hontanas of the Frenc:Way

ico-desnivel-acumuladoSlope: 684m

ico-desnivel-positivoSlope +: 345m

ico-desnivel-negativoSlope -: 339m

ico-altitud-maximaMaximum altitude: 910m

ico-altitud-minimaMinimum altitude: 825m

Cartography, maps and tracks

Map of Stage 12 Burgos-Hontanas of the Frenc:Way

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.

Topographical Map Stage 12 Burgos-Hontanas Frenc:Way


This schematic wit:the pat:is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrantes 199,200, 237 y 238, 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.

Centenary tree
Dawn on the Way of Saint James
Fields of Castile
Hermitage near Burgos
Pilgrimage of pilgrims
Preparing for winter
The Parral Park
The plateau awaits us
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Listado de experiencias
Vanesa Blanco
Created the 19-05-2019

La verdad es que esta etapa del Camino de Santiago me resulto una de las más duras de todo el Camino Frances. No sé si fue por tantos kilómetros seguidos entre pueblo y pueblo, pero Hontanas no aparecía nunca.

Atapuerca Archaeological Site
Atapuerca, Burgos
Atapuerca Archaeological Site

Great encyclopedia of the evolution of man, natural treasure kept in time

Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos
Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos
Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos

Benedictine monastery where the monks raise their prayers through Gregorian chant

See accommodation in Burgos
Burgos, Burgos
See accommodation in Burgos

Burgos, Burgos

See accommodation in Hontanas
Hontanas, Burgos
See accommodation in Hontanas

Hontanas, Burgos

See accommodation in Hornillos del Camino
Hornillos del Camino, Burgos
See accommodation in Hornillos del Camino

Hornillos del Camino, Burgos

See accommodation in Rabé de las Calzadas
Rabé de las Calzadas, Burgos
See accommodation in Rabé de las Calzadas

Rabé de las Calzadas, Burgos

See accommodation in Tardajos
Tardajos, Burgos
See accommodation in Tardajos

Tardajos, Burgos

See things to do in Hontanas
Hontanas, Burgos
See things to do in Hontanas

Hontanas, Burgos


¿Did you know that...

In the past, the stretch between Tardajos and Rabé de las Calzadas was somewhat complicated because between the two towns in Burgos is the river Urbel, which is very flooded, leaving the land as if it were a marshy area. Hence the saying, From Tardajos to Rabé liberates us, Domine; and from Rabé to Tardajos, you will not lack jobs.

Don't miss out...

The visit to the convent of Las Huelgas in Burgos, founded by Alfonso VIII and Leonor de Plantagenet. The visit goes through the Royal Pantheon, the Chapterhouse and the chapel of Santiago or the Claustrillas. The Cistercian complex of buildings ranges from Romanesque to Gothic, with its imposing tower standing out.


Where the Primitive Way passes through

Go to Material and equipment to make the Way of St. James What to bring?

5 Reasons why you should do the Primitive Way

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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 22-09-2018. 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.

All the times are approximate and take an orientative character, the stops have not been taken into account, no matter how small they are. All the information related to the route, texts, images, videos, maps, diagrams, tracks, towns, and places of tourist interest are published as a guide, and may not coincide with the current state of each place. Before undertaking any activity, assess your technical knowledge, your physical condition, find out about the weather and the variations that the route may undergo, equip yourself correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, and do not exceed your capabilities. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or inappropriate use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications as well as its electronic guides, nor for any variations in their descriptions for the aforementioned reasons, and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. We also encourage you to read books and specialised guides to complement the information described above.

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