The valley where León is located is our starting point, the Leonese mountain will be the silent observer of our way through the páramo leones in search of the banks of the Órbigo, the place where the Hospital de Órbigo is located, the final point of this stage. The route will take us, from the bustling city, to force us to decide between two historical and deep-rooted Paths that follow ancient roads. The wide extension of the moor will give way to the fertile valley of the river Órbigo from where we can intuit the change of landscape that without realizing it begins to envelop us.
The stage 18 León-Hospital de Órbigo of the French Way with 32,1 Km begins next to the impressionate Cathedral of León, leading us through the city as if it wanted to show us its hidden charms. The Casa de los Botines, the Palacio de los Guzmanes are part of these treasures that we leave behind to go to the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro that well deserves a stop on the Way of Saint James. From here we will cross the old walls that protected the city to approach the Hostal de San Marcos, work of the Renaissance that is added to the cultural heritage that treasures Leon. The river Bernesga serves as a natural border with the big city, although a good walk along its avenues still awaits us, which will take us to Trobajo del Camino without pause. This town, now a continuation of the capital, welcomes us with its hermitage of Santiago a work of the eighteenth century.
The itinerary extends following the route of the old national road which we do not get rid of until we reach La Virgen del Camino, where we are awaited by the impressive and modern Sanctuary of the Virgen del Camino. The French Way raises two routes again, one of them is the variant that passes through Villar de Mazarife and that joins the andadero already in Puente de Órbigo, the other is the path that after overcoming a cumbersome knot of communication leads us to Valverde de la Virgen, next town of this stage and whose church of Santa Engracia, unmistakable tower home to several storks, will receive us at our arrival, door of the moor in Leon. We say goodbye to the locality to quickly reach San Miguel del Camino, which already had a pilgrim hospital back in the twelfth century.
Villadangos del Páramo, is our next stop in whose church of Santiago is the most battling representation of the Apostle. San Martín del Camino will receive us shortly after, allowing us to visit its Ethnographic Museum located next to the famous water tank, protagonist of innumerable photos. The valley of the river Órbigo and its famous trout await us, Puente de Órbigo, is the gateway to the historic medieval bridge from where, looking back, we can contemplate the beautiful panoramic view that forms the tower of the church of Santa María. Hospital de Órbigo, which is reached after beating Don Suero de Quiñones in a singular spear tournament, a valiant nobleman who challenged any knight who dared to cross the long bridge to demonstrate his love for Doña Leonor de Tovar. This event took place in the fifteenth century and is still commemorated every year in this town where this stage of the French Way ends.
|Trobajo del Camino|
|La Virgen del Camino|
|Valverde de la Virgen|
|San Miguel del Camino|
|Villadangos del Páramo|||
|San Martín del Camino|||
|Puente de Órbigo|
|Hospital de Órbigo|
In practically all the hostels there is a signposted route that will lead us to join the Way.
The itinerary begins next to the Cathedral of León (0h 00min), leaving just behind us the magnificent rosette that characterizes it and descending the street Sierra Pambley.
As soon as we begin our itinerary by this street that descends parallel to Calle Ancha, where we arrived at the previous stage of the Cathedral, it forks and must continue on the street on the right.
This beautiful route through the historic centre of León takes us to the crossroads, where in front of us but a few metres to our right, we see the street where the Way of Saint James continues.
We follow this narrow street, without deviating, which leads us to a small square next to Calle Cid where we continue.
This street takes us directly to the spectacular Basilica of San Isidoro, which we bordered by its right facade.
Walking along the walls of the basilica we arrive at the square Santo Martino, where the Way continues on the left following the path of the old enclosure of San Isidoro.
The walls of León indicate that we are leaving the historic centre of the locality to go straight on along the street Renueva towards the next architectural jewel through which we pass.
Without turning off at any of the crossroads we come across, if at any of them we have to look for the place to cross the street that stands in our way, we arrive at the large square where the old pilgrims' hospital of San Marcos is located.
Once we have reached the square, the itinerary goes towards the bridge that will allow us to cross the Bernesga River. Passing through the San Marcos square allows us to enjoy the spectacle of contemplating the impressive façade that characterises this mythical building.
Una vez cruzado el río el paseo se prolonga, con el parque Quevedo flanqueándonos el paso, hasta un nuevo cruce.
Here we have to look for the pedestrian crossing that allows us to cross to follow the straight line of the Quevedo avenue, which will take us definitively out of León.
It is interesting that we follow this avenue by its left sidewalk according to our march, since it is in it where practically all the signs are found and the one that less crossings will force us to pass.
A long route awaits us in front, without detours, where the railroad tracks approach to greet us and then return to make way for the residential buildings.
When the great avenue meets a small square marked by the typical crossroads, it is time to leave it and cross it by the footbridge that crosses the railroad tracks.
This footbridge avoids us to cross the wide curve that the avenue describes to avoid some buildings and to pass the railroad tracks.
Once passed the footbridge we meet again with the street where we walked, which now without further detours will lead us to Trobajo del Camino (0h 35min).
The locality extends along the avenue, formerly the road that entered León from the national 120.
Shortly after passing a small hermitage we arrive at a new shortcut, to our left at one of the crossroads through which we pass, we will see that a street begins that continues parallel to the avenue we are going along. The French Way then continues along this new street, thus avoiding the wide curve drawn by the avenue.
After a ramp, which warms our legs, we go out again to the tireless avenue to follow a few more meters by it in search of a new detour. It is in this place, where crossing the already more road that avenue, we begin a new ascent by a steep street.
The slope quickly softens, allowing us to contemplate the city we left behind and part of the unattractive terrain in front of us.
The houses are gradually giving way to the industrial pavilions of the polygon through which the journey passes. A section that continues straight ahead, leaving behind the crossroads that we find.
Always in continuous but soft ascent, the street of the polygon by which we walked is approaching the national one that we already sense to our left.
Shortly after an area that breaks with the straight course of the street, we find ourselves facing the national road. To our right we see a service road that serves as access to the nearby pavilions.
Continuing along this new street in the polygon, always with the national street on our left, the street we are going down takes us to a gas station where, after crossing it, we leave for good to the national road.
In this part of the route we have the possibility of circulating through the wide verge of the national or through a poorly defined path that runs to the other side of the guardrail.
Both options lead us to the meeting of the first houses of the next locality of the day. The Virgen del Camino (1h 15min) extends around the national road that serves as a guide for this locality.
Without leaving the sidewalk that received us when we arrived to the town we are advancing leaving behind a good number of crosses.
The eye-catching Sanctuary serves as a reference for us to know when we should detour leaving the company of the annoying national highway, at least for the time being.
When we arrive at the sanctuary square, practically on the outskirts of the town, we have to cross the national one thanks to the pedestrian crossing that is located at that point to continue the route along an asphalted track that descends on the other side of the road.
This track leaves the town passing by the fountain El Cañin that bids us farewell, to find us with the first option of detour of the day. A potpourri of signs tell us that on our left begins the path that would take us, if we follow it, by the variant of Villar de Mazarife, this possibility joins again to the usual route in Puente de Órbigo, having several possible links more.
We continue straight on along the asphalted track that ends in a local road that we continue passing by the cemetery. This road crosses the access road of the nearby motorway where again we have to go straight ahead leaving it behind.
A little further on we come across another crossroads next to some pavilions, where once again the route goes straight on. This road is used by some pilgrims as an alternative to the first section of variant, as it ends there and sometimes is very muddy making it impracticable.
Leaving on the left the road that leads to Fresno del Camino the route, after passing through a new entrance from the dual carriageway, leaves the road that turns left, to continue along a dirt track that begins right there.
This track, in quite bad condition due to the torrents of water that have eroded the terrain, descends towards a small stream that we will find something later.
When you reach the lowest part of the terrain, which is encased by the junction of roads that join at that point, the French Way goes straight on leaving on the left a trail that moves away from the slope of the highway.
The route crosses the stream and borders this slope in search of the underground pass that serves to cross this communications knot.
On the other side of the road the next possibility of diversion awaits us, on our left there is a dirt track which, parallel to the road we have just crossed, would take us to follow it to Fresno del Camino, the first locality through which the Villar de Mazarife variant passes.
We have to follow the track on the right that starts an uncomfortable ascent to recover the lost height. This paved track goes towards some antennas that are in the high part of the hill that we are ascending. After passing through these antennas the track goes out to a road next to some industrial pavilions.
The itinerary passes between these pavilions following the asphalt track that we see in front of us and that takes us to the meeting of the national road.
The national highway from now on will be our inseparable companion, of which we will separate in few occasions and not much distance. Next to her goes a kind of andadero, which in some stretches looks more like a path than anything else.
We leave behind the paths and crossroads that we find in order to get closer to the next town of the day step by step.
The first houses of Valverde de la Virgen (2h 00min) receive us, allowing us to observe the tower of the church that marks the definitive entrance in the town.
This locality, as so often happens along the Way, is extended around it, so we only have to continue with the straight course that marks the road.
Already on the outskirts of Valverde we find again the andadero next to the national one, which will guide us in this section. In the background we can already see our next destination from which we are not too far apart.
The andadero becomes narrow and after passing a crossroads, it becomes a narrow trail that circulates separated from the national only by the guardrail.
This short section leads to the entrance of the route in San Miguel del Camino (2h 10min), which we cross again following the course of the national route.
Once again we go through this locality, which extends fundamentally to our right, leaving behind the streets that go into it.
On the outskirts of San Miguel we are forced to cross the junction with the road that leads to Robledo. Shortly after the crossroads, this section along the verge of the national road brings us closer to the beginning of the dirt track that we will follow.
This track separates us a few metres from the national one and, after passing some typical cellars excavated in the earth, we arrive at a crossroads where we turn right.
This variation of the recto discurrir of the itinerary returns to take us to the side of the national one. It is time to return to the direction it marks and to walk along the Andadero that begins at that point.
A long stretch of andadero awaits us next to the road that crosses the moor of León. The route has undergone innumerable modifications that force it to travel through disused sections of old roads, but always under the protection of the nearby national one.
One of these sections takes us along a dirt track that moves a few metres away from the road, crossing several streams, which sometimes flood the path, close to them. Some of these passages through the streams are equipped with wooden bridges that make it easier for us to pass at times of flooding.
The track, in quite good condition, always follows the course marked by the nearby national one, leaving behind us all the paths that come our way.
Fitted all the time between the highway and the national one, the plateau by which we walked lets us intuit the days of good visibility all that surrounds us. For example, the Leonese mountain and its spectacular silhouette.
Almost without realizing it and after a few crossings in which the straight line of the route leaves no room for doubt, we enter an industrial area. The distance to the next town is still important, although the buildings make us think otherwise.
This part of the route, somewhat complex due to the number of crossings we have to assume, permanently follows the course marked by the national, leaving to the right and left how many detours we pass. The asphalt sometimes replaces the dirt track we are on, until we reach the junction with the LE-413, where the asphalt takes over the entire itinerary.
The Way of St. James then continues along this asphalted track that serves as a street and even has a sidewalk that saves us from possible traffic. A small rest area marks the proximity of Villadangos, from which we are only separated by what remains of our journey along this street.
When we get to the meeting with the national one again we have to follow it a few meters using the sidewalk that borders it. Leaving a first road on our right we have to cross the national road to take the street that a few meters from the road we left behind, enters Villadangos del Páramo (4h 05min).
The Royal Street will serve us as a driver through the town, taking us to discover some of the corners hidden in it.
Once again we don't have to abandon the recto discurrir that we carry in any of the streets we pass through. At the end of the town, after passing through the place that used to house the old pilgrims' hospital, the Royal Street gives way to a new dirt track.
We could say that this is the only one or one of the few shady areas that we can enjoy throughout the stage.
This luxury lasts a short time and soon we find ourselves at the mercy of the untiring sun, and soon after, turning to the left, we return to the company of the national that we left before.
There are two possibilities here, the first is not to cross the national one and follow the earthy track that flanks it on this side, track used for access to the fields. Without signposting but without any loss to be all the time straight. With the possibility of finding it with enough mud if it has rained or watered.
The second and signposted one is to cross the national one and follow the path that will take us to the other side of the national one. The andadero, with a small tree that offers us scarce shade, continues under the protection of the national one without paying attention to any of the roads that lead to the interior of the fields.
This section of andadero ends again in an asphalted track that has the pertinent sidewalk that will avoid the transit by the asphalt or the verge of the national. San Martín del Camino (5h 00min) welcomes us with the unmistakable silhouette of its water well that rises up in front of us.
San Martín follows a similar urban distribution as the rest of the towns we pass through today, so we must follow the drawing that marks the national.
Arriving at the water well may be a good time to cross the road, as from now on the French Way continues on the other side of the national.
We then start a gentle descent that will take us to the outskirts of the town, where we will pass a new irrigation channel. As soon as we pass it, to our right, a path allows us to turn off in search of the track that, returning to the lost course, will avoid us a good piece of hard shoulder of the road.
The intense traffic on this road makes it very unadvisable that for saving a few meters do not take this short detour, which on the other hand provided us with another small area of shade.
This track turns soon after to, without further complication, return us to the protection of the national, from which we will not separate except a short stretch a little later.
The cultivation fields extend along the entire route, which is crossed again with the different paths that connect them. A solitary creek forces the track along which we travel to separate from the road, heading towards what looks like an agricultural pavilion.
Shortly after passing him we must leave the track we are going on and follow the one to our left that returns us to the margin of the national.
The walkway, flanked on one side by an irrigation ditch hidden by the leafy poplar grove of its bank and the other by the national road, will guide us at all times to the gates of the last towns of the day.
The route comes up against a narrow track that is definitively separated from the national road, where the andadero ends.
Continuing along this track, it will take us to pass by the water well to get out onto the road that leads to Puente de Órbigo (6h 40min), which we reach shortly afterwards.
Following the Paso Honroso street, which leads to the town, we immediately come across the beautiful bridge over which we will cross the River Órbigo.
This long bridge submerges us directly in Hospital de Órbigo (6h 45min), and in Álvarez de Vega street that will lead us to the church square where this stage ends.
Traversing a large city always makes this figure more than ever indicative.
It is important to be clear whic:of the two possible Paths that are proposed to us in this stage is the one that we are going to follow, this will avoid possible confusions that will take us a long time to correct or the delay that entails to clarify to us in the detours whic:is the route that we want to follow.
The city and the proximity between the different localities throug:whic:we pass mean that this stage does not have great visual differences from one period to another. It is true that climatologically if we can find very different conditions, for example the winter in this area, even if it is not rainy days, if we can receive the characteristic low temperatures added to a thick fog that soaks everything. In contrast to the summer, althoug:somewhat less hot than in previous stages or at least that makes us seem, the proximity of the asphalt of the road makes the degrees increase more than what we would already have to endure. The wide moorland of Leon and the silhouette of the Leonese mountain, is another of the factors that condition the panoramic views that we will find in these lands.
Perfectly we can go throug:the stage wit:light footwear as long as it does not rain, meaning light shoes and not sandals that leave us without protection foot. The only section in whic:it is better to wear the boots is when we pass throug:the junction of roads on the outskirts of Leon where the state of the land so advises. For the rest, to the material according to the time of the year and the meteorological conditions, we have to add the habitual thing, hat or cap, sunglasses, protective cream and our friends the canes that surely will be of great help to us, althoug:we do not face great unevenness. The canteen and some food cannot be missing either, althoug:the great number of localities of the stage allows us to take less quantity. Consult our list of material and equipment to make the Way. Read more
Exigente in the physical thing by the mileage and more still by the action that causes in our spirit the national one, whic:we will take almost in every moment to our side. The heat of summer days and the noise can affect us more than we would like, since, as far as physical demands are concerned, it is the first part of the route where we will find some short ramp that will make us gain the lost height.
Wit:a few kilometres throug:the town centre, it is in this part and the dangerous junctions of the national road that we have to pay the most attention. It is very common to see pilgrims in cities who, looking for signs, forget about the traffic that circulates around them. It is also important to bear in mind that the national road again supports a large part of the traffic that used to pass throug:the Camino dual carriageway, whic:makes it even more dangerous for pilgrims. Keep an eye on the section from La Virgen del Camino to Valverde de la Virgen, the parts that correspond to the dirt roads are not in very good condition, wit:torrents that furrow them and quite cobbled it is very probable to find them tremendously muddy in the rainy periods.
The route throug:the town centre is quite well signposted, the biggest problems are found in the large number of signs that want to take us on one or another route. Not only will we find them at the exit of La Virgen del Camino, but it is also common to find them in the links wit:the different towns throug:whic:we pass on the route. For the rest, the national one is in charge to mark us perfectly the course once we arrive at her. It is in the previous section to find us wit:the national road where more attentive we will have to be to the crosses.
|1-León||0:00h||847m||0Km||30T 289366 4719500|
|2-Trobajo del Camino||0:35h||842m||3.6Km||30T 286221 4719291|
|3-La Virgen del Camino||1:15h||912m||7.1Km||30T 283350 4717634|
|4-1ª Detour option||1:20h||902m||7.7Km||30T 282934 4717321|
|5-2ª Detour option||1:35h||894m||9.2Km||30T 281814 4716513|
|6-Valverde de la Virgen||2:00h||899m||11.6Km||30T 279677 4716385|
|7-San Miguel del Camino||2:10h||901m||12.9Km||30T 278551 4715655|
|8-Villadangos del Páramo||4:05h||902m||20.6Km||30T 272667 4710912|
|9-San Martín del Camino||5:00h||865m||24.9Km||30T 269172 4708544|
|10-Puente de Órbigo||6:40h||832m||31.7Km||30T 263473 4705302|
|11-Hospital de Órbigo||6:45h||825m||32.1Km||30T 263022 4705275|
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 194, 193, 161 y 160 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.
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¿Did you know that...
The Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Way is built on the remains of the hermitage that was built where it is said, the stone fell that the Virgin herself threw with the sling of the shepherd Alvar Simon after appearing and giving him the image of La Piedad, with the order to be venerated in the same place where the stone callera.
Don't miss out...
The exquisite Trout Soup that can be tasted as we pass along the banks of the river Órbigo, famous for the quality of this dish whose traditional recipe is part of the history of the Way of Saint James.
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 29-09-2018. 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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