One restaurant in town closed on Tuesdays. No grocery.
Leaving town, stay on the road to the city limits. The camino turns left and begins a steep descent into San Miguel del Rio in the valley below.
NOTE: From San Miguel follow the signs to Santa Marina. The village is divided, and you want the upper half, so turn Left at the first fork in the road where a shell (on your right) indicates that you should keep on the road. DO NOT follow the granite marker which tells you to...
Fountain, and a place to relax in front of the church. If you do so, don't be surprised if a local comes along to unlock the church for you to visit.
From here on to Puente de los Fierros stay on the road, but before entering the small town look for a path to your left marked 'Fresnedo.' In fact, you do not actually need to enter the town of Puente de los Fierros. This route takes you through two hamlets and past one Ermita (San Miguel), and...
At the very entrance to Puente de los Fierros, the camino splits into two different routes. The more common, less scenic, and completely along the roadway version is to the right and is signed La Frecha. Over the bridge, turn left and follow the 630. Alternatively, you can return to the...
Campomanes is the return to civilization that you may be looking for. Restaurants, bars, and private accommodation are to be found here. The town sits between the old National road and the fancy new autopista. Geographically speaking it lies at the North end of convergence of two valleys.
The camino will continue straight through the town turns right to cross the N-630 and a bit later the river. Just past the river it doubles back on itself to the left to follow a road along the river and to the Iglesia de Santa Cristina de Lena.
Santa Cristina de Lena survives as one of the few pre-Romanesque churches in these parts. It has stood since the mid 9th. c. and is worth a small detour to visit. It has recently undergone a restoration, where even more forgotten carvings (and windows) were revealed.
It costs 1€ to get in, and the hours are mixed. However, the caretaker is more than happy to stop by outside of the usual hours if you give her a ring. (985 490 525 or 609 942 153)
The surrounding area is also the best place to picnic or summer nap. Leaving the church, it is not necessary to retrace your steps back to Vega del Rey. Instead take the path in front of the church. It will descend to a train station where you can cross under the tracks and rejoin the camino.
Hours: CLOSED MONDAY.
April to November from 11:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 18:00.
December to March from 11 to 13 and 16:30 to 18:30.
Palacio is not on the camino, but it is the site of Santa Cristina de Lena, the church mentioned above. It is also included in the guide because there is a hotel there, however getting there and back adds 2 km to your journey.
Pola de Lena is a larger town than any other you have seen since Leon, spread lengthwise along the road. There is an albergue with basic services located near the train station, and plenty of bars and groceries to meet pilgrim needs. To leave town, keep on following the main road.