Camino San Salvador Pajares to Pola de Lena
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 decent into San Miguel del Rio in the valley below.
Santa Maria de Arbas del Puerto
The trail from Arbas to Puerto de Pajares has never been good, and in recent years has gotten worse. Nowadays it is best avoided, and the distance to the mountain pass (1.3km) covered by road. This also gives you the benefit of taking a pause at the bar at the pass.
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.
Small hamlet without any services. The path with take you to the edge of town, around the church, and double back into the village. The camino follows a cart track up the hill behind the village. It is steep going up to the retired road. When you get to the road, turn right and follow it all the way to Llanos.
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.
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 mountains by turning uphill to your left towards Fresnedo. This route takes you through two hamlets and past one Ermita (San Miguel).
Both routes rejoin in Campomanes. If you ask me, take the upper route via Fresnedo. The work you put into it will be worth avoiding the unforgiving asphalt.
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.
Turn left onto the first street in town, then right again to follow the main street. The camino will continue straight through the town and at the end passes the Palacio de Revillagigedo and a medieval bridge. It turns Right and rejoins the N-630 which will be your companion for most of the stretch to Pola de Lena. Just outside of Campomanes, after passing under the autopista is a refreshing fountain and place to sit.
Places to stop and eat or drink are much more frequent from here on to Oviedo.
In Vega del Rey keep a lookout for the black pedestrian bridge on your right. Across the highway, and up a short but rigorous climb, lies one of the most important little churches in Asturias.
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.
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.