About the Camino de San Salvador | Wise Pilgrim Guidebooks for the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de San Salvador stretches from Leon, in the central meseta, to Oviedo in Asturias. It covers 122km of terrain which varies between gently rolling hills and intense mountain climbing. The first 1/3 follows the Rio Bernesga North out of Leon, and apart from some moderate climbs remains relatively flat going. The middle third conquers much higher altitudes as it passes over the Cantabrian Mountains via Pajares. The last third resumes more moderate climbs and altitudes and follows along the valleys leading to Oviedo.

For anyone accustomed to the amenities found on the Camino Francés it is necessary to note that accommodation along many stretches does not leave you spoiled for choice. There are several stretches as well where food and water are to be found in your backpack or nowhere at all. On top of that a word of caution must be made for the most difficult of stretches of this camino. Passing over the Cantabrian Mountains is no walk in the park; snow remains late in the year, cell phone coverage is absent, and getting lost is a real possibility. I have done my best to describe the route, and in recent years many more elevated arrows (snow and overgrowth cover the ground markings) have been planted along the more precarious stretches. It is nothing to be afraid of, but something definitely to be respectful of. Let people know where you are going, and be aware of where you are heading. An inexpensive plastic compass would be a practical thing to bring along. Before starting the more difficult stretch, consult with the locals in Poladura for an up to date report on snow conditions. Carry water. Carry snacks. The view from the top is amazing and getting there often means peaceful isolated walking.

If your plans are flexible, here are a few sample itineraries which end in comfortable places to sleep. Anything less than 6 days definitely requires a higher level of fitness:

4 Days:

León to Pola de Gordon or Buiza: 35 or 41 km
Pola de Gordon or Buiza to Pajares: 31 or 25 km
Pajares to Pola de Lena: 24.4 km
Pola de Lena to Oviedo: 31.9 km

5 Days:

León to La Robla: 26 km
La Robla to Poladura: 24.8 km
Poladura to Bendueño: 30.3 km
Bendueño to Mieres 22.3 km
Mieres to Oviedo: 19 km

6 Days:

León to La Robla: 26 km
La Robla to Poladura: 24.8 km
Poladura to Pajares: 15.4 km
Pajares to Pola de Lena 24.4 km
Pola de Lena to Mieres: 12.8 km
Mieres to Oviedo 19 km

7 Days:

León to La Robla: 26 km
La Robla to Buiza: 15 km
Buiza to Poladura de Tercia: 9.8 km (difficult stretch)
Poladura de Tercia to Pajares: 15.4 km (difficult stretch)
Pajares to Pola de Lena 24.4 km
Pola de Lena to Mieres: 12.8 km
Mieres to Oviedo: 19 km

Credencial: You will need a credencial, or pilgrims passport. These can be found in the Albergues in Leon, or less conveniently in the Albergue in Oviedo.

Signage: This is a mixed bag. The camino in Leon starts with brown and yellow wooden mojones (see photo) provided by Cuatro Valles. Yellow arrows are self-explanatory in their yellowy arrow-ness. The shells, however, require a bit of awareness. In every region but Asturias, you are meant to follow the open end of the shell. In Asturias, you are meant to walk in the direction of the hinge. I make another mention of this in the guide when you get to Asturias.

The Prize: Beyond photos, memories, and blisters, completing the Camino de San Salvador also entitles you to a certificate to hang on your office wall. It is called the Salvadorana and is a recent invention. It is  available in the Albergue in Oviedo and the Cathedral. Unlike other guidebooks and other caminos, the Camino de San Salvador depends a bit on pilgrims sharing their discoveries along the way. It is up to us to promote and advise. If you have the time and patience to send an email where you find errors, omissions, or things worth noting, please do so.  Thank you for your support, I wish you a wonderful camino.

Now, to begin: Finding your starting point, and the departure route from Leon is quick and painless. Begin facing the Parador San Marcos. Cross the plaza to your right and follow the side walk that turns left and wraps around the parador. At the first roundabout, adorned with a bright yellow North American T6 single engine plane, continue straight on. That is it, yellow arrows and brown mojons will lead the rest of the way which is entirely along the road, but on adjacent trail, to Carbajal.  Note that there is a quieter river option but it is not signposted.