Introduction. The Pilgrim Office officially recognised this route in 2015. The route primarily uses the old Roman route for transporting ore from the mines which follows the Sil river. It is possible that in the past this track was preferred in winter to the snowy heights of O Cebreiro but there is as yet no firm evidence to support this theory. This is a solitary route for fit and confident walkers with good basic Spanish. Thanks to Tom Barton for the photos on this page.
The Route. It starts in Ponferrada and passes through the Bierzo region of León and all four Galician provinces, covering approximately 275 km. The best starting place for those looking to cover the minimum distance is Monforte de Lemos at 120 km distance from Santiago, remember your two stamps per day from this point onwards.
Terrain. Hilly in parts (be prepared for various strenuous ascents or descents), the path passes through towns, villages, forests, farmland (bee-keeping a speciality, also orchards, vineyards and pastures), beside old mine-workings and slate quarries, and alongside the Sil and Minho rivers. There are some fantastic views if the weather allows. Wild boar have even been sighted on this route!
Waymarking. The waymarking has been much improved over recent years but you may still find signage sparse or contradictory in some areas. Be prepared to ask local people for directions.
Weather/When to go. Best undertaken between April and November. Despite the name, the “Winter” route can be subject to the same snow, sleet, fog, high winds as the mountainous regions of the Camino Francés. Weather in hill country can be unpredictable and you should be prepared for mud and for cold and wet weather all year round. Some stretches of this route are long and isolated.
Accommodation. There are hostels or non-pilgrim specific albergues (and one excellent private albergue) at various points along the way. There is lots of private accommodation in the towns along the way, some of it very reasonably priced.
Editorial A Pena D´Agua Edicions
Praza das Airas, 1
32350 FONTEI-A RUA (Ourense)
Teléfonos 616 124 521 y 988 311 614
Associación Amigos do Camiño de Santiago por Valdeorras has some information on the stages and services available in towns along the way.
Mundicamino has information on all stages.
Discussion Forum. Visit the Camino de Santiago Forum to join in the current conversation.
Cyclists. The route is a joint cycle/hiking track. However, given the ascents and descents, and the muddy condition of some of the paths, it is probably only suitable for mountain bikes. It is possible to cycle this route mainly on country roads and there are travel companies that offer self-guided tours along such road routes. The second edition of Guía del Camino de Invierno by José D. Rúa Pérez has cycling information.
Confraternity of Saint James,
27 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NY, United Kingdom.
Tel: (+44) (0)20 7928 9988
Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered no. 4096721 — UK Registered Charity no. 1091140
Founded in 1983 to promote the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela