Stage from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro

Information about stage 24: Stage from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro

Information about stage 24: Stage from Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro

07:30 a.m.


  • Km 0. Villafranca del Bierzo (All Services)

After crossing Calle del Agua-Ribadeo in Villafranca del Bierzo, we turn ninety degrees to the left along the Cuesta de Zamora (upon reaching Calle Santa Catalina), we pass by the pilgrim monument, we cross the Burbia river (see observations section for find out about the alternative route of the mountain) and continue along the streets of Concepción and Espíritu Santo. We leave Villafranca through the latter and continue for a kilometer along the shoulder of the road, which accompanies the course of the Valcarce river . In this way we come to a pedestrian lane, something similar to a bobsleigh track and protected by a wall that is less than a meter high, which runs between the A-6 motorway and the N-VI (Km 1.8). Through this pilgrims’ fold we pass under several viaducts of the A-6 (Km 4.1) before taking the detour to Pereje, at kilometer 410 of the N-VI. We cross the national road with caution and by the access road, escorted by the poplars of the Valcarce riverbank and by large chestnut trees, we arrive at the first town of the day: Pereje

  • km 5.2. Pereje (Hostel. Bar)

We cross the town – at the exit on the left is the hostel – to return to the pedestrian lane. One kilometer and six hundred meters further on is the Trabadelo rest area (Km 6.9) and one kilometer further up we cross the N-VI again to take the detour to this town. Once again flanked by the Valcarce riverside forest, with superb chestnut trees, we advance to Trabadelo , with the necessary infrastructure to make a stop on the Camino.

  • km 9.7. Trabadelo (Hostels. Bar. Shop. Pharmacy)

We leave the town, leaving the turnoff to Pradela y Sotelo to the right, and this time we do not return immediately to our bobsleigh track , but we walk for about a kilometer and a half along a paved track, above the national one. After passing a stream that feeds the Valcarce river (Km 10.5) we return to the pedestrian lane, on the edge of the N-VI. A further kilometer and seven hundred meters of tedious lane brings us to La Portela de Valcarce , also with some services.

  • km 13.7. La Portela de Valcarce (Shelter. Bars. Basic store. ATM)

After La Portela, barely 300 meters traveled in the company of the N-VI, we take the detour towards Ambasmestas and Vega de Valcarce. First we arrive at Ambasmestas , the confluence of the Balboa and Valcarce rivers .

  • km 14.9. Ambasmestas (Hostel. Bars. Shop)

At the beginning of 2017, Yaneth Gómez opened Colmado El Barullo at the exit of Ambasmestas , a cafeteria with a small supermarket. Later we enter Vega de Valcarce , a service town in the valley with its church of La Magdalena .

  • km 16.5. Vega de Valcarce (All Services)

We now head to Ruitelán . At this point in the stage we have only gained 171 meters of altitude. The base of the port is nearby.

  • km 18.6. Ruitelán (Hostel. Bars)

At the exit of Ruitelán the slope intensifies a bit, just a small appetizer of what will come next. A little further up, to the left, we take the detour that goes down to Las Herrerías . Before reaching this small nucleus, we cross the Valcarce River by a stone bridge.

  • km 20.1. Las Herrerías (Hostels. Shop. Bars)

We cross the village to the Hospital neighborhood (Km 20.8) , a continuation of the previous nucleus that takes its name from the old hospital for English pilgrims. Leaving this group of houses begins the real ascent to O Cebreiro. A hard asphalt slope, as if out of nowhere, of almost a kilometer invites us to consider the strategy, which will consist of slowing down, shortening the steps and pacing the breath. In these circumstances it is where the weight of the backpack plays a determining role. In full ascent, walkers should take the path that starts to the left of the paved track. Cyclists must continue straight ahead on asphalt (Km 22) . Already on the path, the slope gives us a brief respite until we cross the Refoxo stream and push us back up a shady road that climbs hard under the canopy of deciduous chestnut and oak leaves. This scenario brings us closer to La Faba -at the entrance there is a detour to the hostel. In the town there is a bar and a shop with everything you need to recover your lost strength.

  • km 23.5. La Faba (Hostels. Bar. Shop)

After La Faba we progressively leave the shady area to come out onto an open field of pastures with views of the Atlantic forests. The wide panoramic views influence the perception of the slope, which becomes slightly smoother until reaching the last town in León on the Camino de Santiago Francés: Laguna de Castilla .

  • km 25.9. Castilla Lagoon (Lodge and Bar)

Some 700 meters further up the first pilgrimage marker appears with distance markings. It is 152.5 and bears the inscription Os Santos ( del Teso dos Santos ). Four hundred meters later, the Camino says goodbye to León, the province with the most kilometers of the Camino Frances: no less than 214.4. Finally we set foot on Galicia and, specifically, Lugo. The queen stage is about to end (Km 27 ). Fatigued, we cover the last kilometer to the pre-Romanesque church of Santa María la Real , which welcomes O Cebreiro . The pilgrims’ hostel, the first of the Xunta de Galicia, is located at the other end of this Lugo parish.

  • km 28.4. O Cebreiro (Hostel. Rural Houses and Pensions. Bars. Shop)


  • Most demanding section between Hospital and La Faba: In the first 21 kilometers only 190 meters of altitude are ascended. It is from the neighborhood of Hospital, past Las Herrerías, when the climb really begins. In just 7.5 kilometers to O Cebreiro, 610 meters are exceeded. The hardest section is between the Hospital itself and La Faba, although the slope continues to be very respectable up to Laguna de Castilla.
  • Be careful in winter due to the weather, as it is easy to find snow on the ascent to O’Cebreiro.


  • Alternative ‘mountain’ route from Villafranca to Trabadelo : In addition to the traditional itinerary, there is an alternative and signposted route that covers the first 10-kilometre section from Villafranca del Bierzo to Trabadelo, in the middle of which the Lamas hostel is located . The description is as follows: after passing the pilgrim’s monument, we cross the bridge over the Burbia river and continue to the right along Pradela street. We ascend for 8 kilometers up the mountainside, with impressive views of El Bierzo. Crossing pine forests and century-old chestnut groves we will arrive at the town of Pradela. We see the town on the right, but it is not necessary to enter if you do not want to use any of its services. If we enter Pradela, after the church we find the Lamas hostel . We turn left and leave the town in the direction of Trabadelo, which is located three kilometers further on. In this town we will meet the official Camino.
  • 100% of the towns on the stage offer at least one pilgrim hostel, except in winter, so you can divide the day as you please. All have a bar and the town with the most services is Vega de Valcarce.
  • As of July 12, 2021 and for the moment for one year from that date, the Civil Guard prohibits the passage through the old N-VI National Highway between Las Herrerías and Piedrafita de O’Cebreiro, this section frequented mainly by cyclists.
  • A kilometer and a half before reaching O`Cebreiro we enter Galicia, the last Autonomous Community that we are going to cross on our pilgrimage. The crossing of said border is marked with a large milestone that is usually vandalized with all kinds of graffiti.
  • In the spiritual chapter it is important to refer to ” the miracle of O`Cebreiro “.Around the year 1300, in the middle of a blizzard of wind and snow, a villager from Barja Mayor, ignoring the storm, approached the parish of O’Cebreiro. The clergyman who was giving mass was surprised to see the villager because he did not expect anyone due to to the storm and recriminate his presence there only to see a piece of bread and a glass of wine, at which point the bread turned into meat and the wine into blood.
  • Also highlight the altruistic work that is carried out today in the parish of Santa María del Cebreiro, especially by the Franciscan Paco Castro Miramontes, who did not hesitate to help as much as possible and spiritually advise all pilgrims who are there. approach. If you are lucky enough to find him there, do not hesitate to have a small talk with him because his words will fill you with energy and wisdom for the rest of the pilgrimage.

What to see, what to do

  • OS ANCARES REGION The Os Ancares region is nestled between León and Galicia and is an obligatory step on the twenty-fourth stage of the French Camino de Santiago. It is a nature reserve with its mountainous landscape, steep slopes, inhabited by a population with more Galician than Castilian customs. The pallozas – traditional houses with an elliptical floor plan and a thatched roof – have been heirs to the pre-Roman tribes that inhabited these lands and left important traces.
  • PEREJE: Small town in the region of Os Ancares, belonging to the municipality of Trabadelo, which is surrounded by old chestnut trees. It was the subject of a resounding dispute between the Cluniacs from Santa María de Cruñego , from Villafranca, and the monks from Aurillac who ran the Cebreiro. Alfonso IX of León, Queen Urraca and Pope Urban II were involved in it. The cause was that the abbot of O Cebreiro built a church and a hospital for pilgrims in Pereje, a town that was within the Cluniac administration of Villafranca del Bierzo.
  • TRABADELO: At the entrance to Trabadelo you can already see the dense chestnut groves. During the autumn the collection of chestnuts is one of the largest and most fruitful activities of the residents. The municipality is made up of Trabadelo itself, Pereje, Moral de Valcarce, Parada de Soto, Pradela, San Fiz do Seo, Sotelo, Sotoparada and Villar de Corrales. It has hostels, several rural houses and bars.
  • LA PORTELA DE VALCARCE: The name alludes to the toll that travelers who crossed the valley had to pay to the feudal lords. In the year 1702, Alfonso VI tried to suppress it but it did not disappear until later years. The church of San Juan Bautista belongs to the popular Baroque style and dates from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is rectangular in plan, has a single nave and belfry. In the town, on the banks of the Valcarce River, there is still a 19th century blacksmith shop.
  • AMBASMESTAS: The church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen has a rectangular floor plan and a single nave and houses a Baroque altarpiece. A 19th century haystack has been preserved, on two levels and covered by flagstones.
  • VEGA DE VALCARCE: Vega de Valcarce is the largest town in the valley. The municipality comprises 23 towns, including Portela de Valcarce, Ambasmestas, Ruitelán, Herrerías, La Faba and Laguna de Castilla, also from Jacobeans. On a hill stands the castle of Sarracín, which is in ruins and dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. Attributed to the Knights Templar, it is possible that it was preceded by another defensive construction from the 10th century. The Church of La Magdalena, so present on the Camino, as patron saint of sinners and penitents, testifies to the pilgrimage characteristic of the town. The building brings together constructions and reforms from the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. It has a single nave, rectangular floor plan and a bell tower. Vega de Valcarce offers complete services for the pilgrim: bakery, grocery stores, ATMs and bars where they serve meals.
  • RUITELÁN: The parish church is consecrated to San Juan Bautista (13th to 17th centuries). At the foot of the mountain, on the outskirts of Ruitelán, is the chapel of San Froilán , where this hermit from Lugo (833-905) is said to have lived in retirement, who tamed a wolf when it attacked him and later became bishop of Lion. He is currently the employer of Lugo.
  • LAS HERRERÍAS: This small nucleus owes its name to the four smithies where iron and other metals were worked. Also in A Casa do Ferreiro you can see an old restored forge. As a continuation of Herrerías, the Hospital neighborhood takes its name from an old hospital created in 1178 for English pilgrims. The church of San Julián is Baroque from the 18th century.
  • LA FABA: The church of San Andrés , both Renaissance and Baroque, has a single nave in two sections and has a Baroque altarpiece.
  • LAGUNA DE CASTILLA: In the last town of Castilla y León we can see three granaries from the 19th century, although they are not very well preserved. Its plant is square, of the Asturian type. In the Teso de los Santos (marker 152.5), past La Laguna, there was a hermitage that marked the limit between León and Lugo.
  • O CEBREIRO: O Cebreiro is a parish of the Municipality of Pedrafita do Cebreiro. Does anyone remember the name of the port of Pedrafita in Lugo, the one that is covered with snow every winter and makes chains necessary? It is the same port that pilgrims ascend by paths. O Cebreiro is a stone town, probably of pre-Roman origin, and the gateway to Galicia through the province of Lugo. It is another of the mythical places on the Camino and crowns, at 1,300 meters above sea level, the Galician-Leonese massif. Everything in this place is magical and mysterious: the palozas, the wind, the fog. It is one of the first enclaves that welcomed pilgrims on their route to Santiago. The simple and primitive pre-Romanesque temple of Santa María la Real stands out, from the 9th and 10th centuries. To the right of the main altar is the chapel of the Holy Miracle, where the image of the Virgen de los Remedios (Santa María la Real) is located. On the altar lies the tomb of Don Elías Valiña, parish priest of O Cebreiro from 1959 until his death in 1989, tireless promoter of the Camino and creator of the yellow arrow. The town began to be restored in the mid-60s and so did the pallozas : old pre-Roman houses with a circular or oval plan made up of stone walls and a roof made of rye stalks. One of the pallozas houses an ethnographic museum. Rural houses, inns, bars, inns and souvenir shops have turned O Cebreiro into a theme park for highland towns.

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