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Camino Invierno - The Winter Way

Camino Invierno - The Winter Way

The Winter Way is an alternative to the Galician section of the Camino Frances. Traditionally, it’s the way pilgrims walked to avoid Galicia’s Os Ancares mountains, which can be impassable with snow. A tranquil and lesser-known walk thru’ a magical land.

Overview

The Camino Invierno is the traditional way to Santiago de Compostela for pilgrims arriving in the late Autumn and winter. The Os Ancares mountains are the great divide between Castille-Leon and Galicia which can often become snowbound during the winter months.

So the Camino Invierno, the "Winter Way" was used - leading travellers around the snow-capped peaks of Cebreiro. It meets up with the last few miles of the Via de la Plata Sanabres to arrive by way of the most attractive approach to the great city, where you pass through the last remaining ancient pilgrim gate.

Despite its title, the best times for this Camino are Spring and Autumn when the terraced vineyards are at their most spectacular with radiant colours.

It's also recommended throughout the summer months when the Camino Frances becomes very busy.

Itinerary

Two weeks from Ponferrada

  • Ponferrada - 17 miles / 27 km to
  • Las Medulas - 16 miles / 25 miles to
  • O Barco de Valdeorras - 16.5 miles / 26.5 km to
  • O Rua de Valdeorras - 9 miles / 14 km to
  • Quiroga - 16 miles / 26 km to
  • A Labrada - 10 miles / 15 km to
  • Monforte de Lemos - 10.5 miles / 18 km to
  • Vilarino - 8 miles / 13 km to
  • Chantada - 16 miles / 26 km to
  • Rodeiro - 16 miles / 26 km to
  • Bergazos - 12 miles / 19 km to
  • Bandeira - 12 miles / 19 km to
  • Vedra - 8.5 miles / 13.5 km to
  • Santiago de Compostela

One week from Monforte de Lemos

  • Monforte de Lemos - 10.5 miles / 18 km to
  • Vilarino - 8 miles / 13 km to
  • Chantada - 16 miles / 26 km to
  • Rodeiro - 16 miles / 26 km to
  • Bergazos - 12 miles / 19 km to
  • Bandeira - 12 miles / 19 km to
  • Vedra - 8.5 miles / 13.5 km to
  • Santiago de Compostela

Highlights

The Winter Road shadows the natural channel that marks the Sil River, this is a historic path that links Galicia with the Castilian-Leonese plain. The route has been used throughout history, from the Romans, Napoleon's troops and the first railway line to enter Galicia from Palencia.

There are two particular highlights to look forward to on the Winter Way. The route crosses the archaeological park of Las Médulas, declared World Heritage site.

You will also cross a large part of the Ribeira Sacra, dotted with the largest number of Galician Romanesque churches, many of them located in the impressive canyons of the River Sil and the slopes of the Miño river. This region produces excellent wines grown on vertiginous terraces.

Las Medulas

Once you've left Ponferrada, the way continues on a gentle ascent towards Las Médulas, passing through small settlements.

Las Médulas is a place to pause a while and wonder at the spectacular archaeological structures made by Roman gold miners and has Unesco World Heritage status.

There is a visitor centre in Puente de Domingo Flórez demonstrating how the Romans used water pressure to extract huge amounts of gold. They used more than 100 km of channels to drive water to Las Medulas and wash away the soil and expose the gold deposits.

La Medulas - Rock Formations Created By The Romans as they Mined for Gold

Romanesque Architecture

There are many Romanesque bridges and chapels dotted through the countryside along the way.

Romanesque Chapel on the Ribeira Sacra

Ribeira Sacra

Drop into the Bodgea Via Romanawinery on the way to Chantada. Apart from visiting the tiny historic churches dotted along the way, one experience a pilgrim should not overlook is the chance to visit an excellent winery and sample the wonderful Ribeira Sacra wine.

The Via Romana winery beautifully represents the life and history of the area, in an idyllic setting just outside Chantasa. This is a lovely place for a weary pilgrim to stop, catch his breath and sample the delicious wine in the very land where it was made.

La Ribeira Sacra is one of Spain's least known areas. Its rivers, the Miño and Sil, have carved the landscape into deep canyons, thick with forests that hide medieval monasteries & tiny ancient churches. It's a spiritual place where it's not too hard to imagine yourself a medieval pilgrim. Wine is the area's number one export. The valley slopes are lined with ancient terraces of vines. You can take a mesmerising trip down the rivers from one of the catamaran stations in Monforte or Chantada and really admire this surprising landscape.

The Vineyards of Via Romana

Food & Drink

For any traveller on the Camino, nourishment and refreshment is an important part of the daily routine. There are many places to enjoy good local dishes to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. We also aim to cater for those with particular dietary needs.

Breakfast
Where available we always order a full breakfast spread for our clients. But it does vary between establishments. Whether you have a light or substantial offering, you can always top up mid-morning at cafe bars along the route. The Spanish habit is to have breakfast between 10 and 11 when cafes and bars fill with locals having their "desayuno".

Lunches
Lunches on the Camino are often taken as picnics, and most places have local shops selling items of fresh local produce to purchased each morning before you set out on the trail. Certain lodgings will offer pre-ordered packed lunches. Or check your guide and plan to stop off in a cafe-bar or restaurant on the Way.

Dinner
Spanish people tend to have dinner from 9 pm. But on the Camino, dinner is usually served from 8 pm — so do take advantage of the habitual afternoon "merienda" to keep you going, once you have arrived at your daily destination. That could be cold beer "cerveza" and tapas or coffee and cake.

Hydration
Hydration is essential — carry between 1.5 and 3l of drinking water, depending on the season, temperatures and distance you plan to cover. Keep a sugary and salty snack handy in your pocket or daypack - this will give you that little extra burst of energy to keep you going.

Mid morning/afternoon snacks known as "merienda" are the perfect way to sustain yourself on the Way. Especially if you are not used to the later meal times which are the norm across Spain. It is customary for Spanish people to have a mid-morning stop for breakfast and late afternoon for a bite to keep them going until the traditional late dinner.

Ribeira Sacra Wine

The interior of Galicia has a system of two mighty rivers the Miño and the Sil. Both formed a landscape of abrupt canyons mixed with native forests and Mediterranean species, due to its particular microclimate. This has made vine cultivation very successful, despite the need to plant vines on narrow hand-built terraces that seem to defy gravity.

In Monforte de Lemos you might like to visit the Viña da Ribeira Sacra Interpretation Center.
Set in a historic building, the centre shares all the secrets of local wine production. There are audiovisual presentations, photography, sculpture and painting all brought together to showcase the diversity and richness of the Ribeira Sacra.

Galician Gastronomy

In Galicia, fish and seafood are the stand-out stars of the show. Locally sourced from the hundreds of miles of coastline, river estuaries by local fishermen - you will not find better seafood anywhere in the world. And the variety is astonishing. Prized above all are the goose-necked barnacles - percebes, crabs, lobsters, clams and mussels - they are all simply, beautifully and freshly prepared. Galician fish stews are superb and the iconic Pulpo Gallego - paprika spiced octopus - is truly delicious.

Then, of course, we can talk about the world-class beef, pork and dairy herds that bring such breadth to the menu - succulent cuts of local beef and pork prepared by masterly chefs following both traditional and avant-garde culinary styles.

Vegetarian and vegan guests are also catered for in a region that highly values growing much of its delicious vegetables.

All of this is accompanied by a wide range of local wines, beers and ciders.

Accommodation

Hand-picked comfortable, small establishments with high levels of personal service. We believe that our high level of personal service and customer care offers the best in the local food, culture and history.

Hand-picked and personally well known to us, we prefer to choose comfortable, small, family-run establishments on the Camino. Your accommodation will include a variety of family run traditional farmhouses, historic homes, and two and three-star hotels. All rooms have en-suite facilities.

Upgrades

If your budget allows, we can suggest some superb accommodation upgrades, as we often work with the top-end establishments on the Camino. Some of these require a short transfer off-route. We think you'll find them very charming and comfortable.

We provide secure luggage transfers and move your piece of baggage from one accommodation to the next as you walk. This daily service is organised so that all you have to worry about is carrying a day sack with your essential items.

Hostal Medievo - a 2-star standard hotel with wonderful views of one of Monforte de Lemos' landmark buildings.

The Hostal is located in Monforte's historic centre. Comfortable, traditionally furnished bedrooms, the hotel also has a bar and cafe. Well located for exploring the old town with plenty of restaurants and markets nearby.

Monforte is the perfect example of a medieval city-fortress. Located on the hilltop, the city was built around a monastery and a castle, surrounded by a defensive wall. Large sections of these walls are still preserved as are three city gateways and three towers. You can visit the Torre del Homenaje.

Monforte de Lemos has a fine historic centre

Getting To & From The Camino Invierno

Fly into Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, A Coruna which are the local airports.

Intercontinental flights into Madrid then transfer by rail to Ponferrada or Monforte de Lemos

Transfers to the Camino available from airports by train bus or private transfers.

We do not sell flights but we can advise. We can arrange local transfers in Spain.

Map

About Us

WalkTheCamino.com is the Camino de Santiago website for Walk the Camino, a specialist organiser of tailor-made walks and tours on the Camino de Santiago and other parts of Spain.

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