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First Week: Oviedo to Grandas de Salime

San Salvador Cathedral in Oviedo
San Salvador Cathedral in Oviedo

The first week on the Primitivo brings out the best this Camino has to offer. Starting from King Alfonso II's royal city of Oviedo, the trail climbs into the hills and away from the industrialization of the Eastern Asturias. It's farm country and small towns almost all the way to Santiago, with the most intense use of the land between Oviedo and the Galician border.

The Confraternity's Guide to the Primitivo suggests you start out at Villaviciosa, East of Oviedo. This allows a visit to the great Cistercian Monastery at Valdedios, as well as Alfonso III's little chapel "El Conventín" nearby at Priesca. From there, however, as you approach Oviedo, the terrain becomes progressively more urbanized, more industrialized, and less attractive. As a simple time and effort-saving alternative, a little research with a map and with the Alsa bus schedules will show that you can stay in Oviedo and visit both monument sites on a day trip.

I suggest the following stages for the first week. It avoids the State-supported Albergues de Peregrinos in San Juan de Villapañada, Salas, and Borres, but optimizes your access to food and lodging.

Stage Distance Time required
Oviedo to Grado 24.6 km About 7½ hours
Grado to Cornellana 11 km 3-4 hours
Cornellana through Salas to Bodenaya 18 km About 6 hours
Bodenaya to Tineo 11.2 km 6 hours
Tineo to Campiello 12.3 km 5-6 hours
Campiello to Berducedo About 28 km All day
Berducedo to Grandas de Salime 25.9 km 6-7 hours

Individual stage pages hereafter provide explanations of these choices, and indications of what to expect.

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