Colombres – Pimiango – Colombres, Camino del Norte, Alternative Route (Stage 13)




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– Map of the alternative circuit, where you can see some of the most beautiful locations on the entire Camino del Norte. Link to online map here.


Basic Details

  • Starting point: The city center of Colombres.
  • Ending point: The city center of Colombres (it is a circuit, but you can alternatively continue to La Franca (+1 km) or to Pendueles (+8 km), and stay in one of the pilgrim hostels there, instead of returning to Colombres).
  • Availability of alternative routes: This is an alternative route.
  • Distance: 12 km (download GPS here)
  • Elevation difference: +350m, -350m
  • Link to online map: here.
  • Difficulty score: 2/5
  • Beauty score: 5/5.
  • Terrain/asphalt: 40%/60%.


Elevation profile for the route

– It is quite eventful, firstly going down from Colombres, then up to Pimiango, then down to the coast then up again, down again, and eventually up again to Colombres. Some of the ascends and descends are quite steep too (with a gradient over 15%), but it is all worth it for the places you will have a chance to visit on your way…


Advanced info about the stage

  • Trail marking: This isn’t an official alternative route for Camino de Santiago, though 30 years ago the official Camino actually followed this coastal variant, instead of the path it follows nowadays. However, the biggest part of the walk belongs to E9 long distance hiking path, and hence it sparsely marked with red and white stripes. The marking isn’t stellar but it isn’t bad either. If you’re not sure, you can always download our GPS file for the walk, and follow it on your favorite device.
  • Natural places worth seeing: Most of this stage is a natural paradise really, even if you just follow the trail. But there are a few detours worth making, and points to stop at, so let me give you some hints:
    • The scenic viewpoint “Mirador km 3“: Right on the trail, fantastic view, great bench to sit on and mediate on the endlessness of the Atlantic ocean.
    • The cliffs of San Emeterio: Easily one of the top spots you will see on the entire Camino and beyond. Known only by locals, and accessible by a small trail, the views of the caves in the cliffs and the pristine waters are simply breath-taking. It is bit outside of the path (roughly 300 meters detour), and to find it you should follow the following way from the Church of San Emeterio: route to the cliffs. Please note this is a small trail and can sometimes be slightly overgrown, so you may need a bit of patience to find it, but once you do find it it is really worth it. Even the way to the cliffs is beautiful, passing through lush forest dominated by old cork oak trees.
    • Mirador de Pimiango: Right on the trail, a well-known viewpoint, and a typical place for people in caravans to spend a night while passing through this part of the coast. The viewpoint is special because from the same point you can see the Atlantic ocean at one side, and the highest peaks of Picos de Europa on the other. See a short video below to get some idea of the zone:

  • Historical, architectural, and culinary places worth seeing: 
    • Ruins of the monastery of Santa Maria de Tina: a magical place dating back to 11th century, located in pristine nature. Right on the trail. See gallery below for some pictures.
    • Ermita de San Emeterio: The originally gothic church (from 12th century), right on the trail. There is a small altar on the other side of the meadow, also devoted to Saint Emeterio, definitely worth seeing as well.
    • Cueva del Pindal – A cave with paintings 12,000 years old. Can be visited from Wednesday to Sunday, only with a guide. In the summer season reservations are needed, outside of July-mid September period, you can sometimes get the ticket in the center of interpretation, next to the parking place. For more information visit the website of the cave (there is a phone number you can call to make a reservation or get more information).
  • Camping/bivouac options on this stage: Very easy, you can find many hidden spots to pitch a tent, amid the cork trees on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. Some of the recommended spots are next to the cliffs here (enough flat ground and the place is well protected from the eyes of the occassional passersby on the trail), or here. For bivouac, you can sleep under then porch of the church of San Emeterio, or even better under the protected roof of the small altar, located on the opposide side of the meadow where the church is. The second place has a more even ground, but it is fitting for one person only. If you prefer company for the night, then your best pick is the viewpoint of Pimiango, where you will find some autocaravans on any summer night.
  • Dog friendly score: 4/5, great for dogs, they will love this walk, perhaps except of some asphalt parts. You cross fresh water several times, so the dog can cool down and drink. In Colombres you will also find dog-friendly accommodation options.
  • Special remarks: Please note that you do not have to do it from Colombres to Colombres. You can also leave the Camino in Bustio, do the path, and continue straight on to La Franca or to one of the villages further down the road, where you will find pilgrim hostels and other accommodation options. Walking from Colombres to Colombres is just one of the options how to follow this wonderful path on the coast.


Pictures from the stage

– The coastal part of the walk belongs to E9 long distance hiking path (that goes all across Europe), and is sparsely marked with huge stone markers like the one you can see on the picture. It shows km 1 simply because the province of Asturias has also marked it as a separate hike, from Bustio to Pendueles.

– Scenic viewpoint “Mirador Km 3“, just one of several great view points you will pass on today’s walk. One of the locals of the village of Pimiango maintains a small succulent garden right on the viewpoint. With a bench and a great place to relax overall, it will easily become one of the favorite spots of your camino.

– View from the scenic viewpoint on the picture above. You can see the ruins of the monastery of Santa Maria de Tina below, a location you will also pass on your walk today.

– Ruins of the monastery “Monasterio de Santa Maria de Tina“.  There is a special place inside where pilgrims and other people leave their messages to “God”, asking for good health or for any other desire of their heart.

If you find any information on this page incorrect or outdated, or have a suggestion how to improve it for fellow pilgrims, please let us know. Thank you for helping the pilgrim community, and buen Camino 🙂

– Church of San Emeterio (Ermita de San Emeterio), situated in a beautiful location at the edge of the ocean. They open the church just rarely, for example for the yearly festivities of the local village Pimiango, when they typically organize a classical music concerts inside. Hence you’ll have to be really lucky to get in.

– Another look at the church.

– An unforgettable view from Cueva del Pindal, with an Eastern orientation and actually a good place to watch a sunrise. It is 100 meters detour from the trail, well marked and well-worth making.


Few tips at the end

  • Camino de Santiago shouldn’t be only about rushing to Santiago, blindly following the path marked by Spanish authorities, who often follow political and other goals when deciding where to take the pilgrims. The most beautiful parts of the northern coast are often outside of the official Camino, and this coastal path definitely belongs to the most beautiful sections of the coast. Hence if you aren’t in rush, I highly suggest you to take it.


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