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From Melide to O Pedrouzo, Camino Primitivo, Stage no. 11

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Basic Details

  • Starting point: A town of Melide, a busy town brimming with pilgrims from March to November, since it is already on the last 100 kilometers of Camino Frances. Primitivo connects to the French way in the center of Melide, so from now on you will share your walk with the pilgrims who follow the French route. In Melide you will find over 10 pilgrim albergues (and new one opens every other year at least, since it is a lucrative business here). You will also encounter here  all possible services for pilgrims.
  • Ending pointO Pedrouzo, a village of roughly 900 inhabitants, the most typical last stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago, on both the Primitivo and French Camino. All services and endless accommodation options for pilgrims. It is located roughly 20 kilometers from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, which is a perfect walking distance for those who want to reach Santiago early the next day, and perhaps attend the pilgrim mass in the cathedral at noon.
  • Availability of alternative routes: Not really, but pilgrims on bicycles sometimes follow the EV3 cycling route from Melide to Arzua, to avoid the crowds on the Frances for at least half a day. In theory you can follow this way on foot too, I mapped it for you here, but you should know it is entirely on paved roads (with almost no traffic), and certainly isn’t nicer than the official Camino. Still, I wanted to share it here for people who find the number of pilgrims in Melide overwhelming, and want to escape the crowds for at least a bit longer. The cycling way adds 3.5 kilometers of extra distance to today’s stage.
  • Distance: Official camino route: 33.5km (download GPS here).
  • Link to online map: Official camino route: here.
  • Elevation difference: +713m, -865m.
  • Difficulty score: 3/5 (it is between 3/5 and 4/5, considering the distance, but the terrain isn’t technical or steep, that’s why I eventually opted for 3/5 score).
  • Beauty score: 3/5.
  • Terrain/asphalt: 30%/70%. At least slight improvement from the last 2 days, when you spent 90% of time walking on paved roads. Today, there is almost no traffic on the roads you follow, but you are sometimes close to national road N-547, and cross it a few times during the day. This road is busy with traffic.
  • Next stage: Camino Primitivo/Del Norte, Stage no. 12/31. O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela.
  • Previous stage: Camino Primitivo, Stage no. 10, Ferreira – Melide.

 

Elevation profile for the route


– A really nice profile awaits you today :). Endless small climbs followed by small descents. Nothing dramatic all day long, with the gradient of climb just rarely surpassing 4%, but you definitely won’t be bored on today’s stage, and the vertical meters eventually add up to over 700 meters–which isn’t a small number.

 

Advanced info about the stage

  • Trail marking: Practically spotless, and considering the number of pilgrims around, you may just follow the crowds, or see where the handkerchiefs are on the side of the route :). These are some tricks that will help you also on other frequented caminos and stages: If there is tree or bush that seems like a good spot to pee or wee (let alone a safe spot to defecate), just walk close and see if there are some paper towels or toilet paper, or even something worse near to that bush or three. If there isn’t anything, you are almost certainly on a wrong way ;).
  • Natural places worth seeing: Nothing worth a special mention really, but the first 10 kilometers after the town of Arzua, km 14 of today’s walk, will take you to some nice natural spots of relatively rural Galicia. Some tree tunnels, peaceful countryside (if you happen to be alone on the way today for one minute at least, which isn’t always easy from Melide onwards), and a nice undulating countryside of semi-rural Galicia.
  • Historical and architectural places worth seeing:
    • The church of St. Marry of Melide, located exactly here, right on the Camino. A beautiful Romanesque temple located on the outskirts of the town of Melide. Definitely worth observing the architecture and the work of the sculptors. Rarely open though…
    • The wall of wisdom, an interesting set of philosophical messages, in English and Spanish language, run by a philosopher and writer Bruno Lernout, who lives in the town of Arzua. An ideal place to stop, read the messages, and reflect on your Camino and what it has taught you. The messages are changed every two years. There is a good bar and an excellent albergue right next to the wall of wisdom as well. It is located right on the Camino.
    • Ermita de Santa Irene, A beautiful chapel dating back to 17th century, right on the Camino, exactly here.
  • Camping/bivouac options on this stage: On one hand, it is relatively tricky, considering how touristic the zone is due to the pilgrimage, the last 100 kilometers of the French way. On the other hand, police kind of tolerates people sleeping here and there, even on the streets of towns, since they are aware that the number of beds still isn’t sufficient for the number of pilgrims, especially in the summer months. What I try to say here is that why you may struggle finding a good spot, a place where you will enjoy some peace for the night, you can stay almost anywhere (unless it is a private property), and nobody will come to kick you out in the middle of the night. And if they come, you just say that you are a devoted pilgrim, and didn’t get a bed in any of the albergues. End of the story. Surprisingly, there is one organized (paid) camping place in the zone:
    • Teiraboa basecamp, right on the Camino, just before Arzua. Dog friendly (you pay 4 euro extra for the dog), decent prices, frequented by pilgrims including big groups of Spanish students. The location isn’t great, but for this zone and everything, it is good enough for one night. However, you should not count 100% on encountering a place here during the high season of the pilgrimage–better call them in advance. You can pitch your own tent or use one of the tents/cabins the camping has in place–which is a trend nowadays in all camping places around Europe–you come to a camping, but you do not need a tent anymore…
  • Dog friendly score: 3/5. It isn’t very common seeing pilgrims with dogs on the last 100 kilometers of the way, but in all honesty this stage isn’t too bad for dogs. Unless your dog hates people, but such dogs probably do not exist in the world :). Anyway, you have plenty of shade, some water fountains, and also cross a few rivers/creeks on your way, for the dog to cool down. You will also find a few pilgrim hostels that accept dogs in O Pedrouzo, for example Albergue Otero, location on Google maps here.
  • Special remarks: None.

 

Pictures from the stage

– Surprisingly enough, even today you can meet some free roaming dogs on your walk. But they are accustomed to pilgrims and won’t bother you :).

– Guides leading an organized group of pilgrims, on their 100 km walk on Camino Frances. You may not know this, but there are many ways of doing the pilgrimage, including an all-inclusive journey with support vans (that will take you in if you do not feel like walking any longer), guides, and nights spent in five stars hotels with spa.

Heaps of manure can turn into a beautiful picture once the lighting is right, and you are present on the way, in your mind :).

Few tips at the end

  • Once you’re on the last 100 km of Camino Frances, you do not have to worry about lack of infrastructure. If the 33 kilometers seems to much to you, or you simply feel like spending one day longer on your Camino, you can stop for the night either in Arzua, or in one of the small hamlets later on. Just make sure to make a reservation (or at least calling in the morning while taking a break in your walk), because on Camino Frances it can happen that everything is booked out
  • Some pilgrims get pretty negative on this last stretch, seeing the big groups of pilgrims making too much noise, walking with miniature backpacks, having guides, etc. However, this is also a part of the Camino, and we should respect it. You cannot control what happens on this last stretch of your pilgrimage (and sometimes it can really be rough, with so many people, lack of beds, too much noise), but you can control how you react to it. Keep it on your mind and try to enjoy the way, the last days of your Camino Primitivo!

 

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