Pilgrim of Saint James. Stage 6 – 109 Km.
From Tábara (Zamora) to Vilavella (Orense).
* Here we have 2 possible routes. For Ponferrada or for La Gudiña. We describe 1 of them.
Stage of the Way of Saint James in bike. Transition stage, from Granja de Moreruela to Foncebadon, for pilgrims wishing to link with the French Way to Santiago de Compostela. As a reference, we will move parallel to the N-630. The stage takes advantage of any path, path or track parallel to the National to avoid the asphalt and link the fertile populations of Santovenia del Esla, Villaveza del Agua and Barcial del Barco, where the octagonal tower of the church of Santa Marina stands out.
Except for the rise to the vicinity of the Rock (at 773 meters altitude) and the subsequent entry into Villabrázaro (which appears after passing a tunnel under the road), the next section always runs on asphalt. The road barely shows traffic and offers a comfortable ride between the farmlands irrigated by the Órbigo River and a Mediterranean forest that flanks us on the right.
In a natural way, we pass to a county road through which we will continue the next 8 km to Maire de Castroponce. We say goodbye to the province of Zamora and enter Leonese lands through the bridge of La Vizana, which unites (or separates, depending on how you look at it) both provinces. After a short detour, we immediately arrived at Alija del Infantado.
On the right, on a hill, the Pilgrim’s Cross reminds us that we are on the right path. After crossing a bridge over the Jamuz River, the track that runs parallel to this tributary of the Órbigo will accompany us for the next 11 km; always by the hand of the Jamuz, which flows to our left.
The track ends and slightly changes the [nice, although monotonous] script, forcing us to go around a row of trees and to continue straight ahead along a path marked by the constant passage of the pilgrims.
Like the entrance to La Bañeza, the exit from is perfectly signposted. So, we follow the yellow arrows to take the road that leads to Santiago de la Valduerna.
Due to the land consolidation, the Way progresses through a tangle of agricultural tracks, making these turns at right angles that can mislead us, so it is advisable to remain very attentive to arrive safely at the next location.
Not even a few kilometers along the N-VI tarnish a final day that tries not to step on the asphalt and, after Palacios de Valduerna, gives us a beautiful clay forest track surrounded by scrub, charas, and thyme.
The Roman bridge of Valimbre over the Turienzo river is the last Roman vestige that the pilgrim finds before entering Asturica Augusta. In Astorga, the end of our pilgrimage along the Vía de la Plata and the link with the French Way, 705 km from Seville are fulfilled.
The Cruz de Ferro is our first contact with the «high mountain», marked by the demanding slopes of O Cebreiro).
We leave the emblematic city of Astorga through its noble walls. With the focus in the Montes de León, the French Way goes through the Maragatería, a region inhabited by muleteers.
We descend gently to the height of Valdeviejas, where the hermitage of Ecce Homo, an 18th-century building, is located, completely restored in 2007. A walkway at the foot of the LE-142 leads us, after crossing the riverbed of the river Jerga, to Murias de Rechivaldo.
Ascending in a very extended way, we arrive at Santa Catalina de Somoza, which we cross through the Calle Real (coincidental, as in many other towns, with the pilgrimage tow). At the exit, we recover the walker that, again in an almost imperceptible ascent, brings us closer to the town of El Ganso. Here the same script waits for us: the monotony of the walker (that narrows in some sections and forces to continue on the asphalt).
From Astorga to Rabanal del Camino we will have climbed an altitude of 280 meters in 20 km, a very steep and almost imperceptible climb. From Rabanal to Foncebadón, we will climb another 280 meters in just 5 kilometers, a less bearable ascent but nothing demanding.
By bicycle, the guides recommend making the climb to Foncebadón entirely by the asphalt of the LE-142 road.
Previous edition was made by Ponferrada that we do not detail here to not extend.
Enjoy this Stage of the Way of Saint James in bike.