General Description: The Camino del Salvador, about 120 kms in length, connects the northern Spanish cities of León and Oviedo. It covers an ancient route reflecting the fact that during the Moorish occupation of Spain, many holy relics from the south were carried north to Oviedo for safety. As the pilgrimage route to Santiago became more popular, pilgrims were encouraged to first visit the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo before continuing on to Santiago, frequently on the Camino primitivo, which begins in Oviedo. There are many good reasons to walk this Camino. It avoids the overcrowded second half of the Camino francés. It allows you to visit the beautiful city of Oviedo. And the scenery is some of the most spectacular in Spain. Due to its history the route is generally described in a south to north direction.
Waymarking: In recent years, waymarking on the Camino del Salvador has improved tremendously. From León to Poladura de la Tercia, the route is marked with wooden posts decorated with stick figure pilgrims. From Poladura to Santa Maria del Arbas, the most remote part of the route, an Asturian “Camino Angel” named Ender has made numerous metal yellow arrows and conch shells, posted on metal stakes about 3 ft high. They are so frequent that it is not much of an exaggeration to say that you can see the next arrow before leaving the one you are standing next to. From Santa María del Arbas to Oviedo, the traditional conch shell ceramic markers predominate.
Terrain: From León to Buiza, the Camino mainly parallels the Río Bernesga. It then climbs over two ridges of the Picos de Europa, reaching nearly 1600 m at the highest point. From there, the Camino follows a mountain valley to the town of Campomanes. After the city of Mieres, the Camino climbs the hills outside of Oviedo and enters the town’s historic center.
When to go: Weather in the province of León can be very hot in July and August, but many pilgrims walk this route at that time. May and June are ideal. Winter months and even as late as April or early May are not recommended because of the likelihood of snow in the passes. Climate tables for León and Santander.
Accommodation: With a total of eight albergues (León, Cabanillas, La Robla, Buiza, Poladura de la Tercia, town of Pajares, Pola de Lena, Mieres and Oviedo), pilgrims need not worry about accommodation. Private lodging is also available in many of the larger towns.
Guidebooks: TThe Confraternity of St. James publishes an online guidebook (2013, donation requested upon downloading). In addition, an excellent Spanish guide has been translated into English and is available from the Asociación Camino de Santiago Ruta de San Salvador. Good information is also available on the website of the Asociación Astur-Leonesa de Amigos del Camino de Santiago. All of these resources suggest stages, list the towns in between, describe accommodation and show elevation gains.
Internet links: Good information is available from the websites of the Asociación Astur-Leonesa de Amigos del Camino de Santiago and the Asociación Camino de Santiago Ruta de San Salvador. Laurie Reynolds has made available an album of pictures from the Salvador from June 2012. The active Camino de Santiago forum has a segment dedicated to the Salvador:
Other remarks: The Camino del Salvador has its own credential, available at the albergue in León. Upon completion in Oviedo, a Salvadorana (certificate analogous to the Compostela) is available in the Oviedo albergue. This is a beautiful route, well- marked and scenic. The 24 kms between Buiza and the town of Pajares pass through the mountainous Picos de Europa are some of the prettiest and most spectacular of any Camino. This Camino is still relative un-traveled, though in the summer of 2013, reports of four to five pilgrims a night in the albergues suggested that it is no longer a completely solitary walk.