From Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. 10 stages. 263 km. It links the last two stages with the Camino Sanabrés.
Ponferrada is the starting point of the Winter Way, which runs through the valley of the River Sil as a natural entrance to Galicia over the centuries. With its 10 stages and its 263 kilometers, it is a great variant of the French Way that avoids the summits of Cebreiro and, therefore, was more accessible to pilgrims who, since the Middle Ages, decided to do the Camino de Santiago in winter.
The Winter Way is less crowded than other itineraries, which guarantees a more solitary and calm walk. It does, of course, have good signage and a network of hostels and accommodations in the towns at the end of the stage. The Winter Way crosses territories of singular character such as the region of El Bierzo (León), where the pilgrim can enjoy a walk through the famous Médulas; and already in Galicia for the region of Valdeorras (Ourense) and the Ribeira Sacra (which includes the banks of the Sil and the Miño), known for their spectacular landscapes full of vineyards; and the Deza region already in Pontevedra.
The Winter Way has its starting point in the Templar town of Ponferrada, in the Bierzo region.
It is the natural alternative to the French Way, especially popular during the winter, since it avoids the snowy peaks of Cebreiro, almost impracticable in the coldest months of the year, and the frequent overflows of the rivers of the Valcarce valley.
The Jacobean Route emerged in the Middle Ages through an ancient Roman road as a historical alternative to access Galician lands in a more affordable way. This Jacobean Route is a good option for the rainy and snowy season, although more and more pilgrims choose it during spring and summer for its lush vegetation and green panoramic views.
Ten stages to Santiago
The Winter Way runs for 263 kilometers through the valley of the river Sil. It is a beautiful itinerary, full of nature and attractive landscapes, which the pilgrim usually does in 10 or 11 stages.
It is usually less crowded than other Jacobean itineraries, which guarantees a more solitary and calm walk. It does, of course, have good signage and a network of hostels and accommodations in the towns at the end of the stage.
The Winter Way crosses territories of unique character such as the El Bierzo region (León), where pilgrims can enjoy a walk through the famous Médulas, an exceptional cultural and natural landscape formed after the Roman exploitation of gold mines.
Already in Galicia, the Camino de Santiago de Invierno crosses the four Galician provinces, starting with the region of Valdeorras (Ourense) and the Ribeira Sacra (which includes the banks of the Sil and the Miño), known for their spectacular landscapes full of vineyards and the spectacular landscapes of the Canyons of Sil. The final section of the Camino de Invierno runs through the Deza region, already in Pontevedra, to connect in the province of A Coruña with the last two stages of the Camino Sanabrés or Vía de la Plata.
Cities like Ponferrada or Monforte
In addition to its impressive landscapes, the Winter Road passes through cities full of history such as Ponferrada. Before leaving, the pilgrim will be able to surround himself in Ponferrada with the Templar past, visiting its castle and its well-cared old area.
In Galicia, Monforte de Lemos stands as the main town on this Winter Way. With a great railway tradition, Monforte has a rich cultural heritage that well deserves a stop on the Camino. The School of the Piarist Fathers, the convent of the Poor Clares or the current Parador are some of the many attractions it offers.
How to get to the starting point
These are the alternatives to go to Ponferrada, the starting town of the Winter Way:
- How to get to Ponferrada by train: From Madrid there are two lines to Ponferrada, leaving from the Chamartín station. They are the "Regional" and the Atlantic "train, with prices and schedules to consult in Renfe (Tlf: 902 240 202).
- How to get to Ponferrada by bus: The Ponferrada bus station receives daily lines from different parts of the peninsula. They can be consulted on the phone +34 987 401 065. Many connections are also made from the León station (+34 987 211 000).
- How to get to Ponferrada by car: From León to Ponferrada there are 114 kilometers, in a journey by car lasting one hour and a quarter, which circulates partly on the A-6 and the AP-71, passing through Astorga. From Madrid to Ponferrada there are 390 kilometers, which are solved in 3 hours and 40 minutes, on the A-6.
- How to get to Ponferrada by plane: The closest airport to Ponferrada is León , which receives daily flights from Madrid and Barcelona. From there you would have to take a taxi to the center (about 14 euros) and another means of transport to Ponferrada.
Credits: The Camino de Santiago with Correos