Spain C2C part 3 – Astorga to Leon – Camino Frances – 54km, 1 day.
This was the shortest section of the route and also the part I liked least. The Camino Frances is the main route to Santiago de Compostella and is used by massive numbers of pilgrims. Between Astorga and Leon the path runs directly alongside a busy road and is completely devoid of redeeming features. It is very narrow and we rode this in the ‘wrong’ direction, ie west to east away from Santiago de Compostella. The second day we spent travelling it (it took two half days combined) consisted of riding for a few metres before constantly having to stop to let someone pass. (The photos below are all taken fairly late on the first evening after all the other pilgrims had stopped for the night. I didn’t take any next day as it was too busy and stressful).
We spent one night in a hostel along the way but this was packed to the rafters reminiscent of a cattle truck. Coaches disgorged hoardes of ‘pilgrims’ to walk a short distance along the camino before being scooped up again. Shops along the way sold nothing but camino souveniers and tourist tat and I felt like a commodity to be exploited. I did not like the Camino Frances – perhaps you can tell?
The Camino Frances does have some cool bridges – I will give it that though.
…like this old beauty – it is not hard to imagine pilgrims of old crossing it.
All the fun of riding alongside a busy road with trucks thundering past.
I was immensely relieved when we reached Leon and could turn north and leave the Camino Frances behind. Here is Leon cathedral – just to prove that we were there.