Camino Francés: Castrojeriz to Frómista - Stage 15

hikers ascent to the Alto Mostelares with Castrojeriz distance below, Northern Spain
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Simon Kemp Camino de Santiago author

By: Simon Kemp, Editor

The Castrojeriz to Frómista stage of the Camino Francés is a 24.5-kilometer (15.2-mile) journey. The route begins in Castrojeriz, a village with a rich history, and involves a descent followed by a challenging climb to Alto Mostelares, providing panoramic views of the arid plains.

After crossing the Pisuerga River, you’ll reach Itero de la Vega, a rustic village known for its warm hospitality. The next segment takes you through the heart of Spain’s grain belt, featuring wide-open landscapes and golden wheat fields, until you reach Boadilla del Camino, a village with Templar history and medieval charm.

The final stretch runs alongside the Canal de Castilla, an impressive 18th-century engineering feat, leading you to Frómista, known for its stunning Church of San Martin, an exemplary Romanesque structure. The terrain is mostly flat, with the initial descent and ascent being the main challenges.

Rest stops are available in Itero de la Vega and Boadilla del Camino, while Frómista offers various amenities for pilgrims. Frómista itself is a historically significant town along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, boasting architectural marvels, cultural traditions, and natural beauty.

Castrojeriz to Frómista Route Description

The Castrojeriz to Frómista stage of the Camino Francés is approximately 24.5 kilometers (around 15.2 miles) long.

A. Detailed Breakdown of the Route

  1. Castrojeriz to Itero de la Vega (12 km) Start your journey in Castrojeriz, a village teeming with history and charm. Upon leaving, you’ll face a steady descent before tackling the most significant climb of the day, the Alto Mostelares. Standing as the highest point of the Meseta, it provides a panoramic view over the arid plains, offering a perfect spot for contemplation. Continue downhill to cross the Pisuerga River, marking your entry into the Palencia province. Your destination, Itero de la Vega, is a quaint, rustic village with warm hospitality.
  2. Itero de la Vega to Boadilla del Camino (6.5 km) This segment features an easy stroll through the Tierra de Campos, the heart of Spain’s grain belt. Enjoy the wide-open landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see, with golden wheat fields under the azure sky. Arrive in Boadilla del Camino, a village that boasts significant Templar history and a well-preserved medieval charm.
  3. Boadilla del Camino to Frómista (6 km) The final stretch of this stage runs alongside the Canal de Castilla, an impressive testament to 18th-century engineering efforts. The serene atmosphere and the gentle murmuring of the canal make for a tranquil walk. End your day in Frómista, a village renowned for the Church of San Martin, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture.

B. Terrain and Elevation

The day begins with a significant descent from Castrojeriz and a subsequent ascent to the Alto Mostelares, which can be demanding. However, the majority of the terrain is flat, with well-trodden dirt paths and minor roads. The final stretch along the Canal de Castilla provides a pleasant, flat walk into Frómista.

C. Points of Interest

  1. Alto Mostelares: This high point offers breathtaking panoramic views over the Meseta, a memorable sight on your Camino journey.
  2. Itero de la Vega: This rustic village is home to the Church of San Pedro, a Romanesque gem housing a 13th-century statue of the Virgen de la Piedra.
  3. Canal de Castilla: An impressive piece of 18th-century engineering, the canal stretches over 200 kilometers with charming lock gates. Walking alongside it offers a peaceful conclusion to the stage.
  4. Church of San Martin, Frómista: This 11th-century Romanesque church boasts intricate sculptural details and is one of Palencia’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture.

D. Potential Challenges

The main challenges on this stage are the initial descent from Castrojeriz and the ascent to the Alto Mostelares, which may strain knees and stamina. Additionally, during the summer, the open landscapes of the Meseta can bring intense heat. Ensure you have adequate sun protection and hydration.

E. Rest Stops

The villages of Itero de la Vega and Boadilla del Camino offer ideal rest stops, each with facilities for pilgrims. Frómista, the final stop, has an array of amenities, including albergues, cafes, restaurants, and a supermarket.

This stage allows you to journey through Spain’s historic grain belt, alongside an 18th-century canal, and into a village with striking Romanesque architecture. Buen camino!

Departure point: Castrojeriz

Welcome to Castrojeriz, an enchanting town nestled in the heart of the Spanish countryside where history, natural beauty, and spirituality intertwine.

Location and Historical Significance

Situated in the province of Burgos, Castrojeriz enjoys a picturesque location on a hill overlooking the expansive plains of Castilla y León. This town has a fascinating past, with archaeological evidence indicating settlements dating back to ancient times.

Architectural Marvels

Castrojeriz boasts an impressive architectural heritage that speaks volumes about its historical significance. The Iglesia de Santa María del Manzano, a remarkable Gothic church from the 13th century, stands as a testament to the town’s religious devotion. Its intricate stone carvings and majestic spires evoke a sense of wonder.

Another notable landmark is the Castillo de Castrojeriz, a medieval fortress that once played a crucial role in protecting the town. The ruins of this castle offer glimpses into its storied past and offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Natural Splendor

Nestled amidst rolling hills and fertile farmland, Castrojeriz enchants visitors with its natural beauty. Expansive fields adorned with vibrant wildflowers create a stunning backdrop for leisurely walks and moments of serenity. The nearby Monte de Mostelares beckons adventurers with its captivating landscapes and sweeping vistas.

Pilgrim’s Haven

As an important stop along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, Castrojeriz has long been a sanctuary for pilgrims on their spiritual journey. Albergues (hostels) provide pilgrims with comfortable accommodations, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. The town’s restaurants and cafes offer nourishing meals, allowing pilgrims to recharge and share stories.

Cultural Traditions

Castrojeriz proudly celebrates its rich cultural traditions, which come alive during vibrant festivals and events. The Festival de la Cruz, held in May, fills the town with colors, music, and traditional dances, paying homage to the Christian cross and showcasing the community’s deep-rooted customs.

Gastronomic Delights

Castrojeriz entices food enthusiasts with its culinary treasures. Indulge in the succulent flavors of lechazo asado, tender roast lamb infused with aromatic herbs, or relish the robust migas, a dish made with breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil. Accompany your meal with a glass of renowned Ribera del Duero wine, crafted from grapes grown in the surrounding vineyards.

Conclusion

Castrojeriz invites you to embark on a remarkable journey of discovery. Immerse yourself in its architectural wonders, embrace the serene landscapes, and absorb the spirit of the Camino de Santiago. Let this captivating town be your gateway to unforgettable experiences, where the past blends seamlessly with natural beauty and the warmth of the community.

Camino Frances Diary: Route segment: 15

Thursday 12th October 2000

Thank goodness it is not raining today. It often rains in Galicia when I’m walking the Camino Frances. I start off with Thierry but he wants to walk fast and soon leaves me behind. The sun behind us is illuminating a large hill in front of us and I will have to walk over this hill today. It is a steep ascent and although it is not raining now, it was here yesterday and the soil is still damp so I start to pick up a load of soil on my boots again.

Castrojeriz to Frómista Medieval Bridge
The The Medieval Fitero bridge over the Rio Pisuerga, Burgos Province, Northern Spain

The clouds are strange here today and there is a very eerie feel to the hill. Like yesterday, there are a lot of stone piles here and at the summit I try to take a panoramic shot of the surroundings. But it has become misty and the photographs do not come out well.

Today will be a special day but I do not know that yet. Margaux and Ophelia come rushing up behind me and then race ahead so that I am alone again. The road crosses over the river Rio Pisuerga and there is a famous stone bridge over it.

Eventually I reach the village of “Itero la Vega” and it seems a dead place. There is a village square but the trees
here have no leaves on them. I will come across another similar village square in Frómista but the trees there will be covered in leaves:-

castrojeriz to frómista
The strange village square
Castrojeriz to Frómista Town Square
The village square in Frómista

The village although populated seems unfriendly and I move on to cross over the range of hills, Alto Del Paso Largo. There is no one in sight for miles ahead or miles behind. I have had a number of powerful and clear dreams at refuges on this walk but today I have a very powerful vision and it is so strong that I nearly fall over.

Basically I experience an overpowering feeling that everything I see around me is an illusion. There is a basic premise in Buddhist teachings that this is the world of illusion. Although I have meditated on it before, when I was a practicing Buddhist, it has never hit me with such force before and it leaves me with more questions than answers. The best way I can explain it is by comparing it to being immersed in a virtual reality apparatus.

The images and sensations that you feel come from a computer simulation. Depending on the quality and
processing power of the simulator, the simulation will be more or less believable. This simulation I felt would have to be the best simulation there can be and it would take infinite processing power to generate it.

I have no trouble accepting that the real me is probably a being of unknown form wearing some fantastic apparatus which allows me to experience this universe. What lies behind the eyes of people who look at me is normally called the soul but I get the feeling that I am actually interacting with my fellow beings through the simulation.

I believe that but it immediately raised the question in my mind of what I really look like and what is the true reality. I seem to have forgotten those things due to the length of time I have been immersed in the simulation or it is a necessary part of the illusion that you do not remember these things. I believe that I will know the answers when I remove the apparatus. But I do not know how to do this either and I feel trapped in the simulation.

A side effect of this vision is that the compulsion which was driving me to walk the Camino path, has vanished
and I no longer feel the need to continue walking it. I understand now that the whole Camino has been leading me up to this point.

Shirley Maclaine in her book The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit describes a number of visions she had but I was not expecting to experience something similar myself. I turn around and the world seems to be running at an accelerated rate. I feel dizzy with the speed of it as the clouds above me race by towards the east. I turn back again and continue walking but all I can think about is that I am not really moving at all, it’s just the simulation which makes me think I am moving. I meditate on the nature of sensation and assume that the apparatus provides a link to some of my natural senses to improve the level of interaction with the simulation to make it more real.

When I reach Boádilla Del Camino I find another bar and Thierry, Margaux and Ophelia are there. I have to tell them what has happened and for some reason Ophelia immediately relates to it. She asks me if it happened when on the first hill and I say no it was on the path afterwards. Margaux explains that the two of them had a similar vision some time ago, looking at the boundary between the sea and the horizon where they lived at the time. I am surprised but pleased that they understand me.

Castrojeriz to Frómista Canal Path
The canal on the way to Frómista

Castrojeriz to Frómista Canal Steps
Just before Frómista, the canal goes down through a gate system

Castrojeriz to Frómista Hostel and Hotel
The refuge at Frómista

Castrojeriz to Frómista Church
The church at Frómista

Castrojeriz to Frómista Camino Sign Posts
The typical Meseta” path after “Frómista

It is now the next day and I am finished walking the Camino and say goodbye to Thierry. He can’t make up his mind what to do and the bus leaves in 20 minutes. I open the door of the refuge and who should be standing there but Ferdinand and the German girl. They have slept in a field during the night and started walking a few hours before. I am amazed they have done that and think that this has got to be some sort of destiny for them to help out Thierry when I have kind of abandoned him.

I tell them that I am going home and the reason and they seem to understand. At the bus stop later there are a group of folks from “Newfoundland” and one of them has a very bad leg problem. They are also getting the bus to Palencia so I will have good company today. When the bus arrives I say goodbye to Thierry who has decided to go with Ferdinand and I give him a long hug.

Ferdinand also gives me a big hug and I am close to tears. I have known both of them for three weeks and grown close to them and I will miss them greatly. I only shake the hand of the German girl, as I do not feel any connection with her.

This account of my first Camino ends here for a while and I go to stay with friends in England and think about my experiences. However I cannot rest and find myself coming back to finish my Camino after one week. I try and work out where Thierry and the others will be by now and arrange to go back there by train.

I decide that they will probably have reached Ponferrada by now and as it turns out I am almost right. I walk into the new refuge at Ponferrada and start chatting to another pilgrim there and he tells me that Thierry was there the previous night and is walking to Villafranca Del Bierzo today. So I decide to catch a taxi and try and get ahead of him and then wait until he catches up.

The main reason I have not written about this part of my Camino before was that I will start to suffer considerable bouts of depression from now on and even reach a suicidal point in Ruitelán. This depression will effect me until I reach Arzua where I stop my Camino and decide to drive back to the beginning again in a hired car and retake all the photographs which I have lost.

This period reliving a better experience sorts out my depression and I can walk with head held high again into Santiago. I refused to attempt the walk before because I though it was very wrong to be in that state of mind under those circumstances. It would have been better not to have returned to the Camino so quickly after my vision. Please bear this in mind when you read the next part of the narrative.

Destination: Frómista

Frómista is strategically situated in the province of Palencia, Spain, along the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Its location has contributed to its historical significance as a crucial stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Tracing its roots back to the Middle Ages, Frómista has witnessed the ebb and flow of travelers throughout the centuries.

Architectural Marvels

Frómista is renowned for its extraordinary architectural marvels that reflect its rich heritage. The Iglesia de San Martín, a splendid Romanesque church dating back to the 11th century, stands as an architectural gem. Its impressive façade, adorned with intricate sculptures and captivating details, showcases the skilled craftsmanship of the era. Inside, visitors are greeted by a magnificent interior adorned with beautiful frescoes and an awe-inspiring atmosphere.

Another striking sight is the Canal de Castilla, an impressive feat of engineering from the 18th century. This remarkable canal system was constructed to facilitate transportation of goods, connecting Frómista to the major cities of Castilla y León. The canal’s graceful waterways and picturesque locks serve as a testament to human ingenuity and provide a serene backdrop for leisurely walks and boat rides.

Cultural Heritage

Frómista takes pride in its vibrant cultural heritage, which comes to life through lively festivities and events. The Romería de la Virgen del Otero, held in September, is a cherished pilgrimage that pays homage to the town’s patron saint. Pilgrims and locals gather for processions, music, dance, and religious ceremonies, creating an atmosphere filled with reverence and celebration.

Pilgrim Services

Frómista offers a range of services and amenities to support pilgrims on their Camino de Santiago journey. The town provides comfortable albergues (hostels) where pilgrims can find rest and refreshment. For example, the Albergue El Caminante offers dormitory-style accommodations with clean facilities and a welcoming environment. The Refugio Gaucelmo, located within the Iglesia de San Martín complex, provides a unique opportunity for pilgrims to stay in a historic setting while enjoying essential amenities.

In addition to accommodations, Frómista offers pilgrims access to various services. Pilgrims can find shops and markets where they can stock up on supplies such as food, water, and basic necessities. Medical facilities and pharmacies are also available to attend to any health needs along the journey. The local tourist office provides valuable information and guidance, ensuring pilgrims have a smooth and enjoyable experience in Frómista.

Local Delicacies

Frómista delights gastronomy enthusiasts with its delectable local cuisine. One must indulge in the famous lechazo asado, succulent roasted lamb renowned for its tender meat and flavors infused with aromatic herbs. Another culinary delight is the cecina de vaca, a cured beef delicacy that captivates the palate with its rich smoky flavor and delicate texture. These traditional dishes, crafted with local ingredients, showcase the culinary heritage of the region.

Natural Surroundings

Frómista is embraced by breathtaking natural surroundings, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the countryside. The nearby Monte El Viejo stands as a majestic hill that offers panoramic views of the town and its picturesque landscapes. Exploring the serene trails and embracing the tranquility of nature allows visitors to connect with the essence of Frómista’s natural charm.

Conclusion

Frómista beckons you to delve into its fascinating history, marvel at its architectural wonders, and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture. Whether you are a pilgrim on

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