Camino Francés: Hornillos Del Camino to Castrojeriz - Stage 14
Stage 14 of the Camino Francés from Hornillos Del Camino to Castrojeriz spans approximately 20 kilometers. The route takes you through the scenic beauty of the wide-open Meseta, with its flat expanses and wheat fields. (Image: The Festival de la Cruz in Castrojeriz, northern Spain)
The stage involves passing through Hontanas and the 14th-century ruins of the San Antón Convent before reaching Castrojeriz. The terrain includes well-worn dirt paths, some paved sections, and a gradual ascent towards Castrojeriz. The highlights of this stage include natural springs in Hontanas, the atmospheric San Antón Convent ruins, and the medieval charm of Castrojeriz.
The potential challenges include dealing with the elements, especially the harsh sun on the open Meseta, and the stamina required for the climb to Castrojeriz. Rest stops are available in Hontanas and Castrojeriz, providing facilities for pilgrims. Hornillos Del Camino offers a tranquil ambiance, architectural treasures, a haven for pilgrims, natural splendor, and local culinary delights. Similarly, Castrojeriz boasts architectural splendor, natural beauty, pilgrim facilities, local traditions, and culinary delights.
Hornillos Del Camino to Castrojeriz Route Description
This stage of the Camino Francés spans approximately 20 kilometers (around 12.4 miles).
A. Detailed Breakdown of the Route
- Hornillos Del Camino to Hontanas (10 km) Depart from Hornillos Del Camino, a charming, compact village set in a shallow valley. As you leave, enjoy the scenic beauty of the wide-open Meseta, with its flat expanses and wheat fields stretching as far as the eye can see. Your destination is Hontanas, a ‘hidden’ village that gets its name from the many natural springs (fontanas) in the area. The Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción is a noteworthy landmark in this rustic hamlet.
- Hontanas to San Antón Convent Ruins (5 km) Upon leaving Hontanas, you’ll walk through the settlement of San Bol. Although small, it offers an optional detour to an isolated albergue and a natural spring, perfect for a refreshing pause. The route then takes you to the 14th-century ruins of the San Antón Convent, an atmospheric site that arches over the camino itself. Historically, the Antonine monks living here provided care for pilgrims afflicted with Saint Anthony’s Fire.
- San Antón Convent Ruins to Castrojeriz (5 km) The final stretch takes you along an open plain leading to the inviting village of Castrojeriz. Nestled at the foot of a hill and crowned by a ruined castle, Castrojeriz offers a delightful mix of medieval architecture and warm hospitality. Its long history with the Camino is evident in the welcoming atmosphere and the many services available for pilgrims.
B. Terrain and Elevation
The terrain involves well-worn dirt paths, some sections of paved road, and a gradual ascent as you near Castrojeriz. The scenery throughout this stage includes the open landscapes of the Meseta, offering panoramic views and a sense of tranquility.
C. Points of Interest
- Natural springs in Hontanas: Visit the springs that gave Hontanas its name. These natural features are a refreshing sight for pilgrims journeying through the Meseta’s arid landscape.
- San Antón Convent Ruins: These atmospheric ruins represent a fascinating slice of Camino history. Walking under the arch that once served as the convent’s entrance is a unique experience many pilgrims treasure.
- Castrojeriz: Explore the village’s medieval charm, from its ruined castle to the multiple churches like the Iglesia de Santo Domingo and Iglesia de San Juan. The village’s long Camino history and architecture make it an inviting end to your day.
D. Potential Challenges
The most significant challenge on this stage is dealing with the elements. The open Meseta can be harsh under the summer sun, making sun protection essential. Additionally, the climb to Castrojeriz might test your stamina but remember, the breathtaking views from the top make the effort worthwhile.
E. Rest Stops
Hontanas serves as a perfect halfway rest stop with a few facilities for pilgrims. Once in Castrojeriz, you’ll find a variety of services including albergues, bars, restaurants, and a small supermarket where you can replenish and prepare for the next day’s journey.
This stage offers a peaceful walk through the Spanish countryside, allowing you to soak in the tranquil beauty of the Meseta. Buen camino!
Departure Point: Hornillos Del Camino
Welcome to Hornillos del Camino, a serene and picturesque town nestled along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in northern Spain.
Location and History
Situated in the province of Burgos , Hornillos del Camino holds a special place as a resting point for weary pilgrims embarking on the sacred Camino de Santiago. This town has stood as a humble guardian of the pilgrimage tradition, offering respite and essential services to travelers on their spiritual journey.
Hornillos del Camino exudes a tranquil and harmonious atmosphere that envelops visitors in a peaceful embrace. The gentle rustling of leaves, the soft whispers of the wind, and the soothing songs of birds create a serene symphony that soothes the soul. It is a place where one can find solace, reflect on the inner journey, and reconnect with nature.
Discover the architectural treasures that adorn Hornillos del Camino, speaking volumes about its historical and cultural heritage. The Iglesia de San Román, a graceful Romanesque church dating back to the 13th century, stands as a silent witness to the passage of time. Its sturdy stone walls, elegant arches, and intricate carvings reflect the craftsmanship of yesteryears and invite contemplation and reverence.
Hornillos del Camino extends a warm welcome to pilgrims, offering a haven of rest and support. Albergues (hostels) provide weary travelers with comfortable accommodations, a place to lay their heads, and share tales of their journey. The community’s hospitality knows no bounds, with locals offering a helping hand, a kind smile, and words of encouragement to pilgrims, forging connections that transcend borders and languages.
Immerse yourself in the natural splendor that surrounds Hornillos del Camino. Endless fields stretch as far as the eye can see, painting a breathtaking landscape of vibrant colors and gentle rolling hills. Witness the ever-changing canvas of the sky as it bathes the earth in warm hues during sunrise and sunset. This tranquil setting invites contemplation and renews the spirit of pilgrims as they connect with the beauty of the natural world.
Indulge in the flavors of Hornillos del Camino, where traditional cuisine tantalizes the taste buds. Delight in the succulent flavors of lechazo asado, tender roast lamb infused with aromatic herbs and cooked to perfection. Sample the rich and savory morcilla de Burgos, a traditional blood sausage made with a unique blend of spices. Pair these culinary delights with a glass of local wine, savoring the essence of the land with each sip.
Hornillos del Camino, with its serene ambiance, architectural wonders, warm hospitality, and breathtaking natural surroundings, invites you to embark on a transformative journey. Find solace in its tranquility, connect with fellow pilgrims, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of history and spirituality. Let Hornillos del Camino be your sanctuary along the Camino de Santiago, a place where the soul finds peace, and the spirit is renewed.
Camino Francés Diary: Route segment: 14
Wednesday 11th October 2000
It is raining this morning. This is going to be one of the worst days on the whole Camino de Santiago for me. Normally I detest the combination of cold wind and rain so I don’t enjoy being out in it with just shorts to protect my legs. Eventually my legs are a bright red color just trying to keep warm. It also doesn’t take long before I feel water sloshing around in both my boots.
The walk today is through particularly desolate territory as the fields that would normally be full of wheat are bare. The path here is based on a clay soil and it doesn’t take too long before my boots have an extra kilo or two of mud attached to them.
I try to remove it but after a few steps, there is more of it again so it’s a waste of time trying to get rid of it. For some reason there are a large number of stone monuments here. Presumably walkers in the past have tried to relieve the monotony of the walk by piling up the stones every few meters or so.
The rain is horizontal now and being driven into my face and I cannot see through my glasses. Although it is dark, the
photosensitive tint on them has darkened as if it was bright sunlight, very strange. I take them off and put them in a pocket. Now I can see better.
Today would have been an ideal test for the poncho but I am sure it is better off with Simone. I plod on and eventually come to a crossroads. There is a sign for a refuge that also offers food and drink. I decide to stop there to
get out of the rain.
Inside there is a German couple and the keeper of the refuge. He is not a happy man and the welcome is not warm. I ask for some coffee and it is poured out of a flask into a plastic cup. It is not very good but it is hot and warm and what I need right then. I also decide to change my socks, which are soaking wet and also put on a denim shirt for more warmth.
After I warm up a little, there is no heating in the refuge, I decide to move on as no one else seems to have noticed the sign and the French girls were just behind me. It is not raining but it does not take long to start again and now I have two sets of wet socks. Eventually the path winds down to the village of Hontanas.
The place does not look very welcoming but there is a bar on the right and I decide to check it out to see if there is anyone I know there. To my delight, Thierry, Margaux and Ophelia are there along with the German couple and they are about to have lunch. They ask me if I want to join them and of course I say yes.
But joy of joys there is a blazing log fire and it’s just what I needed at that moment. We eventually spend 4 hours there getting warm and dry and everyone is reluctant to leave. But it is getting late and there is another 9 Km to go before we get to Castrojeriz . It has finally stopped raining and the sun is shining. The darkest times always seem to last for ever but they do eventually end. It is a valuable lesson.
The road now passes through countryside that is just like the county of “Fife” in Scotland and I again have the strange
feeling that I am no longer in Spain. But the girls are just behind me and the feeling evaporates as soon as I hear them singing. Margaux likes to sing and at one point the tune sounds like something from the Beatles. She is a bit off-key though.
Eventually we spot Castrojeriz in the distance and it takes another hour or two before we get there. Distances in this part of Spain are deceptive and what looks close by can actually be a long distance away. Margaux makes some comment to that effect in French.
Castrojeriz is a very long narrow town and it seems to take ages to find the refuge. We see a sign “Pan” on the left and the girls decide that they want to get some food for tonight and tomorrow. We follow the sign and find a small Panaderia which, typically sells a lot more than bread. The refuge is only a few more minutes ahead and we soon reach it.
There is an older couple running it and neither speaks any English but they have made lots of pictograms and describe all the features and rules of the refuge by pointing them out.
The beds in this place are very strange. They have been made out of metal and are tiled. They are certainly very solid and there will be no problems with shaking tonight. Thierry is there and we go out to try and find a meal somewhere. But all we can get is bocadillos and we make do with that. We go back to the refuge and eat some of the food we bought earlier.
Thierry and Margaux seem to be getting a bit close and ever sensitive to that sort of thing, I leave them alone and go and chat to Ophelia. She seems to know what is going on and finds it a bit amusing. Of the two of them I find Margaux the more attractive but Ophelia has more character and I prefer her. We struggle to chat for a long time about the different types of law she can study at university in later years.
Ophelia thinks her English is not particularly good but I can understand her no problem. I have noticed this with the French. They pronounce the words very well but seem to have difficulty finding the right words to say. She makes some comment about the fact that she is now finding herself thinking in Spanish what she wants to say in English, which must be doubly confusing for her.
Welcome to Castrojeriz, a captivating town nestled in the heart of the Spanish countryside, where history, natural beauty, and spirituality converge.
Location and History
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 rich history that dates back to ancient times. Archaeological findings suggest the existence of settlements in the area since the Roman era, making Castrojeriz an important site along the historical timeline.
Castrojeriz boasts an impressive architectural heritage that reflects its historical importance. The Iglesia de Santa María del Manzano, a stunning Gothic church dating back to the 13th century, stands as a remarkable testament to the town’s religious devotion. Its intricate stone carvings, towering spires, and beautifully crafted altarpieces capture the essence of medieval craftsmanship.
Another notable landmark is the Castillo de Castrojeriz, a medieval fortress that once served as a stronghold for the town. The ruins of the castle still stand today, offering glimpses into its storied past. Ascend to the top of the tower and be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the winding paths of the Camino de Santiago.
Nestled amidst rolling hills and fertile farmland, Castrojeriz captivates visitors with its natural beauty. The expansive fields, adorned with colorful wildflowers, create a picturesque backdrop for leisurely walks and moments of contemplation. Nature enthusiasts can explore the nearby Monte de Mostelares, a scenic hill that offers stunning vistas of the town and its surroundings, providing a perfect spot for photographers and hikers.
As a significant stop along the Camino de Santiago, Castrojeriz has long been a haven for pilgrims on their spiritual journey. Albergues (hostels) provide comfortable accommodations for weary travelers, offering a place to rest, share stories, and forge connections with fellow pilgrims. The town’s warm hospitality extends to its restaurants and cafes, where pilgrims can savor regional delicacies and experience the conviviality of the Camino community.
Castrojeriz embraces its rich cultural traditions, which are often celebrated during annual festivals and events. The Festival de la Cruz, held in May, is a vibrant celebration that pays homage to the Christian cross. Colorful processions wind through the streets, accompanied by traditional dances and music, creating a lively atmosphere that showcases the town’s deep-rooted customs.
Indulge in the flavors of Castrojeriz and experience the region’s gastronomic delights. Delight your taste buds with lechazo asado, a succulent roast lamb dish, slow-cooked to perfection and seasoned with aromatic herbs. Another local specialty is migas, a hearty dish made from breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil, often accompanied by flavorful sausages and vegetables. Pair these culinary delights with a glass of renowned Ribera del Duero wine, produced in the vineyards that dot the surrounding countryside.
Castrojeriz, with its rich history, architectural splendor, natural beauty, warm hospitality, and vibrant traditions, invites you to immerse yourself in its captivating allure. Explore the town’s architectural treasures, soak in the breathtaking views, and embrace the spiritual essence of the Camino de Santiago. Let Castrojeriz be your gateway to an unforgettable journey, where the echoes of the past mingle with the beauty of nature and the warmth of its people.