The Camino leads out of Mansilla by way of a medieval bridge over the River Elsa and then leads onto a dirt track that once again runs alongside the N120. The route will hug the N120 until Leon. The walking today is easy with only one small rise and fall between Arcahueja and Leon.
As the day passes it will become obvious that you are closing on another major city, the last major city until Santiago, though Ponferrada is a very large town which you will pass through within the next few days.
There are many villages and places to stop for food and coffee all day with fairly short distances between the villages villages. It is worth while getting into Leon early and leaving your rucksack in a hostel or Albergue and exploring. There is a major youth hostel beside the main pilgrim’s albergue. This is a better place to stay if you want time to get out and see Leon. The Convent Santa Maria, another albergue, closes at 10pm and will lock their doors and not allow pilgrims entry after that time. I had one pilgrim that could not gain entry to the albergue sleep on the floor in my room at the youth hostel.
Leon is one of Spain’s most beautiful cities, it is a great place to take a day off and explore all it has to offer.
Villamoros de Mansilla 4.1km, water, bar
A small straggling village of little distinction. Towards the of the village on the route, (right side), there is a bakery, which is convenient if you do not want to go off the route and into the village – Panaderia.
Just before the bridge that leads into Villarente there is a rather down at heal cafe restaurant with a shaded rest area opposite. After this cafe be careful to follow the pilgrim signs and not carry on along the road, both will lead you into the next village, however there is a newish pilgrims footpath over the river which stops you competing with cars for space at the side of the road.
Puente de Villarente 1.8km, water, bar, shop
Albergue San Pelayo, c/ El Romero, 9, private, €8, 56 beds, W, D, V, K, @, M, Bike, Tel: 987 312 677, www.alberguesanpelayo.com
Albergue El Delfin Verde, private, €6, 30 beds, M, W, D, K, @, Bike, Tel: 987 312 065, http://www.complejoeldelfinverde.com.es
Again there is little to see in this village, the bridge was once renowned for its twenty arches however it has been repaired due to flooding so many times that it has lost all of its original grandeur.
If you don’t want to stop in the village there is a cafe bar at the end of the village on the left just opposite the dedicated pilgrims path which turns off to the right. The dedicated pilgrim’s path runs all the way to Arcahueja going under the new motorway.
Arcahueja 4.7km, water, bar, shop
Albergue La Torre, c/ La Torre, 1, private, €8, 22 beds, M, B, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 987 205 896, www.alberguetorre.es, open all year.
Valdelafuente 2km, water, bars, cafe, shop, pharmacy
The pilgrim’s path no longer goes directly into Arcahueja as it now travels along the back of it off the road quite a bit. However there is a marked path into the village and it is only about two hundred meters.
Shortly after Valdefuente you pass through an industrial area and weave under and around the motorway before entering Puente Castro on the outskirts of Leon. From here to the centre the walk is interesting unlike the slog into Burgos.
Puente Castro 3.6km, all services
Puente Castro is essentially a suburb of Leon there is no distinction where one end and the other begins. It is a good place to stop, rest and drink a refreshment before the last 2km into the centre.
There was once a Roman fort here and the bridge over the river gave the area its name. There is documentary evidence of a Jewish settlement here as far back as 905 and some archaeology excavations have unearthed Hebrew gravestones some are now in the San Marcos museum in Leon. In 1196 the troops of Aragon and Castilla combined to attack Puente Castro, they took possession of the castle, burnt the Jewish Quarter, the synagogue and captured and took away the Jewish population. Although Leon retook the hill quite quickly the Jewish population did not resettle here again and instead moved into the city.
Leon 2km, all services
Albergue de San Francisco de Asís, 4 Av Alcalde Miguel Castaños, association, €10, 80 beds, W, D, K, M, B, Cred, Bike, V, @, Tel: 987 215 060, http://www.alberguescapuchinos.org/, open all year.
Residencia Unamuno, c/ San Pelayo, 15, private, €10, 86 beds, W, D, @, bike, Tel: 987 233 010, http://www.residenciaunamuno.com/albergue2/en, open July to Sep inc.
Albergue de Peregrinos de las Benedictinas – Santa Maria de Carbajal, Plaza Santa María de Camino, parochial, €5, 132 beds, W, D, V, @, Cred, bike, Tel: 987 252 866, http://www.alberguesleon.com/, open all year.
Leon Hostel, 8 Calle Ancha, public, €12, 20 beds, K, V, @, tel: 987 079 907, http://www.leonhostel.es/, open all year.
Hostel Como en Casa, 6 Calle Legion VII, private, W, D, @, K, Bike, http://www.hostelcomoencasa.com/, open all year.
Albergue Muralla Leonesa, 5 Calle Tarifa, private, €10, 70 beds, W, D, K, @, Bike, tel: 987 177 873, http://www.alberguemurallaleonesa.com/, open all year.
Albergue Santo Tomás de Canterbury, Av de La Lastra, 53, €8, 60 beds, K, W, D, V, @, Tel: 987 392 626, http://www.alberguesantotomas.com/
For more information see the Leon page.
Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage
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