Day 18 Sahagun – El Burgo Ranero – 18km
Today there is a choice of two routes after the first 5km at Calzada del Coto. The least travelled of these turns off to the right in the village towards Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. (For details of the minor route see bottom of the page)
The main sign posted way is a purpose built route for pilgrims by the regional government of Leon. This route is shaded by plane trees. Although there are not many stops along this route, it does pass though some villages. This is the better route to take unless you are very fit and are carrying enough water and food for the whole journey.
On the way out of Sahagun you cross the Puente de Canto which was first built in 1085 to aid pilgrims. You emerge on the other side at the “Field of Charlemagne’s Lances”, which is now a grove of popular trees and the sight of the following legend. Charlemagne was chasing Aigolando, the Saracen caliph, with the intention of liberating the way for pilgrims to Santiago. Soldiers were preparing for battle the following day and some left their weapons thrust into the ground upright ready for battle the next day. At daybreak the soldiers that were to receive the honour of martyrdom found their lances covered in bark with branches growing from them. This was miracle was attributed to God; they cut the lances down and from the roots of the lances grew a great wood of plane trees.
Forty thousand Christians were killed in this battle.
We have seen Charlemagne associated with the pilgrimage to Santiago before, it is interesting as Charlemagne died, (814), one hundred years before St James’ remains were found in the Field of Stars. It is odd today to think of Christians believing in the honour of death in battle for religion against Muslims. However Charlemagne was a radical Christian who killed many that did not want to convert to Christianity. One example of this was the massacre of 4,500 Germany pagans at Verden in 782 by decapitation.
Calzada del Coto 5.1km, water, bar, shop
Albergue San Roque, Calle Real, municipal, donation, 24 beds, W, K, @, Bike, Tel: 987 781 233, open all year.
Calzada is another small sleepy Camino village that you will pass through within a few minutes and likely have little memory of, unless of course you stop for the night. However between the 14th and 17th August each year the annual fiesta dedicated to the towns patron saint San Roque takes place.
The unremarkable parish Church is dedicated to St Stephen.
About one kilometre before Bercianos on the left is the small Hermitage de Nuestra Senora de Perales, this was once a medieval hospice that helped pilgrims.
Bercianos del Real Camino 5.6km, water, bar, shop
Albergue De Peregrinos, 11 Calle Santa Rita, association, donation, 58 beds, M, B, Bike, Tel: 987 784 008, open Apr to Oct.
Albergue Santa Clara, 3 Calle Iglesia, private, €10, 19 beds, M, B, W, D, K, @, V, Bike, Tel: 605 839 993, open all year.
Another sleepy town on the Meseta that helps pilgrims along the way.
The local Church of El Salvador is in disrepair, but still in use. Inside there is a Renaissance figure of John the Baptist and a 17th century tomb of Dona Leonor a local noble.
El Burgo Ranero 7.3km, all services
Albergue Domenico Laffi, Plaza Mayor, municipal, donation, 28 beds, K, W, D, @, bike, Tel: 987 330 047, open all year.
Hospederia Jacobea El Nogal, 42 Calle Fray Pedro, 30 beds, association, €7, rooms for 2, 3, or 4 at €10 per person, 30 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 667 207 454, open Easter to Nov.
Albergue La Laguna, c/ La Laguna, 12, private, €9, 24 beds, K, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 987 330 094, http://www.ctrpiedrasblancas.com/, open Mar to Nov
The earliest references to El Burgo Ranero is from 1126, there are a few interpretations of the town’s name: one is the town of frogs, as there are lots of frogs in the area; another says the town’s people sold frogs; and the last is that the town was originally called El Burgo Granero due to the abundance of wheat grown in the area. This is one of the areas from the early middle ages that farmed merino sheep which had been introduced from north Africa. During summer the sheep fed in the mountains to the north and during the winter they were brought to the Meseta to feed on the wheat stubble. Tracks were built, canadas, which were 80 to 100 meters wide boardered by walls, you can still see canadas cross the Camino between El Burgo and Astorga.
The run down Church of San Pedro once housed a Romanesque Virgin, however is has been moved to the museum in Leon Cathedral.
My thought today is about persecution; do you? Yourself or anyone else? It is too easy to wander through life with patterns of thought, the Camino is a great place to recognise some of these.
Minor Route: Sahagun to Calzada del Coto 5.1 km. Then Calzada to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos 9 km. You then have the choice of staying overnight and walking the direct route to Mansilla de las Mulas tomorrow, which is 25 km with no villages or water, or walking 6 km along the road to El Burgo Ranero.
Calzadilla de los Hermanillos 14.1 km, water, food, cafe, bar
Albergue De San Bartolomé, 28 Calle Mayor, municipal, donation, 16 beds, @, W, D, K, Tel: 987 330 047, open all year.
Albergue Via Trajana, 27 Calle Mayor, private, €15, 20 beds, W, D, M, B, @, Bike, Tel: 987 337 610, http://www.albergueviatrajana.com, open Mar to Nov inc.
Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage
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