Vía de la Plata Stage 6: Puebla de Sanabria to Ourense

Photo by Melanie Radzicki McManus

Time to climb

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The most difficult part of the trek to Ourense comes immediately: leaving Puebla de Sanabria. The arrows guide you into the city’s business district, then abruptly stop. From Plaza Mayor, with the church at your back, head straight onto the little side street off to the right. It will become C/San Bernardo. At the T-intersection, take a right on C/Florida, then a left on C/Revuelta Peporro. Now it’s a right onto the dirt road that runs downhill along the cemetery. This path leads down to Av/Galicia, where you’ll turn left and head out of town.

‘Cheat route’ option!

If you stayed overnight east of the Tera River (opposite side as the castle), you might find this “cheat” route a better option. After crossing the bridge, when you’re at the base of the castle steps, turn right onto Av/Galicia. This street winds around the town, and will pass the dirt road coming down from the cemetery. If you take this direct route you’ll save a little mileage. You’ll also save yourself a big climb and descent, although the view of the countryside from the cemetery is pretty cool.

Once out of Puebla de Sanabria

Once out of town, your trials aren’t over. Your first mile is on a paved road; after that, you’ll be off-road, to the left, roughly paralleling the Castro River. The markings here are good at first. But eventually it can be easy to lose your way, especially during the rainy season when the river overflows its banks. If you’re lost, simply head due north from the river, where you’ll find the N-525 highway. Head left, or west, along the N-525, and eventually you’ll find the Camino again on your right, heading to Terroso.

An enchanting forest

En route from Terroso to Requejo de Sanabria, you’ll pass through an enchanting forest where cows are often grazing; watch your step for cow pies. Requejo de Sanabria makes a nice pit stop; there’s a fountain in front of the ayuntamiento, plus a bench and café a few paces away. Don’t get on the N-525 highway heading out of town. While it’s marked with Camino signs, those are for motor vehicles. For peregrinos on foot, take C/Carrera, the street by the ayuntamiento. Now, get ready to climb.

The path to Padornelo gets quite steeps in parts as you pass through beautiful woods, by an old railroad tunnel and up to an open area with sweeping views of the valley below. Keep alert here. Construction over the last few years has resulted in some re-routes on and off the adjacent N-525.

A wonderful bar-restaurant

More construction might keep you on paved roads to and through Aciberos and into Lubián, which is a shame because if you’re able to take the trails it’s a lovely hike. You may wish to stay the night in Lubián, as it has an albergue and Bar Javi, a wonderful bar-restaurant with lovely rooms for rent. It can also be a good idea to take a break here because the next segment to A Canda and the autonomous community of Galicia entails an enormous uphill climb. (The good part: It’s beautiful.)

Depending on how your mileage is working out, a push to A Vilavella isn’t the worst idea, since this tiny town is home to — amazingly — the rather posh Vilavella Hotel & Spa. A night here is a wonderful treat. And you’ll need it, as you have another gnarly stretch coming up.

Breathtaking views coming up!

After leaving Vilavella and passing through several small towns, you’ll hit the bustling city of A Gudiña, another prime spot to stop. From A Gudiña, you have a long (+12 miles / 20 km), hilly trek to Campobecerros. The good part is that you’re afforded numerous breathtaking views from the hilltops, including one of the comely Río Camba Embalse As Portas, a dam in the Camba River.

Probably the final town of note before Ourense is Laza, home of the lovely Pensión Blanco Conde and some nice bar-restaurants. After passing through Laza, the route becomes increasingly industrialized as you head into the city of Ourense.

P.S. Don’t miss Bar Rincón del Peregrino in Alberguería, a few towns past Laza. It’s totally dedicated to pilgrims. You’ll see once you step inside.

Puebla de Sanabria to Ourense by the Numbers

Puebla de Sanabria’s altitude: 3,070.9 ft / 936 m
Ourense’s altitude: 570.9 ft / 174 m

Cumulative distance hiked for this leg: 92.2 mi / 148.4  km
Cumulative distance hiked for entire trail: 556.3 mi / 895.3 km

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