We start our walk leaving Rabanal del Camino, and, at the height of a washhouse, we join a dirt track that will take us to a small climb, the first of many on our way to Molinaseca. The road takes us to Foncebadón. After leaving the ruins of a sanctuary on the left, we continue along a path that runs along the mountainside. We gain altitude without realizing it until we reach the Cruz de Ferro, one of the most emblematic places of the French Way. It is a tradition to deposit here a stone brought from our place of origin.
We continue along a path parallel to the road, along which we start to descend. The road narrows and moves away from the asphalt until it enters Manjarín, an abandoned village where only a shelter remains.
After leaving the refuge behind, we continue on asphalt until we head downhill and then a steep slope on a winding road. We reach the road again and contemplate the impressive views of the mountains of El Bierzo. We take a track in the direction of an abandoned military base and start a vertiginous descent through a rocky path where we must be extremely careful. A stretch not suitable for cyclists.
We approach Acebo, the first village of El Bierzo. At the entrance we find a cross, the hermitage of San Roque and the well known as Fuente de la Trucha. There is also a medieval smithy that works with water. The Way approaches El Acebo, the first village of the region of El Bierzo on the route.
We leave Acebo on asphalt and descend to a big curve from where we take a detour to the left. We go back up a stony path to Riego de Ambrós. At this point cyclists must continue on the road.
The Camino continues along the street Camino de Santiago, entering a shady path and starting a beautiful descent. We reach the small stream of Prado, where the path can be a bit muddy. The path takes us through a beautiful forest of centenary chestnut trees. We reach the road again and pass by El Jardín de Anduriña inn. We go down again, the descent is complicated so we must take extreme precautions. In the distance we can already see Ponferrada, the last big city until we reach Compostela.
We continue along a path on the edge of a ravine and several bends, and we see the roofs of Molinaseca, closer and closer. The last stretch of the descent is along a path indicated on the ground with an arrow made of stones. We passed a cross and reached the sidewalk. Finally we arrive at Molinaseca.
This stage has a steep climb up to the Cruz de Ferro, but we recommend that you be more careful on the descent, as it is much steeper than the climb. At this point we have perhaps the steepest descent of the entire French Way of St. James, going through an uninterrupted descent of about 900 meters from the Cruz de Ferro to Molinaseca. Be careful and take your time. It’s better to be a little later than not being able to walk tomorrow.
Places of interest
- Tavern of Gaia – Foncebadón
- Cruz de Ferro – Foncebadón
- San Miguel Church – El Acebo
- Parish church of Riego de Ambrós
- St. Nicholas of Bari – Molinaseca
- Fruits of the Bierzo (reineta apple, pear conference)
- Bierzo Pepper
- Botillo from El Bierzo
- Cherries and sour cherries
- Wines D.O.El Bierzo
- Honey from Bierzo