One of the most serious failings of a blog about the Camino de Santiago is not to talk about one of the most important Jacobean routes most curious: the Vadinian way, which is usually due to the fact that it is not a very busy route (so you can get little juice from it economically). However, the true lover of the Camino has to know the peculiarities of this route, which is, in our opinion, the hardest that exists.

However, if you like challenges, this is an exciting route, a route that will mark a before and after in your life. Let’s start!

Historical origin of the Vadinian Way

The name comes from a pre-Roman tribe which occupied the territory of the so-called Vanidia. Vanidia occupied an important territory which is where our route will take us. It is a very interesting route in cultural terms as it covers territories of Castile, Asturias and Cantabria.

However, you have to know what you’re up against before you go on the tour. We do not consider the Camino to be dangerous as such (in this aspect there are worse routes), but it is a quite hard route .

River of Cantabria

Its hardness lies in the difficulty of the Cantabrian stages. Therefore, it is highly recommended to arrive well prepared to them. But, as we said, it is not a dangerous section, there is no great risk of falls or anything remarkable. If you like long and hard distances this is your way.

It is a path that has to be faced more from a sporting point of view, more from the challenge than from a cultural point of view.

All the trips to do the Camino de Santiago with your dog

Interesting aspects of the Vadinian Way before making the decision

First of all, before doing this route we recommend a certain amount of mountaineering experience, mainly because it is quite poorly signposted and you can get lost. Only the skill of those who know how to move in the mountains will prevent you from getting lost.

In fact, there were many pilgrims to the The Lebaniego Way (it is also known by this name) who expressed their dissatisfaction during the Lebaniego Jubilee Year. The most frequent complaint was that the Cantabrian government had spent a lot of money on advertising the route, instead of making it accessible toeveryone.

Vadinian route sign

Regarding the cycling pilgrims, it should be noted that perhaps this is not the friendliest way for the bicycle, unlike others that practically invite you to travel with it. Therefore, if in the end you decide to take this route, it is best that you are prepared, for example, to change a wheel if you get a puncture or that in certain sections you will have to get off the bike because it is impossible to stay on it.

Summary of the stages of the Vadinian Way route

First stage: San Vicente de la Barquera- Lafuente

The first stage of the Vadinian Way already shows us that the route is not going to be easy. In this first stage we will cover 27 kilometers in about 7 hours.

Starting in San Vicente de la Barquera is advisable to stop to observe the church of Santa Maria de los Angeles, which is a good representative of the Gothic movement. We can also see the King’s Castle.

We will pass through La Acebosa arriving at Hortigal in just 5 kilometres. We will pass through Gandarilla until we reach Bielva. As you can see, we are dealing with very small and sparsely populated towns. In Cades we will be able to see the great forge that dates from the 18th century.

Finally, we will pass through Sobrelapeña and arrive at Lafuente, where we will be able to see the Romanesque church of Santa Juliana.

San Vicente de la Barquera

Second stage of the Vadinian Way: Lafuente- Potes

We continue with a medium-long stage (about 26 kilometers) but that stands out for being very hard, so be careful with it. It will take approximately 8 hours to cover it. Try not to let it get dark, be foresighted.

Leaving Lafuente we will pass through Burio until we reach Cicera. In Cicera we have to be careful because in 2015 the itinerary was modified.

In Lebaña we can see the Church of Santa Maria Lebeña, which is quite old, dating from the tenth century. Note that this church is one of the most important, in its style, throughout Cantabria. It is worth a visit.

Passing Allende and Cabañes we will arrive at Pendes. After Pendes we will arrive to Tama, being this a quite interesting locality at the time of supplying and finding lodging.

In Potes we can see the entrance to the Picos de Europa. The name of the village comes to mean village of the bridges.

Potes, the village of bridges

Potes- Fuente Dé

A truly difficult and long stage, one of the most demanding of the Vadin route, as it is about 30 kilometres long. For this reason it will take us almost 9 and a half hours to complete it. If you go with children (which is not recommended on this tour) it is best to divide it into 2.

During this stage we will pass by such important monuments as the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, which holds the lignum crucis, that is, the largest piece of wood from the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Regarding the route, it is worth mentioning the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Mogrovejo. In Fuente Dé we can take a cable car (if we want) to have even better views of the breathtaking scenery.

Fuente Dé

Fuente Dé- Portilla de la Reina

One of the best things about this stage is that it gives us some respite. It is only 22 kilometres long, but it will take us almost 7 hours to cover it. In this stage we can visit Horcada de Valcavao, the pass of Pandetrave and Portilla de la Reina.

Honestly, for us the best thing about this stage is the exceptional scenery.

Portilla de la Reina

Portillo de la Reina- Riaño

Fortunately the Camino is starting to soften. We believe that the Camino is beautiful because it is beautiful, not because it is hard, so if it is softer more people will be able to enjoy it without losing the beauty of it. This stage is 20 kilometers long and can be covered very quickly, in about 5 hours.

In Barniedo de la Reina we will see the parish church of San Vicente. In Riaño do not expect to see many old buildings, as most of the village has had to be built when the village was flooded by the reservoir.

However, the church of the Rosary is very well preserved and very beautiful to see. It dates back to the 13th century.

Barniedo de la Reina

Riaño- Crémenes

Once again, we find ourselves with a stage of little difficulty in which the cultural aspect is more important than the scenery. We face a route of 20 kilometers that we will cover in about 5 hours and a quarter.

It highlights (and it is really a must visit) the Calada Romana del Esla, which is usually known as Vía Romana de la Conquista (Roman Way of the Conquest). It is a good way to teach the little ones the importance that Rome had in our country, as well as in a good part of Europe.

We finish in Crémenes, where we will find a beautiful neo-Romanesque church.

Calada Romana del Esla

Crémenes – Cistierna

One of the shortest stages of a route that we started to finish, just 17 kilometers long. In about 5 hours we will have covered it without problems, maybe less (although this always depends on the pace we have and our physical condition).

Highlights of this tour:

  • In Alejico: the church, which dates back to the 18th century.
  • In Cistierna: the church of Santa Maria which dates back to the 13th century.

Cantabria's countryside

Cistierna – Grafedes

It increases the distance but not by much. This time we will ride 23 kilometers. In 6 hours we will have ventilated it. The most outstanding feature of this stage is the Cistercian Monastery of Santa María la Real. It is a Historic-Artistic Monument.

A river in the vadinian way

Grafedes – Mansilla de las Mulas

From a similar distance to the previous one, it is not a stage of special interest, except for the fact that it is the final stage of the Vadinian Way, which will not be remembered for much longer.

In San Miguel de Escalada we can see its monastery dating from the year 913. It stands on the remains of an ancient Visigoth temple.

In Mansilla de las Mulas we can see the hermitage and the church of Santa María, which dates back to the 13th century.

Mansilla de las Mulas

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