Camino de Santiago - French Way - Stage 19 - Sahagún to El Burgo Ranero
Total distance: 18 km
Leave Sahagún through the old town passing through the Arco de San Benito and cross the Rio Cea using the Puente de Canto, a bridge built by Alfonso VI in 1085. Just after you cross the bridge you will see the campsite Pedro Ponce on your right where you will see a grove of Poplars. There is a tale, called the Legend of the Flowering Lances that says these grew in a single night.
The legend tells of a difficult battle between the Emperor Charlemagne and the Muslim Aigoland. The battle had been raging for 3 long days and the Muslim army seemed to be growing in number. On the third night Charlemagne's troops stuck their lances into the ground and settled down to a long and uneasy night's sleep. Upon waking the next morning the soldiers found that many of the lances had sprouted bark and leaves. Unfortunately, the omens were not good as this was believed to be a sign of martyrdom.
The soldiers cut down the lances, leaving the roots and went off to battle. The fighting was ferocious and many thousands of men died including all of the owners of the lances that had sprouted in the night. Later in the day four Italian Marquises arrived to aid Charlemagne and Aigolando sheepishly retreated with his troops to Leon.
After the battle was over the roots that remained sprouted once more into the grove of Poplars that you see today.
Continue along the path for 4 kilometres until you reach Calzada del Coto. Here the route splits into two, one called the Real Camino Francés and the other la Calzada de los Peregrinos. Our preferred route is to follow the Real Camino Francés that will take us through to El Burgo Ranero as there are more opportunities to stop to get something to eat or drink as well as places to spend the night. We will give details of the alternative route at the end of this page.
The Real Camino Francés for the most part is a purpose built pilgrim track, built for the 1993 holy year, which runs parallel to the road to Bercianos. After 1.7 kilometres you will pass a laguna or lake on your right and after 2 kilometres you will come to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Perales just before coming to Bercianos del Real Camino.
In Bercianos del Real Camino you can stay at the Albergue Parroquial or the Hostal Rivero and get something to eat in the café.
The village used to have a church called la Iglesia de San Salvador, but unfortunately for many years it had been poorly maintained and was at risk of collapse. In 1998 all the relics were removed to one of the two Ermitas in the village and the church was closed for renovation. Unfortunately, soon after the 32 metre tower collapsed rendering the church unusable and leaving the parish without a church. All religious ceremonies are now conducted at the newly renovated Ermita de San Roque.
Walk all the way through the village and continue along the well marked route. In the distance you can see the grain silos of el Burgo Ranero about 7 kilometres away. Keep along this track until you come to a tunnel under the motorway, go through the tunnel and into the village of El Burgo Ranero.
Here there are 3 albergues and a hostal to choose from. There are also a couple of cafés that offer a pilgrim menu.
If you happen to be doing your Camino in the autumn you may get to see storks that come to the lakes around El Burgo Ranero before they migrate south for the winter.
This is the stop on this stage of the Camino de Santiago, however we did mention earlier that there was an alternative route. Some consider it a more pleasant route, especially for those who like solitude, space and silence but if you intend walking this route be aware that there is only one village for the next 30 kilometres and there are also not many way markers.
The Calzada de los Peregrinos follows the old Roman road called la Via Trajana. At the village of Calzada del Coto walk past the Ermita de San Roque on your right hand side and cross over the motorway. Follow the main street out of the village but ignore the track to your left as this leads you down to the Camino Real Francés, the other route, instead keep walking straight taking a right hand path. After 2 kilometres you will pass an artificial lake on your left and come to a bridge over the railway line. Cross the bridge and walk straight on and you will soon enter a wooded area where the path starts to climb. Keep going through these woods and after about 3 kilometres you will pass a large farm called the Granja Valdelocajos. A little further on, about 1 kilometre, you come to the Fuente de los Peregrinos and a picnic area. 3 kilometres further on you come to the village of Calzadilla de los Hermanillos.
It is probably wise to stay the night here as it is another 18 kilometres to the village of Reliegos where the two routes converge. In Calzadilla de los Hermanillos there is one small albergue as well as a small hostal. There is a restaurant as you enter the village which offers a pilgrim menu and a tiny village shop.
On the next stage of the route we will give you further details of the two routes.