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Recovering roads

By Zamorana de los Caminos de Santiago Association | 25/02/2022

Borrador del itinerario Requejo-Alto de Padornelo

A province such as Zamora, which has five historic and traditional roads that run for 500 km of territory, has a vast intangible heritage through which thousands of pilgrims can move towards Compostela, passing through a very important percentage of the peoples of its territory, and to which we can turn into our best ambassadors to spread the rich heritage we preserve.

However, this extensive network of roads requires constant maintenance to be perfectly conditioned and marked, eliminating the black spots that pilgrims may find, which represents an arduous task and a considerable deployment of human means; in addition, this province, in recent years, has been affected by two major projects of communication infrastructure: the highway of the Silver Route between Zamora and Benavente and the new high-speed railway line of Galicia.

These projects have directly affected two of the five Jacobean roads: the highway has considerably altered some sections along which the Vía de la Plata runs, while the High-Speed railway line has been modified during the time the works have lasted, the route of the Sanabrés Road, specifying the establishment of alternative paths that, once completed, it is necessary to recover, to the extent possible. It was therefore necessary to undertake during the execution of both projects a review of our roads, eliminating those points that could pose some risk to pilgrims, establishing alternative itineraries and adapting signage, often precarious and confusing, and that now needs to be updated.

The objective was ambitious considering the number of kilometers that needed to be reviewed, and for a newly created association, such as the Zamorana Association of the Ways of Santiago, which has scarce resources, to face this project was practically impossible.

The Association lacks any type of institutional help, so it is the partners themselves who take charge of all the expenses that this project entails: displacements, painting, making metal and wood supports… Fortunately, a group of them has been alternating to perform these tasks of adaptation of the roads, which, over the last two years, one day a week, has dedicated itself to the task of refurbishing and signaling our Jacobs.

The first two paths that this group of volunteers simultaneously faced were the Vía de la Plata from the border with Salamanca, and the section of our Zamorano-Portuguese Road, from the capital to the border with Portugal in Quintanilha.

Afterwards, the Camino de Levante, which enters the province by Villafranca del Duero, was revised, continuing through Toro and Villalazán until reaching Zamora; and the Camino del Southeast, which by Villalpando links to the Vía de la Plata in Benavente.

We also acted in the section of the Tera Road, continuing from Benavente to Santa Marta de Tera, where it links with the Sanabrés Road, and finally, the Sanabrés Road, which is the main artery followed by pilgrims from the south or from the east. Along this road, once past Puente Quintos, an important task had to be undertaken to save a small creek that in times of intense rains proved difficult for pilgrims to overcome, enabling steps with wood, stones and land.

Undoubtedly the most complex section, whose revision was postponed in time, has been the section between Puebla de Sanabria and Alto de A Canda, boundary with the Galician community.

First was the confinement by the pandemic and finally the arrival of winter, they delayed this necessary conditioning work to end the road signs in Zamora.

The new tunnels and viaducts of the railway in the region of Alta Sanabria – especially in the climb to the Portilla de Padornelo and to the stretch between Aciberos and Lubián – were those that had altered the itinerary of this road more, the pilgrims had to be diverted by alternative routes, as has been the arcén of the N-525 road to cross the Alto de Ornberos.

Once the works have been completed, the Zamorana Association of the Roads of Santiago has carried out the review of this last section, counting for this the invaluable collaboration of D. Felipe Lubián, Mayor of Lubián, who has once again shown his concern and devotion to the maintenance of the roads, touring and informing of the old routes followed by the pilgrims, thus recovering the traditional roads.

The City Hall of Lubián has conditioned and flattened the climb to the port of the Padornelo following the original trace, once again running through sites loaded with great natural beauty. However, at the beginning of the climb itself, you have to cross a small stream, which barely carries water for most of the year, but during the rainy season its passage can be complicated, so a short alternative path has been provisionally marked until a small wooden bridge is installed.

After passing the port and crossing the village of Padornelo, the pilgrim arrives at Aciberos. Here, too, he has to face the passage through a murdered path that is usually flooded as the waters coming down from the mountain pass through it. The alternative, if there is no valid solution without altering the purity of the place, will be to continue along the local road to the village. Something similar happens in the route to La Canda: it does not offer any major problems, except for some places where mountain water relievers, in rainy times, can embark excessively on some sections of the road; as in other places in the area, alternatives are scarce, given the orography and the difficulty in accessing to carry out the precise work to solve the problem.

The volunteers of the association who have been reviewing and signaling this last section of the road, have done so hoping and wishing that the pilgrims who walk through it find in these places those unique and rewarding places that, perhaps, is what they have been looking for, enjoying the harmony with nature, which will certainly favor them to reach the true goal of the pilgrimage.

It is a pleasure to be able to conclude this project of improvement and signaling of our roads, recovering the original routes and avoiding the danger that the road represents for those who are forced to walk through the arcén, especially in sections such as the climb of the Padornelo, where it has been possible to enable a path that had always been used and was being invaded by the weed and had fallen into disuse over time.

To thank the volunteers of the Zamorana Association of the Roads of Santiago, who have devoted their time enthusiastically, to improve the path that pilgrims follow on their journey to Compostela.


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