Map of the Camino del Cid.
The Camino del Cid
Follow “the Leader”, El Cid Campeador
For most people, walking in Spain usually refers to the legendary Camino del Santiago, and specifically the Camino Frances, which in fact is only one of a dozen-odd trails leading to Santiago de Compostela. But there are many trails that crisscross Spain, and one of the newest – still somewhat in development – is the Camino del Cid, which starts in his birthplace, Vivar del Cid, just north of Burgos and heads south through some of the remotest lands of Europe to Elche in Alicante province, near Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast. The map above shows a loose string of stops along the trail.
El Camino del Cid, meanders over 2,000 kilometers (nearly 1,300 miles) with a number of variants and offshoots. It wanders through eight Spanish provinces, (Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante). Parts of the trail follow the GR-160, through the Tierras Musulmanas (“the moorish lands”). The route is largely based on literature and the demi-legend of Rodrigo Diaz, the eleventh century nobleman, warlord and national hero, as portrayed in the epic poem The Cid.
Inspired by books like As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, former Genesis drummer Chris Stewart and his friend Michael Jacobs set off from Burgos to walk the first section. Here’s a 2010 Telegraph news story with an overview.
Burgos is one of the great stops on the Camino Frances (we stopped there in both 2005 and 2009). The Cid route crosses the Camino de Santiago at a right angle in Burgos, and runs south from the Cathedral through some of the same immense solitude of the meseta that one experiences on the road to Compostela, before reaching the hills further south. The route is also gaining popularity with cyclists, and still very much “unspoiled by crowds” .
Another of Stewart’s inspirations was Marching Spain by V. S. Pritchett, the saga of his 1927 ramble through Iberia on the leading edge of civil war.
For hilarious insight into a foreigner’s experiences in rural Spain, check out Chris Stewart’s own best-seller, Driving Over Lemons.
For a visual sense of the Spanish countryside of the Ruta del Cid, watch this 2007 video made on a cycling tour by Jabata.