The Winter Way is the natural entrance to Galicia from the central plateau, an access already used by the Romans. It is thought that it could have been a winter alternative to the hard climb and the snowy heights of O Cebreiro.
The Winter Way:
Length 235.6 Km
Stretching for over 200 kilometres it crosses the four provinces of Galicia together with attractive, historical regions full of personality such as those of Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Deza.The Winter Way is the natural entrance to Galicia from the central plateau, an access already used by the Romans. It is thought that it could have been a winter alternative to the hard climb and the snowy heights of O Cebreiro where the French Way enters Galicia, and also to avoid the frequent overflows of the rivers of the Valley of Valcarce.
It starts in Ponferrada, the entrance hall to Galicia, in the Bierzo region of Leon. Here the pilgrim makes a detour to the left instead of continuing straight ahead by the French Way. The Winter Way practically follows the natural course of the caudaloso River Sil through the Valdeorras region of Ourense. Then it runs through the south of the province of Lugo, continues through the region of Deza (Pontevedra), until it reaches Compostela. In total, somewhat less than 250 kilometres through the four provinces of Galicia.
Panorama of the Serra da Enciña da Lastra Nature Park
The Winter Way practically follows the natural course of the fast flowing River Sil through the Valdeorras region of Ourense and the south of the Ribeira Sacra to the lands of Deza, the geographical centre of Galicia. In total, approximately 250 kilometres through the four provinces of Galicia.
Historians situate the origin of this route in the Roman epoch: a secondary road is documented and this started from the gold exploitations of Las Médulas towards the Via XVIII, which passed through the region of Valdeorras, where the gold was evacuated from. The Roman tunnel of Montefurado is today a proof of this.
The route was taken by different peoples throughout history. At the beginning of the XIX century it also served as an entrance for the invading troops of Napoleon. In 1883 the first railway line was built along it to communicate Galicia with the rest of the Peninsula.
The Winter Way is attractive for many reasons: it starts from Las Médulas, a World Heritage Site. It crosses regions such as that of Valdeorras or starts from the Ribeira Sacra, territories with excellent wines, often grown in unlikely landscapes, and zones where the Romanic style is seen in numerous Churches and Monasteries. In 2003, the Ribeira Sacra was incorporated by the Council of Europe into its Itineraries of Interest.
Here it is possible to visit the monumental heritage of Monforte de Lemos, and the wineries and traditional architecture of Chantada. It is also possible to climb to the top of the Lighthouse, from where the landscapes of four provinces of Galicia can be made out.
At Lalín it converges with the Vía de la Plata (Silver way) and they continue together to Compostela. In total, there are nine stages where the tranquillity of this alternative, scarcely used route is one of its main attractions.