Camino Frances Day 21 – El Acebo to Cacabelos

Walking the French route of the Camino de Santiago is a truly unforgettable experience. 

Day 21 of your journey takes us from the picturesque village of El Acebo to the town of Cacabelos, passing through the historic city of Ponferrada along the way.

El Acebo to Cacabelos Overview

  • Distance – 33km
  • From – El Acebo
  • To – Cacabelos
  • Min/Maz Elevation 483m/1146m
  • Elevation gain – 238m
  • Steps – 46,000

Well ! Our old friend from Zubiri, Ulrich van Scnitzelberger, was alive and noisy last night in our 24 person room with, what felt like, his cousins, brothers and friends as well. 

The Noise was unbelievable. One of the key bits of advise I was given on my second day on the Camino Frances was to use your Ear Plugs every night and use them properly. I do this every night and get a good nights sleep most nights.

Last night was different and the Camino Anthem was pretty bad.

Pilgrims watching the sunrise above El Acebo

So we ended up getting up early and hit the trail at 6.30am and what an absolute joy it was !

Watching the sunrise on the Camino Frances is amazing and a memory I will remember forever.

We hiked downhill for some time dropping about 1.500 ft along a dry mountain stream bed. Watch your footing when you take this section of the trail.

If you have any hot spots on your feet this is a section that will really hurt, so make sure you are taking care of your feet with a good blister regime.

To keep any hot spots or blisters at bay i follow the same regime for all my walks on the Camino. 

I always take 3 pairs of Merino wool socks and change them at least once during the day. Just after midday is a perfect time to air your feet out and change your walking socks. 

You can peg your old socks to the outside of your backpack to air them out if needed.

If I get any hot spots I will make sure I tape them up before I set off with some simple walking tape. 

When i finish walking for the day I always wear flip flops to let the air get to my feet and always cream my feet with Gehwol foot cream in the evening. 

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We got to the bottom of the mountain and came across a small village called Molinaseca. The walk down from El Acebo was just as tough as the walk down from the Crux de Ferro to El Acebo.

Church in Molinesca

We arrived in Molinaseca by crossing a large medieval bridge knows as the ‘Bridge of Pilgrims’.

It is a really lovely village and one of the most popular and beautiful stops on the Camino Frances.

We stopped and had our mid morning Cafe con Leche and relaxed in the early morning sunshine.

statue in Molinaseca

From Molinaseca its about 22km to Cacabelos but about 8km away from here is the fantastic city of Ponferrada with only 1 village to pass through on route which is Campo.

The trail on route is pretty boring but I’ve been looking forward to visiting Ponferrada the whole trip so can’t wait to get there.


Ponferrada is a busy town on the Camino de Santiago and well worth having as a stage stop over if you get the chance.

As with most towns and villages in Spain there is a really large town square surrounded by bars and cafes and perfect for chilling in the sunshine with a cold beer and some tapas.

It is also surrounded by small cobbled side streets and is only a few minutes away from the Castilla de las Templarios, the Knights Templar castle dominating the whole landscape.

Ponferrada castle

Ponferrada Castle - Castilla de los Templarios

The Castle of Ponferrada is a medieval fortress located in the city of Ponferrada, in the province of León, Spain.

The castle was built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar, a powerful Catholic military order, as a way to protect the pilgrims who were traveling on the Camino de Santiago.

The Knights Templar were responsible for ensuring the safety of the pilgrims who traveled along the Camino de Santiago route, and the Castle of Ponferrada served as a key part of their defense strategy.

It was also one of the largest fortress castles in north western Spain

Over the centuries, the castle changed hands several times, with various military orders and noble families occupying it at different times.

In the 19th century, the castle was badly damaged and fell into disrepair. However, in the 20th century, it was restored and turned into a museum.

It now showcasing the history of the Knights Templar and the castle’s role in protecting the pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago.

Today, the Castle of Ponferrada remains an important cultural and historical landmark in Spain, attracting thousands of visitors each year, including many pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.

The castle serves as a reminder of the important role that the Knights Templar played in protecting the pilgrims who journeyed along this iconic route.

It serves as a natural stop on the Camino and perfect to while the day away and explore to your hearts content. Check out the Guided tours of the castle along with a guided walking tour.

As part of planning to come and walk this amazing journey I had promised to bring my 3 year old son a present back that he would always remember as I was away from home for over a month.

Today in Ponferrada was the day I found that present. A fantastic Knights templar sword and shield. The only issue I know had was how was I going to transport it for another 10 days on the Camino and then get it home.

A large rubber band and some straps on my Osprey Talon 33 backpack did the trick and I actually got the present back home unscathed :-). and yes…… he loved it

Pilgrim with sword and shield from ponferrada

We had lunch in Ponferrada and even succumbed to a cold beer but alas we have to press on as we are time bound along the trail. 

We only have 28 days to complete our Camino Frances pilgrimage and have a planned stop at Cacabelos which is another 14km. The view down the river as we left Ponferrada was amazing.

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river view from Ponferrada

It was a very hot day and the walk from Ponferrada after a cold beer was pretty long and tiring but we arrived in Cacabelos in the late afternoon after walking nearly 34km.

We decided to treat ourselves to a hotel and chose the Hostal Santa Maria as they do laundry as well. The lady at reception does a service where they launder and dry all the clothes we had.  Well worth it.

Accomodation in Cacabelos

Hostal Santa Maria

  • Double from €45
  • Open All year
  • Laundry, bar, Terrace

Hostal Sigla XIX

  • Double from €75
  • Open All year
  • Laundry, bar, Terrace
  • Character and charm

Saint James Way

  • Multiple rooms & Dorms
  • Open All year
  • Bar

Albergue Municipal de Cacabelos

  • 70 beds
  • from €5
  • Shared bathrooms

After doing laundry we went out into this very pretty town and had a great dinner washed down with a few Spanish beers. 

After 20+ days on the road my Spanish has really improved and asking for beers and and tapas work a treat.

¿Puedo tener tres cervezas y algunas tapas, por favor?

Can i have three beers and some tapas please ?


It was a long day on the road from El Acebo to Cacabelos but a fabulous days walk. We have another long 30km day tomorrow but we start to climb again and pass through O’Cebreiro.

The hotel and town are well worth a stop over when walking the Camino Frances. I recommend it.

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