Camino Frances Day 20: walking from Santa Catalina to El Acebo

We’re walking the Camino Frances Day 20 and due to reach the Cruz de Ferro today, a significant landmark on the French route. 

Todays route sees us walking from Santa Catalina to El Acebo and we’re really excited about getting to the Iron Cross this morning after 3 weeks of walking.

Camino Frances Day 20 Overview

  • Distance – 29 km
  • From – Santa Catalina de Somoza
  • To – El Acebo
  • Min/Max Elevation – 980m/1512m
  • Elevation gain – 675m
  • Steps – 39,000

We had a great Pilgrim dinner last night of salad with egg and chips all washed down with a great red wine for only €12 per person.

We enjoyed our meal in the company of 2 pilgrims,  Susanna from Germany and Tina from Denmark.  

They we’re great company and took our Yorkshire humour in really good form. 

More pilgrims walking from santa catalina to el acebo

Walking from Santa Catalina to El Acebo

We were up early and our new pilgrim friend Tina headed out with us in the morning as she has no head torch and wanted us to help with lighting the way. We all put our head torches on and led the way.

Before I left I dropped my Ibuprofen Tablets to help with my footpain ? What foot pain ! I look forward with competitive glee for your return …..

We headed off for our ascent on the biggest mountain we have to conquer and a visit to the Cruz de Ferro, the Camino Iron cross. 

The Iron Cross also represents the spiritual renewal that pilgrims seek on their journey. The tradition of leaving a stone at the foot of the Iron Cross is a powerful symbol of the pilgrimage journey and the spiritual transformation that can occur.

We have our stones ready after walking with them for 3 weeks.

Top Tip: Some Pilgrims leave paper letters and pictures by the Cruz de Ferro but on our arrival at the Iron cross some local council workers were removing wet paper and pictures. Leave a stone to avoid it being taken away.

Cruz de Ferro
Cruz de ferro stones at the iron Cross

Our next stop is Manjarin which they say is the least inhabited town on the whole Camino Frances. 


Manjarin is a quaint little town located just after the Cruz de Ferro. The town is known for its rustic and charming atmosphere, narrow streets and a couple of stone houses that dates back to the 16th century.

Despite its small size, Manjarin has a rich history that is deeply intertwined with the Knights Templar, an ancient order of warrior-monks who played a significant role in medieval Europe.

Tomas, a resident of Manjarin, claims to be the last of the Knights Templar inheriting the title from his ancestors who were members of the order. 

He has dedicated his life to preserving the legacy of the Knights Templar, and he has turned his home in Manjarin into a sanctuary for travelers who are walking the Camino de Santiago.

Pilgrim Bob in Majarin

Visitors are welcomed to stay in his home, which he has decorated with artifacts, memorabilia and other historical items related to the Knights Templar.

Many Pilgrims who pass through Manjarin are intrigued by Tomas and his unique way of life. Some are skeptical of his claims, but most find his dedication and passion inspiring. 

He was a really interesting man to speak with when we passed through.

Regardless of whether or not Tomas is truly the last of the Knights Templar, his presence in Manjarin has added to the town’s rich history and charm, making it a must-visit destination for anyone walking the Camino de Santiago.

We still have 222 km to go before arriving in Santiago de Compostela.

Pilgrim Mark Stevens at Manjarin
Camino waymarker in Manjarin

We we’re at the top of Alto de Zerezales. It’s 4,500 ft above sea level and the views were breathtaking. 

We are tired but haven’t got that far to go before we get to our destination of El Acebo.

We have a rocky 1,000 ft descent to walk down which is pretty tricky and you just have to take your time. 

It took us about an hour before we arrived into El Acebo and time to find an albergue for the evening.

Pilgrims walking from santa catalina to el acebo
Pilgrims walking from santa catalina to el acebo

El Acebo

El Acebo is a small village located in the region of El Bierzo and a popular stopping point for Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago path because of its charming architecture and beautiful surroundings.

We have had a tough walk down into El Acebo after visiting the Cruz de Ferro and Manjarin and the after all the descent the village is still 1,170 meters above sea level.

We decided to have a couple of cold beers and there was a bar at the beginning of the village called the La Rosa del Agua. 

They had a little terrace and a mini market and the beer was very cold and well worth the hard days walk.

We walked into the village and found the first Albergue down the street called Albergue Meson El Acebo and got ourselves unpacked and had a hot shower. The Albergue was really nice, with lots of bunk beds over a couple of floors. It worked a treat.

We later found out there was another Albergue with a swimming pool in the village ! more on that to follow….

Meson el acebo
Meson el acebo

After we got settled in we went for a walk around this lovely village and low and behold we found another Albergue at the end of the village with a swimming pool. Jealous ! you bet we were..

The Albergue La Casa del Peregrinos looked fabulous. next time we’ll give that one a try as we’ve heard the reviews are good.

Albergue La Casa Del Peregrino
Albergue La Casa Del Peregrino

We finished the evening with a game of cards, a few beers and a Pilgrim dinner for €12 each. It did the job and we were in bed early.

Tomorrow we arrive and walk through Ponferrada which I’m really looking forward to especially seeing the Knights Templar castle in the centre of the town.

Albergues in El Acebo

We stayed in Albergue Meson El Acebo which was a perfectly good albergue. There are a small number of other accommodation options in the village which all have good reviews.

Albergue Meson El Acebo

  • 18 beds
  • from €5 per person
  • Open from Feb to Nov
  • Bar, Restaurant and pet friendly.

Albergue La Casa Del Peregrino

  • 8 dormitory rooms
  • €10 per person
  • Open all year
  • Swimming Pool

La Trucha del Arco Iris

  • 7 beds, 3 rooms
  • Single €30, Double €50
  • Open all year
  • Swimming Pool TV, WiFi, Pet friendly

Casa La Rosa del Agua

  • 10 beds
  • from €40 per person
  • Open from Feb to Nov
  • Terrace, Wifi Bar, Bar
Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens

I am a long distance walking nerd and fell in love with the Camino de Santiago in 2016 when I walked the French Way for the first time. I've been blogging since then and my aim is to help all Pilgrims with hiking and walking advice.

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