We have now reached the third and last stage of the Lebaniego Way. There are only 13.7 kilometres left with an altitude difference of 339 metres to venerate the Lignum Crucis and reach our destination, the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. This third stage which runs from Cabañes to Santo Toribio is the easiest and the shortest of the three, which together with the nearness of the finish line and that the previous stage requires an extra effort, makes it the most attainable of all. Ready to finish the Camino?
Starting off this third stage in Cabañes since the majority of you will have stayed overnight at the hostel in that town. From there, once we have rested up, have eaten a hearty breakfast and adequate rest, setting off towards the “Habario de Pendes”. This magical place, located between the towns of Pendes and Cabañes, is an area of great natural importance, from the point of view of both landscape and ecological. It is a grove full of centenary old chestnut trees, which is why many also know it as the Castañera de Pendes. If there is a perfect spot to enjoy nature with the family in the region of Liébana, this is undoubtedly it.
Once we have visited the El Habario, rested, taken a deep breath and taken the typical photos, we head to the second plan of the day that the Way offers us in its third stage. This is none other than a visit to an authentic artisan cheese factory and subsequent cheese tasting. Those who fall in love with this delicacy can also purchases those cheeses to take back home and indulge at any time of the year. And the fact is that, on our way from the Habario de Pendes, almost at the beginning of the walk, this traditional cheese factory is located, which we are confident that you will love.
Now that we know a little more about the cheeses of the land and tasting those to see which one we like the best, and continuing descending until the San Francisco Chapel and from there to the town of Tama. Once here, it is definitely worth making a detour of approximately 1,500 metres to visit the Picos de Europa Interpretation Centre. Given the fact that we are surrounded by the vastness of the Picos de Europa National Park, what better than to enter this centre to obtain an in depth knowledge of the immensity and importance of this park. It is located in a modern building yet constructed using natural materials such as stone and wood, with various exhibition rooms displaying the characteristics of the landscape of the National Park, its geomorphology, fauna and vegetation, its fluvial networks and its daily uses through the relationship between man and nature. Furthermore, there is a reproduction of a Romanesque church, the different artistic manifestations of the area, a scenography of the Beatus of Liébana, representations of the interior of a dwelling, a shed with the presentation of domestic utensils, a virtual store, and many more things that will bring you closer to the evolution of daily life in this unique landscape of Liébana.
Back on the Lebaniego Way , our route will take us to the Tama church, one of the heritage sites that is interesting to visit, especially its Romanesque remains. Furthermore, in that area, there are a couple of bars should you require take a break and rest or have a drink. On the way to Potes the road can be avoided by taking the Campañana trail, a path running parallel to the road that ends in the centre of this village, one of the most beautiful in Spain.
In Potes one can decide to stay in its hostel which is managed by the Centro de Estudios Lebaniegos (Liébana Centre of Studies), where the key is, and which is located in the old gothic church of San Vicente. The hostel is in a privileged location, from where can be seen the imposing El Infantado Tower, the most symbolic building of Potes, forming a beautiful canvas with the Picos de Europa as a backdrop. The tower served military functions and presided over the old town of Potes, declared a Historic-Artistic Site. This point is a good start for a sightseeing tour of Potes, which should include its famous bridges, its emblazoned houses or the Romanesque cobbled streets in the old quarter. But what is something essential to know about on the Way is its extraordinary gastronomy and in Potes you will find a varied offer, which includes its typical cocido lebaniego (Lebaniego stew of chickpeas, meat and pork sausages), its meats or the famous canónigo, a dessert which is definitely not to be missed.
From Potes setting off towards the Monastery of Santo Toribio, a 4.2 long kilometre route, most of which is uphill. Once we reach the forecourt of the Monastery, which is of classical Gothic and Baroque style, then crossing the threshold of the so-called Door of Forgiveness, which opens for the passage of pilgrims every Lebaniego Holy Year. And when does this happen, you may ask? Well, every year that 16 April falls on a Sunday, since that day is the feast of Santo Toribio, a historical figure known for bringing the Lignum Crucis to Liébana, a relic that is considered the largest piece of the true cross of Christ.
We are currently celebrating the 74th Lebaniego Year, which will conclude on 16 April 2024. For this reason, the Monastery is open to the public and holds its daily Pilgrim’s Mass at 12 noon. For those who decide not to stay in Potes, you should know that, in Santo Toribio, there is a hostel for pilgrim groups.
This is how we have finished our Lebaniego Way. Are you game to do the Way this Jubilee Year? We look forward to your comments and your visit to Cantabria Infinita.