The Santo Toribio de Liébana Monastery in Cantabria is a major Catholic pilgrimage site. Alongside Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela, it is one of the four holy sites where a pilgrim can win the Jubilee. In addition, it is located in the region of Liébana, an idyllic oasis of tranquillity and nature which is worth a trip to see in itself.
There are eight hiking routes in total which stop off or end at the Santo Toribio Monastery in the municipality of Camaleño. These routes bring us into contact with the marvellous natural spots in Liébana, an open valley in the heart of the Cantabrian Mountain Range, alongside the Picos de Europa National Park.
Appropriate footwear and clothing need to be worn for mountain hiking. In turn, being an area with a mountain climate, the routes should be taken in summer. Lastly, it is recommended to have a good level of physical fitness.
The GR-71 long distance route passes by the monastery (Saja Reserve Trail). There are two ways to get to Santo Toribio: either from the town of Pejanda (Polaciones), covering the so-called Peña Sagra Way, running 31 kilometres (around 8 hours 45 minutes walking), or departing from Sotres in Asturias on the route known as the Pelea Way (running 25 kilometres, around 6 hours and 45 minutes). The first passes alongside the Virgen de la Luz Shrine and the second follows an old mining trail through the hamlets of Tresviso and Bejes, famous for the Picón cheese.
There are a further seven routes to the monastery. Arceón Way or the PR-S3 starts in Collado de Joz, on the road between the municipalities of Lamasón and Peñarrubia. They run for 24 kilometres (around 6 hours 15 minutes) along the old trail that linked Liébana with the coast, through the port of Arceón. They also pass by the splendid Mozarabic church of Santa María de Lebeña (10th century).
Pasaneu Way or the PR-S4 starts in Lafuente (Lamasón) and crosses the high passes of Pasaneu and Taruey (33.5 kilometres, around 8 hours 15 minutes). It then heads down into Bedoya Valley before heading towards Potes, the county capital, where it merges with the Arceón and Duje trails. The Infantado Tower and the Gothic church of San Vicente are worth a visit in Potes.
Piasca Way of the PR-S5 starts in Pesaguero and covers the entire Valdeprado Valley to Potes (23.5 kilometres, around 6 hours). The Romanesque church of Santa María de Piasca is worth a stop off.
Cereceda Way of the PR-S6 starts in village of Bores (Vega de Liébana) and covers the Cereceda Valley also to Potes (17 kilometres, around 4 hours 15 minutes).
Valdebaró Way or the PR-S7 is perhaps the busiest since it starts at the impressive Fuente Dé Cirque, alongside the cable car that heads to the peaks of the Picos de Europa mountains. It runs for 22 kilometres (around 6 hours).
Finally, there is Duje Way or the PR-S8 (25 kilometres, around 6 hours 45 minutes). It also starts in the village of Sotres but heads into Liébana across the majestic Puertos de Áliva, alongside the Picos de Europa mountains. It also passes through the picturesque village of Mogrovejo.
All these routes lead to Santo Toribio de Liébana, a splendid monastery with Gothic Cistercian architecture. It is home to the Lignum Crucis relic which, according to Catholic tradition, is the largest piece of wood in existence from the cross of Jesus of Nazareth. The monk Beatus of Liébana illuminated the Comments on the Apocalypse manuscript here in the 8th century.
What to see on the route
What to do