The Pilgrim Routes
Santiago de Compostela


Northern Spain

The Coastal and Mountainous Pilgrim Routes
to Santiago in Northern Spain

Website created by Eric Walker

A Six Times Santiago Pilgrim
Guide book author and
Member of the Confraternity of Saint James

The most popular route to Santiago, the Camino Francés, will certainly provide you with an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life, this is the one that many people take for their first pilgrimage and is well documented. Due to its increasing popularity however it can be difficult to find accommodation in many of the refuges and albergues at the height of the season.

For those who have already completed one pilgrimage to Santiago by the more usual "Camino Francés", or for those who prefer a quieter, more contemplative journey there are alternative routes to the shrine of Saint James. Many of these are in the north of Spain and have much to offer.

The best way to plan such a journey would be first of all to contact the Confraternity of Saint James in London and obtain a copy of their introductory booklet, "Pilgrim Guides to Spain No.4, Los Caminos Del Norte". This publication shows the position of the major routes, giving a brief description of each one..

As the infrastructure for accommodation and route marking is not, as yet, so well developed on some sections, as it is along that more popular way through Burgos and León you should be prepared to be flexible and sometimes a little more resourceful in finding accomodation, if this is your first attempt at Walking, Riding or Cycling to Santiago. Having said that, the Asturian authorities provided a chain of 22 refugios in time for the Holy Year of 1999. There are also refugios in Cantabria and the Province of Lugo. The situation is improving all the time as these routes become better known.

Membership of the Confraternity provides the potential traveller with a free Pilgrim's Record or Passport, which gives access to those Pilgrim Hostels (Refugios/Albergues) which do exist in the north, as well giving access to many other aids and advantages.


Web Page Contents

Major Routes (Click here to see map)


The following guidebooks are available from the Confraternity of Saint James:

These can all be obtained from the on-line bookshop at the Confraternity's Website:




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Biographical Information

Eric Walker boarding the Santander ferry at Plymouth

July 14th 1993
Retired as Design and Technology Master at the Bradford Grammar School in West Yorkshire.
July 5th 1994
Received my first Compostela (Certificate for completion of the pilgrimage) in Santiago after cycling from Auxerre in France, following the route through Vézelay, Nevers, Limoges, Perigueux and Orthez to Saint Jean Pied de Port. From Saint Jean over the Pyrenees and along the Camino Francés to Santiago.
September 21st 1995
Received my second Compostela after cycling from Santander, following the Ruta de la Costa to Villaviciosa and then turning inland to Oviedo. This was so that I could go through the mountains, along the Ruta del Interior (Camino Primitivo), to Lugo, joining the main Camino at Portomarín. This journey came about as a result of my increasing interest in the routes which English pilgrims might have followed as they journeyed to Santiago.
September 7th 1997
Received my third Compostela, starting again at Santander. After spending some time exploring the different routes through Trasmeira I then cycled the Ruta de la Costa, in the reverse direction, as far as Irún and turned south-west. From Irún I followed the Tunnel Route to Vitoria, joining the Camino Francés at Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
August 16th 1998
Started my fourth journey to Santiago, this time from Gijón. I walked via Avilés, Soto del Barco and Cudillero to Soto de Luiña
August 27th 1999
Started from Avilés, re-checking some of the other alternative routes and then started again properly at Cudillero. I followed the low-level route (Las Ballotas), along the coast through Cadavedo, Luarca, Navia, Porcia, La Caridad and Tapia de Casariego to Ribadeo.
August 22nd 2000
Received my fourth Compostela after completing the journey from Gijón, which I started in 1998. Walked from Ribadeo via Vilanova de Lourenza, Mondoñedo, Abadin, Vilalba, Baamonde, Miraz, Sobrado dos Monxes, Arzua and Arca.
July 5th 2001
Started walking in Hendaye (Hendaia) in France and then followed the Ruta de la Costa through Fuenterrabia (Hondarribia), Pasajes (Pasaia), San Sebastian (Donastia), Orio, Zarauz (Zarautz), Zumaya (Zumaia)and Deva (Deba) to Motrico (Mutriku). This was to check for any changes to the route since 1997.
July 17th 2002
Started from Zumaya (Zumaia) and followed the whole of the Ruta de la Costa as far as Gijón. This was to check for any changes since 1997 , to follow the newly waymarked routes that are described in the Cantabrian guide book 'Cantabria y el Camino de Santiago' and find the places where new road building is affecting the route.
July 1st 2003
Started in Gijón and then first of all back-tracked to Peón to check again the approach route to Gijón. From Gijón I followed the coastal route again but took the alternative route from Porcía and travelled via Vegadeo and Santiago de Abres before re-joining the main route in Vilanova de Lorenzo. I reached Santiago to gain Compostela number five on Friday July 11th.
August 5th 2004
Started in Ribadesella and then followed the coastal route again, but checking more carefully those sections of the route where I had found some difficulty in route-finding in previous visits. Travelled via Colunga, Sebrayo, Villaviciosa and the monastery of Valdediós to Oviedo. From Oviedo I followed the Camino Primitivo to Lugo, staying at the Albergues in San Juan de Villapañada (Grado), Salas, Tineo, Peñaseita (Pola de Allande), Grandas de Salime, Cadavo and Lugo.
June 11th 2005
Re-started in Castroverde (Camino Primitivo) at the point where I left off last year and walked to Lugo with an overnight at Moreira. On the advice of the hospitalero in Lugo I decided to transfer to the Camino Francés as I had injured my back in a fall and the section to Melide (42 km without an albergue) would be too much.
Taking the bus to Sarria I started from there on June 12th, staying at Portomarin, Palas de Rey, Melide, and Ribadiso, reaching Santiago de Compostela on June 20th and Compostela number 6.
The rest of June was spent in checking sections of the Camino del Norte between Baamonde and Miraz, Vegadeo and Santiago de Abres, Lezama and Bilbao Muskiz.and Ontón.
June 14th 2006
Cycled from Santander to Piñeres de Pria to check that the Albergue there was open and what facilities were available in the area.
Taking the FEVE and bus to Villaviciosa I started from there on June 16th, staying 2 days at Valdediós to see how the large triangular junction of new motorways had affected the Caminos in that area.
I reached Oviedo after checking the Albergue in La Vega de Sariego and the route between Pola de Siero and El Berrón.
The rest of June was spent in checking the Camino del Norte for roadworks between Ribadeo and Miraz, and the Camino Primitivo between Castroverde and Melide.
I reached Santiago de Compostela, probably for my last visit on, Sunday 25 th June.


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Some Web Sites

(Some in Spanish)

Site 1
The Web Site of the European Bike Express. This site gives details of the superb coach services which they provide; the easiest way for cycling pilgrims to get to the South of France or the Pyrenees..
Site 2
This is a Spanish Web Site with lots of useful information and comment about the Camino de Santiago. Unusually it also carries information about some of the other routes in the north of Spain.
Site 3
This site gives access to a forum looking at all aspects of the pilgrim routes to Santiago..
Site 4
The Web Site with the routes of all the Camino superimposed on the Google maps of Spain, very useful for pre-planning your route...
Site 5
The Web Site of the Xunta de Galicia..
Site 6
This is a Spanish Web Site with lots of useful information and comment about the Camino de Santiago. Unusually it also carries information about all of the other routes in the north of Spain..
Site 7
The Wikipedia page on the North Coast Route. It is in Spanish but is very complete and with information difficult to find elsewhere.

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© Eric Walker
Last revised:January 1st 2016