The Coastal and Mountainous Pilgrim
to Santiago in Northern Spain
created by Eric Walker
Six Times Santiago Pilgrim Guide book author and Member of the Confraternity
of Saint James
most popular route to Santiago,theCamino
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
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.
best way to plan such a journey would be first of all to contact the Confraternity
of SaintJames 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 atWalking,
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.
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.
Retired as Design and Technology
Master at the Bradford Grammar School in West Yorkshire.
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.
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.
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.
Started my fourth journey
to Santiago, this time from Gijón. I walked via Avilés, Soto del Barco and Cudillero
to Soto de Luiña
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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