The Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) is made up of a varied network of ancient pilgrim routes meandering across Europe and uniting at the tomb of St. James (Santiago) in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. By far the most popular route is the French Way which stretches 780 kilometers (500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago in Galicia. For our holiday we will follow the last 119km (73.5 miles) of this route which is sufficient to apply for the Compostela certificate awarded to pilgrims along the Way.
The itinerary is perfect for those seeking to capture the essence of the Camino. During our trek we will enjoy beautiful scenery, walk through many delightful hamlets, discover local customs, meet fellow walkers, taste delicious local food and wine and have time to savour the unique atmosphere of this ancient pilgrim’s route.
Most of the walking is on fairly flat ground with good paths. Our days will vary between reasonably short days with the opportunity to rest and explore (or perhaps take an afternoon siesta) and some longer days. The longest day is around 25.5km (16 miles) and the shortest 14km (9 miles). Although some women may wish to complete the Camino as a pilgrimage, a suitable level of fitness is still required to complete the sometimes long walking days involved.
The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the beginning of the 9th century when the tomb of Santiago was reportedly discovered here in northwest Spain. The route was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, together with those to Rome and Jerusalem. The cathedral that now houses the tomb of St James is magnificent and on a grand scale – a fitting end to the pilgrimage. Its carved stone façade is certainly a sight to behold and remember for many years to come.
Each participant will receive a “pilgrim’s passport” which is stamped at each stop along the way and serves as a special souvenir of the journey. It can also be used as proof that you have walked 100km and therefore qualify for a certificate which you can collect in Santiago at the end of your walk.
We will stay in family run ensuite accommodation along the way and a 3* hotel in Santiago.
Price includes: 8 nights half board accommodation (water and wine included with evening meals); luggage transfer; airport transfer to Santiago airport at certain times; pilgrim’s passport. Single ensuite rooms available if you book early – £20 per night supplement.
Not included: flight to Santiago, lunch
Itinerary (Please note that this itinerary is subject to change)
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN SARRIA.
Transfer from Santiago airport to Sarria where our route begins tomorrow. Sarria is the main town between Ponferrada and Santiago de Compostela. The Romanesque Church of Our Saviour, with its Gothic façade, and the convent of Magdalena are well worth a visit, as are the Rua Maior main street and the ancient medieval castle tower.
Day 2: SARRIA – PORTOMARIN (23 km /14 miles)
Expect a peaceful walk in shady oak woods through pretty villages on quiet country roads. The village of Barbadelo (580m) has a beautiful Romanesque church that is worth a visit. The village of Ferreiros is also on the route. When you arrive in Portomarin, you can relax at one of the numerous outdoor cafés in the main square.
Day 3: PORTOMARIN – PALAS DE REI (25.6 km /16 miles)
The day starts by crossing over the Belesar dam footbridge, followed by a gradual climb ending in the village of Ligonde. This stage runs mainly along andaderos (paths), next to the road, or in some cases along paved trails. There are many signs indicating that we are on a pilgrim route, including the famous “cruceiros” (crucifixes).
Day 4: PALAS DE REI – MELIDE (15 km / 9.5 miles)
On this stage, you will move into the province of Corunna, where you will find expanses of eucalyptus and pine trees and numerous medieval bridges, such as those in Leboreiro and Furelos. Melide, which is famous for its octopus, is an obligatory stop for pilgrims and lovers of good food.
Day 5: MELIDE – ARZUA (14 km / 8.5 miles)
Today you continue through the magnificent landscape of eucalyptus and pine trees and a number of medieval bridges, including some of the most idyllic locations on the Camino in Ribadiso do Baixo near Arzua.
Day 6 : ARZUA – RUA (18.5 km /11.5 miles)
Today’s route is a lovely walk over gentle slopes and through woodland, alternating with stretches near the road, before ending in Rua (500 m before the village of Pedrouzo). Don’t miss the beautiful sculpture of Saint James the Pilgrim in the Church of the same name in Boente.
Day 7: RUA – SANTIAGO (2 3km / 14 miles)
Today we enjoy the last stage of the Camino de Santiago. The route today is flat, except for the climb to San Marcos, from Lavacolla, passing Monte do Gozo and down to Santiago de Compostela. The entire city of Santiago de Compostela is magical, but especially its Cathedral, which deserves a special visit.
Day 8: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
Today we enjoy a free day in Santiago where we can attend the Pilgrim’s Mass or simply enjoy the splendour of the city itself. There is plenty to see or simply take the opportunity to relax after your trek.
Day 9: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
After breakfast, we head back to the airport for our return journey.