Walk the Northern Caminos with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The Northern Caminos
23 Aug 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
1st Published
19 Jan 2015
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The Northern Caminos

The Caminos Norte, Primitivo and Inglés

by Dave Whitson, Laura Perazzoli
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to the Camino del Norte (Northern Caminos) pilgrim route through northern Spain to the sacred city of Santiago de Compostela. Includes stage-by-stage descriptions to the Camino del Norte (800km), Camino Primitivo, Camino Ingles (116km route) and the Camino de Finisterre, and provides advice, information on pilgrim hostels and more.

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This guidebook is a meticulously detailed yet handy companion to walking the pilgrimage routes that lead through northern Spain to the sacred city of Santiago de Compostela, with stage-by-stage descriptions to four routes: the Camino del Norte, the Camino Primitivo, the Camino Inglés and the Camino de Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela, whose cathedral houses the relics of Saint James, was one of the three major centres of Catholic pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, along with Rome and Jerusalem. There was no single route to Santiago; the trail began at one's doorstep. But as pilgrims approached Spain, many converged on a handful of particularly popular routes, known historically as the Caminos de Santiago, or Way of St James.

The Camino del Norte is an 817km five-week coastal route from the town of Irun, near the French border. This route follows relatively flat terrain through quiet coastal villages. It is the most heavily frequented of the Northern Caminos, attracting two or three times as many pilgrims as the Primitivo.

One alternative is the Camino Primitivo, which splits off from the Norte at Sebrayo, near Oviedo, for the next 355km. This route cuts inland through the Cordillera Cantabrica and includes some significant ascents and descents. 

The second alternative is the Camino Ingles, a five-day 116km-route from the city of Ferrol on the north-west coast. A much shorter route, this camino is still long enough to meet the requirements of the Compostela – that the last 100km of your pilgrimage to Santiago is completed on foot. 

For many modern pilgrims, the walk does not end in Santiago de Compostela. Instead, they are drawn still father to the west, as far as the land will permit. They walk the Camino Finisterre, a three-day extension route from Santiago to the west coast.

Although the Camino Francés is often referred to as the Camino de Santiago, it is actually, along with these Northern Caminos, part of a network of routes. As the Francés is so popular, however, the Northern Caminos offer ideal conditions. They are popular enough to offer sufficient facilities, clear waymarking and a community of pilgrims, while plentiful cheap accommodation along the way means no need to race for a bed.

  • detailed colour maps and stage-by-stage route description
  • plenty of advice including recommended gear and information on every pilgrim hostel
  • an extensive glossary of key words in English, Spanish and Euskera
  • descriptions of the many historic shrines, churches, towns and cities visited
  • Activities
    long-distance trekking, Pilgrimage 'Camino' route
  • Seasons
    summers are ideal, for access to facilities and sunny weather, but the routes are navigable year-round
  • Centres
    Major cities include San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, Gijón, Lugo, and Santiago de Compostela.
  • Difficulty
    the first week of the Camino del Norte (Irún-Santiago) and the first week of the Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Lugo) are strenuous but feasible for people of most abilities; beyond those two stretches, the Northern Caminos are accessible to all walkers
  • Must See
    Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, famous cities (San Sebastián, Bilbao, Oviedo, Lugo), medieval villages (Santillana del Mar), sandy beaches, good hiking


The Authors are putting update for this guide straight onto their own website. They can be found at;



The story of St James
The Northern Caminos: yesterday and today
Along the routes: different cultures
Choosing your camino
When to go
Preparation and planning
Being a pilgrim
Getting there and back
Postal services
Other local facilities
Waymarking, route-planning and maps
Using this guide
The Camino del Norte
Stage 1 Irún to San Sebastián
Stage 2 San Sebastián to Zarautz
Stage 3 Zarautz to Deba
Stage 4 Deba to Markina-Xemein
Stage 5 Markina-Xemein to Gernika
Stage 6 Gernika to Bilbao
Stage 7 Bilbao to Pobeña
Stage 8 Pobeña to Castro-Urdiales
Stage 9 Castro-Urdiales to Laredo
Stage 10 Laredo to Guemes
Stage 11 Guemes to Santander
Stage 12 Santander to Santillana del Mar
Stage 13 Santillana del Mar to Comillas
Stage 14 Comillas to Colombres
Stage 15 Colombres to Llanes
Stage 16 Llanes to Ribadesella
Stage 17 Ribadesella to Sebrayo
Stage 18 Sebrayo to Gijón
Stage 19 Gijón to Avilés
Stage 20 Avilés to Soto de Luiña
Stage 21 Soto de Luiña to Cadavedo
Stage 22 Cadavedo to Luarca
Stage 23 Luarca to La Caridad
Stage 24 La Caridad to Ribadeo
Stage 25 Ribadeo to Lourenzá
Stage 26 Lourenzá to Gontán
Stage 27 Gontán to Baamonde
Stage 28 Baamonde to Miraz
Stage 29 Miraz to Sobrado dos Monxes
Stage 30 Sobrado dos Monxes to Arzúa
Stage 31 Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela
The Camino Primitivo
Stage 1 Sebrayo to Pola de Siero
Stage 2 Pola de Siero to Oviedo
Stage 3 Oviedo to San Juan de Villapañada
Stage 4 San Juan de Villapañada to Bodenaya
Stage 5 Bodenaya to Campiello
Stage 6 Campiello to Berducedo
Stage 7 Berducedo to Grandas de Salime
Stage 8 Grandas de Salime to Padrón
Stage 9 Padrón to Cádavo Baleira
Stage 10 Cádavo Baleira to Lugo
Stage 11 Lugo to As Seixas
Stage 12 As Seixas to Arzúa
Primitivo–Norte link: Oviedo to Avilés
The Camino Inglés
Stage 1 Ferrol to Pontedeume
Stage 2 Pontedeume to Betanzos
Stage 3 Betanzos to Hospital de Bruma
Stage 4 Hospital de Bruma to Santiago de Compostela
Alternative start: A Coruña to Hospital de Bruma
The Camino Finisterre
Stage 1 Santiago de Compostela to Negreira
Stage 2 Negreira to Olveiroa
Stage 3 Olveiroa to Finisterre
Appendix A Route summary tables
Appendix B English–Spanish–Euskera glossary
Appendix C Suggestions for further reading
Appendix D Useful sources of information
Appendix E Index of principal place names
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