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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.
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|
|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|
THE Camino del Norte runs along the northern coast of Spain from France to Santiago de Compostela. spanning over BOOkm. With the alternatives and extensions that make up
the Northern Caminos, it offers a much less crowded pilgrimage route to the popular Camino Frances but has the same range of historic religious sites, clear waymarking and plentiful cheap accommodation for pilgrims.This guide provides stage by stage descriptions of all four routes and all the information even a first time backpacker will need to make the most of this one in a lifetime experience.
The stunning diversity of these routes is amazing - there are challenging coastal ascents in the Basque country, rugged ruraJ tracks through Asturias along with some of Europe's most popular sandy beaches and more isolated hideaways - often only accessible to walkers. Those walking this route will not only have spectacular scenery but will join the historic pilgrims as they follow pathways to sacred Santiago de Compostela - one of the three major centres of Catholic pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. The guide gives very clear descriptions to help the walker choose their route - from day one if starting at Irun there is a choice of mountains or coastal walking. To walk the entire route would take about 5 weeks plus rest days so for those without unlimited free time the gUide gives good guidance of what is achievable in the time you have.The summer is the recommended time - out of season the area can get quite soggy and many of the albergues are only open in the school holidays.
However, for those in search of solitude this can be found on the coast in March but pilgrims walking out of season must be prepared for snow and bitterly cold weather. To be awarded your Compostela - a document acknowledging your pilgrimage· you must have completed a pilgrim's passport and have walked the final 1OOkm.This passport also gives you entry to the pilgrim hostels where you may stay one night in return for a small charge but must leave by 8am. Some albergues have kitchens but for those without there are plenty of places to find breakfast croissants, lunch bocadillos and an evening meal but the late serving of this meal in Spanish towns can be quite a challenge to getting to your bed by 10pm when the albergues close their doors.
The route is broken down into stages. each representing a day: 31 stages for the Norte. 12 for the Primitivo and four for the Ingles route. Each stage gives very clear guidance on difficulty, distance, ascent/descent and availability of albergues on the route; information about youth hostels, etc. is included in the full text. Most of the route is well waymarked and each stage clearly shows if you can just trust the arrows or need to take more care in finding the waymarks. There are clear maps and photographs throughout, all of which help make the route very enticing, and the availability of cheap accommodation is a bonus. This is certainly one to add to the list of must do's.
Sue Lee, Strider magazine