The Northern Caminos
The Caminos Norte, Primitivo and Inglés
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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.
- summers are ideal, for access to facilities and sunny weather, but the routes are navigable year-round
- Major cities include San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, Gijón, Lugo, and Santiago de Compostela.
- 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
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
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 A Fonsagrada
Stage 9 A Fonsagrada 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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Camino del Norte Baggage Transfer :
Jose Luis Pardo Rodríguez no longer offers baggage transfer services on the Camino del Norte. Instead, your best bet is now the service offered by Correos (the Spanish post office). +34 683440022
Camino del Norte, Stage 12:
New albergue in Santillana del Mar: Albergue El Convento (36 beds, 12-16€, open all year, breakfast available, @, 680 594 138) (109)
Camino del Norte, Stage 15:
A reader reports on a route change: "From Andrin , the official yellow arrows now follow the coastal variant, but somewhat different from the book, making the guidebook's explanations highly confusing" (124)
Camino del Norte, Stage 16:
A reader recommends Hotel Gavitu in Celorio, particularly outside of peak season when options decline considerably
Camino del Norte, Stage 17:
A reader suggests Hotel Las Vegas in Colunga (singles 28-35€, doubles 35-55€, 985 856 025) and notes that Hostal El Mesón is currently closed and "looks awful" (136)
Norte, Stage 16: Casa Belén in Cuerres will be closed in 2018, while the owners take a sabbatical.
Norte, Stage 23 - New albergue in Navia: Albergue San Roque (10€, 24 beds, open March 1 - November 30, Kitchen, W/D, wifi, Avda Manuel Suárez 3 bajo, 691 904 242) (166)
Norte, Stage 27 - New albergue in Abadín: Albergue Xabarín (15€, 25 beds, Kitchen, W/D, wifi, 690 181 811) (183)
Norte, Stage 27 - New albergue in Vilalba: Albergue As Pedreiras (10€, 28 beds, Kitchen, W/D, wifi, open all year, 620 137 711) (187)
Stage 3: Reader Andrew shares that in summer 2017 the route changed in part towards the end of this section. He writes, "the path after Leiro is very different and does not include a stop by Bar Julia. The final stages are probably the same but the route did look new, the way markers were quite pristine. I used an app to log the route and the new one takes you through Leiro on the DP - 0150. It then takes you off the road and onto a wide dirt track uphill for several miles. It takes you past the Encoro de Beche. This is a reservoir. It has toilets and a camping area. You then get back onto the road and route takes you under AP9. You follow the road and then go off onto a path through woods to Vao. You then go across countryside which is mostly heathland and some woods. This takes you eventually to a side road and onto AC542. Here you find the Bar Casa Avelina on Avenida Travesas in Veira.
"You then walk down the AC 542 alongside an electricity plant. You then turn left opposite the road to the Castro das Travesas Hill fort. You go down the track past a chicken farm. This conforms to your instruction "After 400m, near farm buildings, turn right..." etc. This gets you to Brumas."
Stage 4: Reader Andrew also shares news on a route change entering Santiago: "It diverges at the Hotel Castro. The route takes you through some woods at the back of the hotel (the hotel has an honesty bar for pilgrims). It then takes you parallel to the Estrata Porrino Redondela. On the other side of the road is a wood processing factory which is huge. You then walk through the back of an industrial estate, past a large cemetry and into the suburbs of Santiago. The route takes you into Parque de Fermin Bouza Brey and along Avenida de Xoan XX111. We lost the route in terms of way markers but were so close that it did not matter."
Camino del Norte, Stage 25: Vilela's Albergue de Peregrinos is no longer open year-round. Instead, its opening season is less clear, as it operates now primarily as an over-flow space for Ribadeo's small albergue, primarily in the summer. Before leaving Ribadeo, make sure to confirm that Vilela's albergue is operational.
The Authors are putting update for this guide straight onto their own website. They can be found at;
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
Dave Whitson is a high school History teacher in Portland, Oregon and a graduate of the University of Washington. He made his first pilgrimage in 2002 on the Camino Francés and was inspired to return with a group of his high school students, which he did in 2004. He has made long-distance treks in Norway on the Pilgrim Road to Nidaros, in England on the North Downs Way to Canterbury, and in Turkey on the Lycian Way, all told walking roughly 10,000 kilometers on pilgrim roads in Europe.View Guidebooks by Dave Whitson
Laura Perazzoli graduated from John Hopkins University with a degree in Writing Seminars and currently lives in Seattle, Washington. She completed her first pilgrimage in 2004 on the Camino Francés as one of the students on Dave Whitson's initial student pilgrimage. After this trip, she was excited to provide others with a similar experience and has since led student pilgrimage trips on the Camino Francés, the Camino del Norte and the Via Francigena. Laura first walked the Camino del Norte and Primitivo with a student group in 2009 and returned in 2011 to re-walk the route and to complete the Camino Inglés to ensure up-to-date route information for this guidebook.View Guidebooks by Laura Perazzoli
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