Adventure of the Week - Full Camino: St Jean Pied de Port to SantiagoThere are a few pilgrimage trails that are known the world over - the Kumano Kodo in Japan or the Inca Trail in Peru are notable examples - but in terms of notoriety and popularity, the Camino de Santiago is the king of the pilgrimage trails. Read on to learn more about the full Camino de Santiago also known as The French Way & Way of St. James. [Read time: ~ 4 minutes]
[caption id="attachment_23248" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Walking the Way[/caption]
In a nutshell...
Where is it?'The Way' begins in the picturesque market town of St. Jean Pied to Port in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the mountain range that forms a natural border between the European powers of France and Spain. A week of walking sees you pass over the Pyrenees and begin your journey across the north of Spain, through the forests of beech and oak along the River Arga, across the undulating plains around Pamplona, and through olive groves around Los Arcos before finally reaching Logrono. [caption id="attachment_23252" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The town of Logrono[/caption] Logrono lies in the wine growing region of Rioja, on leaving Logrono you stroll through a landscape of gentle hills swathed in vineyards before beginning upward towards Santa Domingo and the farmland that stretches far into the distance on the approach to the Oca Mountains. After gaining a fair bit of altitude you descend into the valley of the Pico River where, after a little while, the spires of Burgos' magnificent Gothic cathedral come into view. Spend some time exploring the ancient city which, in the 11th Century, was home to El Cid. [caption id="attachment_23253" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The camaraderie you will experience along The Way is unmatched.[/caption] The section from Burgos to Leon (stage 3) is one of the easiest along The Way. On leaving Burgos, your days are spent walking through rolling arable land before the River Pisuerga brings you in to Palencia and the immense, flat plains of the Tierra de Campos - literally translated as 'The Land of Fields'. Continue on past Carrion de los Condos before reaching Leon. [caption id="attachment_23254" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Leon Cathedral[/caption] The Camino continues onward from Leon past countryside and forests of oak and conifer as well as blooms of heather and broom. Head towards the imposing Mount Irago before making your way down to Bierzo, where there are a number of wineries - be sure to try a red from Bierzo. After Bierzo you come to Herrerias de Valcarce, it is on the way from Herrerias de Valcarce that you face one of the most challenging sections of the Way of St James, a steep climb up to O'Cebreiro. The climb to the village is worth the effort as the accommodations - small round huts made from stone - are probably the most unique that you will stay in along The Way. [caption id="attachment_23256" align="aligncenter" width="601"] The accommodation in O'Cebreiro is reminiscent of the hobbit houses in J.R.R. Tolkein's famous series of novels.[/caption] At this point it is worth mentioning that Macs Adventure also offer the Camino de Santiago in stages. Of the 5 stages, the final stage from O'Cebriero to Santiago de Compostela is the most popular. You will pass through the Sierra of Ronadoiro before descending into the deep valley on the way to Triacastela. Walk through charming Spanish hamlets or 'aldea' along the fertile banks of the River Mino and pass by pine groves and fragrant eucalyptus trees as you enter the region of Ulloa. Notice the change in the landscape as you enter the municipality of A Coruna - can you spot the spires of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela yet? [caption id="attachment_23257" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Follow the yellow shells[/caption]
Distance?753 km. We split the Full Camino over 40 days, with a number of those being rest days.
Grade?We grade the Full Camino as moderate as although there are not a great deal of technical or challenging sections, daily walks range from 19 - 28km which equates to around 5 - 8 hours of walking each day.
Why walk it?
- A range of landscapes is waiting to be explored. From the Pyrenees to the deep valleys and wide open plains you will experience a range of environments that, along with the pleasant weather, will bring a smile to your face.
- Whether you are religious or not, thousands of 'pilgrims' walk The Way for a variety of reasons including spiritual, health or to simply cleanse the mind and calibrate the senses within nature - creative types will confess that some of the best ideas crystallise in the mind whilst walking in a natural environment. Choose to contribute to the famed Camino camaraderie by getting to know your fellow pilgrims or embrace the solitude that a long journey such as this offers.
- Explore some of northern Spain's most historically important towns and cities such as; Pamplona, Estella, Santa Domingo, Burgos, Fromista, Calzadilla de la Cueza, Leon, Ponferrada, Sarria, Palas de Rei and, of course, Santiago de Compostela.
Planning & preparation
AvailabilityYou can start your Camino at any time between February and Mid November. This trip is available to solo travellers. Please note that you will need to pay a supplement for a single room.
Pilgrim PassportThe Pilgrim Passport is issued by the Church of St James, you will find this in your info pack waiting for you at your first hotel. Alternatively, you can obtain one at the start of your walk in the Pilgrims’ Office or the local church in town. You need to get the passport stamped in churches, restaurants and hotels along the way. At the end of the walk in Santiago you can obtain your Compostela Certificate (only available to those who have walked the last 100km).
Time of YearThe Camino is best enjoyed from February to Mid November. You can start on any day that suits you, subject to availability. April, May, June, September and October are the most popular months for walking the Camino. July and August can be very hot which presents different challenges such as the need to carry extra water. Buon Camino! [caption id="attachment_23262" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Happy pilgrims with their Compostela certificates[/caption]
If you have any other queries about walking the Camino de Santiago give the Camino experts here at Macs Adventure a call on +44(0)141 530 3625 | +1-844-873-9394 (USA & Canada) or get in touch through email via [email protected].