There are four ‘northern’ pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela
the Camino del Norte
the Camino Primitivo
the Camino Ingles
the Camino Finisterre
I will set off on my latest camino adventure on 22 April from the town of Irun situated at the most easterly point of the north coast on the Spanish side of the French border.
Many pilgrims who commence the Norte drop down at Villaviciosa to continue on the Camino Primitivo which passes through Oviedo and Lugo and joins the Camino Frances at Arzua, 40 kms short of Santiago de Compostela.
Others continue on the Norte, which at Ribadeo also drops inland to join the Frances route at Arzua.
I am planning to walk from Irun to Ribadeo (approximately 625 kms) and then leave the Camino del Norte to continue along the coastline to Ferrol. This is not a section of the Camino de Santiago and there is not the recognised pilgrim infrastructure of signage and albergue accommodation. There are various walking routes across this area but they are normally used as day-hikes, not through-hikes where a bed is needed at the end of the day.
So this (by my rough reckoning 210 kms) will be the challenging part of my camino – making my way across this stretch of Spain without the support of the camino amigos. If the weather is particularly bad and it is forecast to remain so for some days to come, I may not take up this challenge but choose the easier option and remain on el Norte.
Once I reach Ferrol I will be at the start of the Camino Ingles and will walk the remaining 116 kms to Santiago de Compostela.
I may or may not continue to Finisterre, depending on how I feel at the time.
The kilometres add up to around 950 plus an additional 90 if I walk on to Finisterre.
It is a stunningly beautiful hike with the coastline to the right and mountains to the left. On many occasions it trails across beaches, at other times it’s necessary to take a ferry across a port or the mouth of a river. It passes through some really interesting towns and cities and the region as a whole is renowned for its fabulous food. There are a lot of ups and downs, particularly during the first week and it is considered one of the most strenuous caminos.
You might expect that as an ‘old hand’ at this lark (perhaps more appropriately ‘old foot’!) I would take it all in my stride (pun intended), but I’ve been experiencing many waking hours in the middle of the night and my poor brain is jumping around with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The adrenaline will be pumping just as much on this camino as it was on my first.