Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Back to the Camino Inglés

It has been such a busy week. There were big things going on with the organ and two family birthdays, one of which was mine. The latter was full of surprises. I’m tired and it has been cold of late as obviously winter is just round the corner. When I get like this my mind drifts to the freedom and beauty of the Camino. That will provide a perfect respite from the exhaustion of London, and in any event the guide to the Camino Inglés needs to be up dated. So, my flights are booked and I’m off for a week or so at the beginning of November.

I want to smell the sea air as I walk into Pontedeume across the long bridge, stroll along the country lanes, look out over scenes that could be in Ireland or Devon in England, have a picnic lunch by the river again, walk along the beach at Cabanas and talk to the many people in the fields along the way.
Over the summer I’ve had a number of e mails from pilgrims offering suggestions to improve the Guide. This is very gratifying because it is the only way the Guides can be kept up to date unless guidewriters walk the routes all the time which just isn’t possible. I like to think of the CSJ set of on-line guides as being in the collective ownership of all pilgrims because we can all make a contribution to keeping them accurate and useful for the next pilgrim to walk.
The list of Guides available on-line just gets longer! Go here and you will find Guides to:
The Route to Finisterre and Muxía
The Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Oporto
The Camino Portugues from Oporto to Santiago
The route from Madrid to Sahagun
The Tunnel Route
The Voie Littorale: Soulac to Hendaye
The Camino del Salvador

Now our friend Rebekah is working on a new guide to the Camino Invierno which will join the others. These Guides are available to download free of charge on the internet from anywhere in the world. All that is asked is that users consider making a donation. The Guides are available in PDF format so that they can be printed out like a booklet or in Word format so that pilgrims can read then discard all of the introductory information or add their own collected from other sources.
Our collective efforts with the Camino Inglés are paying off I think. For a long time it seemed to be the orphan cousin of the other routes but here is what appears to have happened:

In 2006 804 people walked from Ferrol, this increased to 1085 in 2006, 1451 in 2008 and last year 1793. Steady growth. However already this year the number of pilgrims on the Camino Inglés has risen to 5,344 by the end of September. The numbers for other routes in this Holy Year have roughly doubled so this is a very significant increase.
I have no doubt this is in part related to the existence of a good modern Guide book for the route. I take little credt for this as I simply updated the original work of Pat Quaiffe from some years before. What has really made the difference is the enthusiasm of pilgrims sending me comments and information which will be helpful to other pilgrims. Then professional translator and pilgrim Amancio wrote to me asking if he could “put something back” by translating the guide into Spanish. Only last week Momo, a professional Italian translator wrote to me asking the same question. Excellent. I’m very happy to encourage this. The only problem we have to overcome is where to host these guides and who will do the updating into Spanish, Italian etc in future. If any readers have bright ideas please let me know.
For now let me say thanks to Liz, and Rob and Mary and Ken who all sent me comments in the last year. I’d like to add a special word of thanks to the Younger family who I had the pleasure of meeting in the Pilgrims’ Office. They sent me line by line suggestions and improvements which makes the next edit much easier. Thank you.

I never cease to be amazed what this Camino can lead to. Last week I got an e mail from a young Italian lad telling me that he had walked the Camino Inglés as part of his university degree in photography. He produced his Camino Portfolio and was awarded a first class degree. Now he has been asked to do a book. I have asked him for some of his photographs so we can all see them.
Meanwhile as the first frost of the year descended on London last night and I can see drivers scraping their windscreens the sun is shining on a clear morning. Perfect walking weather. I hope it stays that way until I get to Galicia and back to the Camino Inglés.


  1. Have a wonderful Camino, Johnnie! I will be thinking of you. Best, SW

  2. Thanks for this John. Meenakshi and I will be walking the Ingles in October Half Term next year - so time for dreaming and vicariously following you.
    I'm very happy to do update notes on the Guide when we walk.



  3. Thank you, thank you - I'll hug the Saint for all of you!

  4. I walk the camino ingles a month ago and was in Santiago the first day of october, in the pilgrims office i had the great honor to meet you and i want to thank you again for this great guide that help me, my friends and many other pilgrims to reach the right way to Santiago.
    I was very proud to have you helped with my little updates when i meet you.
    Thank you
    Daniele an italian pilgrim