Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Walking every route

You know the feeling. You have arrived in Santiago after your pilgrimage. The friends you met on the camino have dispersed. Some have gone for flights home. Others have set off walking to Finisterre and Muxía. You are on your own and having visited the main churches and museums there isn’t a lot to do. Sometimes just sitting around taking in the atmosphere of Santiago is satisfaction enough. Sometimes though pilgrims wish they were still walking and their minds turn to what their next camino might be. I’ve certainly had this experience and over the last few weeks on my day off I have been exploring how to walk the last, or the last couple of stages of the main routes to Santiago. I’ve discovered that they are accessible by public transport and make an excellent one day walk. You don't need a guide book for the routes as they are all very well waymarked. I’ve also discovered there are other spectacular walks in and around Santiago which I will tell you more about in future.

Walking on the Camino Portuguese

This is simplicity itself. Get on your gear and take the train from Santiago to Pontevedra. This is a very beautiful medieval city which is worth exploring. Come on a Sunday and hear me playing the organ there! The route is well waymarked and you can walk the stage to Caldas de Reis – a distance of approximately 23 kms. There are regular buses back to Santiago from Caldas de Reis.
Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis:

Train or Bus to Pontevedra // 23 kms walk to Caldas // Bus back from Caldas

A second very accessible option is to walk from Caldas de Reis to Padrón. This stage is described by some as amongst the most beautiful of the whole route.  It starts in Caldas which is famed for its thermal baths which boast healing qualities. There is a public footbath for pilgrims. This stage is 19 kms.

Caldas de Reis to Padrón:

Bus from Santiago to Caldas de Reis // walk to 19 kms to Padrón // Train or bus back from Padrón

Finally on the Camino Portuguese is the last stage from Padrón to Santiago. The starting point is Padrón train station which is only a 20 train ride from Santiago. Simply turn Right on the platform alight onto (opposite the hotel) and walk straight ahead until you come to the church and the yellow arrows start. Or detour into town to try the famous pimientos de  Padrón.  Walk all the way back to your hostel in Santiago!
Padrón to Santiago: Train to Padrón // walk 19 kms back to Santiago

Exploring the Camino Francés

The odds are that you will have walked the Camino Francés and you may not want to go back to it. But I loved walking out to Lavacolla experiencing a constant stream of pilgrims coming towards me, then walking back with them into the city, passing through Monte de Gozo on the way. If one of your loved ones has come out to meet you in Santiago you might tempt them to experience a bit of the camino by walking this route with you. It is 20 kms in total.

Santiago to Lavacolla to Santiago: walking all the way

What about the Camino Inglés?

Some people find the final stage of this route into Santiago a bit disappointing compared to the others. I don’t and I am amazed at how near the route brings us to the city by way of forest and country paths before urban walking begins. The traditional last stage begins in Sigüeiro which is 17 kms from the Cathedral in Santiago. You get there by bus. I’ve discovered however that the same bus goes on to Deixebre which is near the route. If you take this option you will add 5 kms of beautiful country and forest walking to your day. If starting at Deixebre ask the bus to stop at the church. Turn Right i.e. with the church on your Left and walk along this road (with a coloured pavement in places) until you come to a bus shelter on your Right after approximately 1 km. Turn Right and follow the arrows.

Deixebre (or Sigüeiro) to Santiago:

Bus to Deixebre/Sigüeiro // walk back 22 or 17 kms to Santiago

The Via de la Plata
This was my first route and retains a special place in my heart. The Camino Levante amongst others joins this route as it makes its way to Santiago. I very much enjoyed going back to the little village of Ponte Ulla to walk the 22 kms back home. Since I had last been there they have built a new bridge for the high speed train the AVE. It dominates the valley. In a strange way though I think it and the old bridge which now sits in its shadow enhance the character of the scene. Plenty of cardiovascular exercise today!

Ponte Ulla to Santiago

Bus to Bus to Ponte Ulla // walk back to Santiago

Bus and train timetables.
All of these suggested starting and finishing points are easily accessible by train or bus from Santiago:


Buen Camino



  1. John - what a fabulous idea! We have "added on" the Ingles and Finisterre/Muxia to our caminos in the past, but we love the idea of these one-day walks is really something different and exciting - so we plan to walk Caldon de Reis to Padron next year. Thanks for this!

  2. Dear John....you aren't making this any easier, sitting here on the other side of the pond as I do! But will have to give serious consideration to say,that last leg of the Frances for next year...for the esposa and such! Gracias, Karin

  3. Wow, you have inspired me! This would give me a week worth of reasons to base myself in Santiago without even walking there to start with! Robert also inspired me this morning with his Geneva- Le Puy posting- so many walks-so little time!