This is the eleventh and final stage of the Way of Saint James, one of the most famous pilgrimages in all of Christianity.
This fifteen-day tour is the eleventh and final stage of the Way of Saint James Pilgrimage Route.
£1250.00 per person sharing a room
£160 single room supplement
£290.00 supplement for one person walking alone
14 nights accommodation, 14 breakfasts, 13 dinners, luggage moved from hotel to hotel, maps and route notes and back up if required.
Leon train and bus station. Nearest airport is Asturias Oviedo (Easyjet) or Valladolid (Ryanair). From Madrid a train takes 4 hours. Santiago de Compostela has a train and bus station and an international airport.
4 to 8 hours walking a day (there are 3 long days, but they can be shortened: ask for more information).
Your luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation every day.
Day 1: Arrival at Leon (overnight and dinner)
Day 2: Leon – Hospital de Orbigo, 36 km/22.5 miles (shuttle possible at extra cost).
Altitude at departure: 822m/2713ft.
Today it is better to start by taking the local bus through the Leon suburbs, which departs every 20 minutes from Plaza Santo Domingo, to Virgen del Camino. Two itineraries are then possible from here: the Camino Real that follows the main road, or the Calzada de los Peregrinos further to the south. In either case we have to cross the Paramo, literally ‘the desert’, to reach Hospital and the famous Puente de Orbigo.
Altitude at arrival: 819m/2703ft, 36 kms/22.5 miles, 9 hours.
Day 3: Hospital de Orbigo – Astorga, 17.8 km/11.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 819m/2703ft.
A section that is one of transition from the implacable Meseta to the Montes of Leon and short enough to allow you to enjoy Astorga on arrival. Astorga, with its Gothic cathedral, Gaudi palace and Roman mosaics, is a fascinating city.
Altitude at arrival: 869m/2868ft, 17.8 kms/11.1 miles, 4 hours 30.
Day 4: Astorga – Rabanal del Camino, 20.6 km/12.9 miles.
Altitude at departure: 869m/2868ft.
With the Meseta behind us, the landscape is more mountainous – not vertiginous peaks but large hills, with rounded crests. Nonetheless, the isolated nature of the countryside, and the stone houses, are redolent of mountain places. At 1149m/3792ft, Rabanal del Camino will allow us to recharge batteries before tomorrow’s long section.
Altitude at arrival: 1149m/3792ft, 20.6 kms/12.9 miles, 5 hours.
Day 5: Rabanal – Ponferrada : 32.7 km/20.4 miles.
Altitude at departure: 1149m/3792ft.
The route soon leaves the village and climbs gradually among the mountains. We are in the heart of the countryside, the air is fresh and morale is high. At 1504m/4963ft, the Cruz de Ferro is the highest point of the route in Spain, and the view is wonderful. However, no time to delay, as we can see Ponferrada is away to the west below, and there is still a long way to go. We tumble down to Acebo and Molinaseca, two superb villages with their wooden balconies. Then across the Bierzo plain and finally we arrive at Ponferrada and its templar castle.
Altitude at arrival: 543m/1792ft, 32.7 kms/20.4 miles, 8 hours 15.
Day 6: Ponferrada – Vilafranca del Bierzo, 22.5 km/14.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 543m/1792ft.
Today the route wanders across the river plain of the Bierzo as far as Cacabelos (483m/1594ft), then Villafranca, ‘the Frankish town’, charming nestling against the foot of the mountain.
Altitude at arrival: 511m/1686ft, 22.5 kms/14.1 miles, 6 hours 15.
Day 7: Vilafranca del Bierzo – El Cebreiro, 30 km/18.75 miles.
Altitude at departure: 511m/1686ft.
Another beautiful section through the mountains as we pass from Catille to Galicia. Leaving Villafranca to avoid the motorway that accompanies the normal route, we can take a path that climbs through broom to the village of Pradela (940m/3102ft) and then redescends to Trabadelo (600m/1980ft) to rejoin the main route. Several possible variants bring us to El Cebreiro, a lovely town with wonderful views of the Galician countryside and which has always been an important point of pilgrimage.
Altitude at arrival: 1300m/4290ft, 30kms/18.75 miles, 8 hours.
Day 8: El Cebreiro – Triascastela, 21 km/13.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 1300m/4290ft.
After El Cebreiro the route meanders over ridges with tremendous views over green Galicia (highpoint at Alto del Poyo 1337m/4412ft). We pass an astonishing bronze giant struggling with the elements and then plunge into the valley with its landscape that has the look of the Pays Basque.
Altitude at arrival: 665m/2195ft, 21 kms/13.1 miles, 5 hours 15.
Day 9: Triascatela – Sarria, 17.5 km/10.9 miles.
Altitude at departure: 665m/2195ft.
There are two possibilities today – one predominately follows roads via Samos (532m/1756ft) and its imposing monastery, whilst the second, shorter route meanders across the pretty Galician countryside.
Altitude at arrival: 420m/1386ft, 17.5kms/10.9 miles, 4 hours 30.
Day 10: Sarria – Portomarin, 22.5 km/14.1 miles.
Altitude at departure: 420m/1386ft. Tracks and paths take us through hamlets and villages to Portomarin, a village reconstructed higher upon the slopes after the original in the valley had to make way for a lake created with the construction of a dam.
Altitude at arrival: 550m/1815ft, 22.5 kms/14.1 miles, 5 hours 45.
Day 11: Portomarin – Palas de Rei, 24.5 km/15.3 miles.
Altitude at departure: 550m/1815ft. The route after Hospital de la Cruz follows a charming path that meanders through woods, hedges and prairies, dotted with the very distinctive local granaries (‘horreos’), and crucifixes similar to those in Brittany that remind us that we are in Celtic country.
Altitude at arrival: 565m/1865ft, 24.5 kms/15.3 miles, 6 hours 30.
Day 12: Palas de Rei – Arzua, 28.8 km/18 miles.
Altitude at departure: 565m/1865ft. Almost without realising it we lose altitude as we approach the sea and lots of greenery and forests of eucalyptus. Half way, Melide (454m/1498ft) marks the meeting point of the Camino Frances and the northern most variant of the Camino del Norte.
Altitude at arrival: 389m/1284ft, 28.8 kms/18 miles, 7 hours 30.
Day 13: Arzua – Lavacolla, 28.8 km/18 miles.
Altitude at departure: 389m/1284ft.
The last long stage, so that we can arrive in good time tomorrow to explore Santiago itself.
Altitude at arrival: 320m/1056ft, 28.8 kms/18 miles, 7 hours 30.
Day 14: Lavacolla – SANTIAGO de COMPOSTELA, 10.1 km/6.3 miles.
Altitude at departure: 320m/1056ft.
A formality today but savour these last few paces and prepare to enjoy the delights of Santiago. Night in Santiago (dinner not included).
Altitude at arrival: 264m/871ft, 10.1 kms/6.3miles, 2 hours 45.
Day 15: End of the trip after breakfast