Friday, 17 February 2012

A new route from JohnnieWalker

The Route of Routes
Santiago de Compostela

Walk on five caminos,
go through three parks,
meander up and down two forest trails,
visit important churches and buildings along the way,
and, most of all, enjoy the best view there is of Santiago high above the city!
The route takes between 3 and 3.5 hours, depending on your pace, or much longer depending on where you stop, linger or visit.

Why walk this route?

For visitors:

You know that Santiago is a pilgrim town and you may have seen walking pilgrims arriving in the Plaza Obradoiro before visiting the tomb of St James which has been the final destination for millions of pilgrims for hundreds of years.

You may not be able to walk several hundred kilometres to Santiago along one of the pilgrim routes but you might like to follow some of the routes for a short way and in doing so get a taste of the Camino, follow the same yellow arrows and other waymarks the pilgrims follow and see parts of Santiago often hidden from view.

For pilgrims:

You have arrived in Santiago and you only have a couple of days to see the city. The friends you have met on the Camino have dispersed and you’d love to keep walking, for example to Finisterre, but you just don’t have time. You may have been met in Santiago by a friend or loved one and you’d like them to get a taste of the Camino as well as seeing Santiago. Or you just want some time to yourself, to walk, sit, relax, reflect, remember and be thankful for the wonderful experience you have had on Camino.

These are only a few of the reasons you might wish to walk this beautiful and historic route. No matter what route you have walked your feet will once again travel a part of that route.
Colour Key: Cyan - Camino Inglés, Blue – Finisterre Route, Red – Camino Portugués,  Green – Camino Sanabrés, Yellow – Camino Francés

The Pilgrims’ entry into Santiago de Compostela

Like many medieval towns Santiago once had a number of city gates and the route by which the pilgrim travelled determined which gate they would use to enter the city. These gates are described in the Codex Calixtinus. No matter where the pilgrim started, the route they took eventually joined one of five which entered the city. This is still the same today. The Camino Francés being the busiest is joined by the northern routes along the north coast of Spain and some of the southern routes. The Via de la Plata from the South is joined by other routes from different parts of Southern Spain.

Whilst all but one of the old city gates has disappeared the routes entering the city still largely follow the roads nearby to where they stood.

Colleagues from Xacobeo walking the route with the guide
The Route of Routes – Suggested Packing list

Your credencial - to sit and remember the places you stayed on the way.

Your camera – to take more photographs today and also to remember the people you met and the places you walked through on your Camino.

A packed lunch – to have a picnic with friends or on your own as you view the city from the highest point of this route.

Either walking shoes or sandals if you are comfortable walking in them – the route covers pavements, roads and country trails.

Water – and wine if you want to celebrate whilst having lunch!
Is the route easy to walk?

The route is designed in two halves – like a figure of 8. The first and last parts of the route are easy walking through city streets. The middle section of the route ascends through country paths to the point of Monte Pedroso which stands at 461 metres above sea level. Santiago itself is 260 metres above sea level. The views are spectacular and whilst experienced walkers will find the ascent straightforward those who haven’t done any serious walking for a while may find parts of it challenging. If you choose this option take your time, take water if it is hot and rest at the many places available.  The distance to the top of Monte Pedroso is 4kms from the starting point and the descent is 3 kms. Therefore leave at least 2 hours plus time for rests.

If you choose not to ascend the mountain the point at which you continue on the route is clearly indicated in this guide.

How long is the Route of Routes?

The route is approximately 14 kms in length. This divides almost equally between walking on the Camino routes through Santiago and the ascent and descent of Monte Pedroso. However set aside plenty of time to walk the route because you will want to stop, linger, visit galleries and churches and just enjoy the many views you will encounter. If you have time you may wish to walk the route in two halves over two days.

Start at the Church in Sar
Route Summary
To start visit the beautiful church of Sar with its museum and cloister. Then follow the Via de la Plata near to where stood the city gate called the the Porta de Susanis, now the Puerta de Mamoa. Whereas Via de la Plata pilgrims keep straight on to the cathedral we turn to ascend to visit the viewpoint in front of the Seminario Menor. There we can sit in the park, take in the view, visit an historic church and convent before joining the Camino Francés and following yellow arrows the short distance to the famous famous Porta Francigena now the Porta do Camiño.  Whilst the many pilgrims arriving on this route go straight on we turn to pass two of Santiago’s most important museums. We can visit them or keep on for another short distance to one of the city’s most beautiful but little known parks. Passing through the park we walk along to join the Camino Inglés as it enters the city. Again we pass important and still active convents on either side. Here we are near the Porta Poennae now the Porta de la Pena the traditional entrance of pilgrims on the Camino Inglés. Nowadays the routes passes along the Rúa Porta da Pena.

Continuing on we descend to walk past the massive and magnificent church of San Francisco. Open every day until after the 1pm mass the church is well worth a visit.

A few hundred metres later we join the route to and from Finisterre and/Muxía. Pilgrims would have left or arrived by the Porta de Sancto Peregrino, now the Puerta de la Trinidad. According to the Codex Calixtinus the Trinidad Chapel just outside this gate is where pilgrims were buried.

However instead of walking too far towards Finisterre or Muxía we take a road little known to strangers to the city to cross a roman bridge and ascend to Monte Pedroso. The path is beautiful and goes through woodland before rising to the peak. There are 360 degree views and the sight of Santiago is well worth the effort.

We descend following an old and now incomplete Stations of the Cross on a pleasant path through the woods before passing the official residence of the President of Galica. From there we follow a lovely riverside walk back to the roman bridge.

Then we make our way to the Alameda, the principle park of Santiago. Here we pick up the yellow arrows walk some of the final steps of the Camino Portugués which entered the city by the Porta de Falgueriis now the Puerta Fajera. Then following the Rúa Franco we enter the Plaza Obradoiro and look once more at the Cathedral of Santiago.

The Guide

The guide contains walking directions, history and other information including the opening hours of museums and churches along the route.

It will shortly be available to download from the Confraternity of St James and will be published in Santiago by Xacobeo.

If you would like a copy before it is available from these sources please e mail me:

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Through the green and pleasant land - New Route

  • Thinking of some practice walks before a longer Camino?
  • Flying into London on your way to Spain and want to get used to walking a route?
  • Wish to explore some of  England's beautiful countryside?
  • Want to walk a route full of history and places to visit?
These are just some of the reasons why you might walk the new route from Reading to Southampton. You may remember I wrote about this wonderful new path here.  I am delighted to tell you that the guide has now been published and is available from the Confraternity of St James  for £6.50. More than 70 copies were purchased on the day the guide was launched and I am sure the route will prove popular.

This video will let you see more:


And in other news:

I'm sorry postings have been so infrequent recently. I've been preoccupied with a number of projects:

Pilgrims' Office website -  The Pilgrims' Office has a relatively new website which you can access here:  The site has a really good statistics function and you can search the database which is automatically updated every day. We have also been writing entirely new content for the the website. This is now ready and should be approved by the Cathedral and up-loaded in the next week or so. Watch this space!

Santiago Welcome Service - I told you about this recently. This is a collaborative project between the Confraternity of St James and the Irish Society of the Friends of St. James. Volunteers will come to Santiago and will welcome every single pilgrim who arrives. They will also provide an information service for pilgrims who speak English. The project is coming together. 50 people have applied which is about double the number needed. So now we begin talking to them, sorting out availability, finding and opening the new house in which they will live and so on. Exciting stuff. I'll keep you posted.

New route in Santiago - one of the things I've been thinking about is what pilgrims do when they only have a couple of days here in Santiago at the end of their camino. Is there a way of helping pilgrims see parts of the city which they might not normally explore as well as giving them opportunities to reflect on the wonderful experience they have had on the Way? I've also been thinking about what tourists make of it all when they see jubilant pilgrims throwing off their rucksacks on arrival in the Plaza Obradoiro? Do they wonder what it would be like to walk a route? Is there a way of letting them try it out?
The upshot of all of this is I have designed a new one day walking route here in Santiago. The guide is now written and I'm talking to the authorities here about publishing it. I promise in the very next posting I will reveal all.

See you soon.