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Great Route

Bill Murphy

New Member

Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela

The route can be walked in the following sections

Day 1 Ferrol to Pontedeume 23.7 km (14.7 miles)
Day 2 Pontedeume to Betanzos 22 km (13.6 miles)
Day 3 Betanzos to Hospital de Bruma 34.8 km (21.6 miles)
Day 4 Hospital de Bruma to Sigueiro 21.4 km (13.3 miles)
Day 5 Sigueiro to Santiago de Compostela 17 km (10.6 miles)

The route is now generally well way marked with acid yellow arrows painted on floors, walls etc., cartoon arrows on sticks, and blue tiles with a yellow shell pointing in the direction of travel. When you get to each junction check the area until you see one. If unsure check in each direction as there is a marking very soon along the correct route. We did not get lost at all and only followed a couple of paths a short way to confirm we were on the right route at a couple of junctions. Generally follow the main track or road you are on. If there are no options off your path there may not be markings for some way but keep an eye out all the time as some are easily missed if you don‘t concentrate. The locals will keep you on the right paths, just ask and point and they will show you the way to go. Everyone was very friendly and helpful in this way.

It is an interesting pilgrimage route with a lot of forest and waters edge walking. The area is an odd mix of industrial and rural but is generally good to walk. There is some road walking and you pass through some industrial estates but this is on only a small part of the route and it is worth it for the views and places you will enjoy. We were the only pilgrims on the entire route and whenever we asked if there had been others recently were told no, even at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago! It is a shame the route is not better used but it does make things easier for booking accommodation etc.

Villages are named on the directions you may get. These are often just a very small collection of houses and are not marked as such. You may have to go off route to find the bars etc. mentioned. We did not bother. We started at about 10am each day and arrived no later than 5pm with a couple of rests and a break for lunch of around half an hour or so.

Book with the hotel direct if possible as it is generally the cheapest option (despite what booking companies tell you). Also as it is not pre-paid you can ask for another room if you are not happy. There is not a wide choice of options except at Ferrol and Santiago de Compostela. There are ATMs available along the route and we had no trouble obtaining money although you can safely carry what you need and a number of the hotels and restaurants took credit cards.

The ‘menu del dia’ is very good value and is often available at lunch and dinner in this part of Spain. Three courses and a drink are included in the price and wine is often one of the choices. The wines are basic but the white is quite light and dry and the red is very fruity. The soup ‘Caldo’ is likely to be Gallego, (Caldo Gallego-a Galician broth of potato and turnip tops) - this is quite bitter and an acquired taste. Most main sources come with chips. There are also tapas and raciones. If there is no menu available and you are having a meal of raciones choose only a couple at a time as the portions are large.

You will need waterproofs and walking boots. This is very green countryside and gets plenty of rain so even in summer some of the paths are likely to be waterlogged and it is heavy going in parts. Also take sunscreen as there is some walking with no shade at all for several kilometres. Make sure you have bottles of water and some fruit as there can be some distance between places you can re-stock. Also remember to take a first aid pack as you will find it hard to buy things you may need due to the language barrier.

We are 43 and 54 and although we walk daily, we do not go to the gym and did no training for this pilgrimage. Apart from sore feet and tired legs at the end of the day we managed it with little difficulty. We do like hot water, a comfy bed and a decent meal with wine at the end of the day and pretty much managed this during the five days walking. We walked in late April and had mainly sunshine with heavy showers day one, mist on one morning and one evening and sunshine the rest. At this time of year there are plenty of spring flowers and herbs along the route and it smelt beautiful in the country areas.

We felt very safe throughout the journey although we took basic security measures and carried important documents and money with us at all times in safe pockets. This route could easily be completed by a pilgrim travelling alone, but we would recommend taking a mobile phone with coverage in Spain just in case of unforeseen difficulties. If you enjoy being the only people on a walk this is ideal and we loved it but if you want to be part of something bigger and to have pilgrims from other countries around you follow the busy routes.

We travelled by Ryanair to Santiago airport and caught a bus to the station in town. The stop is to the extreme right of the main entrance. Tickets are bought on the bus and the journey takes about twenty minutes. The airport website is excellent and a number of local bus timetables can be printed off including the one to Ferrol. We caught a bus from Santiago to Ferrol the same day, (Ferrol being the start of the “camino”) and this trip takes one hour fifteen minutes.. Tickets are available from the bus station ticket office two floors above arrivals/departures.

Ferrol is a pleasant place to spend a day sightseeing and a relaxing night in before setting off on the walk. There are a number of bars and restaurants. It is worth getting a map of the town as they are all marked on there.

Go to the Xunta Galicia which is situated near the ongoing refurbishment of the Plaza Espana. it’s in the centre of town. On the first floor at Tourist Information they will give you a Credential to be stamped to confirm you have walked the Camino Ingles and information about the route, including directions (the other tourist information offices in town do not have this facility). This credential can be stamped almost anywhere, just ask for a ‘Sello’ and show your booklet.

We stayed at the Hesperia Ferrol http://www.hoteles-hesperia.es and had a large room with all facilities expected from a four star hotel. The staff were very helpful and booked a couple of the hotels on our route as we don’t speak Spanish. Be aware that this is Galicia and the language is very different to Spanish, a number of place names may be confusing as they are shown differently on maps etc.

There is no obvious marking at the old port to start the route so pick a set of steps and set off. There is a Tourist Office, (booth!) here but the member of staff there on the day we started the walk couldn’t speak English and likewise had no idea where the camino began. There appear to be various routes out of town but we followed the one marked for us by staff at the Xunta Galicia. The new promenade around the Caranza estate is easy to follow with direct views of the water then pass under the flyover into Naron and pick up the new path that again runs round the waters edge. This part of the route is very badly marked so just follow the water keeping it to your right. At the Vitrocar roundabout turn right and left onto wasteland where there is a pylon and a pipe to your right follow these to the railway and pass under the tunnel. The path is now marked on a hardcore path. Go uphill and right onto Camino do Vilar following the road with some new houses and the water to your right.

Go downhill to the Monastery do Jubia. Ignore the shell and follow the path upwards on the asphalt road which you follow to the right and over the motorway on a new bridge. The locals indicated the old route is now unwalkable. Walk down the hill past a lot of houses spread out to the old mill, which is still almost derelict. Go over the shallows on the path on a wall and turn right towards buildings. Until this point the way is marked with red, white and yellow arrows. When you reach the houses on the edge of Neda the routes split and follow the wooden sign straight on down a waterlogged path and over a little bridge. Follow the wide promenade to your right around to the town with the water on your right and the Megas works on your left. Cross the covered bridge with two hoops and turn right going up the hill until the junction showing Pontedueme turning right downhill towards the water. Follow the road all the way round and to the rear of St Nicolas church along a small pretty row of old houses.

Follow the way marks out of town and across the main road. There is indication that the camino takes an upward path, fortunately the word NO is displayed, obey this instruction and follow the main road and under the bridge before turning left uphill past lovely houses and with fantastic views of the sea to your right. Good way marks going downhill to Fene past the Cultural Centre and almost straight across the road going downhill all the way. This leads to a country path where we saw deer even though you can faintly hear the main road. Bear left uphill and follow fork on left going uphill quite steeply until reaching the main road. Turn right along grassy path beside the motorway, left under the viaduct and left again onto path that bears right to a small group of houses. Pass behind them and a garage and follow path through the woods until crossing road going left then right onto path. This is badly marked but the are arrows on the floor if looked for. Pass the industrial estate to your right and this leads onto a country path through woodland into Pena de Pico.

Turn left downhill onto a small track through a group of houses O Val then down steep path and steps to road. Cross this road and under rail tunnel into Cabanas and follow road to main junction where turn right and cross bridge into Pontedueme.

Cabanas has a lovely beach and is quiet out of season. Pontedueme is a small pretty town with narrow streets leading up from the waters edge. There are a number of bars but not many restaurants. We had good Raciones at Meson TT up the hill and stayed at the Hotel Eumesa 0034981430901. It is clean with en-suite rooms but very basic. Breakfast is taken in the café at the front of the hotel.

From Pontedueme follow the Camino Real uphill and remain on main path past the church up stairs onto the path. Ignore the markings up steep stairs to your right as this leads to church San Miguel only. We initially took this path, it’s a small ,steep, wet, unsafe dirt/grass track , suggest you give it a miss. Instead continue uphill on the path past houses and turn right. Continue uphill onto even path and follow this for quite a way. We did not see any bars as described. Continue to village of Buina and follow markings. Turn right onto path and a local is likely to try and stop you going through overgrown and waterlogged route. Follow unmarked but distinctive path through fields and through a garden onto road using the new estate as a guide. At the road turn left them immediately right and follow perimeter fence to right all the way past new houses. Cross motorway on bridge (this part of the route is shown as a diversion). Turn sharp right and follow path with motorway on your right. Badly marked so keep on main path with motorway on right until it bears left then right onto well marked road into Viadero and road with good views.

Follow road downhill all the way into Banobre to the right is a good picnic area and cross pretty bridge onto track. Follow this to meadow which may be waterlogged and around wall of viaduct. This is not well marked and covered in graffiti but follow all the way and bear left uphill and when you see allotments and houses turn right onto main road into Mino. Follow good way marks into town. There are a number of shops, bars etc. Continue out of town and over rail bridge onto path between houses and big estate walls. Take the left path along the river (it is the old path but is an easier walk and is still well marked keeping river to your right). If on the lower path cross the Lambre bridge then go uphill following good markings. This is a very attractive part of the route. Eventually cross small bridge to bus stop and take lower route marked on road then follow path uphill past houses to ridge path with great views to the right of valleys and the water. Go downhill on the road all the way to church San Martino de Tiobre. Go right downhill past Baril sign and very steeply downhill to stream and mills. Go right then straight on and follow signs to Betanzos. At the junction follow left go over bridge and through old gate into the old part of town.

Betanzos is a very attractive town with lots of bars and restaurants. The riverside is lovely and the old part of town appears to have a tour of places of interest. We did not have time to go to the Tourist Information office for details about the town but if would be worth it. We stayed at the Complejo San Roque 0034981775555. This is a boutique hotel with rooms based on the pilgrim routes and we were placed in the Camino Ingles. Lovely bathroom and comfortable bedroom (only thing missing was hairdryer). Very friendly staff and excellent value on room only basis, there is a café connected to the hotel for breakfast. We were concerned about being stuck that night so staff kindly rang our next booked hotel and confirmed our reservation and evening meal (important as this was Sunday with limited choices).

If the reader follows our itinerary be warned this is the hardest, longest day so take plenty of water and something to eat. Take the Calle de Rollo from the main square all the way onto a track until you reach a bridge. Cross it and continue upwards crossing a bridge over a rail line. Keep on this track until crossing motorway over a bridge then onto track to Xan Rozo. This is all well way marked but keep eye out for them. Follow marked country paths and roads to edge of Liminon with football pitch to your left. Continue on and cross Liminon bridge to marked tracks through countryside to Cos and uphill then onto track through forest. There is some de-forestation and vandalism on this part of the route. Keep following the main track and stay parallel to the road to your right if unsure. If there is no sign at a junction you have followed the wrong route so re-trace your steps (it is easy to follow despite these problems).

Cross the Presedo bridge onto country route with lovely views of sweeping country reminiscent of Devon until your reach the tarmac road. At the church of Santa Eulalia de Leiro there are toilets, running water and a shady picnic area. On this part of the route there are signs with maps of the route at picnic points in the villages. Follow marked roads and tracks through very small villages up and downhill to the church of Santo Tome de Vilacobo. Rest here as there is a very steep very long climb ahead on road and forest track. Keep uphill following marks to top of hills and then left onto a long straight path. The locals will come out to discuss your efforts and they all seem amused that people are daft enough to walk uphill so far!

Go over the motorway and uphill again and around agricultural buildings. Follow waymark signs left and follow track to Malata. Go straight over road to gorse bushes and follow path to the small stream and cross it. Continue to the track which goes right then left along wall of a pig farm. Follow the track and country path well marked for quite a way. You will hear traffic by this time. Go over second small stream and keep walking until you reach a small tarmac road. Either follow the way marked route to the Refuge or for the Inn Canaima Meson do Vento 0034981681401go straight across road and follow messy waterlogged country path for about half kilometre to a small road. Turn right here and walk straight ahead to join the main road in front of you Turn left and then walk about a kilometre to the roundabout and turn left. The Inn is on your right. We arrived here between 5:30pm and 6pm, a mist was coming in which eventually left vision to about 20 yards.

This Inn has very basic rooms and ours had mould on the wall but they were clean enough, the radiators work and we had a half bath with plenty of hot water. There is a bar and the restaurant opens at 9pm (this is not the restaurant near the bar but the one behind reception - (marked “Comedor“). The staff speak no English. We had a good meal with local wine as menu del dia. Breakfast of juice coffee and toast included.

We awoke to the mist again, it didn’t clear till about 10;30am. This is the first day where you do not start by going uphill. Retrace your route to the first camino sign of tile with shell on wall and resume walk past Refuge and on straight route to Seixo and through several hamlets to Buscas where there is a church of St Paio with a statue of a child martyr. There are two bars here. They were both shut but a lady in the one on the right re-filled our water bottles and refused money. Stay on the road for quite a way. It is not well way marked but easy to follow until you reach a way marked bent to the right down a forest track and over a small bridge. Follow the obvious track keeping an eye for way marks. It is a pretty route with a tree tunnel. Pass through Carballo and onwards for a good while until first waymark on straight track leading to Casanova de Pereiro. Follow this track then a very narrow path with a stream running alongside it downhill to tarmac road. Turn left then go over bridge. Follow way marks onto tarmac road and tracks to Carras. Keep following track through Baxoia where there is a bus stop at the junction. Go straight over and under motorway tunnel then follow forest track checking for way marks to heath land. There is a very straight route up and downhill with no shade which takes about an hour to walk. This leads to an industrial estate and a lot of new building work. Follow road on right towards motorway then look for waymark to left and follow a country path to waste ground. Cross this to houses and follow road to main road. Turn right into main town of Sigueiro.

This is a very modern small town with a couple of bars and restaurants. We would have been too tired to walk straight into Santiago de Compostela by this point anyway and stayed at the only accommodation available Hotel Miras II 0034981691637. No English spoken and they did not have our booking but there was no problem getting a room. The rooms are extremely basic and old fashioned. Bedding appeared clean but the floors were filthy. The bathroom down the corridor was adequate but we had to hunt for a plug to fit the bath and the shower was mouldy and unsavoury. The evening meal (taken in the restaurant) and breakfast (in the café) were actually quite good and it was cheap. The Hotel is actually a hostel type attached to a typical Spanish bar/cafe

From the main square turn left and cross the bridge over the river Tambre. Turn left past the church and uphill following the well marked country path. Keep the motorway to your right. Keep following path until going under second underpass then turn left past houses. This takes you to the N550 road. You can follow this all the way to Santiago de Compostela but it is busy and unpleasant. We followed the unrecompensed route which we preferred. It also had some shade and rest points unlike the direct road route.

Keep following the N550 road until you see an old shop, (it’s not obvious it is one!) in a row of buildings. directly opposite here is the way marked route with its arrow. Follow the marking along a country path to a fountain and keep going until you again meet the motorway. Stay on the same side of the road for a short way going with the flow of traffic until you see marking leading off road up steep path then following forest route around ridge of hill. Follow track to industrial area and keep going upwards back onto country route then into industrial suburb of Santiago de Compostela. Follow way marks past a cemetery and houses then up through a new estate and into the old town and the cathedral where you finish.

The pilgrims office where you receive your certificate is on the first floor of 1 Rua do Vilar and they speak English. A pilgrims mass is held every day at noon although it is worth waiting to see the cathedral properly at the start or the end of the day when all of the coach tours have left. There are a lot of pilgrims arriving daily on foot and by cycle although it can also be done on horseback. In order to obtain a certificate you must complete over 100 kilometres or 200 on bicycle.

Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city and worth spending a day or so in. There are lots of hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants. Be aware that some of the cheaper hostels shut their doors during the afternoon as we saw pilgrims having to wait several hours to get in. There is no tour in English of the city but audio tours on mp3 players are available at the main tourist office and they are worth hiring. Staff at the office will also show you where to catch the bus back to the airport. This is a ten minute walk from the old town and worth finding in advance (It is marked on the stand). The bus is punctual, to get a plane home we caught the 09:00am one.
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thanks for the comprehensive posting! I'm glad to find at last a definite answer to my question as to whether an alternative route to the main road into Santiago has been marked; what do you mean by "the unrecompensed route", though?

Worth pointing out that a new refuge in Sigueiro is currently being created; should be ready later this year, and provide an alternative to the rather grotty hotel.
Wow Bill! Thanks for a great post.

I have a feeling that this camino will be popular one in the future because you don't need to take 30 days off to walk it + the fact that it is, for now at least, less crowded.

Thanks again for your great post!

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I have walked the English Way 2 weeks ago and it is a great experience. It is less croweded than the Sarria to Santiago route and still go through lovely towns. My preffered stop in Betanzos was great experience. They hold a market on the main place every months that gives you a feel of medieval times. I would also recommend the live animals market their. It is very traditional and you can eat some gorgueous "Pulpo a la plancha" (boiled octopus with spices) in a very familiar atmosphere.

I walked it with http://www.followthecamino.com and I have to say everything was well organised. They booked my hotels and transported my luggage everyday wich made it easy. They also gave me walking notes and map to help on the way. It's a great way to walk it.

Buen Camino,


There are regular bus services from A Coruna bus station (approx 1/2 hourly). See http://en.arriva.es for timetable and prices.

There are also regular train services from Coruna rail station, see http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html for timetable and prices.

Both options require you to catch the airport bus from the airport into Coruna itself.

The airport website also indicates you can get a taxi direct to Ferrol for about 50 or 60 Euros.

Hope that helps.
The 9th edition the Lightfoot Guide will let you complete the journey your way.

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