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guidebook vs. map


New Member
Hi everyone,

I plan to carry the "Walking the Camino de Santiago" guidebook by Bethan Davies and Ben Cole on the Camino Frances this July. Is it also necessary to carry a map? I have seen the John Brierley map mentioned several times. I am interested in the most complete, but light-weight solution. By the way, I am very good with directions/navigation as a rule.

Thank you all!
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Active Member
There is really not a yes/no answer to this question since it is a matter of your personal "travel style." If you would set out to drive across the country with only a set of written instructions on what roads to take and a list of the places you will be passing through the guidebook will be sufficient.


I agree with Jeff. that being said, I used both Bethan Davies and Ben Cole book and map. I found the colour map a great place for little notes about things I encountered along the way.


Active Member
Hi Susan
The Tourist Bureau of Spain sent me a free guide book which has the maps of each leg included in it, as well as maps at the end of the guide book. It also includes separate single page maps of each leg with elevations and other info. And it has a small separate guide of all the albergues and other accommodations available.
Its called Pilgrim's Guide The Road to Santiago and it is by Jose Maria Anguita Jaen
I don't remember where I got the phone number, but there is an tourist office in New York.
The guide book is quite nice with great info AND you can't beat the price!


Active Member
Hi Susan,
I took the Bethan and Coles strip maps - they were good to a point, but not very accurate on the distances between towns and sorely disagreed with the final markers in Galacia. I also took the Brierley guide book. I have at home the book you are planning on taking and would think that will be all you need. As everyone said to me before I left, you really can't get lost so carrying something is just for added information. It would be perfectly OK to not have anything, so stick with your chosen book as that is very lightweight - lighter than Brierley and probably better than the Bethan and Coels strip maps which I got annoyed with for being so wrong with kilometers. Have a great trip! Jane
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Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I took Brierley's book, after having dismembered it to remove all text except the actual daily stages. I found the stage maps useful to preview the next day's walk, especially when venturing off the main pilgrim route. I took wrong turns a couple of times and the stage maps (plus route signs) were good enough to get me back on track.

I saw a couple of pilgrims with plastic covered sheets, one per stage, with strip maps and route information. They looked good, but may have been too heavy for pilgrims walking the whole Camino Frances.

One of the times I got lost was in heavy rain when I did not want to take out the guidebook to check the route and as a consequence missed a route marker. The plastic sheets would have been quite convenient then.

However, getting lost that time was actually a blessing, in that I met another pilgrim and we had a very enjoyable walk together.

Bob M
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
If you have a guidebook you won't need a map.
There will be so many pilgrims on the road, you can just follow them!

Try to stay "between stages" if you can - usually more beds.


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Anniesantiago said:
If you have a guidebook you won't need a map.
There will be so many pilgrims on the road, you can just follow them!

Try to stay "between stages" if you can - usually more beds.

Anniesantiago is certainly right about staying "between stages". One of the downsides to the prevalence of guidebooks is that pilgrims bunch up at the same places at the end of the day, contributing to the mad dash for beds in high season.

Some of my best memories of the camino are from stays at less-popular places: tranquil, no crowds, nice relaxed fellow pilgrims.

As my camino went on, I tended to arrange my stages accordingly. You might have to walk one long stage (or even a short stage) to get "out of sync" with the guidebooks, then it is quite easy to stay at smaller places.

As for following other pilgrims, that is certainly one way to navigate, especially if one is on the main routes. However, there are days, especially off the main routes, where you see hardly another person.

There is a philosophical aspect to consider about following others. I don't offer this as Gospel, simply as something to think about. Should we follow others in life, or should we plough our own furrow?

On one hand, too much individualism can lead to isolation and loneliness, but on the other hand, do I want to put myself in the hands of others and let their decisions guide me?

One should seek a balance between individual responsibility and connection with the community of others. Individualism lies at the heart of secular society, while submission lies at the core of all the major religious faiths.

There is no right answer to such questions. The main thing is to question what seems obvious, to uncover kernels of truth about ourselves.

The camino provides many opportunities to reflect on how we live, to question assumptions, to become a little more spiritually whole.

Bob M

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