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O Camiño dos Faros-trip report

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markgrubb

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Camino Frances 2016
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I’m writing an account of my trip this summer to O Camiño dos Faros, the Gallego name for the Route of the Lighthouses. In the Camino Pilgrim Discussion Group on Facebook it was mentioned recently that the route will be adopted next year with guidebooks etc so it is likely to become much more popular. I thought I’d write to share my experiences for anyone thinking of doing it.

O Camino dos Faros is 203 km long and divided into 8 stages. This means an average length of 25km or 15 to 16 miles each day. I've walked the Caminos Frances, Camino del Norte and Camino Mozarabe and the 8 days of this walk were harder than any stretch of those routes. The route is difficult, mainly for the terrain it passes through. I normally walk at 5km/hr but in this route was frequently travelling at 3 to 3.5 km/hr. The route really does hug the coast as much as possible. I'm someone who doesn't like heights and had read a lot before of dizzying drops but at no moment did I feel unsafe or in any danger on the path. Certainly there were a few moments of how the hell does the path go there but I was never worried. The path is marked with green dots or footprints and can be difficult to follow at times. Marking was poor often at critical junctions. There were also a lot of sections that were overgrown and though the path could be seen you had to wade through ferns, gorse and brambles that were up to waist or even above head height. There are also lots of sections where you have to pick your way across rocks or soft sand. There is a fair bit of minor scrambling where you have to pull yourself up.

The landscape is really varied and the beauty is jaw dropping at times.

The climate is humid and though we only had one really hot day I got through more water than usual. Some stages have little or no resources en route so you need to plan ahead and carry food and liquids for lunch.

The people of the area were unfailingly helpful and encouraging(apart from one surly hotel owner) often going out of their way to help. There were about 8-10 of us doing the route at the same time and I was able to pair up and share accommodation. Over half of the group dropped out or ended up doing partial stages.

Accommodation was generally easy to find when I went at the end of June though if you wish to book there are contact details on the website above.


Getting there


The route starts in Malpica and the nearest airport is A Coruña which is about 30 miles away. There are 3 buses a day from the bus station in A Coruña to Malpica. On weekdays, the first one is at 11 am and the last one is at 6.15m. The only other possibility is an expensive taxi.


Resources


The website O Ruta dos Faros http://www.caminodosfaros.com/en/ is excellent with a wealth of detail about the route, accommodation and places to eat. You can download Wikiloc tracks for the entire route. The route is marked in green dots or footprints but can be tricky to navigate and a lot of key junctions seem to be missing markings so back up with help such as Wikiloc is pretty much essential.

Having some Spanish is a big help. Negotiating taxis and asking for rooms in one village would have been really hard without it. I have a good level of Spanish so didn’t really speak English at all in the 8 days.
 
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markgrubb

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Wednesday 26th June


I arrived in A Coruña after a flight from Edinburgh to Majorca and then flight from Mallorca to a Coruña The airport bus (every half hour) does not stop at the bus station but there is a stop nearby. I caught the 6.15 bus and arrived in Malpica at about 7:30. I stayed in JB Hotel on the seafront, price 44 Euros a night double room, single rooms are 27 Euros. It was a nice clean simple hotel with lovely views of the beach. I went in for a swim before eating dinner on the seafront where they were handing out free sardines as a tapa. I booked 2 nights there as there is no accommodation near the end of the first stage.


Thursday 27th June.


Malpica to Playa de Niñons-22km.


The first stage of the Ruta de los Faros is from Malpica to Playa de Niñons and is spectacular. It starts fairly gently but has a quite tough 7 km near the end up and down steep slopes and rocks to reach the lighthouse at Nariga. Part of the way through there is a stream at Seiruga beach to cross. If it has rained heavily it can be a challenge but when I went over it was about 5m wide, knee deep and with a sandy bottom so no problem. There are two fountains with water just after leaving the village and one further fountain at about 10 kilometers. At Barizo there is a restaurant/bar but it was closed when we were there. A taxi is needed to get back to Malpica, however there is no mobile coverage at the beach where the route ends. You either have to walk uphill about a kilometre to the main road to call or call from the lighthouse as we did and arrange for a pick up an hour later at the beach. Taxi numbers are on the website.
 

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markgrubb

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Fri 28 June

Playa de Niñons to Ponteseco-28km

The website says the seventh stage is the hardest but I found this stage far tougher. The first 12km to the lighthouse ar Roncudo are a brute. Beautiful beaches and coves to start with but you are soon wading through gorse, heather, ferns and long grass that is at times head high. It is constantly up and down and you’ve got to watch your feet all the time either because of roots or picking your way over rocks. It was the one hot day we had with no wind. I had drunk all the 1 and a half litres of water I had by the time we reached the village of O Roncudo where a villager kindly filled my bottles for me. It took me 4 hours to reach the lighthouse at Roncuda. After this the going was much easier by road to reach the sizeable port of Corme where there were at least 3 bars serving food. Corme is a sizeable place at about 14km so is an option to stop if the going is tough. After crossing a couple of beaches there was another tough rocky sections with one steep climb to top Mount Branco where there are stunning views of the estuary of the Ria Anilons with its fabulous sandy bay and dunes. From there it is a flat 5km to Ponteceso, a rather ugly small town sprawled along a busy road. I stayed in Hostal Teyma, 44 euros a twin room, Ok if pretty functional. In the evening I ate for 9 euros the menu at restaurant A Pesquera with views of wild boar from the dining room coming to graze by huertos. Plenty of bars, restaurants and supermarkets in the town.
 

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markgrubb

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Sat 29 June


Ponteseceo to Laxe-26km


An easy start to the day crossing the river in Ponteceso and then a flat section all along the river. After this a wooded section before a climb up to an old fortified settlement that was well preserved. There is a fountain and bar/restaurant at 13 kilometres. After this more minor roads before reaching the well preserved Dolmen de Dombate, an under cover archaeological site that is free to enter. There are toilets here. After this a steady climb through woods to reach the highest point of the 8 days, Monte Castelo at 312 metres with stunning views over the estuary and to the days destination, Laxe. Laxe is seemingly a stone's throw away but there are still 10 hard km to go through forest and coast with endless ups and downs often through thick undergrowth passing above lovely deserted beaches. The final km is along the lovely town beach where we stripped off and had a swim. Laxe is a nice town of fair size with all the normal amenities. I stayed at Hostel Bahia, 37 euros for a twin room. It has one awards for value on TripAdvisor though the owner Manolo gives everything the hard sell.
 

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markgrubb

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Sunday 30 June


Laxe to Arou-17km. The morning started with a row with the hostel owner over price. A Spanish friend had booked it for me with an agreed price of 37 euros for a twin room. The owner insisted it was 50 and I couldn’t retrieve my email. I speak good Spanish and stood my ground. He eventually settled on 40 euros with ill grace saying the customer is always right. To be fair 2 hours later he phoned to apologise saying I was right and he had found the original booking.

I was looking forward to the short section of 17km and the walk started over a headland and then there were beautiful views of a beach from on high. After 3 days of hard walking it was somewhat easier going and a cool grey day. We passed all manner of fantastic rock forms. I stopped for lunch in Camelle about 4km from the end as there are no facilities to eat in Arou and had fish stew and potatoes in the local bar, very tasty. The official website says there is no accommodation in Arou and no facilities but I had read on a Spanish site that there is accommodation if you ask. We walked up to the main square to the Bar Galicia and they directed us to an apartment just 30 metres down the road where there was a phone number on the wall. I contacted the owner and for 30 euros we were given a 2 bedroom attic apartment with kitchen, spa bath in a large bathroom and balcony. It is called Casa Gonzalo. The owner cooked an evening meal for 15 euros, a real feast and charged 5 euros the following morning for a large breakfast and gave us fruit to take away. They have just registered with booking.com but here it costs over 70 euros. In the village are 2 bars but they only serve the most basic snacks. 2 Czech girls also found accommodation in

the village by asking. If you don’t stay then it is a taxi journey and back to Camariñas or A Ponte do Porto.
 

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markgrubb

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Mon 1 July


22km walk from Arou to Camariñas. A lovely walk the highlight being a high set of sand dunes (duna de Monte Branco) that you have to climb to give wonderful views of beaches extending into the distance. Following this you come to the heart of the Costa del Morte, the English cemetery dedicated to all those that have lost their lives on the coast. After this is the striking lighthouse Faro Vilan. So, a short stage but packed with things to see. There is a good track for the last few miles. Camarinas is a decent sized place with all expected facilities. I shared in Pension Gaviota 35 euros for a twin room-clean and quiet. There are no facilities of any sort on this stage until you reach Camarinas.
 

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markgrubb

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Tues 2 July


Camarinas to Muxia-32km. A total contrast to the previous stages. Almost completely flat on good quality tracks following the estuary of the Ria de Camarinas and crossing the river at A Ponte do Porto. Lovely views, lots of wildlife and wooded areas. After taking up to 10 hours to do some stages with stops and swims we fairly flew through this one completing the 32km in 6 hours on a grey cool day. It was great to really get into a rhythm and not have to constantly watch your step. Muxia of course has a huge range of accommodation from hostels with bunks to hotels. En route plenty of places to stop at A Ponte do Porto and Cereixo.
 

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markgrubb

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Muxia to Lires-29km

The seventh stage officially ends at Nemiña, a tiny settlement around a beach. There is only one place to stay that costs 75 euros a night so we went on the extra 4.5km to Lires. The guide says this is the hardest stage. It wasn’t easy with about 1000m of ascending but the paths were of good quality and I got into a decent rhythm and it felt nowhere as hard as the second stage. It is a beautiful mix of cliffs, beaches and a walk round the Tourinan peninsula where the lighthouse is at the westernmost part of Spain. Navigation for once seemed straightforward. Lires has about 3 restaurants and one km down the road overlooking the beach is another one with spectacular views of the beach and the sunset. We stayed in Casa Lourido, 50 euros a twin room including breakfast. It is a beautiful old house, with lovely furniture and good quality bedding. The hostess was very welcoming and it was easily the best place we stayed in on the whole route
 

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markgrubb

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Camino Frances 2016
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Thu 4 July

Lires to Finisterre-21km

The route certainly goes out with a bang with a magnificent trail over cliffs, through woods and along beaches. Again a lot of ascending and descending. Isolated Praia de Rostro beach is just wonderful, over 2km long but unfortunately you can’t swim there because of undercurrents.

Note that the trail finishes at the lighthouse so you will have 4km back to the town of Finisterre so if coming from the official start of stage 8 you’ll have 29 km to do. There are no resources on route until you reach the edge of Finisterre village a few km from the end where there is a tiny shop/bar..

Summary

It’s probably the most beautiful walk I’ve done. It’s tough and I was blessed with good weather. You need a good level of fitness to enjoy this trail. Navigation is tricky at times so Wikiloc or similar is pretty much essential. I loved being able to cool off in the cold waters by deserted beaches en route. I would highly recommend it….and soon… because it is only going to get ever more popular
 

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Magwood

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
I’ve often thought about this camino. Thanks for your description and all the info it contains. Maybe...one day, if I work hard on my fitness level.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés, '14 '17 Finisterre, '14 '17 '18 Primitivo, '15 '18 Portuguese, '17, '18 San Salvador, '18
Wow, thank you for this. The photos are stunning. You sure have piqued my interest! Maybe one day....
 

markgrubb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016
Hospitalero Miraz 2017
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
I’ve often thought about this camino. Thanks for your description and all the info it contains. Maybe...one day, if I work hard on my fitness level.
Magwood, I used your Mozárabe report when walking that route this spring past and have enjoyed your reports of other routes and have been inspired by them. I don’t have the slightest doubt you could complete it, you clearly have excellent endurance. It is just different from the usual camino paths. Steeper slopes, narrower paths and undergrowth you have to wade through.
It is a gem. You'd
love it😀

I’ve often thought about this camino. Thanks for your description and all the info it contains. Maybe...one day, if I work hard on my fitness level.
 

Magwood

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
Thanks Mark. That’s just the sort of encouragement I need.
 

easygoing

Camino Sharon
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked the Camino Francis 7 times, twice in 2017 and 2018. (2019)
Thu 4 July

Lires to Finisterre-21km

The route certainly goes out with a bang with a magnificent trail over cliffs, through woods and along beaches. Again a lot of ascending and descending. Isolated Praia de Rostro beach is just wonderful, over 2km long but unfortunately you can’t swim there because of undercurrents.

Note that the trail finishes at the lighthouse so you will have 4km back to the town of Finisterre so if coming from the official start of stage 8 you’ll have 29 km to do. There are no resources on route until you reach the edge of Finisterre village a few km from the end where there is a tiny shop/bar..

Summary

It’s probably the most beautiful walk I’ve done. It’s tough and I was blessed with good weather. You need a good level of fitness to enjoy this trail. Navigation is tricky at times so Wikiloc or similar is pretty much essential. I loved being able to cool off in the cold waters by deserted beaches en route. I would highly recommend it….and soon… because it is only going to get ever more popular
My husband and I walked from Lires to Fisterra June 30,19 and I agree the constant view of the sea and navigating the cliffs was amazing. The green dots some times lead in two directions. I navigated some difficult brambles while descending a steep cliff and my husband and granddaughters followed an easier path and beat me to the ocean. It definitely is worth walking but remember long pants. My legs still look like I have the measles
 

marksheider

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
English Way, Fisterra, Camino de Finisterre
Camino Portugues
Camino Lebaniego
Big thanks for your detailed description :)
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 Francés, Le Puy / Francés (parts), 2018 Norte (Biarritz), Francés, 2019 Portuguese (Lisbon)
This is a gorgeous route. I was on the Finisterre - Muxia section only last week. Thanks for the photos. I definitely want to do the whole thing. Although there aren't albergues for every stage, it's good that there are for at least three of them - Finisterre, Muxia, Lires.

It's worth noting that certain sections had quite dangerous drops, for which I'm very glad I had poles, and other sections were badly overgrown, so be prepared for a few scratches.
 

AlexanderAZ

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 (Sept/Oct): CF: SJPdP-->Fisterra-->Muxia (solo)
2019 (late Sept): CF: SJPdP-->Leon (honeymoon!)
Thanks for taking time to do the write-up, Mark! I may have missed it in your report as I'm on mobile and trying to navigate the site but what percentage of time did you spend on hard surface (pavement)?
 

markgrubb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016
Hospitalero Miraz 2017
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Thanks for taking time to do the write-up, Mark! I may have missed it in your report as I'm on mobile and trying to navigate the site but what percentage of time did you spend on hard surface (pavement)?
Very, very little, must have been no more then about 7-8km. Coastal paths and tracks nearly all the way
 

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