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Pilgrim - Camino Ingles


Camino Ingles

Dear Ivar and All

Just a brief note to say that I leave London Stansted this coming Tuesday (04/10/05) for Santiago (Ryanair). Thence Wed, to Ferrol, by bus, to commence the Camino Ingles. Three hostels, two hotels and 110 kilometres later I should arrive back in Santiago, on Sunday, in time for Mass. Monday will be, if all goes to plan, a rest day - it gives me a days slippage on the plan if anything goes wrong. Then Tuesday it's back home to the U.K. PILGRIM
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I am very happy to hear that you are now on your way back to Santiago. Last time I saw you, you where suffering a bit... and I thought that you may not return.

Next weekend is the weekend that we will pick our grapes... 3000kg estimated... but if I have time I would love to see you again.

You earlier pilgrim-report from your last walk has been very popular. If you have any energy left after this walk, it would be nice to hear some of your thought on this camino as well.... sin stress... con tiempo. :)

Greetings from Santiago,
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‘Camino Jericho’

‘Camino Jericho’ (05/10/05 - 09/10/05)

Having just returned from a most delightful walk through northern Galicia I felt I must write on my experience. Delightful because the weather was glorious sunshine, the route was pleasantly empty and the views from the wooded hills across the bay of Ferrol stunning. But mostly I must write of the people, the ‘Good Samaritans’ I met along the way.

Unlike the ‘traveller to Jericho’ there is no mugging to start this tale, unless you count sitting on the stationary plane at Stansted airport for three hours awaiting permission, from striking French Air Traffic Control, to overfly French air space. Arrival at Santiago airport was thus very delayed but a bus was waiting there to take us into town. Then it was a walk to my favourite hotel. I had no reservation but they not only found me a room, it was my room, the one I stayed in last time I was in town, I was home. Meal at the Casa Manolo confirmed that feeling.

Wednesday morning I met an Italian pilgrim at breakfast and since he was going home, that day, by bus, we walked to the station together. Good, his route was better than the one I knew. At the station the bus ticket, (company timetable supplied by Ivar), was quickly purchased and soon I was riding out of town along the motorway north.

Ladies at Ferrol town hall helpfully led me along back corridors to find the office that had both the Camino stamp - for my Credencia - and details of the route through town, a route they patiently transcribed onto the map I had printed off the internet. People smiled at me at the Cathedral of St Julian where I attended Mass. I was then invited into the sacristy where another stamp was found for my ’proof of pilgrimage Credencia’. At the water front, where the route begins, the girls in the Tourist Information hut asked again to stamp my Credencia and offered to take my photo.

Finally both the way-marked route through Ferrol and that on my map ran out. Poor Spanish comprehension on my part led to an elderly gentleman - on his way to collect his grand-daughter from nursery school - leading me, almost by the hand, for several convoluted blocks to the final straight path out of the suburbs. I thus arrived at my destination, the hostel at Neda, by 3 p.m.

A sign on the hostel door informed me that the volunteers who manned it would be there from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Neither wishing to wait that long, nor wishing to phone the number given for emergencies, I walked back, over the new river footbridge, into Naron. Here I was made very welcome at the excellent Hotel Kensington.

The owner had worked for a considerable time in Kensington London and had a daughter who had studied for her MBNA in England. Coincidentally the owner discovered, on recording my national passport details, that my birth date was exactly one week after his, same year, same month. The room was good and so was its price. The meal in the hotel restaurant was, as are most meals after a day’s walk, very enjoyable. The dessert (postres) was as usual not quite to the meal’s standard and I ordered the tinned peach halves I had seen the Spanish eating. Feeling full I asked for only one but two halves arrived. An interestingly funny conversation in ‘Spanglish’ resulted, in which it was pointed out that two halves are one and that what I wanted was a half, ‘medio’.

Thursday began with breakfast and continued with a delightful walk in the hills overlooking Ferrol bay. By early evening I was sat outside the hostel at Minho. A phone call to the number supplied brought two volunteers, members of the local fire brigade, to unlock for me. They suggested I order from a delivery pizza and took my order so they could phone it in for me. Hot water, comfy bunk and a hostel all to myself, what a treat.

Friday I arose early and left with no breakfast. The day was hot and the route ahead was well over thirty kilometres, (though I have good reason to believe it to have been much more). Walked to Betanzos, where, at about eleven, I had breakfast. The road climbed steeply out of town and continued to climb for much of the way. By mid afternoon, walking south into the hot sun, I was weary and out of water. My request for water at a big house provided replenishment for both my bottles from the house’s own spring plus a bunch of grapes from the owner’s own wine crop. A later request for water provided not only that but the offer of beer, refused, and of apples and pears both accepted.

Wearily, still walking at about six o’clock in the evening, I missed a way marker in the forest and walked on, on the main track, for a long way to a road. The lack of way marker there alerted me to my mistake and wearily I trudged back. Spotting a man, with a van, working on the trees I asked for the way. He walked back with me to where I had missed the marker. And so back on route I plodded on. About an hour or so later out on a road a van pulled up alongside. My friend from the wood pointed out that I still had a long way to go and offered me a lift to an hotel. Wearily I accepted.

At the hotel both a room and a taxi were arranged. A room for the night and a taxi for the morrow to take me back to the point I had left the route at. I was then treated to a beer, my offer of a second refused and my ‘Good Samaritan’ departed.

The next day, on time, the taxi took me back to the point I had left the trail at. From there to the hostel in the cool of the morning and refreshed by sleep, took over an hour. Whilst my heart regretted leaving the route the previous day my head told me it had been a wise decision.

This day was again lovely and the kilometres flew by. I spent time chatting with a Spanish Doctor - ENT Consultant - and his wife, who were walking from home, in Coruña, in daily sections. Later a woman with a wheelbarrow cheerfully refused my suggestion that she wheel me in it to Santiago on the grounds that it was ‘too far’.

As I entered my destination town the Doctor was seated at a table outside a bar. He greeted me and asked my plans for the night. He and his wife then offered me a bed for the night back at their house - their son was coming by car to collect them. I refused this kindly invitation only because I was tired and grubby and felt I would make a poor house guest. When the only hotel in the town turned out to be more like a grubby hostel I regretted my gentlemanly conduct.

Sunday, with no breakfast inside me, as nothing was open when I got up, I made my way out of town. As ever, the route was over the river and up a hill. Double checking, I asked a man reversing his car out of a gateway if I was on the correct route. He seemed to ignore me but when he drew alongside he stopped wound down the window and very carefully explained that I had just missed a way-marker, where it was and where it would take me.

The long road into Santiago supposedly had one bar 6 km out of town, well it has but on this Sunday it was not open. Thus it was a hungry me that sat down in the Pilgrim Office to gain my Compostella. The most charming lady behind the counter spoke very good English and the Office now being empty we chatted for twenty minutes, even looking up on her computer the Santiago-today website. I was in time at the pilgrim mass to hear myself announced. At communion a fellow pilgrim guarded my pack so I could go and receive the host. Mass ended with no Botifumerio and I wandered back to my hotel, where I had booked a room before departure. Passing my little corner grocery shop - I say 'my' as I have used it many times - I bought water and for breakfast an ice cream. Then to my hotel and room.

After a wash of body and clothes I went into town to get a snack and buy postcards and presents. Sunday night before eating, not at the Manolo which I always forget is not open Sunday evening, I sought out the ‘ Music Professor’ who haunts the front of the Cathedral. Two years ago I bought a CD from him that was not to my liking. I told him that, when I was back in town in April, and he said he would change it. So I carried it in my pack from London to Ferrol and back to Santiago and entered the main square carrying it. True to his word, two years after purchase, he changed it, thanking me for having bought it in the first place.

Finally, on Monday evening having spent the day in Coruña I met with Ivor for dinner, and thus my list of good Samaritans is complete.

I have one last observation. The bus I was seated at the back of came to a halt at the gate before leaving Coruña bus station. I was thus able to observe a man of about forty rummaging through the filth in the large, green, wheeled rubbish bin located there. From amongst the rubbish he unfolded a scruffy piece of paper and retrieved from it about five cold chips. These he put in his pocket - I presume for his evening meal. What good pilgrimage if I cannot feed the hungry? Where was his Good Samaritan?
Route into Santiago


Thanks for your kind note. I was following, I believe, the most up-to-date CSJ guide to the route which is dated 2000. The advice there, is to follow the main road as the way-marked route, avoiding the road, skirts factory backyards. So I followed the long and soul-destroying main road into Santiago. The road route lacked way-marks and so I can only surmise that the 'official' route now avoids the main road.

With respect to way-marking the route is now well marked with the 'Galician concrete pillar and blue tile' sometimes with and oft without distance plaque to the nearest metre. The waymarks did occasionally disappear and of course its always at a crucial point, as in Ferrol's suburbs. The way-marked route often was at odds to the CSJ guide, though it was still reassuring to carry it with me.
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Re: Route into Santiago

Pilgrim said:
I was following, I believe, the most up-to-date CSJ guide to the route which is dated 2000. The advice there, is to follow the main road as the way-marked route, avoiding the road, skirts factory backyards. So I followed the long and soul-destroying main road into Santiago. The road route lacked way-marks and so I can only surmise that the 'official' route now avoids the main road.

yes, I don't really understand the CSJ guide's advice; IMO, even skirting the backs of factories is preferable to plodding along the main road for mile after mile. Unfortunately, what few other guides there are to the Ingles also say to go along the main road, and I've not been able to find any description of what has been waymarked, though Piers Nicholson's picture gallery http://www.santiago-compostela.net/ingles/en_ci05.html implies that it is only briefly on the main road.

I'm sure the marking has improved since I walked it 10 years ago, when it was pretty much non-existent.

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