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question of direction

Hi there, Folks....

This may well sound moronic, but I was wondering if one could walk the Camino in reverse and still qualify as proper pilgrim, stay in refugios, get the credential stamped, etc...

The reason I ask is that the only time I can go at the moment is in July and August...This being holy year, by Mid July the roads and the hostels around Santiago may well be crammed to bursting as all the trails converge...I was thinking it might be wise to walk away from Santiago instead of towards it in order to avoid the crush?

Would you still be allowed to saty in the refugios if going the 'wrong' direction?

many thanks for your input and advice...

go well

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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
"Going backward" is not unusual. Attempts have been made to waymark the Frances in a reverse direction, using a whirly blue arrow. Still, it´s a challenge, and you still are faced with the crowds at the Santiago end of the trail. But if you have a credential, you´re in. You´ll occasionally run into someone who feels you should´ve walked TO Santiago first, but hey. The trail goes both ways.



Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances from SJPP (3/10 & 10/10); Primitivo (6/12)
While it is certainly possible to walk the camino in reverse direction, your logic is off on this one. In July and August regardless of whether you move to or away from Santiago you travel across the same path. As a consequence you will have the same issues related to crowded Albergues or other accomodations. You may be moving against a flow, but all are stopping overnight at the same places.

Additionally there is an inherent aspect to the entire camino in making Santiago a destination. To begin in Santiago and go the other direction may make the trek somewhat anti-climatic.

In short if your reason for walking in the opposite direction is to avoid the crowds, forget it. That makes no sense because at the end of each day you will nevertheless encounter just as many people.


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
There is a way that walking backwards makes for even greater crowds: You get to meet everyone going in the direction of Santiago while you walk backwards. If you are walking towards Santiago, you only meet those going faster or slower than you during the walking part of the day!

In France we had an interesting experience over a week or so, when we kept meeting this man who was walking towards us. It turned out he had both a campervan and a bicycle. He would cycle to his day's destination, then walk backwards along the route to collect his campervan. I have several photos of him approaching- and he took some photos of me. It became a funny competition to see who was quickest to the draw with the camera!!


Past OR future Camino
C F 2007-10, Le Puy St. Jean 2011-13, C P 2015 Via F 2016-7
This year at Easter we met, in a shower of rain, an Italian man and a woman walking against us. He told me he was walking home, which turned out to be in Italy. I think he flew to southern Spain, walked to Santiago and was then walking home. I shook their hands and wished them buen camino. Meeting people like them is humbling and exciting. I realised how little we had done in comparison and how much there is to see and walk in the world.

The sheer number of retired people having a great time on the Camino is also a great encouragement as I approach a significant birthday (50th). As long as I can walk there will be places to see and people to meet.

Last year we had breakfast with a French man, two years retired. He was then doing the camino but the previous year he had walked to Jerusalem! Staggering what people are doing. there is a real challenge to us all here, to conform to society's norms, to work and then to retire quietly or to seek another way, if only for two weeks a year, along the Caminos and walks of the world.
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
After a month on the camino I walked into Santiago on 20 April, just after European airspace was shut down due to the volcanic ash cloud hooha. Friends were aflutter about how they would get home... flights were cancelled, trains and buses booked-out for days in advance.

I live on the Camino Frances. It would take about two weeks to walk home from Santiago. I actually considered the possibility for a few minutes. Until I realized I´d already thrown away my busted boots. I was fed up with camino-ing and ready to be home. And my ankles were SO happy to be finished, there´s no way I could ask them for another two weeks of pounding -- not without them avenging themselves for years to come!

It made me marvel at the courage and guts of all the millions of past pilgrims who walked to Santiago, then turned around and walked all the way home again, because they had no other options. Me? The only real option closed to me was the one they chose: walking!

I managed to get on a train the next day, btw., covered in 5 hours what had taken me 16 days to walk. It made me question my sanity for a while.

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