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Ruta de Padre Sarmiento-trip report

markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
I had a couple of weeks off and having done 4 caminos and the route O Camino Dos Faros I decided to walk the Ruta de Padre Sarmiento from Pontevedra to Santiago. There doesn’t seem to be too much written about it so here is my trip report. It is not a Camino as such though I think the locals would like it to be.

The official guide is in Spanish at https://www.osalnes.com/es/descubre/actividades/el-origen-de-todos-los-caminos/ruta-padre-sarmiento It gives a brief description of the stages but the data is quite inaccurate in parts. It says that stage 4 has the greatest amount of climbing with 870m of climbing. The stage is in fact pancake flat and it won’t have more than 50m of ascent.

I went with a friend and stayed in private accommodation. This cost between 18 and 25 euros each per night.

The stages are

Stage 1: Pontevedra - Sanxenxo (25,37 km)

Stage 2: Sanxenxo - O Grove (23.3 km)

Stage 3: O Grove - O Grove Circular (28.94 km)

Stage 4: O Grove - Cambados (22.5 km)

Stage 5: Cambados - A Illa de Arousa (18.27 km)

Stage 6: A Illa de Arousa - Vilanova de Arousa (16.89 km)

Stage 7: Vilanova de Arousa - Vilagarcía de Arousa (11.98 km)

Stage 8: Vilagarcía de Arousa - Padrón (25.64 km)

Stage 9: Padrón - Santiago de Compostela (23.3 km)

On stage 1 we stopped 3-4 km beyond Sanxenxo in Portonovo and we then did part of the O Grove circular making day 3 shorter. We combined stages 5, 6 and 7 into two making it an 8 day walk. The route is marked with a mix of official signs (see picture) and blue arrows. It is not well marked in places and crucially not at a number of important junctions. I downloaded the Google Earth tracks on the official website and these were very good other than on the stage to Padron where the tracks followed a road rather than the Camino Real and the indicated path for some of the way.
 
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markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
Stage 1 Pontevedra to Portonovo.

This path follows the spiritual variant of the Camino Portugues as far as Combarro. Combarro was a lovely village on the coast with unusually a number of horreos (elevated grain storage buildings) right on the coast. The stage was a bit uninspiring mainly followed a busy main road and there were significant stretches on a hard shoulder. We reached the outskirts of Sanxenxo and it began to pour down. 2 hours in a café and it was still the same so out we went and got soaked despite good waterproofs as we finished the last 4km. We stayed in Hotel Xunqueira and it cost 19 euros each.

Stage 2 Sanxenxo-O Grove

We had a sunny day to appreciate a stunning route by the coast with numerous deserted golden beaches. The Ermita de A Lanzada has a beautiful setting on a small peninsula and we were lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins. We walked on to O Grove and went anticlockwise instead of clockwise to reach the main town on the island. There is an ascent of an hour and 150m to a viewpoint, Mirador Siradella. This could be missed out as the trail comes back down to the main road close to where the ascent starts. We stayed in O Grove and also walked across to the small island of La Toja that has a church entirely covered in scallop shells. O Grove is the seafood capital of the zone though we found few restaurants open in the evening. We stayed in Hotel Montemar, 40 euros for a large modern well-equipped room.
 

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markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
Stage 3 O Grove to Noalla

A grey cool day. We completed the circuit of O Grove passing through small coastal settlements and farmland. It seems that the whole coast here has commercial mussel and oyster farming rigs offshore. We crossed the narrow isthmus from O Grove passing the lovely beach at A Lanzada again to reach Noalla. Here we stayed in the marvellous Hostal Casa Mariano. Spotlessly clean, super wide beds with high quality linen and an ample breakfast for 50 euros for 2.

Stage 4 Noalla to Cambados

The usually reliable Aemet forecast was for 100% chance of heavy rain all day. We woke up to blue skies which quickly became leaden and though there were spits of rain we got to Cambados before the deluge came. A route on paths by the coast by a marshy coast with 2 or 3 old brickworks on the way. A bit smelly in places but the last 5 km through a nature reserve before crossing the bridge to Cambados were lovely. We didn’t see much of Cambados but it has a lovely plaza and the Ruinas de Santa Marina were impressive. We stayed in the old fashioned central hotel Herbina, 45 euros a night and ok.
 

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markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
Stage 5 Cambados to Isla de Arousa

The next 3 stages were 18,17 and 12 km so we split them more or less in 2. The first few kms are uninspiring until you come to the 2km bridge to cross to the Isla de Arousa. The west coast of the island and the parque natural de Carreiron are simply stunning with long quiet golden beaches. We went round the island against the direction of arrows to stay in Illa de Arousa set on a narrow isthmus. We stayed in Pension Rey for 37 euros for 2. Excellent food next door at Consulta O Cortixo. A nice pueblo with harbour and promenades.

Stage 6 Isla de Arousa to Vilagarcia de Arousa

We completed the hours loop of the peninsula to the west of Illa de Arousa, a lovely walk with lighthouse and great views before returning to the mainland via the bridge. From here another pleasant stretch of coast before you get to Vilanova de Arousa where the boat is taken on the Spiritual variant of the Camino Portuguese. From here it was mostly on asphalt beside a busyish road to Vilagarcia, a fair-sized bustling town with lots of life and bars and restaurants. Stayed in Residencia Derby for 50 euros for 2. Was fine but would avoid this place on a Friday or Saturday as directly above a number of bars.
 

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markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
Stage 7 Vilagarcia to Padron

From Vilanova on the previous stage there are a mix of blue Padre Sarmiento arrows and yellow Camino arrows both following the same path. Again there was a fair bit of asphalt to start though there was a lovely long stretch on quiet paths by the Rio Ulla passing the Torres del Oeste. The last few kms join the main Camino Portuguese

Stage 8 Padron to Santiago

This is the well known last stage of the Camino Portuguese.
 

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markgrubb

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Del Norte 2017
Camino Mozarabe (Almeria) 2019
Camino Portuguese 2019
Summary

I felt the route was worth doing though there is a fair amount of walking on pavements and roads. It is very flat so the walking is easy. The two stages to O Grove and the Isla de Arousa are stunning. We went at the end of June and were surprised at the almost complete lack of tourists. We saw no other walkers on the route. Eating and accommodation were fairly cheap in comparison with the UK. I have also done the route O Camino dos Faros which I feel is miles better than this route and probably my favourite route ever. I would do the faros route again but not this one. Having Google Earth and the tracks to navigate was a great help. I speak Spanish fluently and nobody tried to answer in English. Having some Spanish will help on this route.

I would say if you are looking for a quiet not too difficult route away from the crowds with pleasant scenery and good facilities en route then this would fit the bill.
 

wisepilgrim

Camino App Maker
Time of past OR future Camino
Many
It says that stage 4 has the greatest amount of climbing with 870m of climbing. The stage is in fact pancake flat and it won’t have more than 50m of ascent.
I don’t think they proofed that guide very closely. That stage is so close to the coast I would be surprised if it was ever 25m above sea level.

Thanks for the honest summary. I had similar feeling about this route but have always hesitated to say anything too dismissive of it. I think you said it perfectly.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
A few in the past; more in the future!
I had a couple of weeks off and having done 4 caminos and the route O Camino Dos Faros I decided to walk the Ruta de Padre Sarmiento from Pontevedra to Santiago. There doesn’t seem to be too much written about it so here is my trip report.
Thanks for this. We chatted with Andrea at the tourist info hut after the stone and water route on the VE the other day and she introduced us to this walk. Though after reading your report, it sounds like the Faros one is what we need to do! Cheers.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many to count!
This looks to me like one I would still like to do. Thank you for the nice summary. I have saved it to my Camino bucket list!
 
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kenwilltravel

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
This is a wonderful report, Mark. I now understand why the designers of the Spiritual Variant used Father Sarmiento's 1745 pilgrimage to Santiago via O Salnés as part of their inspiration for the SV but did not adopt the Benedictine monk's exact itinerary. Instead, they added the far more scenic climb up to the Armenteira monastery and subsequent descent down the Ruta de la Piedra y del Agua, with its waterfalls and ruined mills.
 

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