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Variante Espiritual - how much farther to walk?

2020 Camino Guides

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
My novice planning continues as does my confusion so apologies in advance to Camino veterans and thank you in advance for your help.

Variante Espirtual has (or had) emerged as my favoured route rather than the inland journey Pontevedra/Caldas de Reis/Padrón. So the plan was to walk to Pontevedra and turn left.

However, I've just received a copy of Jeffery Barrera's "Survival Guide to the Portuguese Camino in Galicia" and, predictably, went straight to the section on the Variante Espiritual which a) is less than half a page and b) finishes with the caveat "Be warned that this route will add another 72 kilometres to your Camino". Can that be right?

Google maps reliably informs me that Pontevedra to Vilanova de Arousa (via A Armenteira) is 31.3km and that Pontevedra to Padrón (via Caldas de Reis) is 37.4km. (We would take the boat from Vilanova into Padrón so I've ignored that part in my calculations.)

I have no doubt that I am missing something critically important in my calculations.........but what? My best guess is that the 72km is the total walking distance from Pontevedra to Padrón on the Variante Espiritual rather than an extra 72km.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I do not have a definite answer but perhaps the confusion is to do with the special exception to the "100km rule" for receiving a Compostela. Usually you must walk all the last 100km into Santiago to receive a Compostela. The cathedral makes a special exception for the Variante Espiritual boat trip but insists that walkers must have walked at least 100km in total which means that those walking the Variante must start more than 100km from Santiago. Perhaps the confusion is to do with that fairly messy compromise?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Google maps reliably informs me that Pontevedra to Vilanova de Arousa (via A Armenteira) is 31.3km and that Pontevedra to Padrón (via Caldas de Reis) is 37.4km. (We would take the boat from Vilanova into Padrón so I've ignored that part in my calculations.)
It is possible that Google maps is not following the same route to connect the two locations as the Variant Espiritual does. For what it is worth, Brierley describes three stages between Pontevedra and Padrón on the VE: Pontevedra to Armenteira (21.4 km), Armenteira to Vilanove de Arousa (24.6 km), and Vilanova de Arousa to Padrón (36.7 km). The last is described with a walking route as well as the boat route. The total seems to be 82.7 km. My guess is like yours, that Barrera is talking about the complete length of the VE, as he measures it, rather than the difference between the length of the VE and the regular CP.
 

lettinggo

Active Member
My novice planning continues as does my confusion so apologies in advance to Camino veterans and thank you in advance for your help.

Variante Espirtual has (or had) emerged as my favoured route rather than the inland journey Pontevedra/Caldas de Reis/Padrón. So the plan was to walk to Pontevedra and turn left.

However, I've just received a copy of Jeffery Barrera's "Survival Guide to the Portuguese Camino in Galicia" and, predictably, went straight to the section on the Variante Espiritual which a) is less than half a page and b) finishes with the caveat "Be warned that this route will add another 72 kilometres to your Camino". Can that be right?

Google maps reliably informs me that Pontevedra to Vilanova de Arousa (via A Armenteira) is 31.3km and that Pontevedra to Padrón (via Caldas de Reis) is 37.4km. (We would take the boat from Vilanova into Padrón so I've ignored that part in my calculations.)

I have no doubt that I am missing something critically important in my calculations.........but what? My best guess is that the 72km is the total walking distance from Pontevedra to Padrón on the Variante Espiritual rather than an extra 72km.
Hola
Have a look here:


Buen Camino
Lettinggo
 

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
Thank you, all for your replies. Very helpful and I think I can safely conclude that the mysterious 72km is the total walk from Pontevedra to Padrón. I can also now see that the variation between Google maps and (say) Brierley is down to the route chosen.

Which leads me to a follow-on question:

If I am to complete a recognised (certifiable) Camino do I need to, or is it recommended that I follow a recognised route?

There may be good reasons for following a recognised Camino route such as several thousand pilgrims can't be wrong, it's well signed, there is an infrastructure around the route that supports the pilgrim, but is it a requirement?

For example, following the route to/through Combarro appears to add a couple of kilometres to the day's walk. Pretty as that town may be, as a pilgrim am i able to choose my own route between two points? And if the answer is "yes" would you recommend that I don't do that?
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
@MaxHelado The pilgrim office now require you to walk the final 100km of your Camino on an officially recognised route in order to qualify for a Compostela. But in practice going off-piste for a km or two then returning to the main drag is unlikely to be noticed or questioned. You are required to collect at least two sellos per day in that final 100km. If those sellos are from towns or villages along the "official" route then I do not think the issue will arise. Personally this "recognised route" rule was the final straw which led me to decide that I will no longer jump through the pilgrim office's hoops in order to receive their pretty piece of paper.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Possibly just a typo? I've walked the Spiritual Variant and doubt I would have done it if it had added that many kilometers to my walk...it did not!
I always thought I'd take the variant to Samos on the Frances, but passed up the turnoff twice...cuz it just seemed "too much" more effort, if that tells you anything. I've regretted the decision both times.
Do not be put off, you will love the SV!
 

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
Thank you all, once again. Comments from Camino Veterans are an enormous help. I am finding it pretty hard to work my way though the routes and the rules.

On the subject of which I have now read other postings that suggest that the last 100k must be walked in its entirety (no exceptions) and others that say the journey by boat has a "special dispensation" and so long as the distance walked excluding the boat trip is 100k then the Variante Espiritual will qualify.

At the end of the day I will not let a certificate completely determine the route that I walk (I have growing sympathy with Bradypus) but it would be nice to know what counts and what does not before turning up in the office in Santiago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP 9/2016
Senda Litoral/Coastal Português 9/2018
We walked From Porto , mostly on the Senda Litoral route (beautiful) in September 2018. We walked the Spiritual Variant, taking the boat and received our Compostelas. I am away from home for the next 6 weeks however once I return I will look at my passport and let you know when we started to accumulate 2 stamps each day. Buen Camino!
 

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
We walked From Porto , mostly on the Senda Litoral route (beautiful) in September 2018. We walked the Spiritual Variant, taking the boat and received our Compostelas. I am away from home for the next 6 weeks however once I return I will look at my passport and let you know when we started to accumulate 2 stamps each day. Buen Camino!
Any more information you have would be great. Thank you for your time and for taking such an interest. I will do the Variante Espiritual and will take the boat so any advice on how best to approach it would be very welcome!
 

Ellann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Camino 2016
We walked From Porto , mostly on the Senda Litoral route (beautiful) in September 2018. We walked the Spiritual Variant, taking the boat and received our Compostelas. I am away from home for the next 6 weeks however once I return I will look at my passport and let you know when we started to accumulate 2 stamps each day. Buen Camino!
It would be great to know when you started to accumulate 2 stamps each day, thank you.
 

calmeg

Member
When we left Porto (in June) we stayed on the coastal route the whole way and then diverted to the Spiritual variant when leaving Pontevedra-see our stops below. The route we took was never crowded and we never had problems finding roooms in the albergue- sometimes the problem was finding the albergue itself!



Day 08: Pontevedra to Armenteira. Around 24 Km. Start out on the regular trail from Pontevedra, through the town. About 3 Km along this trail there is a signpost: straight ahead for Padron, or turn left for the spiritual variant. Over hills, great views, down the other side, come to the monastery at Armenteira. We stayed at the municipal albergue- but asl at one of the bars 100 m from the monastary and they can call the hospitalera with the key to open the albergue which is ~400 m away.
Day 09: Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa. ~25 Km. trail of the water and rocks. Beautiful, easy walk.
Day 10: Vilanova de Arousa to Padron by boat. Arrange this at the albergue to make sure you get a seat. Never mind what the weather is like- wrap your bag in its raingear and put on raingear- you will get wet! We then walked to Teo (~20 Km?) to make a shorter next day.
Day 11: On to Santiago, pick your albergue!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
It would be great to know when you started to accumulate 2 stamps each day, thank you.
Off the top of my head, I do not know what village or town(s) might be the nearest to the 100km mark from SdC before reaching the 99.999 km mark on any of the CP routes.

Given that the length of the Camino from Porto is shorter than the Frances, and that there is plenty of room in the typical Credencial, I am going to do two a day from the start. Maybe more. Maybe a whole LOT more. :)

Keep in mind that the sellos (stamps) in the Credencial will also serve as a memento of your journey. . . so don't be too conservative with your 'sello to blank space' management :)

If you run out of spaces, use a second Credencial; you can even carry a 'spare' for such eventualities. 👍 👍
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I stopped an extra night in awesome Combarro to break up the long day with the big hill. It was a good decision...loved that village and the hill the next day was all it was cracked up to be! 😂
 
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Mycroft

Active Member
For some reason I felt called to walk the Variante Espiritual when I was on the Portugues Costal last September. I remember little except I renamed the route Variante Penitente!
 

Richard DeMerchant

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal Route (2019)
Camino Frances (July 2020)
We completed the walk from Porto following the Coastal Route and doing the Variante Espiritual. We did not have any issues with our Compostella. What we were told was that you need to start far enough away from SDC so that you will have walked 100 km. I forget the town to start. There is also a way to walk instead of taking the boat but I really recommend the boat as it is the only maritime stations of the cross and I found it quite spiritual.
 

kenwilltravel

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
The simplest way to approach this issue is the following. If you're walking the central Portuguese, you need to start collecting your two stamps a day from Valença or Tui, as SYates suggests. If you're walking the coastal Portuguese, start that process from Vigo. In both those situations, you'll meet the Pilgrim Office's last 100 km walking requirement, including the Vila de Arousa boat ride, and have no trouble getting your Compostela. My wife and I did the Spiritual Variant last year and started collecting our two stamps in Vigo and had no problems. We also worked in the Pilgrims Office and understand how they process these things.
 

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
Thank you all for your time and trouble in posting replies - very helpful.
Special thanks to kenwilltravel who has fixed the problem for me!
I will start in Vigo.
 

kenwilltravel

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
I would add, Max, that one benefit of starting from Vigo is you will enjoy a very nice walk through the forest along the Vigo river to Redondela. There's a great cafe about midway along where you can sit on the deck and enjoy the view. It's a very nice stretch to start your walk. Vigo itself is a large commercial city and quite busy but does have some good restaurants. And the waterfront area is kind of interesting.
 

MaxHelado

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Portugués Tui to Santiago
Ken, I will be there and will raise a glass to you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
My novice planning continues as does my confusion so apologies in advance to Camino veterans and thank you in advance for your help.

Variante Espirtual has (or had) emerged as my favoured route rather than the inland journey Pontevedra/Caldas de Reis/Padrón. So the plan was to walk to Pontevedra and turn left.

However, I've just received a copy of Jeffery Barrera's "Survival Guide to the Portuguese Camino in Galicia" and, predictably, went straight to the section on the Variante Espiritual which a) is less than half a page and b) finishes with the caveat "Be warned that this route will add another 72 kilometres to your Camino". Can that be right?

Google maps reliably informs me that Pontevedra to Vilanova de Arousa (via A Armenteira) is 31.3km and that Pontevedra to Padrón (via Caldas de Reis) is 37.4km. (We would take the boat from Vilanova into Padrón so I've ignored that part in my calculations.)

I have no doubt that I am missing something critically important in my calculations.........but what? My best guess is that the 72km is the total walking distance from Pontevedra to Padrón on the Variante Espiritual rather than an extra 72km.
Hola @MaxHelado . I have the 2020 ed of Brierley I and I think you are close to the mark. By my rough count its : 21.4 km Pontevedra to Armenteira; 24.6 km from Arm to Vilanova; and 36.7 to Padron. So around 83 km for the diversion.
Main route: 22.2 k from Ponte to Caldas De Reis; 19.1 km to Padros = total 41.3. Therefore the diversion (by my count) adds 42 km (approx). Happy to be corrected!!
 

kenwilltravel

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)

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