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Walk Finisterre to Santiago - backwards to avoid crowds?

CaminoErin

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
June 12-July 19, 2023
Walking my 2nd Camino in June and not looking forward to the crowds from Sarria. I’m starting in St Jean and considering taking a bus from Samos to Finesterre then walk backwards from the coast to Santiago to avoid crowds. Untraditional, but happy to forge my own path. Curious if anyone has done this? I only have 35 days and have never seen the coast.
 
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I'm all for going your Own Way but you may not avoid the crowd by doing the leg backwards...in fact it could seem theres more walkers as you'll be meeting them head on rather than as part of the flow!
Plus, there'll still be the nightly accommodation bottleneck.
Best wishes whatever you decide to do. Please let us know how any 'untraditional' approach works out for you. 🙂
👣🌏
Edited to add: @CaminoErin, unless your end goal is walking back to SdC, as an alternative you may like to consider what I did. I caught the bus to Muxia then took 2 days (can be done in one) to walk to Finisterre overnighting in Lires on the way. After a stay in Finisterre, I bussed back to SdC. I loved it & would do it that way again. 🤗
 
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I'm not sure how many have bussed from Samos to Finisterre. I expect not many. Some people do walk from Finisterre to Santiago. If you go via Muxia, that will be enough to earn you a Compostela (more than 100 km to Santiago on a recognized route). Just be sure to get two stamps a day if you want the Compostela. Between Finisterre and Muxia you can get a stamp at Lires. The walk back to Santiago shouldn't be very crowded.

Another alternative to avoid the Sarria to Santiago portion in favour of something with fewer pilgrims would be to switch to the Invierno after Ponferrada. That would remove the need to catch a bus and change the direction of your walk.
 
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Walking my 2nd Camino in June and not looking forward to the crowds from Sarria. I’m starting in St Jean and considering taking a bus from Samos to Finesterre then walk backwards from the coast to Santiago to avoid crowds. Untraditional, but happy to forge my own path. Curious if anyone has done this? I only have 35 days and have never seen the coast.
I walked Fisterra > Santiago in early June of 2017. It was a pleasant 4-day walk. I do not remember seeing many others en-route.
Fisterra > Cee > Olveiroa > Negreira > Santiago
 
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Take a look at the stages on Gronze. Let's use Sarria - Portomarín for an example.


You'll see towns with a dozen or more albergues, and towns with one or two. Avoid the primary towns, stay in the smaller towns in between the main stages, and voila! No crowds. To the point where it starts to feel surreal. This will work very well until the final day.
 
I'm all for going your Own Way but you may not avoid the crowd by doing the leg backwards...in fact it could seem theres more walkers as you'll be meeting them head on rather than as part of the flow!
Plus, there'll still be the nightly accommodation bottleneck.
Hi @CaminoErin @Tassie Kaz is spot on. At the end of the Arles / Aragones Way, we walked one day ‘backwards’ from Obanos to Pamplona. It was quite a fun experience - for those few hours - but at times felt like an army coming towards us! You literally see everyone so it feels even more crowded than if you walk in the usual direction. Some good suggestions above. All the best 😎
 
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I did this 'backwards' in September going from Baamonde on the Norte to Muxia - and then onto Finisterre to avoid coming in on the Frances.

You'll not avoid anything as the numbers will be the same whichever way you go. The only difference is you'll see the smiling (or not so smiling faces) rather than the backs of pilgrims' heads.

Do whatever you feel is best for you - and remember to smile.
 
Hi @CaminoErin @Tassie Kaz is spot on. At the end of the Arles / Aragones Way, we walked one day ‘backwards’ from Obanos to Pamplona. It was quite a fun experience - for those few hours - but at times felt like an army coming towards us! You literally see everyone so it feels even more crowded than if you walk in the usual direction. Some good suggestions above. All the best 😎
That you see much more people when you walk in reverse is true. But the experience is different, you see them only for a short moment to exchange some "buen caminos". If you walk behind a group of sometimes very talkative or noisy pelgrims that is something different. You can overtake them of cause but then you may have to walk faster than you would like. At the next coffebreak ( or the next group) you will gave to repeat this manoeuvre.
 
I'm all for going your Own Way but you may not avoid the crowd by doing the leg backwards...in fact it could seem theres more walkers as you'll be meeting them head on rather than as part of the flow!
Plus, there'll still be the nightly accommodation bottleneck.
Yes, this. If you walk backwards you will see more people. Edit: as @Pelerina also said.
 
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That you see much more people when you walk in reverse is true. But the experience is different, you see them only for a short moment to exchange some "buen caminos". If you walk behind a group of sometimes very talkative or noisy pelgrims that is something different. You can overtake them of cause but then you may have to walk faster than you would like. At the next coffebreak ( or the next group) you will gave to repeat this manoeuvre.
Yes it is a different experience.
 
I walked from Muxia to Santiago last summer at the end of July, and while I agree that you in fact see more people, overall those stages felt much more quiet and like I was on my own than if I were walking from Santiago towards the coast. Plus, I found that the first several hours and last several hours of each stage's walk were totally quiet! You really only tend to pass pilgrims in the middle chunk of your walking day. For me- someone who loves walking in quiet and solitude- I really enjoyed not having to navigate getting caught up in groups of other pilgrims, and also kind of knowing that sections of my day would be totally quiet and solo. That was my first experience of going against the grain, and overall it was a good one!
 
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Walking my 2nd Camino in June and not looking forward to the crowds from Sarria. I’m starting in St Jean and considering taking a bus from Samos to Finesterre then walk backwards from the coast to Santiago to avoid crowds. Untraditional, but happy to forge my own path. Curious if anyone has done this? I only have 35 days and have never seen the coast.
Hi CaminoErin,
In Sept.-Oct. of 2021 I walked the Frances route from St Jean. I immediately followed that with a walk from Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia and back to Santiago. The Muxia to Santiago segment was a walk backwards. It was thoroughly enjoyable and not that difficult. I did not use a map--paper or online. I simply followed the markers backwards. I knew I was going in the correct direction when, during the day, I crossed paths with pilgrims walking toward Muxia. (I did make several wrong turns and had to backtrack). Finisterra to Santiago will be no different. (During my walk, I never met another pilgrim who was also walking backwards).
Do not consider it--do it. Enjoy and Buen Camino!!
 
Oops, I misread the original post that @CaminoErin was going to walk backwards from Muxia to Sarria. I think walking in either direction between Muxia and Santiago would be absolutely fine as noted by @SBurgess and @NadineK
 
Walking my 2nd Camino in June and not looking forward to the crowds from Sarria. I’m starting in St Jean and considering taking a bus from Samos to Finesterre then walk backwards from the coast to Santiago to avoid crowds. Untraditional, but happy to forge my own path. Curious if anyone has done this? I only have 35 days and have never seen the coast.
If any effect at all, walking backwards will mean you see actually more people. If 100 people are walking the same stretch as you do in opposite direction, chances are big, that you will run into all of them like a ship going through the waves. Only short encounters, but many.
Do you walk with the flow however, you might see less people as you are mainly aware of those walking in a certain proximity of where you are.
To my experience, the best way to avoid crowds is daily timing. Walk in between the waves and stay there.
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
Aside from the idea of walking backwards, the idea of busing from Samos to Fisterre probably won’t feel right when you’re actually in Samos. You’d have just spent thirty days or so seeing familiar faces over and over. You’ll be connected with that wave, that cohort, you’ll have friends, some even have a “camino family” (I didn’t). It’d be a shame to break those connections.
 
I did this walk in 2022 and it was great. Spotting arrows and other waymarkers (mojones) sometimes was elusive as they mostly point TO Finisterre. Pilgrims coming to Finisterre became our "Mobile Mojones" :) They saved us several times from making a wrong turn.

I can hardly wait to do it again.

Have a great adventure! And Buen Camino

Bartman
 
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
Aside from the idea of walking backwards, the idea of busing from Samos to Fisterre probably won’t feel right when you’re actually in Samos. You’d have just spent thirty days or so seeing familiar faces over and over. You’ll be connected with that wave, that cohort, you’ll have friends, some even have a “camino family” (I didn’t). It’d be a shame to break those connections.
Yes, something that is important and can only be decided en route. I’m still good friends with the Pilgrims I walked with in 2010!
 
I'm currently on the Sanabres after starting in Sevilla and I'm going to do something similar to avoid the long walk into Santiago.
I'm going to branch off the official route just before Santiago and head for Padron, then head towards Finisterre and then up to Muxia before walking into Santiago. That way, I'll only have to see the city once and it'll be a short walk through the suburbs.
I walked to the coast last year and checked the waymarkers for walking 'backwards' and they seemed pretty frequent.
 
I walked last summer '22 during the Holy year- the crowds did noticeably increase from Sarria to Santiago- I left a little later 8-9 in the morning on those days where the crowd was (a little) less- but I also chose to embrace the experience and I enjoyed chatting to the larger new groups as many were friendly high school kids from Spain. (You would still see them in reverse so I am not sure the objective is achieved as there was great joy walking to Santiago as a destination for me).
Walking from Santiago to Finisterre- I found very few pilgrims- not the crowds at all- it was nice to anticipate the upcoming coast rather than to be walking away from it.
 
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I've just done this, catching the bus from Santiago to Cee. Some notes which may be of use for future walkers:
Finisterra to Muxia is no problem - alternate signs give directions both ways.
Finisterra to Hospital is described in detail in the Brierley guide but you have to read every detail. I overlooked a (+.3k) note and walked a k in the wrong direction.
The mojones are very carefully placed and angled and you can usually work out where the path has come from. Signs that you are on the right route include the distinctive granite v- shaped drainage channels diagonally across the path and surfaced or segregated paths alongside roads.
Beware of assuming that anyone walking towards you is a pilgrim on the right path, especially at weekends. Other tracks intersect the Camino, and many people enjoy walking in this lovely area.
There are quite a lot of informal faded yellow arrows pointing to S or SC. They are usually on the backs of lampposts and similar and are helpful once you've got your eye in.
In a couple of places where things seemed unclear I got in a complete muddle trying to read across from mapy.cz which shows topography and the route, but not where you are exactly, to the Brierley maps, not to scale, to Google maps which shows you where you are but not the route. Then a kind pilgrim burrowed under his poncho into his pack in the pouring rain to show me the Buen Camino maps on his phone. No more navigation problems.
If you do short stages there may be nowhere open en route to get a stamp. I just got two at my destination. It wasn't a problem. But no refreshment stop for 10-15 k could be if not prepared.
The approach to Santiago is lovely. A great view of the cathedral, then greenery and a very short urban stretch through attractive streets and straight up into the Obradoiro.
 

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