I couldn’t spend a week staying on “the Camino” without walking some of it. So, last week, I set off to walk from Arthur’s gallery, which is just beyond Triacastela (if you turn right there, rather than left to Samos) and about 130km from the finish in Santiago de Compostela. My goal was to get to Sarria, where I would be picked up late in the afternoon, but I reached there at 11:30am. So I carried on…
One of the big attractions of the Camino is that there are signposts at least every 500m (I’m told) and usually at any junction, so you don’t need to carry a map or be very good at navigation. Also, I realised afterwards, there are no gates to open, or stiles to climb over, (on my section anyway), which makes for a slightly smoother journey. Many people don’t even book their accommodation ahead, so that they are free to stop, or carry on, as the fancy takes them. Though this does mean that there is a tendency for quite a few people to set off at the crack of dawn (which must be delightful for other guests or walkers staying in the same albergue or hostel – not to mention people trying to sleep below a gallery on the Camino).
Clearly there are other advantages too, like it’s a good walk with some nice scenery and you will get to meet, or pass, looooaaaads of people. But that, for me, even though I consider myself a very sociable person, puts me off doing the whole thing. (I also get quite competitive, as nobody walks passed me!) There’s quite a lot of road, or next to road, sections too, though they are often fairly quiet back roads.
For info also, I noticed quite a lot of cyclists taking on the route and I saw some specific signs in the road, so there must be a cyclist’s variation. This must get you from A to B somewhat quicker but, then, you may miss a lot (of the point) of the journey. In addition there are a few alternative routes to Santiago de Compostela, like one along the north coast of Spain and another up through Portugal, which you might like to consider to be a little ‘different’.
Anyway, I managed another 8km (5 miles) beyond Sarria before I turned back, covering the same ground, which made my walk about 30km (18 miles) in total. Though I have to say, just in case you have a mind to do it in reverse, it’s not as easy to navigate as you might think – given that the signs are geared towards pilgrims on the normal route. (And I think you will be fed up of saying “Ola” or “Buen Camino” to thousands of people).