The London, UK-based Confraternity of St James (CSJ) was founded by 6 camino enthusiasts in 1983, making it the oldest English-speaking association of pilgrims. It now has over 2000 members, has issued over 10,000 pilgrim passports, and runs two pilgrim albergues in Spain. Like other international Camino associations, including the Australian Friends of the Camino, its essential aim is to promote pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. From its very beginning it recognised the need for a publishing program focused on printed guides. That program is described by CSJ as ‘The lowest cost and lightest on the market and which are frequently updated by our volunteer Camino pilgrims’.
Confirmation of CSJ’s continuing commitment is to be found in recent editions of 4 of its guides eg its very first guide, to the C Francés, was published in 1983, now in its the 36th edition! Whilst this reflects the popularity of the Francés, it’s also indicative of the great voluntary work of experienced pilgrims over many years which has enabled regularly updated new editions.
For many years the CSJ guides would best be described as cheap, and not particularly cheerful – characterised often by plain covers, small print, no or poorly reproduced photos, no colour, limited route maps and no elevation profiles. Nonetheless they filled a vacuum not then met by commercial publishers. Over the years have improved and still maintained a commitment to low cost and, importantly, low weight.
The most recent evidence of this achievement are new editions of 4 guides, which in their variety manifest the ever widening range of connected pilgrimage in Spain and elsewhere.
- The Camino Inglés 6th ed. 2018/19. This covers the two starting points for the C Inglés, from El Ferrol and A Coruña. 74 pg, 77gms, £8.99 plus PH.
- The Camino Portugués de la Costa Ist ed. 2018/19. 130 pg, 130gms, £9.99 plus PH.
- St James Way : a pilgrim way from Reading to Southampton 2nd ed. 2018/19. 54 pg, 57 gms, £8.00 plus PH.
- The Camino Francés: Saint-Jean-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela 36th ed. 2018/19. 150 pg, 150gms., £15 plus PH. Incl 2 booklets, Preparing for the Camino Francés and Pilgrim guide to Santiago de Compostela.
The format is the same ‘pocket size’ (12cmX16.5cm) and still light-weight, and features attractive covers, no wasted margins, high quality readable printing and copy editing, relevant photographs, route outlines and, lastly, elevation profiles derived from Gronze.com. Check out the range of CSJ guides at www.csj.org.uk. Kindle versions are also available. In conclusion, CSJ guides remain inexpensive, light, and very good value.