Having completed the Camino de Madrid, the next walk on my agenda was the Camino Inglés from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela.
Getting there from Sahagun was relatively easy, requiring a 5 hour train trip to Santiago followed by a bus trip to Ferrol the following morning. The scheduling of the train gave me plenty of time to reacquaint myself with Sahagun (previously visited in 2013) and to sample the gin and tonic at Confiteria Asturcon café-bar who provided the best G&T encountered on the trip.
Arriving in Ferrol in the late morning gave me time to explore the city, visit the tourist office to have my credential stamped and locate the starting point for the Camino Ingles (English Way) for the following morning. The Camino begins on the docks of Curuxeiras where the old medieval port was located.
First distance marker in Ferrol
Day 1 of my Camino saw me on the road at 8:00am (in the dark as is usual for October) walking past the seemingly endless naval and port facilities located along the estuary (Rio de Ferrol). The route requires that you initially head north-east for approximately 10 kilometres to get around the head of the estuary before turning south towards Santiago. While this section can be shortened by crossing the rail bridge, I decided to take the long road and follow the official path.
Once past the naval establishments the walk followed the inlet merging into the next, stopping for coffee in Neda and a drink in Villanova. Then there was more country walking with the paths lined with eucalyptus and native European trees including many chestnuts and walnuts.
The weather was overcast but fine until the last 2km when it started to rain properly and I arrived in Pontedeume very wet from the waist down. Being October I was quickly discovered that it rained in Galicia every day. The trick to waling soon became how to cover the required distance while avoiding a daily drenching. Pontedeume was my first albergue with multiple residents as, until now, I had either been by myself or with one other pilgrim. Notwithstanding there were no English speakers in the group. The stay was interesting as there was a function in the room adjoins the albergue and it was party night complete with bagpipes, trumpets and who know what else. The gathering went on until well past midnight. Lots of noise and very loud background music. Difficult to get to sleep but not that unpleasant.
The following day it was on the road again in the dark and heading up the climb out of Pontedeume. Not a pleasant climb as it seemed to go on forever. The day was spent mainly in the countryside surrounded by eucalyptus and European native trees. I could not get over the massive amounts of chestnuts, walnuts and apples that were rotting on the ground.
The way was well marked although at times my GPS track and the official Camino took different paths and there was always a certain amount of apprehension as to whether I was on the correct path or not. The anxiety always disappears at the sight of a yellow arrow.
The first stop for the day was at Mino where a Spanish woman was providing free coffee and cake to pilgrims. An interesting change as she refused any payment or offered donation. There was a lot more up and down than expected today, crossing headlands as I travelled along the estuary. Notwithstanding I was able to get into the nice town of Betanzos before it rained.
As usual I was the road by 8am and luckily could get a cup of coffee before leaving town to supplement my breakfast of a KitKat and water. Again it was rural walking and unexpectedly mostly uphill. There were some great views and apart from the time spent in eucalyptus plantations. It was a pleasant, although strenuous walk.
Arriving in Bruma Hospital before the rain commenced was another added bonus. I stayed at the Municipal Albergue with seven other pilgrims. Bruma Hospital is a pinch point on the Inglis with only the Municipal, a private Albergue and one restaurant. Lunch there was the usual Spanish 3 course menu (without a menu) which equates to eating whatever is served. It was a very nice potato soup, followed by eggs with the usual chips and a dessert.
Not unusually, it was raining when I departed Bruma Hospital, although it only lasted for the first hour of the day. The day was spent walking with a Spanish medical student who was faster than me and it was all I could do to keep up with him for the first 19km. At that point I stopped for a rest and told him to walk on as it was his intention to do 42km day and finish in Santiago.
Arriving in Sigueiro I caught up with Alain who I had met previously while having coffee in Mino (French father, Dutch mother and brought up in the US). We spent an excellent night together with a couple of British pilgrims. From Sigueiro it was only a short 16km walk into Santiago and, disappointingly, there was nothing open until Alain and I reached the outskirts of the city.
On arrival we took the obligatory photos outside of the Cathedral and headed for the pilgrim office to receive our compostelas. The remainder of the day was spent wandering around Santiago and catching up with friends that we made along the way including Yago, the Spanish medical student that I walked with.
Accommodation for the night was in Albergue Seminario Menor. For a change I decided to take a private room. It was very austere, on the fourth floor, a good half kilometre from the building entrance. That building is definitely larger than it appears from the outside.
The following day saw me heading back to the bus station (in the rain) to catch a bus to Muxia. Hostel Bela Muxia was excellentnice new facilities with plenty of space between the beds which is unusual as less space usually equals more beds and increased income. Many of the walkers here are finishing their Camino having walked from Santiago whereas I was going in the reverse direction.
The afternoon was spent walking to the end of the headland and the Camino starting point (kilometre zero), where there are great views of the Atlantic Ocean. I also visited Santuario da Virxe de Barca. The church is obviously dedicated to sailors and while it was locked the internals could be photographed through a mesh screen. It looked like it would have been a great place for further inspection.
The overnight stay was very different. There was a couple sleeping in the bunk across from me that thought they could snore in unison (wrong) and with the addition of an overweight man wheezing next to me, it did not make for a good nights sleep in spite of the ear defenders. I watched one young female pilgrim pack and move to the far end of the room. Being a true pilgrim I endured the noise and refused to leave my bed apart from the occasional trips to the bathroom.
Muxia and the Atlantic Ocean
As the walk to Olveiroa was a relatively short I was able to have breakfast before heading off. Initially the route followed the Atlantic coast before turning inland. Apart from the eucalyptus trees the walk was pretty although more uphill than I would have preferred. I’m still not sure why the pilgrim way has to take us past every closed church as well as every operational wind turbine in Spain.
In the evening I had pleasant company: a Dutch social worker who has been walking for over three months and a Brazilian coffee farmer. The Dutchman was walking to Muxia and then down to Porto and the coffee farmer was finishing in Finisterre.
I walked with the coffee farmer to Finisterre before heading back along the coast towards Santiago. It was a pleasant walk apart from more dreaded eucalyptus trees and the flooded path along the beach into Finisterre due the heavy overnight rain. Avoiding the flooding required a couple of kilometres of road walking.
The albergue in Cee provided a great night’s sleep and I was on the road by 8:30am. As the clocks changed by an hour overnight I started walking in daylight instead of the usual blundering around in the dark.
The climb out of Cee was a bastard. I seemed to be going up-hill for hours (bit of an exaggeration) and it was not fun. Eventually I reached the top of the climb only to be surrounded once again by wind turbines together with locals with dogs and shotguns. I suspect that some form of hunting season had commenced.
From Cee it was four hours of walking until I eventually found an open bar where I could have my credential stamped, coffee and cake before eventually arriving in Negreira.
Statue with capirote in Ferrol
As a result of everybody else in the room deciding to arise early I was outside the albergue at 7:00am. The first hour was very uncomfortable as it was road walking in the dark with the added bonus of rain and strong winds. At least the road verge was smooth so I avoided falling over. The only bonus was that after an hour and a half walking it was light and I reached the Monte Aro albergue restaurante and was able to get breakfast.
At around midday I reached Bar Herminio where I could get a sandwich and finally remove most of the wet gear. In the afternoon the weather improved and eventually I was able to take off my coat. The afternoon’s walk was mainly through oak forests on tracks with sunken lanes. Notwithstanding, it remained wet underfoot. Sunken lanes are one of the highlights associated with walking in Galicia.
I missed the municipal albergue on the approach into Negreira and ended up finding accommodation in an albergue pension in the centre of the town. Having previously stayed in the municipal albergue in 2019 my chosen overnight accommodation was a great improvement.
On my final day into Santiago I was on the road at 8:00am and as usual nothing was open. I discovered later that it was All Saints Day and a public holiday in Spain. The walk was pleasant through forests and sunken lanes although harder than anticipated and I eventually arrived in Santiago at around 1:30pm and located my accommodation close to the Cathedral.
Alain and John arriving in Santiago
Alain and John arriving in Santiago with their Compostelas
Santuario da Virxe de Barca, Muxia
The Way in Galicia—undulating, often damp but pleasant and scenic
The Way in Galicia—undulating, often damp but pleasant and scenic