Camino De Santiago – Camino Francis

Published on May 24, 2024

There are nine routes to the Cathedral de Santiago. The Camino is well known for its sense of community and social atmosphere. Pilgrims passing you by will greet each other with a welcome of “Buen Camino!” loosely translated as “Have a great experience on the Camino.”

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) and the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula-St. James (born in Galilee, Palestine) Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela has become a peregrination (long journey on foot-pilgrimage) point of the entire European continent. St. James was one of the main apostles of Jesus Christ and the first of them to die martyred. Christian tradition indicates that his body was transferred to Spain and deposited in a tomb located in Santiago de Compostela. This was discovered around the year 820 among the remains of an abandoned Roman settlement and a temple was built on it that was expanded in the following centuries until it became the current Cathedral . Hence, the Camino route is known as “The way of St. James”

On May 6th this year, three parishioners from Piltown left Dublin airport to complete five sections of the Camino Francis. The total group number was fifteen. The group of fifteen commenced walking on May 7 th from the beautiful city of Logrono where we finished last year and walked for 5 days covering 123 Km. We stayed overnight in Najera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Belorado, San Juan de Ortega and finally Burgos where we took a flight home on May 12 th . This is the groups third year travelling and completing three stages of the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino Francis which stretches 780 km (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Some people in our group and people we met along the way set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they meet other pilgrims, attend pilgrim masses in churches, monasteries, and cathedrals, and see the extensive infrastructure of buildings provided for pilgrims over many centuries.

Our group of fifteen are completing the French way (Camino de Santiago Francés) which we started from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France. This is the most well-known and frequently travelled Camino de Santiago route, whose volume makes up more than 85% of the total number of pilgrims. It owes its origins to the three main historic pilgrimage routes that depart from Europe and come together in the village of Ostabat, a few kilometres away from Saint Jean Pied de Port. Towns and services on the French way crosses 140 towns with different facilities and on average there is a town with at least one bar or grocery store every 5.5 km. The ability to find supplies, eat and drink will make things easier for the pilgrims. This is a crucial factor for us to keep in mind as it means we will only need to carry minimal equipment on our backs.

We stayed in small guesthouses at the end of each days walk and were back on the road at 8am the following morning. The intense heat at around 2pm-3pm made it difficult to walk. Some of the routes took us up to levels of 1,200 meters (Slievenamon is 721 meters high) so a reasonable level of fitness is needed.

The group arrived home safely, some of the walkers experienced some foot blisters which is to be expected. In 2025, we plan to walk another stretch, May is the preferable month before temperatures get too high. In May, the countryside looks its best in northern Spain. Walking on pathways which lead us through field of wheat, oats, barley, oilseed rape, peas, and vineyards. The flora and fauna in northern Spain are unspoilt and the tract takes us through small farms and villages. The locals are very welcoming to the walkers and direct them to the correct route if they seem unsure.