Saturday, January 12, 2008


August/September 2007:
Anneliese, my companion on the Camino last year (a Dominican nun) said:
"I think God collected all the stones and rocks in Spain and scattered them along the camino to test us."
Many of the paths consist of rocks, or river boulders, gravel pits, torrent courses, pebbles or shale. Others are mud, dirt, clay or stone.
Using the Brierley guide for the Camino Frances, which splits the miles for each day into “paths: quiet roads: main roads” the 798kms from St Jean works out like this:
505 km on paths/tracks
202.6km on quiet roads (mostly through small villages)
90.6km on main roads
1. The first 50kms, starting in the Pyrenees, comprise a difficult start straight up to the Ibaneta Pass, a severe downhill to Roncesvalles and then an undulating roller coaster path through woodland until you reach Pamplona. " From Najera we climbed very steeply into the hills and were accompanied by dozens - perhaps hundreds - of vultures flying overhead. Someone said that they circle the pilgrim road waiting for one to fall!
2. The next 200 + km are varied - across Navarra and the La Rioja vineyards with several hill ranges to cross.
3. For ±230 km between Burgos and Astorga you are on the meseta – hot in summer and bitterly cold in the winter with fewer villages and therefore, fewer monuments along the way.
4. The mountains of León take you up to 1,500 metres over 2 days to the highest point on the camino just after Manjarin, then very steeply down to the Bierzo plain. Two days later you have the Cebreiro range, again reaching 1,400 metres. Neither of these is as severe as the day from St Jean, because you start higher up
 5. From Astorga to Sarria – 145kms takes you to the highest point at 1500m close to Manjarin. Then, after Ponferrada, you climb again to O'Cebreiro which is at 1400m.

6. The last 115 kms from Sarria are surprisingly arduous with sharp up hills and steep descents.
As you leave Mont de Gozo, these statues point the way to Santiago and to the cathedral.


  1. Anonymous6:30 am

    Dear. Ms. Annawalker,

    This is SK shin from Korea.
    I got your blog from one of sites on Santiago in Korea.

    I would love to know which path you took from Paris to St. Jean.

    I would like to do it this summer after meeting friends in Paris..
    Please let me know the paths, since there is less info on this path..aside from Camino Frances.

    Thank you and do hope communicate with you later again.

    shin sk

  2. Hi Suki,
    I bought a guide from the Confraternity of St James in England:
    It is a bit old but there are updates on the website.
    There is info on the French St Jacques sites. Can you email me?

  3. Planning to do the Camino in 2010, where do we start?

  4. Hello Erna,
    How exciting to be planning to walk a camino in the Holy Year.
    If you visit the Confraternity of St James of SA website at you will find a link to the different routes (there are over 20 to choose from) as well as LINKS that offer help on where to buy guide books, how to budget, a website that helps you plan your daily stages, links to Camino Forums where pilgrims help each other, etc. If you need more on-on-one help, please contact me via the CSJofSA website.

  5. Hello Amawalker

    Why is 2010 a Holy Year. The web page is awesome.


  6. Hi Erna,
    The 25th July is the day St James' relics were discovered and is the feast day of St James. (Like St Patrick's day is on March 17th).
    When the 25th July falls on a Sunday it is a Holy Year or Jubilee Year. Special privileges and spiritual blessings are afforded to pilgrims.
    Holy Years occur every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years. The Holy Years of the last century were - 1909, 1915, 1920, 1926, 1937, 1938 (extraordinary), 1943, 1948, 1954, 1965, 1971, 1976, 1982, 1993 and 1999. The first Holy Year of this century was in 2004. The next one is in 2010 and then we'll have to wait 11 years for the next one in 2021.

  7. Hi Amawalker

    I tried to email denise re membership and buying a badge. Would like to know if one must walk the camino first before buying a badge and join the club?



  8. Hi Erna,
    Anyone can join the Confraternity - having walked it is not a prerequisite.
    You can download the membership form from the website. You can also email me using the form on the website.