Here are the new Camino de Santiago routes that the Pilgrim's Office has included on its official list

REBECA CORDOBÉS

VEN A GALICIA

Adrián González

The institution in charge of issuing the compostela certificate of completion added a further nine routes to its statistics for 2022.

28 oct 2022 . Actualizado a las 05:00 h.

At the beginning of the year, nobody had any idea of the record number of pilgrims who would soon flock to the region, and face masks still had to be worn indoors and the vaccination certificate had to be carried at all times. So in early 2022, the Pilgrim’s Office would timidly announce the arrival of a handful of pilgrims each day. How things have changed since then! The routes now look almost crowded; so much so that we are now seeing walkers on new routes that never used to exist. The year has not only set a new record for the number of pilgrims, but also for the number of different caminos heading to Santiago. This much is shown in the statistics released by the Pilgrim’s Office, which now lists no fewer than 19 routes.

As of 31 December 2021, the official statistics recognised nine different routes: Camino Francés, Camino Portugués, Camino Portugués along the coast, Camino Inglés, Camino Primitivo, Camino del Norte, Camino de Invierno, Vía de la Plata and Camino de Fisterra y Muxía. These nine routes then became ten following the inclusion of the “Other routes” category.

Throughout 2022, these “Other routes” began to acquire names. Month after month, the list grew longer as more and more pilgrims made the pilgrimage, until the number of categories literally doubled. The nine existing routes were joined by nine others: Camino de Muros e Noia, Camino del Barbanza, Miñoto Ribeiro, Geira e Arrieiros, Camino del Mar, Camino Olvidado, San Salvador, San Rosendo and Vía Céltica. With fewer amenities, but also less crowded, these are the new Caminos de Santiago.

Camino de Muros e Noia (Way of Muros and Noia)

Path of the Ría de Muros e Noia, as it passes through Outes
Path of the Ría de Muros e Noia, as it passes through Outes CARMELA QUEIJEIRO

From stone to stone, the Camino de la Ría de Muros e Noia links two localities characterised by their rocky buildings and arcades. The seaside charm of Muros lies only 80 kilometres away from the spectacular heritage of Santiago de Compostela. Although this route is not long enough for pilgrims to earn the compostela badge, it is more than enough to enjoy all the peace and nature to be found along the way. It was recognised as an official route by the church in December 2020.

The traditional route starts in Muros, skirts the northern shore of what is known as A Ría da Estrela and passes through Serra de Outes until it reaches Noia. From there, it heads inland through the municipality of Lousame and meanders through the parish of San Xusto. It crosses the municipalities of Rois (via Urdilde), Brión (via Alqueidón), and Ames (via Bertamiráns), until eventually reaching Santiago. There is also a variant that leaves Porto do Son and runs parallel to the southern bank of the estuary until it joins the original route in Noia.

The route’s website lists 11 stages. However, if we take the rough figure for the other routes of 20 to 25 kilometres a day, this particular route could be finished in just three to four days.

Camino del Barbanza (Barbanza Way)


Signaling of the Camino del Barbanza, in Ribeira
Signaling of the Camino del Barbanza, in Ribeira

Routes departing from the coast have been hugely popular in recent years. So much so that the route we just described has a neighbouring route running to the south of the estuary. The Camino de Barbanza, also known as A Orixe (The Origin), was granted official status in March 2021. It runs from the lighthouse of Corrubedo, in Ribeira, to the Galician capital, spanning 120 kilometres and six stages.

The Camino de Barbanza follows the course of the Arousa estuary and the river Ulla, just as the remains of James the Great once did, according to legend. A route that allows you to discover the magnificent northern shore of the Arousa estuary without running into all the crowds. Starting in Ribeira, it runs through the municipalities of A Pobra, Boiro and Rianxo until it begins the ascent along the river Ulla heading through Dodro. In Padrón, it joins the route of the Camino Portugués (Portuguese Way).

There is also the option of taking a sea-river route by approaching one of the companies that charter boats from Ribeira. You could then disembark in Padrón, in the same port where the boat with the remains of Saint James is said to have arrived, and complete the last stretch on foot.

Vía Céltica (Celtic Way)

Port of Laxe, one of the departure points of the Via Céltica
Port of Laxe, one of the departure points of the Via Céltica BASILIO BELLO

Also departing from the coast, though this time far from the peaceful waters of the Rías Baixas, is the Vía Céltica. It is a historic route followed by pilgrims who would set off from one of the ports along the Costa da Morte or from the Bergantiños region, before passing through Santa Comba. It is one of the most recently recognised routes, having earned its official status in December of last year.

There are two variants. One of these sets off from any of the ports in and around the region of Bergantiños: Laxe, Ponteceso, Corme, Barizo, Malpica or Caión. Much like a spider’s web, the different routes come together to form a single route at Valenza (Coristanco). Thus, the Laxe and Ponteceso routes converge at A Carga (Ponteceso). Corme (Ponteceso) and Barizo (Malpica) converge at Nemeño (Ponteceso). Malpica and Caión (A Laracha) join at Buño (Malpica) and continue through Ponte Dona, where they join the previous route. Once all the routes have converged in Valenza, this northern variant passes through Agualada, Castriz and Carboeiro until it reaches Páramos, where it merges with the western variant.

Meanwhile, the western variant sets off from one or other of the ports along the Costa da Morte: Fisterra, Muxía, Cereixo, Ponte do Porto or Camariñas. Part of the route coincides with that of the Camino de Fisterra y Muxía (Way of Fisterra an Muxía), but actually heads in the opposite direction, with the yellow arrows pointing towards Santiago. In actual fact, there are only three different stretches, as the Camariñas route also passes through Ponte do Porto and Cereixo, so the only difference is the kilometre marker where you start walking. This route merges with the Muxía route at Quintáns (Muxía). Thereafter, the route converges in Romar (Vimianzo) with the route starting in Fisterra. The route continues through O Sixto, Muíño, Vilar de Célticos, Santa Comba and Vilarnovo until it reaches Páramos.

Both variants then continue together as they make their way towards Santiago, passing through Portomouro on the way. Although the total distance varies depending on the port of departure, there is a special requirement for those looking to earn the compostela certificate of completion. As explained on the website of the Celtic Way, pilgrims must complete two routes: one from the Costa da Morte and another from Bergantiños. You can also choose to combine one of the walking routes with a sailing route, provided the latter exceeds 100 nautical miles.

Camino da Geira e dos Arrieros (Way of Geira and dos Arrieros)


Camiño da Geira e dos Arrieros, as it passes through A Estrada
Camiño da Geira e dos Arrieros, as it passes through A Estrada

Let’s now head southwards to discover the new routes stretching up from Portugal. The Camino da Geira e dos Arrieiros, recognised by the ecclesiastical authorities of Braga and Santiago in 2019, makes its way towards Santiago through the province of Ourense and the interior of Pontevedra. It has a lot in common with another new route: the Camino Miñoto Ribeiro; a situation that has sparked more than one war of figures and words in the territories it crosses.

The route enters Galicia through Lobios, allowing pilgrims to take in the Serra do Xurés natural park. During the initial stages while inside Galicia, it crosses the Portuguese-Galician border on more than one occasion. It continues its path through the province of Ourense via Cortegada, A Arnoia, Ribadavia, Pazos de Arenteiro (Boborás), Soutelo de Montes, Forcarei, A Estrada (via Codeseda) and Pontevea until it reaches Santiago.

Miñoto Ribeiro

Camiño Miñoto Ribeiro, as it passes through A Estrada
Camiño Miñoto Ribeiro, as it passes through A Estrada

The challenger, namely the Camiño Miñoto Ribeiro, follows a similar path to that of Geira e dos Arrieiros, though this time setting off from Braga. While the official guide of the route states that it also enters Galicia through Lobios, the certificate with which the cathedral granted it official status in 2020 claims that it passes through the Portuguese municipalities of Monçao and Melgaço, meaning it would run parallel to the river Minho as it heads through Pontevedra, thus making it impossible to enter Galicia through Lobios.

In any case, once it enters Galicia, the route runs almost parallel to that of Geira e dos Arrieros. Therefore, it also passes through Cortegada, A Arnoia, Ribadavia, Pazos de Arenteiro (Boborás), Soutelo de Montes and Forcarei. It is at this point where the two caminos pull furthest apart as they head through Galicia. The Camino Miñoto Ribeiro turns off towards O Foxo, at A Estrada, and continues through Vedra, where it joins the Vía de la Plata (the Silver Way).

Camino de San Rosendo (San Rosendo Way)

Vilameá Bridge, in Lobios, where the Camino de San Rosendo passes
Vilameá Bridge, in Lobios, where the Camino de San Rosendo passes CELANOVA&BEYOND

Also departing from Braga, the Camino de San Rosendo is another variant of the routes heading into the region from Portugal. As with the routes just mentioned, this one enters Galicia via Portela de Home and makes its first stop in the region at Lobios. However, there it tracks north-east towards Bande, thus avoiding any possible controversy. It continues its course through Celanova —from where the route takes its name, as San Rosendo wielded enormous influence in the municipality during the Middle Ages— until it reaches Ourense, where it joins the Vía de la Plata.

The Camino de San Rosendo follows the historic pilgrimage of Elisabeth of Aragon, Queen Consort of Portugal, in the 15th century. Known as the Rainha Santa, she travelled the route along the Vía Nova. Therefore, following this route allows you to discover the legacy left behind by the Romans in Galicia, while also taking you through the cross-border natural park of Serra do Xurés. There is also a variant on the last stage (Celanova?Ourense) that follows a section of the Camino Natural, which traces the route of various Roman roads from the camp of Aquis Querquennis, in Ourense, to Foz, in the province of Lugo, as recorded in the annals of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Camino del Mar (Way of the Sea)


A group of Galician schoolchildren doing the Camino del Mar last summer, near Viveiro
A group of Galician schoolchildren doing the Camino del Mar last summer, near Viveiro

From the south, let’s head northward. The Camino del Mar links the Camino del Norte (Northern Way) with the Camino Inglés (English Way) following the edge of the Cantabrian Sea. Thus, it forks upwards from the traditional route in Ribadeo to traverse the coastline of Lugo —known as Mariña Lucense— and Ortegal until it reaches the Ferrol estuary. It allows pilgrims to discover one of the most tucked away coastal areas of Galicia, where the wild sea forms natural treasures such as the beach of As Catedrais, O Fuciño do Porco or the cliffs of Vixía de Herbeira.

The Camino del Mar deviates from the more traditional route in Ribadeo to take you through the municipalities of Barreiros, Foz, Burela, Cervo, Xove and O Vicedo until you eventually enter the province of A Coruña. It then continues through Mañón, Ortigueira, Cedeira and Valdoviño until it reaches Ferrol, which is the starting point of the Camino Inglés (English Way). There are variants that, instead of following the entire Atlantic coast, head inland towards the municipality of Neda, one of the first stops on the Camino Inglés.

One of the unique features of this coastal bypass is that it allows you to do two pilgrimages in one. In the municipality of Cedeira, there is a village perched on the clifftops known as Santo André de Teixido, where you should go at least once in your life or, as a punishment, go once you are dead. As the Galician proverb says, “Vai de morto o que non foi de vivo” (“He who failed to do so while alive shall do so when dead”). According to legend, it was a promise that God made to the saint when he saw that pilgrims were going to Santiago but not to his temple.

Camino de San Salvador (San Salvador Way)


Oviedo Cathedral, end of the Camino de San Salvador
Oviedo Cathedral, end of the Camino de San Salvador PACO RODRÍGUEZ

There are other routes that pilgrims can use to switch from one camino to another. One such example would be the Camino de San Salvador, which, while still outside the borders of Galicia, links the cathedral of León, on the French Way, to the Cathedral of Oviedo in Asturias, the starting point of the Primitive Way and which just so happens to be another Catholic pilgrimage site, as it houses numerous relics that brought many a pilgrim to the cathedral in the Middle Ages. As the saying goes: “Quien va a Santiago y no a Salvador, sirve al criado y deja al señor” (roughly “He who chooses Saint James over Saint Salvador favours the servant over the master”). This route even comes with its own credential: the badge of Saint Salvador.

Camino Olvidado (the Forgotten Way)

Pilgrims in Villafranca del Bierzo, where the Forgotten Way joins the French Way
Pilgrims in Villafranca del Bierzo, where the Forgotten Way joins the French Way Senén Rouco

Also lying outside Galicia is the Camino Olvidado. It is an alternative to the Camino Francés, which pilgrims would use to avoid the wars being waged during the Reconquista period. It starts in Bilbao and passes through the provinces of Burgos, Cantabria, Palencia and León until eventually joining the French Way in Villafranca del Bierzo.