The Way of St James
The Camino de Santiago is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes.
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The most popular route (which gets very crowded in mid-summer) is the Camino Frances which stretches 780 km. (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago.
This is fed by three major French routes: the Voie de Tours, the Voie de Vezelay, and the Voie du Puy. It is also joined along its route by the Camino Aragones (which is fed by the Voie d'Arles which crosses the Pyrenees at the Somport Pass), by the Camí de San Jaume from Montserrat near Barcelona, the Ruta de Tunel from Irun, the Camino Primitivo from Bilbao and Oviedo, and by the Camino de Levante from Valencia and Toledo.
The network is similar to a river system - small brooks join together to make streams, and the streams join together to make rivers, most of which join together to make the Camino Frances. During the middle ages, people walked out of their front doors and started off to Santiago, which was how the network grew up. Nowadays, cheap air travel has given many the opportunity to fly to their starting point, and often to do different sections in successive years. Some people set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; many others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they meet other pilgrims, attend pilgrim masses in churches and monasteries and cathedrals, and see the large infrastructure of buildings provided for pilgrims over many centuries.
Walking the Camino is not difficult - most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible! And you also learn a lot about life. The importance of planning your journey can't be underestimated. It's vital that you're properly prepared and only carry the right equipment and not be weighed down by unnecessary baggage. In our DVDs we provide information about the correct equipment to take.
The purpose of this website is to give you information about what it is actually like to walk one of the Caminos, and to choose which route would be the most congenial. Do not assume that you need to walk the Camino Frances just because everyone else does - the other routes are much emptier and have lots to offer.