There is a lot more to walking in
Galica than the Camino de Santiago
I'm just back from a walk along the Camiño
Faros, or ‘Lighthouse Way’, around Galicia's Costa dos Morte (Coast of Death) in northwest Spain. It was a wonderful trip. The scenery was great, the walk well defined, the food fabulous and I met some really nice people. I would definitely recommend this walk although there are a few things you should be aware of. del
Faros is tougher than it looks. Like many coastal paths, it combines numerous ascents and descents with a route that never takes the straightest line between two points. The route is not based on some ancient journey and joining old fishermen paths sticks limpet like to the coastline. Tough exposed walks up and over rocky headlands contrast with strolls across wide empty beaches. dos
Faros is a relativity new creation (2012-2013) and was put together independently from the usual bodies that look after walking and mountaineering in Spain. A group of Galician friends (Tranos) got together, walked and designed the route. Through the wonders of social media, others soon joined them and an Association (Association dos Caminos dos Faros) was formed. The Association is now hugely successful and Sunday walking days can attract up to 1,000 dos from across Galicia. The Association has developed a well defined and Tranos route, produced distinctive branding and merchandise and sustains a very informative website. waymarked
It is a beautiful walk. Of the eight standard stages, six are
spent along exposed stretches of coast whilst two inland to navigate around relatively tranquil river estuaries. The six days along the coast are spent climbing headlands, walking along dramatic cliff edges and crossing small streams as they rush into the sea in tiny coves. This is a granite landscape and the large granite tors remind the British walker of Devon and Cornwall. The views are constantly changing, but the noise from the sea and the wind head ever present. is
The walk takes its coastal brief very seriously and, as my wife pointed out, the designers don’t want you to miss a thing. Although it’s not technically a difficult walk, it does take time. We arrived after a week’s heavy rain and some of the paths and ancient green lanes were very wet, reminding us with
that granite is an impermeable rock. We walked for a day with an experienced force and he assured us that we had been unlucky with the weather and that after a dry autumn, the Galician spring had been exceptionally wet. Tranos
It does rain in Galicia. Although warmer than its granite cousin in Cornwall it's actually slightly wetter. It rained for two of the six days I was there and I wish I had built a little more time into schedule to take advantage of the wonderful weather that arrived as I headed home.
On the last stretch, we joined a party of Tranos (about 400 of them) enjoying one of their Sunday Camiños
Faros days out. Spanish walkers in a group are dos , noisy and gregarious and the day finished sharing beer, colourful (and Camiño tapas Faros lime green merchandise) outside a bar in Laxe. dos
My own preferred style of walking is to finish each day in accommodation on the route. Generally speaking, this is feasible on the Camiño
Faros and the hotels are excellent value and good fun (though watch out for Monday closure). There are a couple of places where the lack of accommodation contributed to unrealistically long days and with hindsight, I should have been a bit more creative with taxis, which are not expensive or public transport. dos
I had hoped to complete the eight stages in six days, always a fantastically optimistic schedule. What we actually did was miss out a chunk of walking around an estuary between Camiriñas and Muxia (generally said to the least interesting, although it looked nice as we travelled near the route in a taxi) and the last day to Fisterra. The final stage looked excellent but the weather was poor and after an earlier experience of rainy Galician cliff tops our motivation was exhausted. Instead, we got a taxi to Fisterra - walked along to the lighthouse and then got the bus to Santiago.
Faros has nothing in common with Galicia's most famous hike, the Camino de Santiago. Designed dos walkers it's a much more by thrilling and tougher walking experience and for me provides a more compelling reason to visit this part of the world.
For a day by day and contemporaneous account of what the walk was like please look at the diary entries below. These also provide details of where we stayed.
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 1
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 2
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 3
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 4
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 5
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 1
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 2
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 3
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 4
O Camiño Dos Faros - Day 5
Travelling from the UK, how do you get to the start at Malpica? Thanks.
The two international airports closest to the route are Santiago de Compostela (from London, Gatwick and Stansted) and A Coruña (Heathrow).
A Coruña is closest to the start of the route and Santiago de Compostela closest to its finish.
To get to the start, Malpica, there is a good bus service from the A Coruña bus-station and a frequent service from the airport to the bus-station. From Santiago de Compostela the simplest way to get to the start is to get the train to A Coruña and then take the bus. There is a bus option all the way from Santiago de Compostela but it’s more complicated, involves a change, and the service is not that frequent.
Hope that helps
Thanks John, I appreciate you taking the time to answer! Good luck with the guide book!ReplyDelete
Hi John, how would you rank the difficulty level of Camino Dos Garos walk on a 1-5 star scale with 5 star being extremely difficult?ReplyDelete
I would say 3, it's a coastal walk mainly a path but with the occasional rocky stretch. Possibly 2.Delete
What's the best time of the year to do this walk?ReplyDelete
You can walk it all year round but it's a wet part of Spain and stretches of the path will be waterlogged in the winter. Best time is May or June when the light is at its clearest.Delete
September could be a very good month. in the second half the tourist season is over all the beaches are for you and the weather can be fairly good, with ocasional showers from the fist winter storm, days are shorter but that anyway storms (that don´t last too much usually) can bring fantastic views of the ocean and beautiful sunsets. Anyway the weather is coastal Galicia is very changeable and not extreme, so you could have a week of good weather any time. Avoid November, the rainiest month with severe gales sometimes. March and April use to be rainy, but in late April the landscape is full of flowers. February is a crazy month but usually sunny, but cold, even in this mild coastal areas Northeast wind , very typical os this coast can be very unconfortable (in summer keeps the temperature fairly good for walking)Delete
Also, is there vegetarian food available on this walk?ReplyDelete
You probably won't find a standard vegetarian option on menus and I think vegan is hard but they do eat a lot of fresh vegetables, pulses and eggs.Delete
In countryside parts of Galicia, as this area, the vegan option is very difficult actually in menus. It´s easy to get a salad or a tortilla if you eat eggs, but Galician to diet is very proteic, pork meat or any kind of fish is ever present. In the main villages you could find more options (pasta, more complex salads) if you ask for them, but all this is a complicated matterDelete
Hi John. We're wondering if doing 4 or 5 days of this trek would be do-able with kids aged 7 and 9? Good walkers both but I'm not masssively keen on exposed paths. If so which sections would you recommend? Cheers, KateReplyDelete
In terms of 7 to 9 year olds my main concern would be the length of the days. If you go to the Camino dos Faros website there is a useful estimate of how long each day takes and it's worth having a look at that. When my guide comes out next year it's going to describe some shortcuts enabling you to vary the days. The only exposed stretch is on the last day and it's easily avoided.
From Muxía to Fisterra the Saint James walk could be an alternative option maybe. It´well marked and don´t follow the cliffs. This a a walk between the Virgen de la Barca sanctuary in Muxía and FisterraDelete
Thanks for your informative article,
I'm interested in doing this trail as I love coastal backpacking,
Do you know how camping friendly this route is?
Are there campsites, what is the Spanish attitude to wild camping?
The Spanish attitude to wild camping, as with most things, is relaxed. It's best to be discreet through and avoid camping in places where a tent would be intrusive.
Not sure about campsites to be honest, can't remember seeing any.
Could you please provide information about accommodation options at the end of each stage.
At the end of stage 1 you need to cut back across the peninsula to a hotel you pass earlier in the day. There are places at the end of stage 2 and 3. At the end of stage 4 you have to taxi back to the end of stage 3 although this situation may change. There is accommodation at the end of stage 5, 6 and 7.
Thank you John,Delete
Hi John, great inspiration! I am now planning the route as I should walk it in less than two weeks. Greatest mistery to me remains where to sleep after stage 1. I did not find the place you mentioned, any details and recommendations you coud share? Thx s lot!Delete
At the end of Stage 1 - at the Priaia de Niñons- you have to go back to As Garvas - passed earlier in the walk. There are 2 hotels there next to each other, the second one is the Michelin star restaurant. To get back you can either get a taxi or walk. Walking takes about 90 mins if you take the most direct route across country. Once you've decided which of the 2 hotels you're going to stay in you should drop your stuff off to lighten your load as you pass it for the 2nd part of the route. You will then need to get a taxi back to the beach in the morning. Stage 2 is a big day so I wouldn't try walking to the beach. The web link to the Michelin star hotel is here http://www.asgarzas.com/
John, most helpful. I will be walking with a foot injury so not intending to walk all days , probably several half days. Do you have to pre book taxis or are they easily called en route ?ReplyDelete
You can call them en route but reception isn't perfect. There are lots of options for short-cuts, chopping off a headland etc, that's the other approachDelete
Looking at doing this walk - how would you rate it against the Fisherman's trail in Portugal (which I did the in 2017)?
It's a lot more interesting, a much better walk. There is a lot more to see than the Fisherman's Trail, more variety and a little bit more challenging. The only downside is that the weather is not as reliable.ReplyDelete
Camping in Spain: if there isn´t a local law (Municipalities are responsible for rules about camping) in Spain it´s allowed, as far I know , to camp for a day in in wild. But usually in coastal areas is forbidden because local laws. Even in this situation, in you camp away from the shore, you should´t have any problem with authorities (in winter mainly you can feel very relaxed). The main point is to choose the right place. Avoid areas with any type of use. Galician peasants are friendy are nice, except when they see an inexpected invasion of property! Take also two things in mind, in some parte there are free cattle, and hungry wild boar roaming. So don´t panic if you hear animal noises by night. In summer alse there is a risk of bush fires. Best times could be spring or automn. I would´t camp in summer near a beach. You can be very happy, but you also have a change of a local police visit. It´s very uncommon to have fines if you are a foreigner and you only camp for a day, but not be in a very visible position is a reasonable attitude. Do not light any king of fire. This is a different matter. Because of big fires in the past this is not very well seen by local authorities and you could have a fine for sureReplyDelete
Hello John. Which part of the trail would you recommend for a family who are reasonably fit but who would like to go for 7 days/nights in March or April. What aged children would it suit? What other advice would you give? What kind of accommodation would suit families? Many thanksReplyDelete
To be honest that's a difficult question, every family is different. From a safety point of view, providing your sensible with the weather, this is not a dangerous walk. It really depends on how experienced you are at taking your children on long day walks. Would I have thought that with the distances involved they would need to be teenager. I have to admit I had 4 children and I would not have attempted something like this, just couldn't keep them entertained for long enough. The accommodation in small hotels is fairly cheap so that would probably work.
A group of 7 of us is planning a late Sept start on the Camino dos Faros. I expect we will do 6 days walking. Are their travel agents/ tour planners that can arrange our accommodations on the hike? And are we better of hiring a taxi to take our gear to the next waystation so we only need carry daypacks? Or having an agent arrange this as well? Are meals normally included with pensiones, or are we on our own to find breakfast/dinner?ReplyDelete
I wish your guidebook were out now - there is none I saw on Amazon in English. Anyway, thanks for your reply.
If you have a look at the Camino dos Faros website http://www.caminodosfaros.com - there are some agents who will do everything for you. The site also has taxi phone numbers if you want to book things yourself. Most of the hotels have restaurants and the fairly minimal Spanish breakfast is included. It varies a little from place to place but finding somewhere to eat is not a problem.
The guidebook is out in the next few weeks - might be out in time for you trip so keep an eye out for it, the website however is very good. What the website doesn't include are the shortcuts - useful on some of the longer days - but you should be able to work them out for yourself.
Best wishes for your trip
SIXPAC is a very interesting web site (it´s a GIS for land management purposes, but very usefur because has both maps and aerial pictures, that are updated from time to time). The IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional) also has a free app with all the maps of country. Their Camino de Santiago app is also useful, because there are some routes in the area(from Santiago to Muxía´s Virgen de la Barca sanctuary of to Fisterra/Finisterre cape)ReplyDelete
Hi John. I would love to do the Camino Dos Faros, but exposed heights absolutely terrify me. How close to the edge are the paths and are they steep drops. i go into full panic and cannot control the fear. Are you actually on a ledge with sheer drops. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Great to hear from you. There are no sheer drops as such although at times the path gets close to an edge. The last day is perhaps the most intimidating on what is a very friendly walk and here the Camino Dos Faros route can be replaced with the Camino de Santiago which takes a more inland route.
I have a few questions about the Camiño Dos Faros...
In a perspective to do the walk wild-camping (and thanks for the advice about being discrete, i'll keep that in mind), could you tell me if it is easy to find water (streams, etc) along the way ? I travel with a water filter to make it drinkable.
Moreover, are there grocery stores in most villages ? There seems to be lots of hotels and restaurants, but what about buying food ?
I was planning to go on walking after Finisterre, joining the coastal Portugues Camino, and walking it backwards (i don't know yet if i would go to Vigo, or further). Do you have any comment or advice for that part ?
And, finally, maybe a stupid question, but still : is the coast safe at night ? Asking that after reading and watching Fariña :-)
Thanks for your answers.
Thanks for the questions.
No problem with water, lots of streams and springs along the route.
The villages with hotels are usually small towns so food shouldn't be a problem either. The big Spanish sandwiches are excellent.
I've heard about the drug runners but you're not aware of it when you're there. I think it's a safe place to camp, particularly if the aim is to be discreet.
Sorry can't help on the walk to Vigo. It's a very indented coastline and could be hard work.
Once again thanks for you interest. Have a good trip.
What a brilliant blog, any information about camping along the route?ReplyDelete
Not many formal campsites but wild camping in Spain is definitely tolerated and I have seen campers in secluded spots along the route.
I hope all is well with you and yours.
My two sons (both adults) and I (age 65) are planning on walking Camino dos Faros in 2023 (to celebrate my retirement!).
I have your book ordered, so I haven't read it yet. However, I see that you use the same stages as the dos Faros website.
Are there options for shorter stages? My sons should do well with the longer days, but, realistically, I would be better off with stages of 20 km max. 32 km is definitely not going to happen :) We have the time for more days, so that wouldn't be an issue.
Hi John, sorry about the slow reply, but thanks for buying the guide - good choice!Delete
I worked closely with the locals who designed the walk and using their stages made a lot of sense particularly from an accommodation point of view.
When you get the guide you will see that I've identified a number of options for making each of the stages shorter. It generally involves cutting across a headland and makes for a walk that can be flexed in lots of ways.
Have a great trip