Navigate the Way to Santiago – Compostela Pilgrimage by sea

The Jacobean Way to Santiago by sea -along the Cantabrian Sea- has been recovered following the agreement between the Diocese of Compostela and the association of marinas of the Cantabrian, ‘North Marinas’, which has launched the project Navigate the Way. As a result the Diocese of Compostela grants accreditation of the ‘Compostela’ to those pilgrims who perform at least 150 nautical miles (280 kilometers) by sea with the spirit of pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle. The pilgrimage must be performed by sailboat.

The full route of pilgrimage by sea to Santiago de Compostela is to sail from the port of Hondarribia -in the border with France- to the port of Muros in La Coruna, to then move overland to the Monte do Gouzo and perform the last walking step: enter Santiago de Compostela by the usual route of the French, North, Primitive and Aragonese Ways.

It is possible to make the Way to Santiago by sea with various combinations of the pilgrimage route, there are seventeen ports and marinas of the Cantabrian Sea in which you could seal the Compostela. What is relevant is to land in at least two of these ports and seal the accreditation in his captaincy, so that when you reach Santiago de Compostela with it, the minimum distance is accredited and this is recognized by the Pilgrim office of the Diocese of Compostela.

Due to the difficulties of a long journey by sea in one of the areas in the world with more shipwrecks -the “Costa da Morte” and the cape of the “Estaca de Bares”- the safest option to plan a pilgrimage by sea to Compostela is to sail from a northern port of Spain and disembark at a port in the region of Mariña then perform the rest of the Way on foot or by bicycle to Santiago.

For this exclusive variety of the Way to Santiago, the ideal is to do it in 12 days between sea and land. You could set sail from the port of Zumaia (Guipúzcoa) or Getxo (near Bilbao) on a vessel of 12 meters in length, with capacity for 8 crew plus the captain.

It is a seafaring experience where pilgrims are manning the ship under the command of a captain of great experience, learning to navigate and perform all the having all the characteristics and tasks of a crew member in a cruising sailboat. Therefore the group of pilgrims should have performed a sufficient preparation for the journey could be safe, enjoyable and rewarding. The evening before setting sail a reconnaissance of the boat is made, the security measures are explained, backpacks are stowed and the provisioning is done. Pilgrims and captain are known, berths sites and cruise functions are distributed.

The first two nights you will sleep on the boat. It is a journey by sea, which cannot be determined in advance and make sure the scales between the port of departure and arrival. Navigation is parallel to the coast, so that could go visiting the main coastal landmarks and explaining the stories of the nautical road (like the Vikings and the “Bispo Santo”). The pace of navigation, weather and sea conditions determine the options to make stops for swimming; at all times, the crew members should be alert to the possibility of spotting cetaceans (common in these waters).

At the end of the third day he will reach the Ria del Eo where it will dock in the port of Ribadeo, a town in which the part of the journey on foot starts. Depending on the accumulated fatigue during the sea journey and time of arrival, one of his most interesting thing to see in Ribadeo is the Beach of the Cathedrals (declared Natural Monument and Biosphere Reserve); if do not have enough time this beach you can make a walk to the curious Island “Pancha” and its lighthouse.

The day 4 of the pilgrimage you will cross on foot the stage Ribadeo Lourenzá (28.4km). On the way it is important to make stops in places like the petroglyphs of “As Fádegas” or also known as The Charm footsteps. With the arrival at Lourenzá and depending on the arrival time, you can make a visit to various attractions of the place as the Church of Santa Maria, considered a previous test of the facade of the Obradoiro of Santiago de Compostela.

The next day the recommended stage is Lourenzá Abadin (25,2km) during this stage of the Way, it is important to make stops in places like Mondoñedo to admire its magnificent cathedral declared a National Monument in 1902, and the Caves of Rei Cintolo, considered the largest of Galicia. With the arrival at Abadín and depending on the arrival time, you can make a visit to various attractions of the place like the Church of Santa Maria, and the Recreational Area of Gontán, a wonderful place that has a river beach in the which to bathe.

We face day 6 with the stage Abadín – Vilalba (20,7km) is a stage where you have to stop to admire places like the churches of Santa Maria de Carballido, who worked as a refuge for pilgrims even in 1773. With the arrival in Vilalba, you can make visits to various attractions of the place. One of them is the mighty Tower of Andrade, who today works as Parador Nacional de Turismo.

The seventh day we have a walk of 18.6 km from Vilalba to Baamonde. There are several attractions of the place as Roza das Modias, one of the most important burial mounds of the northwest of the Spanish peninsula and the Chapel of San Nicolas, located in the parish of A Torre. With the arrival Baamonde, we highlight the visit to the ancient chestnut tree which has an altar with the figure of the Virgen del Rosario inside its trunk.

The next day, the 8th, we travel Baamonde – Sobrado (41,2km). We started walking going to Sobrado dos Monxes, place where is the renowned Monastery of Santa Maria. Another of the highlights in which to stop and relax is the Lagoa de Sobrado, also called” Laguna de Desván” (Attic Lagoon), which belongs to the Red Natura 2000.

The ninth day will take you to the town of Sobrado to Arzúa (21,4km). To enter the population of Arzúa you have to cross the Ribadiso Bridge, with a marked Gothic style, which is worth stopping and watching the views of the River Iso.

Arzúa- O’Pedrouzo (19.3km). On the way to Pedrouzo, the places not to be missed are the Church of San Pedro de Lema, the Mill Pontedapedra and the known as Fountain of Santa Irene, called by the pilgrims “Fountain of Eternal Youth”.

Now we face the last stage of the Way, O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela (19,4km), will visit places like the Hermitage of the Magdalena, the School of Santiso that formerly was used as the patronage of migrants from La Havana and Montevideo, and the Church of San Miguel de Pereira and his rectory and its “cruceiro” (stone cross). We finally reached the coveted Santiago de Compostela.

The last day enjoy it visiting Santiago´s Cathedral, the Alameda Park or Galician People Museum or picking your Compostela of the pilgrimage.

Price from 1,490 euros /each person (depending on dates and availability).

It will be held for groups of at least 4 people and accommodation of the walking stages are Hotels, Pensions, and Hostels. It includes transfers of backpacks in case you want this service to be performed.

NB: Some of the links provided will lead to results in Spanish.

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