22 DAYS - 18 DAYS WALKING
Your 22-day Camino will consist of walking over 370km of the three most scenic sections of the Camino Frances, and visiting a few other interesting places in between. The longest day is 25.8km (16 miles).
We walk in spring (May/June-July) and autumn (September). In spring, the wildflowers are spectacular; everything is green and bursting with new life. The large white and black European storks are raising their young in huge nests on top of every church tower and steeple. Autumn is harvest time with brambles laden with black berries, plump figs, chestnuts and grapes are all in season.
Stage one: 9 days
The group will meet in St Jean Pied de Port - St John at the Foot of the Pass - an ancient pilgrim town on the border between France and Spain. (Transport can be arranged from Pamplona). We will shop in the cobbled Rue de la Citadel and follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims, from the 15th C Porte St-Jacques over the river to the Porte d'Espagne.
The following day we will walk 8 km to the Auberge Orisson where we will have a short rest or even lunch. We will be transported back to St Jean and will resume our walk from Orisson the next day. (Why not sleep over? The auberge only sleeps 18 people in a dormitory with bunk beds or 6 two-person tents outback that can be cold even in summer!) Today's walk is a steep, hard climb on a narrow tarred road and we like to break it up into two days.
On our second day we'll complete the climb, covering 17km to the monastery complex of Roncesvalles. The Abbey of Roncesvalles has been providing spiritual and physical support to pilgrims for over 1000 years. Those choosing to start their walk from Roncesvalles will join the group here. We then walk for 6 days through green farmland and woods, vineyards and cereal fields to Viana.
Stage two: 6 days
From Logroño we will travel by bus to Burgos where will stay close to the UNESCO-listed Gothic Cathedral. The next day we will travel by bus to León in Castilla y León where you will visit the cathedral which boasts the best stained glass windows in Europe. You will take a bus to the Roman, walled town of Astorga. Here we can visit a chocolate factory and the Museo de los Caminos which is housed in the Palacio Episcopal - known by most people as the "Gaudi Palace."
As we walk from Astorga to Rabanal and into the mountains we will walk through some of the most spectacular landscape on the Camino Frances. Following an ancient tradition we will leave our stones, brought from home, at the base of the enigmatic Cruz de Ferro - the Iron Cross - before visiting Manjarin, one of the most famous traditional pilgrim shelters on the Camino. We continue to the beautiful towns of El Acebo, Molinaseca, Ponferrada (home of a massive Templar castle) and Cacabelos. From Cacabelos you can visit Las Medulas, a spectacular World Heritage landscape in what was the most important gold mining area in the Roman Empire. We will walk through the stunning El Bierzo vineyards to Villafranca del Bierzo, Trabadelo to Ambasmestas. (This is the end of stage two)
Stage three: 6 days
Our hired transport will take us to the mountain-top, listed village of O Cebreiro for morning tea. There we will see the home of the Holy Grail and Celtic 'polozzas' (thatched houses) then on to Samos for a 14.5km (9 miles) walk to Sarria.
From Sarria you will walk for 5 days to Santiago, thereby earning the coveted pilgrim's certificate in Santiago. In Celtic Galicia, the path takes us through rural farms surrounded by dry stone walls, corridors of Eucalyptus forests and charming hamlets and villages.
When we reach Santiago you will collect your well-earned Compostela, hug the saint above the altar and celebrate at the Pilgrim's Mass in the stunning Santiago Cathedral.
Spending two nights in Santiago, there is an option to travel to Finisterre - the End of the World - on day two, a fitting ending to your magical Camino
16th May - 6th June [ short waiting list ]
27th June - 18th July **NEW ** we need 5 more people to make the group viable
5th Sept - 26th September 4 places available