Camino de Santiago (Camino Inglés) Day 1: Ferrol to Pontedeume
A long-delayed continuation of my post introducing my Camino de Santiago journey along the Camino Inglés, we’re finally off!
The “Camino de Santiago” isn’t just one route, it’s many. When I looked at the back of my pilgrim’s passport, the map of all of the Caminos de Santiago reminded me of those flight maps, as if this were an airline with a hub in Santiago de Compostela!
The Camino Inglés isn’t one of the more popular routes. By far the most popular route would be the Camino Francés, starting in France, with the second most popular one being the Camino Portugués, which itself is composed of a few different options. The Camino Inglés is the traditional route taken by pilgrims from England, who took a boat and landed in either A Coruña or Ferrol ports. The Camino Inglés is actually composed of two routes that start out in these two cities, and then join in the middle. But the route starting from Ferrol is the one that exceeds 100km, or the arbitrary minimum distance the powers that be set for achieving the Compostela certificate at the end.
The official starting point of the Camino Inglés is this stone marker, right across from the water’s edge, near the tourist office.
The kind lady at the Ferrol tourist office, whom I consulted a couple days prior, gave me some important basics: the current route markers are in blue, with an arrow pointing the way. Occasionally one can find an older marker, where the direction of the way is indicated by the middle line of the scallop icon, so the direction of the icon is important to decipher the path.
But she said that most of the placards have been updated to this design.
This first day of the Camino was interesting in some parts, like passing these shipbuilding installations…
…and military installations, in Ferrol, being a reminder of how strategic the town has been.
On this first stage, I was very careful and diligent about documenting the waymarkers, like this stone pillar indicating the distance remaining until Santiago. This was kind of like a security blanket, in case I got lost along the way and needed to refer back to my last known marker.
Soon enough, I left the city of Ferrol, with its big shipbuilding cranes contrasting with the fishing boats in the foreground.
But today’s walk would be rather dull in some ways, because essentially I would be walking taking all day to walk along the an inlet, whereas nowadays there are two bridges crossing the inlet for car traffic. I’d be keeping these huge cranes of the Navantia shipbuilding company on my right-hand side basically the entire day.
If I had imagined the Camino de Santiago being a nature hike, I would have disabused myself of the notion trying to spot the waymarker in this suburban tangle of roads busy with chain store signs!
Occasionally, there were more informal signs that pointed the way. I always tried to be a bit careful, because I had read that some of the signs led people the wrong way (for example to a business wanting more customers), but generally they gave me a sense of reassurance.
I think often these unofficial signs were the doing of helpful neighbors!
Here was the view looking ahead towards one of the bridges crossing the inlet. Oh, how much faster it would have been to take that bridge!
There were a couple cute goats here, and lots of geese. It was fun to see this pastoral scene with so much civilization and industry around.
Hats off to the people who make the signs for the Camino de Santiago, the route is really well-marked. There were two places where you could actually choose between two options, later joining back together, and the map clearly lays out pros and cons (the most salient point being distance). One of these routes was also labelled the official route (counting towards the official kilometer count), while the alternative route had a different distance.
Finally, I arrived at Neda, the end of the inlet where I would basically turn around and walk up down other side of the inlet and arrive basically around where I left, just on the others side of the water!
This pretty millhouse and jumping, spawning fish was a nice reward for taking the long route around.
This was a friendly church, where a lady spotted me from the parking lot peeking in the door, and invited me to enter to get a stamp for my pilgrim’s passport. While I was inside, she spotted someone else walking outside and invited him to enter as well, but he didn’t. She seemed quite eager to give out stamps!
I imagined these big stones, where these alley cats were strutting around, to mark the original Camino Inglés.
Here were those big Navantia shipbuilding cranes again. There was also a distinct burning smell in the air, possibly due to people burning their trash. That, along with lots of hydrangeas, made Galicia really remind me of summers in Japan.
I passed this City Hall of the town Fene, where I asked for a stamp for my passport. I turned out to like these City Hall and church stamps most of all, with the worst stamps being some of the restaurant or bar stamps - basically the regular stamp they use for invoices or such matters.
There were brief interludes during the walk where I was in nature…
…but these led directly to some built up areas. Actually, this big supermarket was quite welcome, since I could buy some iced tea and fruit.
Manhole covers also showed the scallop sign of the Camino de Santiago.
Here was another point in the path where the path split in two. The shorter way was not recommended due to a “dangerous” road crossing. And indeed, I had to cross this rather big thoroughfare. But this path was the “official” path, not the “complementary” one, and importantly at this stage, it was also shorter.
Coming up next, my arrival in Pontedeume!