Camino de Santiago Ingles – the English Way

Our feet felt the itching to walk another Camino, a bit more than 3 years have passed since our last Camino (Portugues). I wanted to surprise Nace with a nice trip for his birthday (he was stoked) and as we didn’t have many days available, I suggested that we do the shorter Camino Ingles (from Ferrol, officially 113 kilometers). This is the article on our Camino de Santiago Ingles or the English way which we walked in November 2022.

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way

A lesson learned from Camino Ingles: Short doesn’t mean easy

We wanted to complete the whole trip in a week so Camino Ingles seemed like the perfect way. Now that we have finished it, it definitely proved that short doesn’t mean easy. On the contrary, this Camino was the most challenging for us out of the 5 we’ve walked.

One aspect that made this Camino quite challenging is having to walk for massive stretches on asphalt roads. This is quite hard for the feet and legs, especially when you add some very steep ascends and descends. On the other hand, the countryside is absolutely amazing – enchanted forests, green fields, charming villages, historical towns, and even beaches and rivers with minimal walking through industrial zones.

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way

What is Camino Ingles, or the English Way

Jacobean pilgrimage attracted people and societies from all over Europe in the Middle Ages; also from the “Distant Europe” – the so-called Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, and above all, the English, Scottish, Irish, and Flemish. All of them helped establish what we know today as the English Way.

They came to Galicia by sea from their respective ports, and arrived in Ferrol and A Coruna, and also in Viveiro and Ribadeo, on the coast of Lugo. The strategic location of the ports of these two important Galician cities evidently promoted the route. There are two alternatives for the English Way in Galicia – from A Coruna (73.02km) and from Ferrol (112.54km). Both come together halfway to Santiago (As Travesas, Carral) and continue together to Compostela.

The history of these pilgrimages dates back to the 12th century. A squadron of crusaders made up of English, German, and Flemish soldiers visited the tomb of St. James on their way to the Holy Land, parts of the expedition went to Lisbon to help the first king of Portugal in his struggle against Islam. Another significant trace of pilgrimage on the Camino Ingles is the written description of the voyage by the Icelandic monk Nikulas Bergsson who traveled from Iceland to Rome on foot via Santiago. The journey took him 5 years. Different pilgrims left different offerings on the route and some of them we can still see in the museum of the Catedral of Santiago.

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way

When to walk Camino Ingles

There are two things to keep in mind when choosing when to walk the English Way. The first thing is that your whole journey will take place in (rainy) Galicia. The second thing is that Camino Ingles has only recently started to become popular so chances are that you won’t have to race to get a bed at the end of the stage. But, according to many reviews of people who walked in August and September, there were quite a few occasions where people had to walk up to 10 kilometers because of full albergues and hostels.

When we decided to walk this Camino for Nace’s birthday, we didn’t have to worry as November turned out to have attracted only a few pilgrims. Keep in mind that in colder months some albergues and stays will be closed which requires better research and planning. Anyway, we loved our walk in November, with the weather just the right one for walking – not hot, but not cold as well. We were so lucky with only 1 real Galician rain but thankfully it lasted only 3 kilometers (while entering Santiago).

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way

No se habla ingles en El Camino Ingles

The route is not as popular as Camino Frances or Portugues which has some advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, chances are that you won’t have to compete with pilgrims to get a bed (unless you walk in summer which evidently is becoming quite the competitive Camino season). You will see the least touristy parts of Galicia almost untouched by mass Camino tourism.

On the negative side, there might not be a wide choice of places to stay and eat, which can be challenging. And don’t expect that your English will go far on the English Way. However, we met people who couldn’t say a word in Spanish but did just OK though.

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way, tortilla in Galicia
Tortilla is an international word.

Stages of Camino Ingles

Those are the stages of our Camino, as we walked them. We’ve added some hints if you want to make it more comfortable for you and walk it in less or more days.

What makes the English Way tougher is the many ascends and descends (some of them very steep) and the amount of walking on asphalt roads. You may want to plan your stages taking into consideration not only the above things but also the accommodation options.

Camino de Santiago Ingles, the English Way, elevation map of stages

Day 1 Ferrol – Neda

We’re so happy we changed the original plan of staying in Ferrol and walking a big stage the next day. We thought that five days would be enough for us which got disproven early – on our second day. So ditching the idea of sightseeing the whole afternoon and staying in Ferrol before we start, we started our first Camino day at 3 p.m. from Ferrol after walking and sightseeing for 3-4 kilometers before that. Starting walking that late is definitely an antipattern but we managed to complete the 14K in 3 and half hours.

The first stage of Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Neda offers mostly flat walking, with very few mild ascends and descends. The town of Ferrol offers a lot of history and great architecture, then you follow the Camino passing greener areas, like parks and gardens, and even one or two beaches. The industrial area of Ferrol wasn’t that bad, and even the traffic was scarce. Sometimes you follow the bed of the river, sometimes you pass small villages, and at one point you cross the bridge Puente Peatonal de Xubia and reach the albergue.

We got to the albergue in Neda just after sunset. We were 5 people in a room for 20+ and we had to self-check in with guidance on the phone because, in low seasons, the hospitaleros seem to leave earlier. Anyways, it was a short and easy day on the Camino which is a great warm-up for the next days.

Where to stay in Ferrol: Hostal Choyo2 | Parador de Ferrol – if you want to indulge in the parador atmosphere

Where to stay in Neda: Albergue de peregrinos de Neda

Day 2 Neda – Miño

We had no idea that we were going to spend Nace’s birthday walking 28K, literally all day long. Disclaimer: we got lost once in Neda and took a detour to Playa Magdalena. We started just after 9 a.m. and officially ended the stage just before 7 p.m. In between, there were many different views, from lonely roads and empty beaches to quiet villages to bustling towns, but most importantly there were two super steep ascends followed by not less steep descends.

The first major ascent is right after Fene, and the second is from Pontedeume. If we could start this all over, we would have made the end of a stage in Pontedeume, to enjoy the magical vibes and the beach, and then start fresh the next day with the second very steep ascend. But we didn’t do that and our second walking day was the most challenging.

After we checked in at our hotel in Mino (we wanted to stay in a nicer place for the birthday, and the price was just like the price of a private albergue), we lied for a while trying to put ourselves together and go down to the restaurant for a dinner. It took a lot of effort. The whole day and evening felt like a catharsis and just the beginning of one.

Where to stay in Pontedeume: Albergue Río Eume

Where to stay in Mino: Hotel Crisol de las Rías | Albergue de Peregrinos de Miño

Day 3 Miño – Betanzos

We decided to take care of ourselves and plan a very short stage just to relax from the last day. Mino has great beaches and a nature reserve, followed by a lovely forest, so all together with two small detours the day had 12K of walking for us to Betanzos, the end of this short stage.

But we hadn’t recovered and even 12 kilometers were very slow and tiring for us. The cobblestones leading to Betanzos felt endless but we had enough time in the afternoon to relax so we could explore the town a bit more. Betanzos used to be the old capital of Galicia and is full of history and stories to tell.

This was the night on the Camino where we slept with the most people – we were around 10 in the dorm room of the albergue. But nothing to do with the crowded albergues on the French and Portuguese routes in spring/autumn.

Where to stay in Betanzos: Albergue de Peregrinos Casa da Pescadería de Betanzos | Albergue Río Mandeo

Day 4 Betanzos – Bruma

There was a long and constant uphill day ahead of us. We decided that we were going to try to get to Bruma but realistically probably stay in Presedo (at around 11K from Betanzos) and leave the next 13K to Bruma for the next day. Not only is this stage 24 kilometers in total, but it also comes at constant uphill and you walk on asphalt roads all day long.

We started kind of fresh and the walk was not so bad. Until a truck drove by fast and splashed mud all over me. This killed all the enthusiasm and motivation. We stopped at the first bar we saw on the Camino after Betanzos to have a real break and some food. But they were not ready to serve food time yet so while we were having drinks trying to understand what the local community of loud locals was talking about, we started reading reviews for the albergue in Presedo and they were all so discouraging. And of course, the next options for accommodation on the Camino were in Bruma.

We decided to try to find a taxi because walking farther would take a lot of time and probably a lot more pain. And just like a Camino miracle, soon we were riding with Maria who was telling us stories from the region and from other pilgrims. We arrived at Bruma only to find out the private albergue was closed for vacation, and the public albergue welcomed us with the news that the only restaurant in the area was closed on Mondays.

But we couldn’t imagine moving to another place, so Nace became the superhero of the day, walking a total of 4 kilometers to get food for two more hungry tired pilgrims to eat. We had a lovely evening chatting with Helen – another seasoned pilgrim who was on a mission to walk the Camino and get a Compostela for a friend of hers who was leaving this world. Here’s Helen’s recent poem, inspired by Camino.

Why walk?

Don't talk to me about my knees
When I walk downhill they start to freeze,
It's only when I try to ascend
The patella moves and my legs can bend.
Whatever you do don't mention by back,
When I carry some weight it starts to attack.
And finally when I ease the pain
My flipping knees play up again.
At this point I'll allude to the soles of my feet,
Their leathery toughness is so hard to beat.
That can't be said for my two little toes,
Why they grow blisters I'll never know.
Who would go walking and suffer this pain?
I know I'll do it again and again.

Where to stay in Bruma: Albergue de Peregrinos de Bruma | ALBERGUE SAN LORENZO DE BRUM

Day 5 Bruma – Sigüeiro

I borrowed two Ibuprofens from Helen and we started the day with the intention to reach Sigueiro if possible by walking or find other options. It was pretty much a flat and even downhill day so the 24K ahead of us didn’t affect our morale. We were happy to find a place to have a snack and then another place to stop for lunch.

As soon as I started feeling the unhealthy pain in my boots, I took one of the pills and this helped me finish the stage without pain. Wow! It took us 5 Caminos to realize the power of Ibuprofen. I still feel that this was the day of my “arriving in Santiago” – when I started trusting myself and the journey again. So even the several uphills and the hard walking surface couldn’t kill the positivity.

In Sigueiro, we arrived just before sunset to take showers, rest a bit and head out to have dinner at a restaurant as opposed to skipping meals and eating once per day in the previous days. Managing our meals was definitely off during this Camino.

Where to stay in Sigueiro: Albergue Segue o Camiño | Albergue Camiño Real

Day 6 Sigüeiro – Santiago de Compostela

We know we should never underestimate the last stage, although this one from Sigueiro to Santiago was only 16K. We started a bit late but super motivated and we kept walking the first 12 kilometers without a break. All the cafes that the guides mentioned were closed until we got to Santiago industrial area. However, this didn’t let us down. We went through enchanted forests and probably a fairy or a witch was having our backs all the time.

Right after our only break for water/breakfast/lunch, less than 4 kilometers to the cathedral, it started pouring. Up until then, we were quite lucky to have walked in Galicia, in November, with only 2 or 3 short drizzles. But now it was full-on Galicia-style rain which forced us to walk even faster. It stopped in the last few hundred meters so we can look pretty wet in dry weather in the photos.

Camino number 5 came to an end! 113 kilometers and 6 days of all sorts of emotions and states. We made it – the shortest but the toughest one! Unlike all the other times, there were only a few pilgrims in front of the cathedral and we didn’t even wait in line to get our Compostelas (these are only our second Compostelas).

To celebrate the completion of the English Way, we decided to head to a recently opened place called Mercado La Galiciana. It’s a marketplace of food stalls, restaurants, and bars. They all have a common service and you can order from any or all of them. It was delicious!

Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela: Hostal Mafer | Parador de Santiago – Hostal Reis Catolicos – to splurge in parador luxury right at the cathedral square

This was our recap of Camino Ingles from November 2022. Let us know if you have any questions. Also, give us your idea of which should be our next Camino. Buen Camino!

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