Highlights of the Camino de Santiago Walk Walk
Rectoral de Goian AAAA
Sarria (Day 1)A rectoral in Spain is the equivalent of a parsonage in the UK. A grand home, often in a picturesque location built of attractive old stone. Such is the case with The Rectoral de Goian - a gorgeous property set in isolated countryside in landscaped gardens that are just too perfect. Javier will collect you from the Hotel Roma cafe opposite the station in Sarria and bring you the 8km to the hotel, and will also drop you off in the morning in the same place to continue the walk.
The Rectoral building is horseshoe shaped - it has an open patio and balconies facing the garden so it is ideal for eating al fresco in the evening. There is even a tiny chapel in the garden that is still used!
Bedrooms are gorgeous with stone walls, beams, wooden floors and modern bathrooms, all with views on to the patio or the garden. Raquel and Javier don't speak English, so a phrase book will come in handy here too.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 1 - Arrive in Sarria
A transfer takes you from Santiago to your hotel in Sarria. (Staying at Rectoral de Goian, Half Board)Day 2 - Sarria to Portomarin 23km/14.5mi/7.5hr
Today starts with a walk along the Roman bridge that leads out of Sarria up the Celerio Valley. Cross through the hamlets of the southern edge of the Sierra del Paramo then descend into Portomarin â€“ the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and some remains still shimmer below the surface! (Staying at Pousada de Portomarin, Half Board)
Pousada de Portomarin ***
Portomarin (Day 2)The Pousada de Portomarin is a large modern building set high above the reservoir, just a short walk from the centre of this village. The ground floor is given over mainly to public areas decorated with period furniture and with views out towards the lake. The thirty two rooms are on the upper floors where bedrooms are relatively modern, spacious and light with modern amenities.
The hotel has a gymnasium and a pool just in case you fancy some extra exercise, and it is just a 5 minute stroll into the centre of Portomarin where you can find a small selection of shops and bars.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 3 - Portomarin to Lestedo 21km/13.5mi/7hr
Today you can visit Portomarin's church before passing between cornfields lined with ox-eye daisies as you follow the Torres stream. Stamp your Pilgrim Passport in country churches dedicated to the Order of St James before arriving at your beautifully restored rectory. (Staying at Rectoral de Lestedo, Half board)
Rectoral de Lestedo AAAA
Lestedo (Day 3)
Set deep in the countryside directly on the Camino, on a hillside with fabulous north facing views, this ancient light stone ruin has been restored by Susana and Cesar (a local vet). The sloping garden gives all the rooms pleasant country views, and the public spaces are very effectively designed to maximise natural light and make the most of the views. The 9 bedrooms are light and spacious with black and white photos on the walls, wooden floors and some striking designer touches that you might not expect in a building of this age.
Selected departures will be staying in Casa Roan, a spectacular original walled Galician farmhouse 3km from the Camino de Santiago. (You will be picked up from Eirexe by the owners, Pilar and Jose Manuel Rodriguez Vasques). Their rambling walled farmhouse has fireplaces you could park a car in, and 8 homely bedrooms are decorated in rustic style. There is also a grand stone dining room that looks as if it could host a gathering for the entire village. Pilar and Jose Manuel don't speak English, so a phrase book will definitely come in handy. The website is www.casaroan.com
Further details on the hotel website.Day 4 - Lestedo to O Coto 14km/9mi/4hr
Walk along country lanes past fortified farmhouses into the hillside town of Palas de Rei (Palace of the King) as you enter the province of A Coruna. You'll pass typical, raised Galician granaries, and see chickens scamper across narrow streets as you enter vineyards, with views east to the Montes del Vacaloura. (Staying at Casa de los Somoza, Half Board)
Casa de los Somoza AAA
O Coto (Day 4)In the tiniest village of just a few houses, Jesus Cardelle's rustic country Turismo Rural is a popular stop on the Camino. The house was originally a farm, and has an old world charm about it with tiled floors and wooden beams throughout. The garden outside is always full of passing pilgrims having a drink in the sunshine, and playing Jesus' typical in house Galician skittle game. This is a simple village and a simple hotel, full of rustic charm. There is no English spoken here.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 5 - O Coto to Arzua 21km/13.5mi/6hr
Today's first stop is the thriving country town of Melide, where you will see locals enjoying Galician seafood in specialist pulperias (octopus restaurants). Drop into the Romanesque church to admire the frescoes, before walking to the lively market town of Arzua along lanes lined with bright yellow celandine. Your final stop is the elegant manor house, surrounded by tranquil countryside, just outside the town. (Staying at Pazo de Santa Maria, Half Board)
Pazo de Santa Maria AAAA
Arzua (Day 5)Juan Manuel Duque took on this ruined Galician stately home on the outskirts of Arzua as a retirement project several years ago, and has restored it to it's former glory using original materials and creating an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquillity.
Most rooms are set into the old stables around a central courtyard, with several also in the main house where the luxurious public lounges can be found on the ground floor.
The walls are solid stone, the beams and roof all ancient, and the dining rooms sports a giant fireplace and other original features. The entire complex is set in landscaped grounds on the edge of Arzua so it is around a 10 minute walk from the centre where all the shops and banks are located, as well as your onward route to Santiago.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 6 - Arzua to Rua 19km/12mi/5hr
Follow Arzua's colonnaded streets into open country where local farmers wear berets as they tend vines and build haystacks with pitch forks. Your route will rise and fall through river valleys, crossing rushing streams. This evening you will stay at Javier's breathtaking converted water mill, where original machinery has been turned into spectacular period features. (Staying at O Muino de Pena, Half Board)
O Muino de Pena AAAA
Rua (Day 6)Just off the Camino (you will be picked up from Pension Compas which is on the Camino by Javier), can be found some of the loveliest and most unusual properties to stay in, and this is one of them.
Hidden in the backwoods and valleys this ancient mill sits next to a rushing river and weir, instantly relaxing you with the sound of running water. The bedrooms are on the top floor as you enter (you enter on the second floor as it is built on a steep hill), and all are utterly charming with beams, stone walls and dark wooden furniture.
Downstairs, much of the heart of the mill has been retained, with giant wheels and massive machinery blending perfectly with the bar and dining area and looking quite spectacular. The open riverside garden is perfect for a drink, and the entire place feels as if it is a mythical secret hideaway. Javier will drive you back to the Camino (10 minutes) in the morning.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 7 - Rua to Santiago de Compostela 21km/13.5mi/6hr
The finishing line is near! Set off towards Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy) today, where pilgrims of old caught their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago. As you reach Santiago's historic centre, the atmosphere is electric as a steady stream of pilgrims reach their journey's end below the cathedral's spectacular Baroque facade. Drop into the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificate, before checking into our historic hotel near the old marketplace - still a riot of color! (Staying at Hotel Virxe da Cerca, Breakfast only)
Hotel Virxe da Cerca ****
Santiago de Compostela (Day 7)
Just on the edge of the historic centre in Santiago de Compostela, the Virxe da Cerca sits just below the old market - it is still used by the locals daily and is definitely worth wandering through.
Our superior rooms are in the grand old 4 storey building that backs on to an extensive garden at the back. The breakfast room overlooks the garden while the in house restaurant is on the ground floor in the depths of the building with solid stone walls and a cozy atmosphere.
It is only a 5 minute walk into the heart of the old town so it is perfect for exploring, and feels like coming back to your very own stately home in the city.
Further details on the hotel website.Day 8 - Leave Santiago de Compostela
Walks on this holiday are on village streets, country lanes, farm tracks and rural paths. Walking boots are essential. Walking poles are recommended.