Betanzos…a town rich in Celtic history sits on the Camino Ingles between Ferrol and Santiago. It lies beside the Mandeo river and is a place to stop and look around once you have your day’s walking over. I am due to arrive here on the 9th of May and having seen so many great photos of the town, I am eager to see what all the fuss is about. The next morning, rather than continuing on to Santiago, I pick up my pack and make way for A Coruna.
The albergue in Betanzos is fairly new, having opened in 2013, and has over 30 beds for pilgrims. There are other accommodation of course in this fine town. This morning, news broke that, due to a water leak, the albergue will limit the number of beds to 6 each night.
So if you are walking from Ferrol shortly, it is best to plan ahead if staying in Betanzos.
This May will be a coast to coast Camino. I start my Camino in northern city of Ferrol on the eastern arm of the Camino Ingles. Two day of walking later, I travel to A Coruña from Betanzos. Both are known for their links to Ireland through the Camino de Santiago. From A Coruña, we (myself and my brother) walk to Finisterre via Santiago. This whole thing will probably be the hardest walk I’ve done in 3 or 4 years as I have been sticking to the well-worn ground of the Camino Frances for quite a while. So these 8 weeks are perfect to get in gear.
I hope to be in A Coruña as early as I can, which leaves me with a little time to see the city and explore. And there are a few sites that I want to see. For example:
Torre de Hércules & the statue of Breogán
María Píta Square
Castillo de San Antón
Manolo Paz’s Menhirs
After all that, I should have enough time to wash my clothes, pack my bag and get ready for the next day’s walking.
Let me apologise! The intention was to keep you updated a little bit more than this but I was busy over the weekend. Here goes…
The Camino Society held their first monthly walk of 2019 in Glencullen. There are tonnes of trails there and the Dublin Mountains Way runs through it. I won’t go into it in too much detail as I wrote a piece about it on their newsletter here. Go check it out, the photos are excellent.
Anyway, the day started well with the sun shining in Donabate. I had a good feeling about the day. I brought the rain gear ‘just in case’. However the further south I went, the darker the sky got and the first drops could be felt at Johnnie Fox’s pub, our meeting point. Not to worry. We marched on regardless.
With a full pack and thirty-something other pilgrims, it was close enough to being on Camino. It was just what I needed with my May Camino quickly approaching. After the walk, we returned to base (Johnnie Fox’s) for some food and music.
The following day, Sunday, marked 100 days before my brother and I travel to Ferrol to start our Camino Ingles / Celtic Camino. From now on, it’s all double-digits and even though I have done this many times before, it feels new this time. Maybe because it is a new route? May 7th we leave for Ferrol and we hope to be in Santiago by May 14th. We have flights booked for May 19th which gives us room to decide to walk to Finisterre or stay in Santiago.
So here we are..2019! Happy New Year! The celebrations are over, the good cutlery has been put away and we have settled down to another year. I hope you had a good few weeks. Christmas has been good in the Smith household. Strangely enough, the last time I felt this way was January 2018 and I was preparing for a Camino #1 with the brother. As we all know, those few weeks went very well and we enjoyed our time walking into Santiago de Compostela. So much so, that we are going back this May.
Celtic Camino & Camino Finisterre
May 7th – we both fly to Santiago and aim for Ferrol. From there we walk to Betanzos, on the Ferrol leg of the Camino Ingles. The following day, we take a bus to A Coruna where we will walk to Santiago. I’m looking forward to these few days between A Coruna and Bruma as it is pretty quiet. Once in Santiago, we walk to Finisterre and the end of the world. I was here last in 2016 when I witnessed the sunset. It is the true end of one’s Camino. Just 122 days to go at the time of writing.
Dabbling in Photography
Ok, to say this is a bit of a whim is an understatement. I have been thinking of taking up photography for quite some time and I have just purchased a DSLR camera (with thanks to some friends). I am waiting for it to arrive in the post but in the meantime, I have been watching “how-to” and “what-not-to-do” videos on YouTube. I chose Canon and didn’t buy too high-end. So, if I do enjoy it, I can upgrade the body or lens in the future. I will take it out on walks and see if it catches on. More from this in the near future.
One year in Donabate
Time flies when you are having fun eh? Well, I’m not sure about fun, but time is flying. I can’t believe it’s over a year since I moved into this new place. I’ve tried to make the place as homely as possible. I’ve got my compostelas hanging in my bedroom. There is a large Wise Pilgrim map hanging in my dining room and these large posters are hanging on the wall in front of the couch. I mean, I get to look at these every day! It’s great. I also have a large collection of fridge magnets with a Camino theme. So I’m quite happy with how it’s going. Just for the time being, that is.
Possible 2nd Camino for 2019?
I’m keeping my options open for a 2nd return to Spain in September. It will either be the Portuguese Coastal Route or the short snippet of the Via de la Plata. Nothing is set in stone yet. Updates will follow.
I reported this on my Facebook page yesterday but I realise a lot of my readers do not use Facebook.
Yesterday, I went along to a talk given by the Camino Society of Ireland about a proposed Celtic Camino. There was a large crowd there and we had the attendance of the mayor of A Coruna, Xulio Ferreiro, the Spanish ambassador to Ireland, José María Rodríguez Coso, and some of his team from the Spanish embassy.
At present, the number of pilgrims who start their Caminos from the northern coastal town of A Coruna is relatively small compared to the Camino Frances. A Coruna is a starting point on the Camino Ingles (along with Ferrol) but is 75km in distance and not long enough to receive a Compostela from Santiago Cathedral. However, delegates from a number of Camino Societies in Europe met last December, along with members various tourism bodies in A Coruna, to think of ways to promote A Coruna as a starting point and enhance the Camino Ingles. They came up with a proposal to present to the Cathedral. It was proposed that pilgrims can receive a Compostela by walking the 75km from A Coruna to Santiago, provided the remaining 25 km is walked elsewhere on a pilgrim route. This idea was presented to the Dean of Santiago Cathedral and it was agreed to. At the moment, the Camino Society of Ireland are deciding which on which routes to use in Ireland. Once you walk this, you will be given a certificate by the Irish Camino Society. You bring this with you to Spain, walk from A Coruna and present this to the pilgrim office in Santiago. You will receive your compostela then. The Spanish embassy are also in talks with Aer Lingus to introduce a direct flight to A Coruna.
This also is a great opportunity to market the current pilgrim paths in Ireland as many people from other countries can walk the 25km and walk from A Coruna at a later stage.
February 19th sees the start of a new series on Irish TV called Camino na Saile (or Camino by Sea in English). It will be shown on our Irish language TV channel over the course of 3 weeks. It documents the journey of 5 men who sailed from the south of Ireland to A Coruna over the course of 4 years. For 800 years, people have sailed from Ireland to A Coruña in Northern Spain and walked to Santiago de Compostela from there. These men have done their own version of this historical voyage in a Naomhóg (or a currach) they built themselves in this Modern day Celtic Odyssey. Stage 1 of the journey follows the crew on a journey across the Irish Sea and the English Channel to reach Brittany in Northern France.
Now I understand that the majority of my readers live outside of Ireland, and will be unable to watch it, however you can do so online on www.tg4.ie/en/player/homeor via the Mobdro smartphone app. If you download the app at www.mobdro.com on your phone and search for TG4, you will have no problems viewing the series.
It starts at 8.30pm GMT on the 19th of February and continues each Sunday after that. Happy watching!