Where:From Roncevalles, France to Santiago de Compostela, Northern Spain
Best season: June or September the route is at its prime and less crowded
Remember to bring: A stick to chase wayward dogs with & a sleeping bag
The Route of St James runs from Roncesvalles on the French border to the Catedral del Apostol in Santiago de Compostela, covering a total distance of 500 miles. Ever since the alleged remains of the Apostle St James were discovered in Composela in the 11th century, the route has been an important pilgrim trail, tramped by Catholic devotees eager to atone for all their sins.
The route passes through exquisite countryside, picturesque villages and historic locations bearing witness to a thousand years of religious tradition. It takes about a month ot walk the entire trail, but strategically situated hostels or refugios along the route cater to the needs of the thousands of pilgrims from all around the world, who make the journey on foot each year.
The route can be undertaken all year round, but it’s most spectacular in the early Summer and Autumn, when you’ll also avoid the heat and crowds of July and August.
The feast of Santiago takes place each year in Santiago de Compostela on 25th July. If you don’t object to the inevitable crowds, time your arrival to co-incide with this spectacular event.
Though the local people who live in the villages along the route are well used to pilgrims passing through, there have been reports of ill-tempered dogs along the route that are upset by strangers. Carry a stick to ward off any hounds that harrass you.
You can stock up on food supplies all along the trail, but make sure you bring your own sleeping bag, as these are rarely supplied at the refugios.
An online catalogue pilgrimage information and provide links to pilgrimage sites and shrines.
main image: By map of Mr Manfred Zentgraf, Volkach, Germany – Manfred Zentgraf, Volkach, Germany, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1377930
By Jess Halliday