Walking the Camino de Santiago – Fisterre, Galicia, Spain

This morning, we tried to start with some fun on the little locals beach below the campsite between rain showers. however it was high tide. So back to the van for breakfast before a bit of Spanish lessons with a cuppa.

Spanish lessons with my little helpers

We then set off to walk (the very last part of) the Camino de Santiago. The route which has starting points across Europe, has been a popular pilgrimage since then 9th Century when relics of the apostle James were found and stored in the shrine of Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The main pilgrimage route follows an original Roman trade route which ends in Finisterre. As such, Finisterre has become a popular 90km add-on to the 600-800km hike, depending if you start in France, Spain or Portugal, promoted heavily by the Galician tourist board. There are route signs from the town up the hill and to the Cape de Finisterre, using the sign of the scallop / Milky Way, depending on your interpretation of the myths surrounding the route.

Monte Facho, 238m above sea-level is the end of the hike at Cape Finisterre, on the peak of which a lighthouse stands and the popular photography spot of the 0,0km sign for the Camino de Santiago. Over 300,000 completed the route in 2017, though it does not say how many went onto Finisterre, certainly there are many people carrying big backpacks around the town and a steady trail of people walking the gravel track at the side of the road. There are also many places to buy your 0.0km commemorative sweatshirts / T-shirts. I gather there is also a tradition of sacrificial burning of old socks etc on the beach when you make it there, so perhaps they are to replenish your wardrobe afterwards. Either way, although the entire two miles from the village are uphill, I did not think we had really earned the 0,0km memorabilia. It did seem particularly harsh that this as an add-on should end on such a long uphill section.

We arrived 5 mins after 3 coach loads of Spanish teenagers had been disgorged onto the car park. Therefore, it did not have the atmosphere suited to the end of an ancient pilgrimage, nor did the attendant tat-shop add to that aura. Nonetheless we were pleased to have safely made it to the End of the Earth on what is apparently Costa da Morte (Death Coast) due to the amount of shipwrecks. We can certainly recall a line of 7 lighthouses being visible as we sailed down this coast, a sure sign of many rocks. We took the obligatory lighthouse photos etc and then returned to Fisterre for lunch.

The sun was by now shining for a nice downhill section to the town, however another 4 coaches passed us heading up to the Cape on our way down. So we were expecting large number of visitors to be descending soon after us. We quickly found a restaurant overlooking the harbour and enjoyed a lovely lunch of hake and a salad. Many coach visitors arrived as we ate and as we were finishing the rains started again as we huddled under umbrellas in the rain like the true British tourist we are. The restaurant was full of the ubiquitous elder Spanish gentleman enjoying a lunchtime drink with their friends and the mainly Spanish tourists arrived by coach crammed round any available space.

Thankfully we managed to get back in a break in the showers onto the little beach on the way back to the van before the heavens really opened. So we are now sat cozily with a cuppa watching the rain.

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