A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Sanabrés & Camino de Invierno
Ourense or Ponferrada — A Laxe — Santiago
Kaminn Media Limited
This guidebook combines two ancient routes into Santiago that remain largely undiscovered despite their historic significance. Each route offers a very different camino experience but are combined in one volume as they join in A Laxe for the final stages. Each provides the minimum distance required for a pilgrim to apply for a Compostela; but that is not the purpose of this guidebook
which seeks to off er alternatives to the busy routes through Sarria and Tui which account for over 80% of all pilgrims to Santiago; by contrast the Camino Invierno currently carries less than 1%.
Camino Sanabrés offers a link from the Via de le Plata. This guide offers the last 5 stages of that itinerary commencing in Ourense with its rich Roman heritage and extant thermal baths. Excellent rail and road links make the city highly accessible for pilgrims wishing to commence their journey from this point. The acorn would be a fitting symbol for this route that winds its way through ancient oak forest past the Pico Santo into Santiago.
Camino de Invierno provides a link from the Camino Francés and a wonderful alternative to the routes through Sarria which carry such a large volume of pilgrims. The ‘Winter Way’ is a camino in its own right as it snakes its way through the mystery of Las Médulas, the largest gold mines in the Roman Empire and now a World Heritage Site (see cover photo). It continues along the sacred banks of the río Sil, the incomparable Ribeira Sacra with its vineyards and chestnut forests. Its remote location and limited facilities make this a demanding route, well suited for the seasoned pilgrim with an adventurous spirit, seeking a quieter way.
This guidebook also seeks to find a balance between the outer and inner journey, between the physical and spiritual, which is why it is subtitled A Practical & Mystical Manual – that we might find a place to eat and sleep at the end of a hard day’s walk but also, and crucially, that we might find the courage to dive into the mystery of our own soul awakening.
John Brierley is a former charter surveyor who promotes business sabbaticals and pilgrimages as a way to reappraise life's purpose. He is the author of several collections of maps and guides to different Camino de Santiago routes.