Two camino related things happened recently:
The start date for my long awaited St Olav’s Walk in Norway was set for this spring, and my young walking companion L, who I met in Rabanal in 2014, told me she was going to Dublin to study in the new year.
I will of course need a few good walks to test my fit and kit before my Norwegian adventure, and since I did the Inglés this summer, and the planned Santiago-Fisterra-Muxia circuit is now postponed due to accidents and emergencies, I was looking for another short camino ending in Santiago to get my fix.
My friend David of ClearskiesCamino suggested the Celtic Camino, a new Irish-Spanish camino collaboration to reflect the historical bond between the two countries. Basically you walk 25 kms in Ireland to receive a Celtic Camino compostela, and then later go to Coruña north of Santiago to walk the remaining 75 kms to the cathedral. As long as the combined distance, as supported by two daily stamps and your Irish certificate, amounts to more than a hundred kms, you are entitled to the normal Compostela from the Santiago pilgrim office.
Now I’m more about the credencial than the compostela, but this seemed to me a brilliant plan. Visiting Dublin is never a bad idea, and going walking in Spain with L again sounds great. Maybe do it all in the space of a week? Maybe split it over a few weeks and meet up at Dublin airport for the flight out? Also I’d get to see Coruña, which has been getting less pilgrim traffic than neighbour Ferrol because it’s ‘too close’ to Santiago, ie the walk isn’t long enough to qualify for a compostela. This solves that problem, and I am expecting more and more pilgrims, especially Irish ones, to go for it as it will be less travelled and hopefully less crowded.
The first part would be a walk in Dublin, and David suggested walking from Bray to St James’ parish church in Dublin, which he has already done twice, and which is supposedly a nice if long walk of 28 kms. Longer than I normally like my stages, but then again there is no rush for a bed and on a good day it should be a pleasure. I just need to plan my visit to the pilgrim office so I can get my Celtic compostela before I fly home or on to Spain.
The Coruña and Ferrol caminos merge at Hospital de Bruma and follow the same path into Santiago, with a natural stop at Sigüeiro. From what I can gather Coruña-Bruma is about 35 kms, then Bruma-Sigüeiro 25, and the last stage 17 kms, adding up to just over the required 75 kms.
This could be comfortably done in 4 walking days, dividing the first stage either by getting accommodation along the way or returning to Coruña by taxi and going back where we left off the next morning. Apparently the way out of town is typically tarmaccy and urban, so a break would do nicely plus we’d get to see more of the city over two nights. Add a day either side for travel and a whole day in Santiago and bingo, we have a week in Spain … plus a weekend in Dublin! This is definitely a plan. And with a bit of luck the scaffolding should have come off the cathedral by then, spot the difference: