Camino Finisterre Day 13: Walkin’ back to Santiago, whoop-ah, oh yeah, yeah*

Tuesday 14 May 2024 – Whilst we had a reasonably comfortable stay, the Hotel Millan is not a place I would recommend; any better days it might once have seen are many, many days ago. So we weren’t tempted to linger after breakfast, and in any case the weather forecast made a prompt start seem a good idea; cloudy and showers were the order of the morning, with the prospect of rain in the afternoon.

We set off just after 0830 in light rain, retracing our steps to Santiago whence we started on May 2nd.  We passed sights that I don’t remember from that walk, such as this dovecote

and some that I do, such as the impressive gates to the Pazo de Albariña,

which is some kind of a historical landmark.

The weather stayed gloomy, with occasional light showers, so when we walked through Ponte Maceira I was glad that we had seen it at its best on the way out to Finisterre. Nonetheless, I took a couple of photos, because it is a lovely village.

After Ponte Maceira, there is a longish climb up to Carballo, which is the high point of the day’s walk. (Coming the other way, you’ll remember, it’s also the high point after The Steep Bit, a decent example of the sort of mandatory component that makes Day One of any walk a bastard.) On the return leg back to Santiago it’s not so steep, and the ascent not so much, but it still tested my energy levels and, frankly, found them wanting. So I used photography to give me the excuse for some short rests on the way up.  For example, there was a beautifully red horreo to be admired,

and some decent scenery

which held out the tantalising possibility that the rain would stop.

In Trasmonte, we had the courage to walk past the tempting Casa Pancho, as we hadn’t quite done the qualifying distance after which a coffee stop is permissible. I looked in at Trasmonte’s intriguing Fisterra Bovine World, where I got a chance at a better shot at one of their sheds.

This is apparently a two-year project whereby thirteen different bovine breeds from all over the world will be fed and raised under the Galician livestock system, using feed typical of the area based on native corn, to measure the effect of the Galician System on each breed. Crikey.

Trasmonte features some photogenic corners,

and just beyond the village we passed the high point, which is more or less marked by a fonte.

The path then goes down, as is not uncommon after high points, and, in the case of this path, it goes down quite steeply (had I already mentioned this, maybe?).

It’s interesting that Google describes this path as “mainly flat”. I’d hate to take on something that it describes as “a bit of a hill”. Whatever, as the sun was now shining more or less reliably, it made for some attractive scenes on the way down.  It is a damp environment, as can be seen from the vast amounts of moss which adorn, well, pretty much everything.

At the bottom is a café called Bar O km 79, where we stopped for refreshments. I think its name stems from the distance from the bar to Finisterre. Whatever, a coffee was a welcome thing, and it meant that we were under shelter as a small spattering of rain swept through.

We pressed on

and it became clear that we were running into a stream of peregrinos who had set out that morning from Santiago.

It never became crowded with pilgrims, but the oncoming flow was steady and constant for several kilometres.

We passed another unusual horreo as we walked on.

It’s been noticeable that, starting around Negreira, the principal construction of the horreos has gone from entirely stone-built to stone-and-wood. This is a stone-and-wood one, as you can see, but the unusual thing about it is its base; typical horreos are mounted on stone “toadstools”, which serve to keep the rats at bay; this one simply has stone pillars, but of course there’s the ledge in place to make it impossible for rats to get at the riches within.

After a few more kilometres we came to our second stop, a bar called Os Arcos.  Whilst we got ourselves outside beer and pizza, an amusing little cabaret played out before us, involving the delivery of large gas cylinders.  With a huge din, this van pulled up.

Its mission was to deliver two full cylinders and take away two empties.  It would have been cruel and ill-mannered to video the troubles the driver had in unshipping the bars which hold the cylinders in place, but it was funny to watch – and very noisy. It involved a lot of hitting things with spanners and other bits of metal before he could get the cylinders out. He correspondingly had trouble getting the bars back into place as well before he drove off.  This video (if played with sound up) will give you some idea of the cacophony which surrounded this little vignette.

After resuming our journey, we passed a tulip tree in full bloom (something Jane tells me I’ve seen before, but not that I remember)

and the sun came out enough to make the scenery worth taking photos of.

The last of those is taken from the ascending path just a few kilometres from Santiago. Once again, I found it really hard work, even though it wasn’t all that steep; but we were rewarded at the top with our first sight of the iconic towers of Santiago Cathedral.

Slightly further on, one gets an even better view

and I was pleased to be able to see it whilst the sun was shining, something it wasn’t doing on our outbound walk.

The cathedral continued to dominate local streets as we made our way through the outskirts

and soon enough we were in the Plaza del Obradoiro

and shortly thereafter back at our hotel, the massive San Martin Pinero monastery building.

We’d walked the complete final stage today, covered 21km, and arrived in the sunshine, which was a nice way to finish our Camino Finisterre. It’s not been a classic achievement for us like completing the Camino Francés was last year – the weather and my digestive issues had intervened to make it a bit of a disjointed experience – but we still had a quiet sense of satisfaction.

What do I think of this Camino? I think it’s worth doing for anyone who has not visited Muxia and/or Cape Finisterre, which are both attractive, charismatic places, but probably less so for people who have visited these before. We found the endless eucalyptus plantations, and their aftermath (blasted earth and chewed-up trails) a bit tedious and depressing; it’s a shame that people’s livings depend on planting and harvesting this invasive species. The poor weather we had in places took some of the gilt off the gingerbread, for sure, although there’s a case to say that this is our fault for not having industrial-strength waterproofs with us.

That said, we’ve stayed in some great places – As Pias in Olveiroa, Casa de Balea in Corcubión and the excellent Hotel Semaforo at Cape Finisterre come immediately to mind – and the trip has got us walking again after a period where it was too difficult to get out and about. Assuming that Vueling don’t cock things up and ruin our journey home, we’ve had a pleasant couple of weeks, which of course included visiting A Coruña and Lugo; and We Will Be Back – our plans include taking on the Camino Portugues. As and when we undertake this journey – and all the others, of course – you can rest assured that I’ll be writing about our travels in these pages.

Hasta la próxima!


* Sorry about the title. Anyone younger than me will probably never have heard of Helen Shapiro, a teen star in the early 60s with a big voice and a big hit called “Walkin’ Back To Happiness”, which I, of course, had on my brain for the whole of today’s walk.

8 thoughts on “Camino Finisterre Day 13: Walkin’ back to Santiago, whoop-ah, oh yeah, yeah*

  1. Chris Walker

    I’m surprised you remember Helen Shapiro. You would have been 8 years old at the time that was released! It was one of my first ever singles. It’s on my ever-increasing list of liked tracks on Amazon Music.

  2. Ian Burley

    Another very enjoyable couple of weeks following you both. I’m always surprised by the number of people on the trail. Being pretty much a lone wolf when it comes to hiking (except when I take the missus along), I don’t think I’m ready for a camino yet.

    1. Steve Walker Post author

      Glad you enjoyed reading the blog, Ian. I agree; if you really seek solitude for your walking, the Camino trails we’ve undertaken wouldn’t be a good choice. One or two sections of the Francés, across the Meseta, were done in splendid isolation, but otherwise there are always at least a few others around.


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