A Guided Walk along the Via de la Plata
Via de la Plata (Guided) - Camino de Santiago
Put yourself fully in the hands of Frontier Holidays. A chance to share insights and enthusiasm for all things Spanish, with Director Callum Christie guiding you. Walking the Camino de Santiago is so much more than just following a well worn route. You'll learn about the background history, as well as interpreting the landscape around you.
The Ruta de la Plata has various variants. Starting in the south, pilgrims came mainly from Seville or Granada (via Cordoba) before meeting in Mérida and continuing north to Zamora. Here pilgrims would either carry on due north to Astorga to join the Camino Francés, or they would swing northwest (as we shall do) making a beeline over the slightly shorter route to Santiago via Ourense, known as the Camino Sanabrés. This route crosses a more varied terrain than the Camino Francés and is also less frequented.
Our route crosses Galicia from south-east to north-west, an ancient land with its own peculiar language and customs. Very much a land with Celtic roots, some have drawn similarities with Ireland, and certainly there is no shortage of hearty food, foot tapping pipe music and even the odd glass of cider!
From our start in Ourense, we find ourselves following a northerly option avoiding the newly built motorway to the south; a quieter route passing through a mix of small riverside arable fields and pastures bordered by heathland with superb all round views of the Galician countryside.
The Via de la Plata from Ourense to Santiago follows a delightful route through wooded rolling countryside passing through countless hamlets and stone built villages. Once in Santiago the focal point of the old centre is the Cathedral and most pilgrims make their way on arrival to visit the tomb of St James. The daily mass where pilgrims’ journeys are read out can be a spectacular affair especially if you are lucky enough to coincide with the botafumeiro, when the largest incense burner in the Catholic world is swung the full width of the Cathedral.
Transfer to Ourense (pop. 96,000) the biggest centre on our route. Deriving from the Roman Aquae Urientes, the hot water still runs and we can bathe at the open air public spa. The old town is small but a real delight, and there is an abundance of small inns and bars, the speciality being the tapas or pinchos as they are known in Galicia; small mouth watering snacks to accompany your refreshment. Amongst its many monuments are the 12th centuryRomanesque Cathedral with its outstanding doorway and the arched Praza Maior.
Situated on the River Miño, Ourense and the surrounding valleys enjoy a local climate perfect for producing Ribeiro wines, as yet largely unknown to the outside world.
A short but steep ascent out of the Miño valley to our overnight stop at the superbly converted Pazo San Damian.
- 11.5 kms
Onwards through many to the Monasterio de Oseira via Cea, famous for its hand made sour dough bread, still baked in wood fired ovens. The Cistercian Monastery at Oseira, the largest and grandest in Galicia is a curious mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. The buildings date from the 12th centurythough a fire in 1552 left only the church standing. Rebuilt stylishly it is sometimes referred to as the “Escorial of the North”. Guided visits are available. There is also an interesting ethnological museum displaying many traditional agricultural tools and household implements, but can you spot the mole splatter?
- 21 kms
We take a lift to the charming country house of Casarellos set in beautiful wooded grounds and with its own swimming pool, which will be our base for two nights.
Starting back at Oseira, we climb gently uphill through windswept moorland to the Pass of Santo Domingo, one of the highest of the walk at 819 metres, passing the scenic hamlets of Outeiro and Vidueiro.
- 13.5kms - Overnight back at Casa Casarellos
A slow descent through mixed woodland of oak, pine and chestnut, takes us to Bendoiro and its stately mansion or pazo.
- 20 kms
To Bandeira through rolling countryside filled with hamlets and quiet lanes.
- 15.5 kms
Ponte Ulla is our next stop after a day of gentle undulations, the river marking the border between Pontevedra and Coruña provinces. Continue by climbing to our farmhouse at Casa Casal
- 19 kms
Near the start of the walk, the more energetic members of the party may make a detour to the summit of the Pico Sacro. The peak has links to the legend of St. James. From here, pilgrims had their first sight of Santiago de Compostela and a wonderful panoramic view of the countryside.
The final leg to Santiago approaches the city from one of the quietest directions; no busy motorways or modern housing estates. Before you know it you pass your last cruceiro and descend on a cobbled track through the only remaining medieval gate into the heart of Santiago’s old town and on to the tomb of St James, housed in the stunning cathedral .
Santiago de Compostela is your base for the last two nights.
- 11.5 kms
Santiago with its unique architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a busy, vibrant town with a daily market and a large student population.
A free day to relax further and visit more of the many monuments that are in Santiago. lternatively you could catch a bus to visit Finisterre, and dip your feet in the Atlantic!
Transfer to La Corunna Airport.
More holidays Walking the Camino de Santiago
A mix of two and three star hotels as well as family run farmhouses and historic homes.
All rooms have en suite facilities.
Galicia in Autumn
Harvest begins at time of year in Galicia! The vines are laden with juicy bunches of grapes, ripe and ready for making the famed Ribeiro wines from this region. Read more about Ribeiro Wines...
During our three night stay in Santiago we have the added bonus of making a day trip to Finisterre, where the group can enjoy delicious fresh seafood and stroll on the 2km Langosteira beach in search of scallop shells.
What You Said...
"The Camino trail, for good measure, throws-in a quite definite spiritual lift - whatever belief you subscribe to or practise, or don’t. We both had a most enjoyable holiday ‘on every Frontier’ with the assembled, lively bunch of companions contributing really good and enjoyable company to the whole. Your organisation was excellent, with a truly personal level of care and concern from start to finish."
Idris & Lesley, UK
"Callum certainly had his work cut out for him with this group. He was awesome. He managed to shepherd this lot along the Camino. Up Pico Sacro etc etc with great patience and humour. His endless attention to detail and the comfort of the client was amazing. His knowledge of the area really interesting. I thouroughly enjoyed his company. I absolutely will recommend Frontier Holidays."
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At a glance...
Date: 22nd September - 2nd October 2013
Cost: £1225 (Single supplement of £150) 10 Nights, Half Board Basis (based on 2 sharing)
A mix of 1-3* hotels, Stately Homes and traditional Farmhouses
Group Transfers from A Coruna Airport - please ask for details