The English Way runs from Ferrol or A Coruña (Galicia) to Santiago de Compostela and is one of the shortest routes meeting the minimum distance to get the Compostela (the official certification that confirms you have done the Camino). Experience the route followed by British and Irish pilgrims to reach Santiago de Compostela.
For many years, thousands of pilgrims took this route, generating a ulture of pilgrimage by sea. In both Galician cities you can still see the traces of this cult - immense in heritage jewels such as the churches of Santiago and Santa María (in A Coruña) or the Caridade Hospital (nowadays the Cultural Center Torrente Ballester, in Ferrol), as well as vestiges of hospitals for pilgrims and other old routes.
The pilgrims who came through the sea, especially from the British Isles (hence the name of this route) arrived more quickly than pilgrims who had to walk the French Way, but not too easily. Both routes were complicated: the terrestrial one because of the orography and the thieves that populated the roads; the maritime one because of the risk of navigating in small boats fully loaded. The British pilgrims embarked in the ports of Bristol, Newcastle, London, Southampton, Galway or Dublin for the Galician coast, to find refuge and spirituality in the many hospitals and monasteries that welcomed them on this route.
The lands you will cover in this route are noteworthy for their cultural heritage, which you will find from the beginning of the route. The Tower of Hercules, a Roman lighthouse declared as World Heritage Site, awaits you in A Coruña. It is this lighthouse that used to guide the ships that arrived crossing the Atlantic. When entering through Ferrol, there are two monumental military constructions located on both sides: the castles of San Felipe and A Palma.
This route of pilgrimage has two different names - the English Way or Camino Inglés, in Spanish. This was the path followed by the English and Irish pilgrims to reach Santiago de Compostela, after disembarking in the ports of A Coruña or Ferrol.
Thus, this path has two possible starting points: A Coruña or Ferrol. Both cities are located far enough from Santiago, so you can get the Compostela at your arrival. Well, actually, A Coruña is less than 62.14 miles (100 km) away from Santiago. Nevertheless, in 2016, the Cabildo granted the possibility of getting the Compostela for the pilgrims coming from A Coruña. If you do so, you will only have to visit the Jacobean spaces in A Coruña as an additional requirement. In case you come from outside Spain, you can complete the distance left in the country or region where you start from.
If you decide to start in Ferrol, you will have 6 stages ahead. If you leave from A Coruña, you will only have 3 stages. Both roads join in the vicinity of Mesía (A Coruña), in the Hospital de Bruma, and continue towards Santiago. It is not too demanding a route, so it is suitable for all pilgrims, and is well signposted. However, there are only 5 public shelters in the whole English Way, and this can be a nuisance in times of great influx of pilgrims (like in summer). However, the scarce offer of public accomodation services is balanced by the high offer of private accommodation - hotels, hostels, or rural houses.
Thanks to the safety of its port -protected by three fortresses and favored by the geographical conditions of its estuary- many pilgrims arrived at Ferrol. This city is deeply linked to the sea and the navigation, and it offers a beautiful old town, the Ferrol Vello, declared an Good of Cultural Interest ("Bien de Interés Cultural"). It is essential that you visit the Fortress of San Felipe, the Cathedral of San Julián or the Barrio de la Magdalena. Then you will continue to Neda, a medieval town famous for its tasty bread.Description of stage 1, map and hostels
Here you will leave behind the estuary of Ferrol and welcome the one of Ares. Thus you will arrive at Pontedeume, the city of Andrade, lineage of the Galician nobility. Here you will find numerous vestiges, such as the beautiful Torreón dos Andrade or the Castelo dos Andrade. In this town you can also cross one of the longest medieval bridges in Europe and, if you have time, you can go to San Xoán de Caaveiro, a beautiful monastery located in As Fragas do Eume, a thousand-year-old native forest, bathed by the Eume River. For those with a sweet tooth: in Pontedeume you can try the manguito eumés or the Pontedeume cake, similar to Santiago'sDescription of stage 2, map and hostels
In this stage you will have to make an effort, because it runs along steep paths. The good thing is it will allow you to cross medieval villages and Atlantic forests full of beauty. The city of Betanzos (capital of one of the old provinces of the Kingdom of Galicia) awaits behind historical and artistic walls. It is essential to visit its churches (especially the Church of Santiago) and taste the famous tortilla from Betanzos.Description of stage 3, map and hostels
In this stage you will have to count on provisions, because you will cross forests and roads for several miles - nature will be your only companion. In addition, you will go up and down in long stretches, so it's convenient that you make appropiate breaks to catch your breath.Description of stage 4, map and hostels
In Bruma you will join the pilgrims who have decided to start the English Way in A Coruña.
You're nearly nearly there. In this stage, unlike the previous one, you will find descendant roads, and numerous services available for the walkers. In Ordes you can visit the Church of San Paio de Buscás or San Xiao de Poulo, and the medieval bridge in Sigüeiro. If it's the right season, don't forget to try the trout from the river Tambre in Sigüeiro.Description of stage 5, map and hostels
This is the last stage of the English Way, it's not too hard and it's about 4 hours long. The entrance to the city is not ideal, because you will have to cross an industrial area, but Santiago will encourage you during your last miles until you enter the Praza do Obradoiro and finally see the Cathedral. Once you have rested, visit the old city calmly. Go discover its numerous churches and monasteries, but also the Mercado de Abastos and the many establishments in the old town, where you can taste some of the most recognized dishes of Galician cuisine.Description of stage 6, map and hostels
Pilgrims who decide to start in A Coruña will meet their companions of the English Way in the town of Bruma, just over 18.5 miles (30 km) from the herculine city. The tourist, patrimonial and gastronomic offer of A Coruña is very high, so it is advisable to stay at least one day to enjoy the city. The route starts from the Church of Santiago, one of the oldest temples in the city, and goes to the town of Mesón do Vento. Some gastronomic essentials: fish in A Coruña, and bread from the town of Carral, a place situated on the route.
In Bruma, the pilgrims who have started the English Way in A Coruña will join the pilgrims who left Ferrol to make the last three stages together.
The history of the pilgrimages for this route starts in the 12th century, after the visit of a squad of English, Germans and Flemings who went to the Holy Land, documented in 1147. After this first trace, there are other historical pilgrimages along the English Way, like the one of the Irish monk Nicholas Bergsson, who describes his trip on foot from Iceland to Rome, passing through Santiago. This feat would take him 5 years.
Pieces of pottery and English coins from the 14th and 15th centuries, found in the excavations of the Cathedral, testify the presence of northern pilgrims in Compostela for centuries. In the 16th century, Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church because of his divorce with Catherine of Aragon. This was the point when the English Way started falling into oblivion. Later on and little by little, the Camino Inglés was revitalized, especially in recent years, thanks to the attractiveness of the cities of A Coruña and Ferrol. The medieval beauty of other towns, like Betanzos or Pontedeume, is also attractive and key to understand the English history of the Way of Saint James.
Choosing this route will allow you to do the Camino de Santiago in just one week. In addition, you will enjoy the two main Galician cities, and will get to know a part of Rías Altas. This area is very different from Rías Baixas - here you will appreciate the beauty of its steep cliffs and the fierceness of the sea. It is ideal for those who want to avoid a very crowded route, and it is completely signposted.
The English Way is not one of the most arduous paths. It does not present any additional difficulties for people with reduced mobility or for pilgrims by bike. However, some of the stages run for miles through forests and roads, with hardly any basic services for pilgrims. For this reason, in some routes you should carry the necessary provisions in your backpack to walk for a full day. In addition to the basic material of the pilgrim, take some snacks such as energy bars, fruit or nuts, to recover energy. You will find several establishments in some of the stages, so it is advisable to stop to eat when you have the chance, so you don't overload your backpack.
Like in other routes, the English Way does not require special preparation, only certain previous organization. Do not walk when the night comes and remember to check avalability in accomodation establishments, especially during peak season. You can make intermediate stops to spend the night, depending on how you feel - if your knees or back hurt. And, above all, do not forget to taste the wonderful local dishes.
The English Way has gone from having only three public hostels for its entire journey to growing exponentially in terms of accommodation.
For this reason, you can now count on public and private hostels to rest between stages, but also with pensions, hotels, or rural houses. To the taste of all pilgrims.
Here you will find some of the options for the main stages of the English Way, both in terms of public hostels and other types of accommodation.
The French Way (Camino Frances) is the most popular one, but there are many other ways you should know.