Our ninth day on the Camino Ingles would take us on our final stage towards Santiago. The first half of this stage passes through countryside trails that parallel the N-550 highway. The back half finishes the Camino Ingles with a short stretch through an industrial zone before navigating city streets at the northern end of Santiago de Compostela.
Stage 9 Overview:
Point to Point: Sigüeiro to Santiago de Compostela
Distance: 9.8 miles / 15.7 km
Elevation Gain: 710ft / 216m
Trail Conditions: The day starts on a paved path that parallels N-550, but remains in forests and natural areas. The back half of the day is city walking on concrete and asphalt.
Food and Water: Not a lot of options initially, but an abundance of cafes and restaurants as we approached Santiago.
End of Day Accommodation: Hotel Praza Quintana
After a light breakfast at our hotel, we made our way out along the Camino Ingles for our final day of walking. We took the time to stop and pet all of the dogs we saw and admire all of the churches we passed by. There are so many little things about the pilgrim experience that are easy to overlook while walking, and these things become what you’ll miss most when you get home.
After starting out in Ferrol with Camino markers showing 100+km, it was really cool for Owen to start seeing markers in the single digits. He was so excited when we reached the 10km marker!
Even though the Ingles parallels the N-550 for much of this stage, we almost never heard or saw any traffic. The pathways were always along lush green dirt paths. There were no services on this early stretch of the Camino, but we eventually made it to Hotel Castro in the town of Formarís.
Hotel Castro is located right along the Camino Ingles and had a wonderful cafe with cakes, tortilla, drinks, and bocadillos. We made sure to stop and refuel here, so that we’d have the energy to cover the final four miles to the Cathedral. The energy on the patio was incredible, with all pilgrims buzzing and ready to complete their journey.
After saying goodbye to Hotel Castro and the pilgrims we met on the patio, we made our way back down to the trail through the ‘Bosque Encantado’! This would be our final stretch of forest walking on the pilgrimage and we savored every moment of it.
As we reached the northern end of Santiago de Compostela, we stopped at a few bars to hydrate and rest our legs. The temperature was very high compared to our previous eight days of walking, and all of us were feeling it. Nothing a little Aquarius can’t fix!
As we got closer to the Cathedral, our path along the Ingles converged with a familiar journey I made ten years prior along the Frances. The enchanting sounds of bagpipes filled the air and the loud buzz of pilgrims bounced off of the ancient stone walls. Owen’s steps began to hasten at this point, and before we knew it, we were all standing in Praza do Obradoiro with our eyes up on the Cathedral.
After enjoying our time in front of the Santiago Cathedral and making our way to the pilgrims office to grab our compostelas, we made the short walk over to our hotel for the night, Hotel Praza Quintana. This is a fantastic choice of accommodation for pilgrims wanting a comfortable hotel that’s right in the center of all the action.
We didn’t stay in our hotel for long though, as we were all dying for a little late lunch. We found a great restaurant close the cathedral and indulged in a few Galician favorites.
After lunch, we made our way back to the Cathedral. This year (2022) was a Holy Year and we wanted to enter the Cathedral though the holy door. A holy year is whenever July 25, the day of Santiago, falls on a Sunday. It was actually back in 2021, but the pope postponed the holy year to 2022 due to Covid restrictions.
After spending some time in the cathedral, we made our way to Praza da Quintana to enjoy a few beers while the sun set on the Cathedral. We had been walking for 9 days from Ferrol to Santiago and it was finally setting in that our journey was over. I kept looking at my son with awe and admiration. Just two weeks shy of his 6th birthday, he walked over 100km on his own two legs and joined the brotherhood of Camino pilgrims. Buen Camino, son!