To follow the route
easy is it to follow the route?
Spain, especially on the Camino francés, the entire
route is extremely well marked with yellow arrows.
Sometimes these are crudely brushed onto a wall
or post, sometimes they are 'formally' created signs.
You will always encounter them at division points
or intersections in the road or path.
the Camino through the larger cities is probably
the most problematical issue, as the arrows can
tend to get lost in the clutter of other signs and
sometimes you may walk straight ahead for many blocks
after which there will be one arrow pointing left
Still, if you go astray, usually a 'local'
will quickly straighten you out. And you can always
use "¿Dónde va el Camino?" ("Where
does the Camino go?") or something like that.
W. Tripp, Jr. 2011
The route of the “Camino de Santiago” is well marked
for pilgrims to follow. In recent times it has been
marked with yellow arrows to show the direction.
These are painted on trees, curbs, streets, sides
of buildings, rocks, backs of signs, even power
line poles - wherever there is a need to confirm
or change the direction.
The designation of the Camino de Santiago as a European
Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October
1987, followed by the Pope’s visit to Santiago in
the Holy Year of 1993, resulted in upgrading of
the markings in several areas, particularly in Galicia,
where there are now concrete markers and milestones.
After using the arrows for so long, I did not find
the improved markings more useful. As pilgrims,
we were so used to looking for the yellow arrows
that when we reached Santiago we joked among ourselves
about continuing to look for them after we returned
home. Despite the markings, it is possible to get
lost, or at least confused, particularly in cities
and large towns but you are always able to find
someone who can help you get back on the trail.
Years afterwards, you will notice a yellow arrow
somewhere and recognize it for what it is. in 2008,
I noticed a series leading away from Montmartre
in Paris. Recently I was in Tavira, Portugal and
noticed them crossing a bridge. I backtracked and
found they started from the Igreja (Church) of São
Tiago (Santiago) and there was an association of
friends of the Camino de Santiago in Tavira (Associação
dos Amigos do Caminho de Santiago de Tavira).
The route that constitutes the “Camino” varies from
foot paths to field roads to wide crushed stone
paths to verges of busy highways. For example, in
walking from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles,
I walked on the edge of a highway for several kilometers,
and also on a path less than a foot wide with a
steep drop-off on one side. That same day the route
went along a rock fault upthrust for 1/2 kilometer
and across several other rock fault upthrusts, as
well as passing through several villages. Later,
in the (comparatively) flat Castillian plains, I
followed a long, straight, essentially level Roman
road for 12 boring kilometers and afterwards, along
with other pilgrims, complained of the rough surface.
However, weeks later, approaching O'Cebreiro, I
walked for almost six kilometers in a steep uphill
climb over a rocky path that was not only rougher
but also had flowing water, mud and liquid cow plops.
The Camino frequently passed through farms and led
into fenced areas through gates. I was astounded
on one occasion to come out of the cover of the
woods only to realize I was passing through a horse
pasture with about fifteen horses. There was a woman,
another pilgrim, standing among them entranced by
the sight. Just outside of Burgos, I walked among
four horses who were grazing, including a playful
young colt. For the first time, watching the colt,
I truly understood the word gambol. As I completed
the climb out of Nájera, I passed near a farm building.
As I did so, the doors opened and a flock of newly
shorn sheep came out, led by a goat, and kept in
their places by two dogs. I have walked behind several
small droves of cows (but not too close) and through
them and have had to prod strays out of the way
to get by. Many were obviously milk cows but others
appeared to be destined for the dinner table.
In all of the villages, barns are an integral part
and the cows and sheep were led in and out through
the streets and paths to and from their pastures.
Someone once told me of a village in Germany where
every morning the cows would be led out of the barns
and back in the afternoons. In that magic village,
a man with a machine would come out each time shortly
after the cows passed by and sweep the streets.
I assure you that none of the villages on the Camino
had such a wondrous machine. In some places the
stench of the urine and piles of manure was almost
overpowering and the road was slippery from the
Most farmers in the areas we passed through used
tractors, although the shift from oxen has only
occurred recently in some areas and many farms still
have the old wagons, plows and other implements
to be pulled by the oxen. In Galicia, en route to
Palas de Rei, we walked by two farms where they
were still using oxen to pull their plow. In another
sign of the past still lingering in Galicia, twice
I saw women walking with heavy loads balanced on
à Q.Pratique Route