Arts & Travel Editor
9:00 AM 10th January 2021
Brit ‘Pilgrims’ Head For Spain’s Camino
The Camino Way's famous motif
The Camino de Santiago is top of any hispanophiles’ bucket-list and, with an array of exciting new developments plus the first Holy Year for a decade, 2021 may prove the ideal time for aspiring pilgrims to travel the route, starting from their doorstep in the UK.
On 31st December 2020, the archbishop knocked on the door of the Santiago Cathedral with a silver hammer before opening it, marking the beginning of the first Compostela Holy Year or Jacobean Year for more than a decade.
A Jacobean Year is a year in which the 25th of July falls on a Sunday allowing for the celebration of the martyrdom of St. James. In these years, believers can obtain a plenary indulgence – or spiritual pardon - by visiting St. James’ tomb in the cathedral, leaving them completely absolved of all their sins, the highlight of everything the Camino de Santiago represents.
Jacobean Years only occur around 14 times a century and date back to the Middle Ages with Xacobeo 2021 having been declared an event of exceptional public interest. The door to the cathedral only remains open in a Holy Year and will close again on 31 December 2021, in which time thousands of pilgrims will have passed through its magnificent structure.
Now for 2021, Brits wanting to make the trip of a lifetime can start on their doorstep. The Camino Inglés or the English Way to Santiago, is officially linked with a number of pilgrimage trails, enabling modern pilgrims to start their journey before even leaving the country.
Earlier in 2020, the route of the Finchale Camino Inglés in County Durham was fully signposted, displaying the iconic Camino symbols of the scallop shell and yellow arrows. The European Cultural Route of St Michael’s Way in Cornwall is also affiliated with the Camino Inglés, as is St James’ Way in the south of England: the 66-mile path stretches from Reading, whose grand Abbey was the centre of St James’ cult in England in the Middle Ages, to Southampton, from where pilgrims would have set off on their onward journey to Spain.
Traditionally the Camino Inglés refers to the most popular routes taken by pilgrims arriving from the UK which travels from Ferrol or A Coruña on the coast of northwest Spain, to the end point in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
In anticipation of the Holy Year, the Association of Councils on the Camino Inglés is finalising a number of initiatives that will allow travellers to make the most of their experience including considerable investment to upgrade the trail with improved signs and background information as well as a dedicated website set to launch in the coming weeks (www.caminoingles.gal
Further developments include new accommodation options open for 2021 including a new alberque in Pontedeume surrounded by an expansive 9,000m2 garden and boasting spectacular views of the Rio Eume estuary.
The Camino Inglés
The quaint town of Bruma, also on the Camino Inglés is set to welcome an alberque in 2021 on the trail’s final stretch. In addition, local hotels and guesthouses on the Camino Inglés are now offering pilgrim rates for travellers looking to rest up on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
The final major development on the Camino Inglés is that, as part of the European Union’s ‘Life Water Way’ project, drinking water will be readily available along the complete route of the trail in 2021. The new pilot network consists of 29 natural fountains where water can be drunk safely and which can be found at approximately every 6 kilometres from A Coruña and Ferrol, the two starting points of the Camino Inglés, to Santiago. The project aims to encourage pilgrims to bring a reusable water bottle and make use of natural water sources, significantly reducing single-use plastic bottles.
The Spanish Ministry of Culture has created a dedicated website to help those who wish to partake in the Holy Year and their own Camino de Santiago. The site features a full programme of cultural events and activities to make the celebrations as comprehensive and diverse as possible including concerts, exhibitions, lectures and much more. The portal also provides information on how visitors can contribute to the celebrations and even provides downloadable artwork and resources to help them on their own Camino de Santiago (https://consejojacobeox21.es/en/