Our final leg for the 12th Sector of our Coastal Walk from Porto to Santiago Compostela had finally come! In a two day planned weekend, we would do our final walk of 19 kms on Saturday and then Sunday be left to enjoy and discover our own way around Santiago.
With an early start to the day, one could feel the air of excitement with the group as we finally arrived at Padrón where we had last left off. There was time to visit the parish church for the customary ‘credential’ stamp and take a quick last look at the pedrón, where following the death of the Apostle Saint James, his disciples brought his head and body to Iria from Jerusalem on a boat. They moored the boat to a pedrón (stone) and it is this stone that is displayed at the parish church. The name of the town Padrón being derived from the word pedrón.
Then we were away setting off through the small and narrow streets into the beautiful countryside. Just on the outskirts of Padrón, we passed a beautiful church and small graveyard where someone quickly called me to point out the gravestone of one of Spain’s most notable Nobel Literature prize winners, Camilo José Cela y Trulock. This Spanish novelist wrote 14 novels and 60 other volumes and was among Spain’s most celebrated 20th-century writers.
Moving on, we were met with typical Galician granite buildings and farmlands, where one could observe their tall and beautiful granaries some of which still in use today. Granaries such as these would protect maize husks from rodents and allowed for grain storage during the long and severe winter months. A friendly wave from our Galician passers-by or short exchange of words made the walk even more interesting with the usual question being asked ‘Where are you from’? Endless small and carefully tendered Albariño vineyards with their abundant vines supported on tall and beautiful, granite stakes, were a source of shade for those of us needing a quick stop for a snack or drink. Looking more tree-like than a vine, they are so different from the usual vines seen in other wine districts.
As usual, the path was clearly signposted along the way with the ever familiar concrete pillar and deep blue tile with the yellow scallop shell design on it. Each one showing the exact amount of kms. left to go till reaching Santiago. Our halfway catch-up point was at a beautiful village church called where we were able to get see a young girl’s Holy Communion taking place being shared with her family and friends.
Then it we were on our way again, walking past fields carpeted with yellow dandelions, through forest areas and more beautiful little villages. Lunch was a short break at the village of Teo where some chose to picnic whilst others could try the local food in small restaurants. Then without delay everyone was away on the final stretch to Santiago.
As we arrived on the outskirts of Santiago we were greeted to a colourful local summer festival in the town square where excited people cheered on cyclists racing through the local streets and whilst we waited for the rest of the group to join us, we sat on park benches quietly observing all the goings-on around us.
Continuing the walk, the group fell silent, passing tall and beautiful buildings, there was a distinct silence over the group as we walked slowly into the main square to come face to face with the magnificent Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. Our arrival brought tears to some walkers’ eyes whilst others just sat or lay down in the square looking backwards to the cathedral – in silence. We observed many other individuals also arriving at the same time on foot, on bicycle and in groups or couples – what an incredible feeling it was.
Our friends from Terra Verde had started the walk with just over 100 and finished with a number just under that to become one of the largest groups to arrive together at one time into Santiago! Everything had been extremely well organized throughout the year’s walk and my grateful thanks to them for this.
Our journey, along the coasts of Portugal’s Costa Verde and Spain’s Costa de Galicia, covered a total of 249 kilometres of little known and amazing windswept beaches, popular resorts, historical sites, typical Portuguese and Galician architecture, coastal farmlands, vineyards and of course the local people who waved or spent a moment to chat wishing us all a safe journey. It would also be remiss not to mention the gastronomic delights and unforgettable simple contact with nature and animals during the walk, that provided a realization of peace to one’s mind. This walk has been something that I will never forget. View the slideshow of this last leg below.
Follow previous sectors of the coastal walk from Porto to Santiago de Compostela on these links below:-