1 Start Leon.
Arrive at your historic hotel in the heart of Leon. There are masses of restaurants and tapas bars on your doorstep, so we've left the choice up to you for dinner tonight. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
2 Free Day in Leon
Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon's magnificent gothic Cathedral which is often called the 'House of Light' and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's medieval monarchs. You will then receive your pilgrims passport at the local albergue. After this, you are free to explore the rest of Leon which is famous for its historical and architectural heritage, perhaps visit the Casa Botines, a creation of the famous Antoni Gaudi or the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUSAC) which is also is a superb example of modern architecture.
3 Trek from Cruz de Ferro to Molinaseca.
Your day starts with a guided tour of Leon's magnificent gothic Cathedral which is often called the 'House of Light' and a visit to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon's medieval monarchs. You will then receive your pilgrims passport. We then provide a transfer (1hr) to Cruz de Ferro, the highest point on the Camino, marked by a pre-Roman cross. The Camino winds downhill through fragrant pines where once the Knights Templar protected pilgrims from bandit attack. A path lined with wild chestnuts, cherries, peppers and fennel leads to riverside Molinaseca, known to be one of the most beautiful villages on the Camino. Two options: Distance 8km/5mi, approx. 2 hours walking or 19km/12mi, approx. 4 hours walking. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
4 Ascend the Rio Valcarce Valley to O'Cebreiro; sunset viewpoint.
After a short transfer (30 mins), you ascend the Rio Valcarce valley, climbing into moody oak woods strung with lichen and strewn with early purple orchid. O Cebreiro is a 11th Century village in the heart of the Cordillera Cantabrica. Walk to the viewpoint above the village for a perfect sunset and views over four ranges of hills then return along the narrow, cobbled streets, past traditional thatched houses known as pallozas. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
5 Walk between villages overlooking the Monastery of Samos; continue to Sarria.
After a short transfer we drop you off at Triacastela. As the Camino meanders between heather-clad villages overlooking the Monastery of Samos, you can hear the bells ringing. On reaching Sarria - the antiques capital of Galicia, you'll be whisked to Javier and Raquel's elegant country rectory (10 mins), complete with chapel and al fresco dining patio area. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
6 Head up the Celerio Valley; descend into Portomarin.
A Roman bridge leads out of Sarria up the Celerio Valley, where you'll traverse the hamlets of the southern flank of the Sierra del Paramo. Descend into Portomarin - the original village was drowned by the Belesar Reservoir, and some remains still shimmer below the surface! Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
7 Walk up Torres Valley to the delightfully rural farmhouse at Lestedo.
Drop into Portomarin's church then follow the Torres stream, passing between cornfields lined with ox-eye daisies. Stamp your Pilgrim Passport in country churches dedicated to the Order of St James before arriving at your beautifully restored rectory. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
8 Hike to O'Coto via Palas del Rei.
Country lanes lead past fortified farmhouses into the hillside town of Palas de Rei (Palace of the King) as you enter the province of A Coruna. You'll pass typical, raised Galician granaries, and chickens scamper across narrow streets as you enter vineyards, with views east to the Montes del Vacaloura. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
9 Leave hamlet of O'Coto; walk to Arzua.
Today's first stop is Melide - a thriving country town where tavernas brim with locals enjoying Galician seafood in specialist pulperias (octopus restaurants). Drop into the Romanesque church to admire the frescoes, before lanes lined with bright yellow celandine bring you into the lively market town of Arzua. Continue on to your elegant manor house, surrounded by tranquil countryside, just outside the town. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
10 From Arzua walk to a converted watermill in Rua.
Arzua's colonnaded streets lead into open country where local farmers wear berets as they tend vines and build haystacks with pitch forks. Your route rises and falls through river valleys, crossing rushing streams. This evening you can marvel at Javier's breathtaking converted water mill, where original machinery has been turned into spectacular period features. Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
11 Walk to Santiago via Monte do Gozo; visit the cathedral.
Excitement mounts as you set off towards Monte do Gozo (Mount of Joy), where pilgrims of old caught their first glimpse of the spires of Santiago. On reaching Santiago's historic centre, congratulations are everywhere as a steady stream of pilgrims reach their journey's end below the cathedral's spectacular Baroque facade. Drop into the Pilgrim Office to collect your certificate if you wish, before checking into our historic hotel near the old marketplace - still a riot of colour! Stay: Comfortable Hotel.
12 Free Day in Santiago de Compostela
You can choose to attend the Pilgrim Mass (at 12 noon) before exploring this beautiful city. The old town has Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest monuments are grouped around the tomb of St James and the cathedral, which contains the remarkable Portico de la Gloria.
13 End Santiago de Compostela.
Enjoy Santiago and the cathedral before taking a taxi to the airport (pay locally approx 15 euro). Alternatively, stay on for extra nights to explore this beautiful historic city. Walking through the old streets of Santiago is a fantastic way to spend your time here, with Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings lining the old town's streets and plazas.