You may be considering walking the Camino, and may have heard that the main route of Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances) is over 780km long (485 miles). This distance can discourage people from undertaking the Camino because of the time commitment, cost and endurance involved for such a pilgrimage. There are other routes, however, that are much shorter than the Camino Frances and offer many of the benefits of walking the Camino as walking the longer route.
What is the shortest Camino route to walk? The shortest complete Camino route is the Camino Ingles also known as the English Way, which begins in Ferrol, Spain and ends in Santiago de Compostela. This route is 118km long and can be completed within one week of walking, and will qualify you to receive a Compostela Certificate.
You may be wondering what the Camino Ingles is and why it is considered the shortest Camino route. In short, there are several ancient Camino routes that have survived to modern times. One of these routes is the Camino Ingles, which dates back to the 13th Century when English and Nordic seafarers would land on the coast Spain and embark on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Compared to other Camino routes, the Camino Ingles is considered by most to be a complete route. The Camino Ingles has two traditional starting points, one in Ferrol, Spain, and the other in A Coruna, Spain. These two starting points gained their origins from pilgrims who would arrive on the coast and trek inward. You can choose to start walking in A Coruna but the total distance to Santiago de Compostela is 74km, so you would not qualify for a Compostela or any of the other Certificates upon completion. If you can prove that you walked an additional 26km before arriving in A Coruna, you can qualify for the Compostela.
However, if you begin your Camino Ingles pilgrimage in Ferrol, Spain, you will cover 118km, which will qualify you for a Compostela, if you are walking.
When looking at walking the Camino in a spiritual sense, most who walk this pilgrimage believe that the true starting point of your Camino is when you leave your front door. In this case, it is difficult to pin down the longest or shortest Camino journeys.
How many people walk the Camino Ingles?
The official statistics from the Pilgrim's Office state that 14,150 people walked the Camino Ingles in 2018 or 4.32% of the total amount of Pilgrims for 2018. When compared to the Camino Frances which had a total of 186,199 people walk in 2018, it is clear that the Camino Ingles receives less foot traffic than other Camino routes. It was ranked #5 in terms of total Pilgrims for 2018.
When is the best time of year to walk the Camino Ingles?
The best times of the year to walk the Camino Ingles are Spring, Summer and Fall in terms of weather. The Camino Ingles route begins on the coastal region of Galicia, and offers cooler summers and milder winters than other Camino routes. This part of Galicia tends to get more rain than other parts of the country.
Since there are less pilgrims on the path, you will find that it provides a more introspective experience than the Camino Frances. As with other routes, most pilgrims choose to walk during the Summer between June and August. For more detailed information on best times to walk Camino routes, we wrote another post which covers more information.
Benefits of Walking the Camino Ingles
The main benefit of walking the Camino Ingles is that it can be completed within a week. Due to the short distance, you may not need as much physical training before leaving. It is easier to carry light gear on a shorter Camino, and you have the option to go at a slower pace.
The Camino Ingles offers coastal views as you begin your pilgrimage.
The Camino Ingles offers more time to be alone than other Camino routes. The reason we listed this as a benefit is that many pilgrims report that the time spent alone was one of the best experiences of walking the Camino.
Disadvantages of Walking the Camino Ingles
One of the disadvantages of the Camino Ingles is that some of the path is alongside major highways which can add some noise to your walk. You will be rewarded, though, once you are about halfway along the route: beginning at the Hospital de Bruma (Bruma Hospital), you will experience some smaller, secluded villages that are away from the traffic.
There are not as many pilgrim’s hostels along the way compared to other routes.
Another disadvantage is that the Camino Ingles is more difficult to navigate (in terms of waymarking) than other Camino routes. Typically the Camino routes are marked with arrows to point you in the right direction, but the Camino Ingles offers fewer of these. You will want to make sure that you have a reliable route planner, keep it with you, and be prepared to ask for directions.
Other Short Camino Routes
If you are on a tight schedule and are looking for a Camino route that you can walk within a week, the Camino Ingles is a great option and qualifies you for a Compostela. If you are looking for other possibilities for short Camino routes, here are some additional suggestions.
There are also several alternative Camino walks that are short, each of which can be completed within one week or two of walking.
Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela
If you are looking for a short route that is part of a complete route (in regards to the ancient routes), the most popular short Camino route is the portion of the Camino Frances that begins in Sarria, Spain. This route covers the last 111km (which is shorter than the Camino Ingles) of the 780km total distance of the Camino Frances. Because you will walk over 100km to Santiago de Compostela, this short walk will also qualify for a Compostela Certificate.
Another shorter Camino route is the Camino Portugues (Portuguese Route) from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela. This route covers 230km, so it is twice as long as the Camino Ingles. At an average pace of 24km walked per day, you could complete the Portuguese Camino within 10 days of walking.
Create your own short Camino walk
You can always open up a Camino Route planner and organize your own Camino route based on the amount of days you have available and what you would like to see. You can create a route as short as you would like to be, just keep in mind that you might not be able to receive a Compostela if you walk less than the required kilometers to receive a Compostela.
Many people choose to walk the Camino in a shorter time frame than the full 35 days or so that it takes to complete the Camino Frances. The Camino Ingles is a great option for those who have time constraints but would still like to walk a full Camino route.