Ferrol to Pontedeume : Stage One Of The Camino Ingles

Created by Colleen Sims * 12 May 2024

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The first stage of the Camino Ingles offers sea-side villages and a good sprinkling of historic charm.  This wonderful little Camino, often called the English Way, is a lesser-known pilgrimage route starting in Ferrol in northern Spain and ending in the iconic city of Santiago de Compostela.

I found conflicting advice about the Camino Ingles before walking it myself, so I’ve written a series of posts covering the entire route from Ferrol to Santiago; this post focuses on stage one from Ferrol to Pontedeume.

Read on to discover the start, distances, elevations, terrain, where to eat and sleep and route alternatives and I’ll share how you can shorten or break this long stage.

walking across the old bridge beside the estuary at Pontedeume on the Camino Ingles

The Start of the Camino Ingles In Ferrol

The Camino Ingles starts at the waterfront of Ferrol.  Head to the Pilgrim Office (Come Tourist Office), a few steps away from the giant letters that welcome visitors to the town.

Ferrol is a lovely city with lots to explore; if you can spare the time in your itinerary, allow time to have a good look around. 

Ferrol to Pontedeume Is 33 Kilometres

Most Camino Ingles guidebooks suggest that Ferrol to Pontedeume is around 29 kilometres and the day ends on a big hill. 

However, if you are walking from the first marker on the waterfront, taking the short variant before Naron and you fancy walking along the fabulous beach at Cabanas then this stage is closer to 33 kilometres.

Thankfully it’s easy to shorten the day but I’d recommend breaking this stage over two days.

walking from Ferrol to Pontedeume in the early morning, through the old town on the Camino Ingles

Shorten Stage One From Ferrol to Pontedeume

 If you really cannot spare any more time, there are a few ways to shorten this stage.

  1. Stick to the yellow arrows and do not take any alternative routes; this will save you 1 or 2 kilometres
  2. Instead of walking to Xubia and Neda, cross the FE-14 road bridge.  You’ll shave around 10 kilometres from your day but still qualify for a Compostela as you walk more than 100 kms
  3. Walk the foot bridge beside the ancient Monasterio de San Martino de Xubia. This option will reduce the stage to around 25 kilometres. Follow the road to the left of the Monastery, on to a small grassy footpath which looks like it’s going nowhere. This brings you to a pedestrian walkway over the water. A few metres later you’ll join the small spit/island that the train follows. This takes you to Neda. 

Take Two Days : Break Stage One At Neda

Stage one is long and with plenty of paved trail.  In my humble Camino experience I’d recommend breaking this stage over two days.  It’s a beautiful walk and you won’t be alone, as many pilgrims do the same.

Day 1 : Ferrol to Neda (18 kms)

We walked from the Pilgrim Office in Ferrol to the centre of Neda.  We followed every arrow and took every deviation.  We spent time investigating parks and statues and churches and cafes. It was a glorious walk.  We enjoyed a leisurely yet excellent lunch in Neda and for the princely sum of 1.55€ we took the bus back to Ferrol.

Day 2 : Monasterio de San Martin de Xubia to Pontedeume (15 kms)

For day two, after a leisurely breakfast, we took a taxi back to the Monasterio de San Martin de Xubia (for 7€) and crossed the estuary over the footpath, bringing us out at Neda. I loved this option and finding the arrows was easy once in Neda.

Breaking the stage into two allowed us to enjoy the best of both legs.  We walked every step and we got to cross the estuary and walk around it. Breaking the day allowed us to :

  • have more time to explore Ferrol
  • avoid a very long day on pavements
  • explore the green spaces and historical landscape
  • enjoy coffees and cold drinks and a wonderful lunch
  • follow the route variants and visit the stunning Magdalena Beach at Cabanas

Before I walked I’d considered taking one of the shortcuts but I am so glad that we didn’t. The two shorter days allowed us to find our Camino legs and I really loved this estuary walk.

Full Stage Details of Ferrol to Pontedeume

Map of the Camino Ingles route from Ferrol to Pontedeume
elevation plan of the route from Ferrol to Pontedeume on the Camino Ingles

Distance : 33 kms  | Elevation gain : 489 m | Elevation loss : 482 m

The official start of the Camino Ingles is a few steps from the Tourist Information Office, which doubles as the Pilgrim Office.  If you stop here first you can collect your first Sello and your pilgrim credentials and they’ll also provide a very nice map full of lots of interesting information about the route.

Top Tip : If you start walking outside of the office hours you can find credentials and a sello at the Pilgrim Albergue, the Co-Cathedral of Ferrol and I’m told sometimes the café beside the Pilgrim Office.

I’m a stickler for little details and there was nowhere else for me to start than at the beginning. I walked down from the Parador Hotel, took the obligatory photo, got my sello and walked back up the hill, passing the Parador as I went.

There is a café at the waterfront but if you follow the arrows back through the old town you’ll find a few more. We had breakfast in the old town and it’s worth noting that you may not pass another café for 7 kilometres.

The route out of town is surprisingly well marked.  We meandered a little, enjoying shop windows and the green spaces.  I was surprised at how large Ferrol is, so do expect a lot of pavement walking.

Once you pass the docks you’ll find yourself on a path close to the water that seem more popular with locals than pilgrims; expect a good number of Buen Caminos.

Mandy walking the trail out of Ferrol. The camino ingles follows the estuary

6 kms – Pedestrian Path of the FE-14 Road Bridge

If you plan to take the shortcut across the estuary to Fene, change direction at the 6 kilometre mark and head across the road bridge (FE-14).  There is a pedestrian footpath and you do get great views of the coast.  If you’re unsure follow Google Maps or take a look at this GPS trail on Wikiloc.

If you’re not taking the shortcut, continue on through an urban area, with lots of small businesses and more importantly a very nice café.

At around the 7kms mark you’ll find Cerveceria O Mariscador; the perfect coffee stop.  You’ll probably find the terrace full with passing pilgrims; we enjoyed a cold drink and a very nice slice of tortilla patata.

10 Kms – Monastery of San Martino de Xubia

After a suitable rest, we continued to Monastery of San Martiño de Xubia; expect a little elevation here. This is where you can make another shortcut; crossing the estuary on a (safe) footpath beside the trainline. You pick up the arrows at Neda, saving you several kilometres. 

Do stop and explore the Monastery but after you keep following the arrows through a more rural landscape.

the ancient monasterio de san martino de xubia on the Camino Ingles

12 Kms – Take the Alternative Loop

At around 12-kilometres you have a choice.  You can opt to walk across a road bridge or follow an alternative route to an old mill and a very pleasant little detour around the limit of the estuary. You also walk under a colourful pedestrian subway before re-joining the Camino.  You’ll add a kilometre to your day but it is a lovely detour.

If you can, take the wider alternative loop.  Go right. Go under the bridge and up the hill before dropping down to the old mill of Muiño das Aceas.  Follow a footpath across the estuary and the arrows lead you back to the trail. It’s a pretty choice.

15 kms : Green Spaces and Riverside Walk to Naron

From the brightly painted subway you have a pretty walk through Xubia and a photo opportunity beside the giant letters in Naron. 

It’s well marked, although we were a little confused about the modern foot bridge crossing the river close to the Naron letters.  Don’t cross here; carry on following the river to a much older bridge and what is thought to be one of the largest Magnolia trees in Europe.

As you cross the river you’re steps away from the Xunta Albergue of Neda, just before the main town of Neda. If you plan to stop here, keep an eye out for the modern building. It’s open year round, exclusively for pilgrims but does not accept reservations.

colleen posing in the letter o of Naron town letters on the Camino Ingles

16 kms : Where to Stay In Santa Maria de Neda or Neda

It is possible to end your day at the 16 kilometre mark.  There is a pilgrim albergue and also a small pension here or walk on a few kilometres into the centre of Neda for alternative hotels.

  • Albergue de Peregrinos de Neda is a small albergue, but open year round. You cannot make reservations or have luggage transported. There is a small kitchen and the albergue is recommended by many pilgrims.
  • Pension Maragoto offers incredible value for a small hotel but it books very quickly; sadly too fast for me!  This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a private room in Neda; the breakfast is also highly rated.

18 kms – Neda Hotels, Lunch And A Bus Stop

We ended our first day in the centre of Neda.  I knew in advance that all accommodation in town was booked. We opted instead to return to our Parador in Ferrol; there is a bus every 30 minutes running between Neda and Ferrol.

If you’d prefer to stay in town you’ll need to be quick as there are limited choices.

  • Pazo da Merced is very nice hotel just a few steps from the Camino, offering a swimming pool and views of the estuary.  This was our first choice but it was full. It has excellent reviews and offers the perfect pause at Neda on the Camino Ingles. Click here to check availability and book.
  • Apartment Sobre la Villa is wonderful little apartment right on the Camino.  It’s a great place and offers 2 bedrooms although the beds are doubles not twins. We walked with pilgrims who stayed here and they loved their stay; it offers excellent value for money for folks sharing. Click here to check availability and book.

Top Tip : We enjoyed a fabulous meal at the only restaurant still open when we arrived in Neda; we can honestly say we enjoyed this meal more than our Parador dinner.  Do take the little detour to Restaurante O Lagar do Camiño; it might well be the best 12€ you spent on the Camino Ingles.

pretty kitten watching pilgrims walking trhough Neda on the Camino Ingles

18 kms : Starting The Morning of Day Two

If you opt to spend two nights in Ferrol, you have a great opportunity to walk across the footpath at Monasterio de San Martino de Xubia, crossing the the estuary beside the trainline. We walked this in the early morning, the tide was in, the sky was blue and we loved loved loved this choice.

Walking the Xubia Footpath : To the left of Monasterio de San Martino de Xubia there is a small road which leads to a grassy path which leads to a footpath over the water. After a few minutes you’ll follow a safe footpath beside the train line. On the other side, there are arrows which take you very quickly back to the Camino.

If you’ve spent the night in Neda, or you are walking the full stage from Ferrol to Pontedeume, the trail continues to be well marked. Leaving Neda, you’ll cross a busy road before heading up above the town offering great views of the estuary.

footpath over the river from Monasterio de Xubia on the Camino Ingles

22 kms – All Routes Merge At Fene

Regardless of the options you’ve taken, all routes come together in Fene; a good size town with all services.  We arrived in the morning and stopped at the first café. It was a great stop but most pilgrims had the same idea so it was very busy.  If you’d prefer a quieter coffee there are more options in town.

26 kms – Avoid Complimentary Route Options

 Leaving Fene you quickly find yourself back on country roads and hoorah!  a forest trail!  It doesn’t last long but my feet loved the soft ground. You’ll gain elevation before reaching a large road junction. The markers navigate you around Pereiro, taking you off the main road. 

Top Tip : We dropped back to the road for a coffee at Café Bar El Llano; less than a minute off the trail.

Onwards through glorious countryside on small country roads but you are presented with a choice. 

A Complimentary route offers to lead you away from a busy road crossing.  Don’t take the Complimentario. The terrain is somewhat hilly and adds 1.2 kms to your day.  We never found the road crossing dangerous and I recommend that you stay on the original Camino.

Forest trail between Fene and Pontedeume on the Camino Ingles

31 kms – Make Sure You Visit The Beach

My Camino friends talk of the ‘old’ Ingles route that leads directly to the marvellous beach at Cabanas; Playa Magdalena.  I agree the beach is not to be missed but had no idea of the ‘old’ route (and I didn’t want to get my sister lost and walk any more Galician hills than needed) so we found Playa Magdalena another way.

We followed the arrows up and down into Pontedeume (expect a lot of up and down).  As you walk through the town, you’ll see road signs for Magdalena beach.  Divert here.  Stop following the yellow arrows and just head to the beach; you will not regret adding 600 metres to your day.

Walk along the beach, back towards town. The beach path returns you to the Camino, just before the old Pont de Pedra which crosses the river estuary.

33 kms : Arrive in Pontedeume

You’ve arrived and the stage is wonderful. There is a lot of paved road but the scenery is simply glorious and I have to say much nicer than I’ve read.

We tried to find a table in the bar beside the harbour but it was full. We continued into the old town which was a good choice.  We found a table at A Cociña in the beautiful Praza Real and enjoyed tapas, beers and the company of pilgrims at the end of a fabulous day walking.

pilgrims puppet attached to a rucksack

Where to Stay in Pontedeume

We opted to stay in a hotel but there is a host of accommodation. There are two albergues but one doesn’t get good reviews so I recommend staying in Albergue Rio Eume; I’ve not stayed but do have personal recommendations that it’s wonderful. 

  • You can reserve a bed at Albergue Rio Eume from their website. The bunks have curtains (which is usually all I need to know!), they have a kitchen, laundry facilities and a communal area.  This is a wonderful albergue and perfect if you’re looking for pilgrim accommodation. 
  • Pension Luis is a bit of an institution on the Camino Ingles.  Ever since I first started considering this route about 8 years ago, folks have recommended this simple little hotel.  You’ll have to call in advance but if you’re looking for a simple private room this could be for you.

Contact : Pension Luis : Rúa San Agustín, 12 | Telephone : +34 666 547 984

beautiful florist shop in the old town of Pontedeume

Final Thoughts on the Camino Ingles : Ferrol to Pontedeume

The full stage between Ferrol and Pontedeume is long. It also offers a lot of distractions and route changes, a big hill and a lot of paved trail. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to break this stage; it really does deserves two days. Either stay at Ferrol for two nights or grab a bed in Neda.

Take some time to explore the old churches and parks that dot the route and enjoy more than the occasional Café con Leche.   We were lucky to be walking in the company of some wonderful pilgrims and loved chatting as we met through the day.

Top Tip : If you spend two nights in Ferrol then do take the foothpath across the estuary at Xubia and also do take time to explore the beach at Cabanas.

And a final word about Pontedeume; it’s beautiful. Breaking the stage gives you time (and energy) to have a wander and explore this little sea side gem.

Colleen and Sister selfie in roadside mirror between Fene and Pontedeume

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel overseas it’s imperative to travel with a good travel and medical insurance policy.  None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.

I’ve had the mis-fortune to end up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal, Japan and Ireland; every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.

Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.

TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions

Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.

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