Turismo de Galicia director visits the completed signage and improvement work on the Northern Route

  • Today, Nava Castro visited a section of the route in the Lugo municipality of Barreiros, where the work done will facilitate safety and accessibility
  • More than 900 stone milestones, 200 ceramic shells with arrows, 20 bronze shells and information signs were placed along almost 200 kilometres
  • The actions, which were funded with 2.3 million euros in investment, restored sections blocked by vegetation or which were in poor condition, making them available to pilgrims

Santiago de Compostela, 3 July 2017

Today, Turismo de Galicia Director Nava Castro visited the signage and improvement work carried out along the Northern Route of the Way of St. James, which celebrates its second anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Wednesday. The area involved spanned close to 200 kilometres and work took several months. This pilgrimage route, which is attracting a growing amount of interest, is now more accessible and safer.

The actions along the Northern Route included 16 municipalities in the provinces of Lugo and A Coruña. They consisted of three types of work: adding new signage to make it easier for pilgrims to find their way, restoring the route along those sections which required it, and improving drainage to prevent situations which would make the pilgrimage more difficult. The total investment required to complete the work was over 2.3 million euros.

‘The Way of St. James Master and Strategic Plan, presented a few weeks after UNESCO added the Northern Route to its list in 2015, included commitments to make improvements to the route,’ underscored Nava Castro on the visit to the Lugo municipality of Barreiros. The Turismo director celebrated the fact that it is now possible to see that many of the proposals put forward at that time ‘have become a reality and make the pilgrimage an experience which fulfils pilgrims’ expectations, allowing them to feel safer and more confident’.

In terms of signage, more than 900 stone milestones were erected, each indicating how many kilometres remain between the pilgrim and their goal in Santiago de Compostela. Also added were 200 ceramic shells with arrows on horizontal surfaces and another 20 bronze shells. In addition, information signs were installed at the various forks in the Camino and along alternative routes.

Clean-up, clearing and restoration

In order to ensure that pilgrims do not encounter problems when travelling the route, clean-up, clearing and restoration work was carried out along sections of the Way of St. James that had been blocked by vegetation. Furthermore, those stretches that were in bad condition, making travel difficult, were repaired using materials with similar characteristics to those already found in the area. And lastly, in cases where the path has a steep gradient, it was stabilized using materials that will guarantee proper conservation in the future.

A third area of attention involved drainage improvements. To this end, ditches were cleaned and stone elements such as culverts, channels and protection along the edges of the path were placed to prevent water from damaging the route.

All together, this work constitutes a significant number of actions, as the Northern Route is the third most popular itinerary. In the past decade, interest has increased threefold. Last year, it was chosen by 17,000 pilgrims and numbers are on the rise. Within the Community of Galicia, it runs through the municipalities of Ribadeo, Barreiros, Lourenzá, Trabada, Mondoñedo, Abadín, Vilalba, Guitiriz, Begonte, Friol, Sobrado dos Monxes, Vilasantar, Boimorto, Arzúa (where it joins up with the French Route), O Pino and Santiago de Compostela.

In the words of Nava Castro, ‘These actions make it possible for the Northern Route to be more accessible, safe and sustainable.’ Looking forward to Holy Year 2021, these three lines of action govern the majority of the activities promoted by Turismo de Galicia to enhance Galicia’s quality as a tourist destination. They are set out in the Galicia 2020 Tourism Strategy, the roadmap prepared by the industry, with 240 million euros in investment.

These plans include the Way of St. James Master Plan, one of whose eight lines of action is conserving and maintaining the route. Priority actions include road maintenance, uniform signage and road safety, as well as making the Camino more accessible for people with disabilities or reduced mobility.