The Celtic Camino is a series of pilgrimage routes in Ireland and the UK that are linked to the Camino Inglés in Spain. So you can basically start your Camino in your home country!
But this is not something new. Since the Middle Ages, people have started their Camino from their home country. That’s why different pilgrim’s routes that cross most of Europe are linked to the main Camino trails.
Ports like Ferrol and A Coruna on the northern coast of Galicia were the preferred sailing points for pilgrims arriving from Ireland, England, Scotland and other northern European countries. Then, they would have continued their pilgrimage on foot to Santiago de Compostela.
Even though A Coruna is a traditional starting point, it is only 75km away from Santiago de Compostela so it doesn’t cover the 100km required to obtain the Compostela certificate at the end of the Camino.
Given the close historical connection between the Celtic countries and the Camino Inglés, there is an allowance for starting in the UK or Ireland. The Cathedral of Santiago has agreed to grant a Compostela to people who can prove that they have walked a certified 25km route in their country of origin and then walked the Camino Inglés from A Coruna to get their certificate.
That’s why today you can find different certified walks in Ireland and the UK that are the starting point of the Camino Inglés in Spain.
Celtic Camino from Ireland to A Coruna to Santiago
In Ireland, the Camino Society of Ireland is the organisation in charge of designating new authentic pilgrim’s routes, known as the Celtic Camino.
To be designated as a Celtic Camino, the route must be a minimum of 25km in length. It also needs to have a stamp system in place, so people can get their pilgrim passport stamped at the stops along the Camino.
In addition, the Camino Society gives preference to routes that are linked to a pilgrimage.
How does the Celtic Camino work?
To start the Camino in Ireland you can choose from different Celtic Camino routes already in operation, located in counties like Dublin, Meath, Louth, Mayo, Kerry, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford.
For that, you need to have an official pilgrim passport to collect the stamps along the way. This passport can be ordered from the Camino Society website. The official regular passport is also valid.
Once you have completed your walk, the next step is to bring the stamped pilgrim passport to the Camino Society information centre, located in Dublin. They will certify that you have walked a 25km route by issuing a free Celtic Camino Compostela. When you’re in Dublin to validate your stamp, don’t miss the St James’s Gate, adjacent to the Guinness brewery door!
Then, when you decide to continue your Camino from A Coruna to Santiago, at the end of your journey you just have to present your pilgrim passport to the Pilgrim’s Office. In addition, you have to present your Celtic Camino Compostela and the stamped passport, and voila! A Compostela certificate will be issued in your name.
Celtic Camino Routes in Ireland
Some of the Celtic Camino routes in Ireland include St. Declan’s Way (part of the Waterford Camino), Kerry Camino, St. Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path, St. Kevin’s Way, Boyne Valley Camino, Bray Coastal Route, Tóchar Phádraig and Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail.
Even though the Celtic Camino routes can be done as self-guided walks, you can also join one of the guided tours organised throughout the year by different organisations.
Distance: 30.5km (19 miles)
Duration: 6-7 hours
Start: Bray seafront to St. James Church, Dublin 8
This walk has several stamp points along the way where people can get their passports stamped. At the start of the walk, people can get their first stamp at Finnbees Coffee House on Bray seafront. Then, the way heads north to the second stamp point located in St. James Church in Crinken, Bray.
The Bray Celtic Camino also passes through the lovely village of Dalkey which offers spectacular views of the coast, as well as ostentatious mansions like the one of U2 lead singer, Bono.
The third stop is the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove. Then the walk continues through Dún Laoghaire, stopping in Christ Church Cathedral and finally in St James Church, where the Camino Society of Ireland information centre is.
There, people can obtain their final stamp and the Celtic Camino Compostela.
If you want to join a group to walk this route, you can join our Camino training organised every year on St James Day.
Distance: 25km (15.5 miles)
Duration: 5-6 hours
Start: St. Peter’s Church, Drogheda to Mellifont Abbey
This looped trail offers a great mixture of history, green areas and forests. Along the way, there are ten points where people can get their passport stamped.
The starting point of this walk is St. Peter’s Church where people can collect their first stamp. Then the way follows the north side of the river, passing through a forest and then continues on to Mellifont Abbey.
On the way back, the Camino stops in the lovely Tullyallen Village. The Boyne Valley Camino then passes next to the Old Bridge House, crosses the obelisk bridge and continues on the south side of the river which connects to the greenway. To finally end at the starting point: St. Peter’s Church.
If you want to join a group to walk this route, you can join our Camino training organised every year.
Distance: 96km (60 miles)
Duration: 5 days
Start: Cashel (with 4 stopovers in Cahir, Ardfinnan, Lismore and Aglish), Co. Tipperary to Ardmore, Co. Waterford
This Camino crosses the Knockmealdown Mountains Bearna Cloch an Buideal (Bottleneck Pass). Then, the route goes through undulating farmland of south Tipperary and West Waterford.
A fun fact about this walk is that it is the same one that Declan took when going to Cashel to visit Saint Patrick. So by walking the St Declan’s Way, you’ll be following a number of medieval routes and ancient paths.
Some of the main highlights of this wonderful route include Saint Declan’s monastery, Track of St Patrick’s Cow, Road of the Saints, Path of the Saints and St. Declan’s Road.
This is a self-guided route that you can do in all its length or just walk one section. This map includes the different sections and stops along the way. You can also join one of the St Declan’s gatherings organised every year by local activity groups.
Distance: 57km ( 35 miles)
Duration: 3 days. From 3- 4.5 hours per day
Start: Tralee Tourist Office to St. James Church, Dingle
This is a flexible 57km route that can be split into 3 sections (from 17km to 22km per day). The Kerry Camino is a local initiative aimed at promoting walking in the area like The Dingle Way between Tralee and Dingle.
People who want to do this walk can get their Walker’s Pack at the local tourist office (Tralee and Dingle), which includes a pilgrim logbook; the pilgrim passport to collect your stamps along the way, it also includes a Kerry Camino history leaflet, and mountain safety and local information leaflet.
By walking this pilgrimage route you’ll be walking in the footsteps of St. Brendan, the navigator. This Camino route passes through rugged, mountainous, coastal scenery as well as beautiful towns and villages. Stopping in the six different stamps locations:
· Shea‘s filling Station Blennerville
· The Junction Bar in Camp
· The Railway Tavern in Camp
· Hanafin’s Bar in Annascaul
· The South Pole in Annascaul
· Brian Keane, Checkout Shop in Lispole
Then, the way ends at the Spanish-built Church of St. James in Dingle. At the end of the walk, people can get their Certificate of complexion issued by the Tralee and Dingle Tourist Offices.
For more information visit https://kerrycamino.com/
Distance: 33km (21 miles)
Duration: 2 days. 6-7 hours per day
Start: Drimoleague to St Finbarr’s hermitage in Gougane Barra
Download GPX track
This ancient pilgrim path has a great combination of history, centuries of tradition and spectacular views and terrain for the lover of walking and the outdoors.
It explores three mountain systems and four valleys, namely the Ilen, Mealagh, Ouvane and Lee valley basins. From there you will enjoy some spectacular views over Bantry Bay and stretches of the West Cork coastline. It is definitely a memorable walk!
People can obtain the Teastas Oilithreachta (pilgrim certificate) at the end of their walk. For that, you have to bring your pilgrim passport to collect your stamps along the way. For more information on how to get your pilgrim passport, click here.
Distance: 30km ( 19 miles)
Duration: 8 hours
Start: Hollywood or Valleymount to Glendalough
St. Kevin’s Way is a linear, 30km pilgrim trail from Hollywood to Glendalough. It follows the journey of St Kevin to find a monastic settlement in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.
Walkers can obtain their pilgrim passport at the start of the walk at the Hollywood Café, Hollywood village. This café also acts as an information point for people walking. In Glendalough, the stamping point is the OPW visitors centre.
For more information about guided tours, click here.
Distance: 35km (22 miles)
Start: Ballintubber Abbey in Co. Mayo to Croagh Patrick Mountain
This is a 35km (22mile) walk from Ballintubber Abbey in Co. Mayo to Croagh Patrick Mountain, the site of St Patrick’s first legendary battle with the devil’s mother and a flock of demon birds.
Traditionally, people from all over Ireland gather every year on the last Sunday of July to climb the Reek, as the Croagh Patrick Mountain is locally known.
For more information about guided tours please visit: https://www.pilgrimpath.ie/tochar-phadraig-activities/
Distance: 63km ( 39 miles)
Start: Village of Balla, Co. Mayo to Village of Murrisk
Difficulty: Moderate The Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail is a longer version of the Tóchar Phádraig. It is a 63km national way and it starts in the village of Balla in east Mayo and ends at the village of Murrisk adjacent to Croagh Patrick on the shores of Clew Bay. It can be split into a 3-day walk (from 17km to 27 km per day)
This trail has a great mix of an unspoilt landscape as well as many heritage sites of archaeological significance like Balla round tower, the ruins of Loona church as well as a children’s’ burial ground, Doonamona Castle, Ballintubber Abbey and more.
For more information about this trail and guided tours please visit: https://cpht.ie/
Discover the route of the Celts!
Follow in the footsteps of your Irish and British ancestors by walking the Celtic Way.
Pilgrim’s Routes in the UK
In the UK, some of the spiritual routes that provide a pilgrim passport and stamps which would provide proof for the Pilgrim Office in Santiago are the Way of St. Andrews, the Pilgrims Way (Winchester or London to Canterbury) and St Michael’s Way (Lelant to Mazarion).
There are ten different routes that you can do to reach St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Scotland but the most popular one starts in Edinburgh.
Known as St. Margaret’s Way, this route starts in the centre of Edinburgh and is 100km (62miles) in length and can be split into three to eight-day pilgrimages.
This route follows the footsteps of Scotland’s patron saint, St. Andrew. This Camino takes you on bike paths and quiet roads to the Forth Road Bridge, then spectacular scenic coastal tracks and former pilgrim trails through local communities, to the famous ancient town of St Andrews.
Find more information here.
This is one of the most well-known British pilgrim paths. It offers a great mixture of wood, farmland and great views across the Weald. This Medieval pilgrim path is a great opportunity to get you started on your Camino.
Find more information here.
Celtic Caminos are an excellent way to begin your journey closer to home while seeing parts of the UK and Ireland that you might not have seen before. If your trip to Spain has been delayed or if you can’t quite get there yet – start with a “staycation” in your own country.
When you are ready to take your next step on the journey to Santiago de Compostela – we’ll be here ready to help!
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Originally published on 20th April 2020