On Friday, December 7, 2012, 6 hikers and 2 dogs went crazy, because it occurred to them to join Malpica de Bergantiños with Finisterre walking on the edge of the sea. And they succeeded, they really did. Its objective was to join both localities, in the heart of the “Costa da Morte”, parallel to the Ocean and with the lighthouses as a link. They knew it could be done, although they knew it would be difficult, but they also knew it would be worth it. And so, on Saturday 26 January 2013 they arrived at Cape Finisterre, the ancient Finis Terrae or End of the World known in Roman times, and its mythical lighthouse.
These friends, who call themselves “trasnos”, in reference to those naughty little elves belonging to the Galician mythological culture, with equivalents in other parts of Spain and the World, achieved their goal and set themselves another one: that this Way exists and persists, and that many people walk it, always respecting Nature as much as possible. In an exercise of generosity and love for their homeland, they decided to make it known, but in order to do so, the “trasnos” would need to improve the route, which they did on a second trip.
Thus, a collaborative will was added to this project, and through social networks they were able to convene a new 23 trasnos to make the first stage, and after this experience, they understood the concern of the first “trasnos” and fell in love with this route. In the following group editions, they completed the rest of the stages, always with a warm response from new “trasnos”. We want to do our bit, and we are eager to introduce you to this Camino de los Faros.
The “Costa da Morte
The “Costa da Morte” is a coastal strip of the province of A Coruña that stretches from the municipality of Arteixo, in the north, to Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician), southwest direction, with about 200 kms long. The protagonist is the presence of the Atlantic Ocean, as it gives meaning to its name, but also includes the inland territories of the municipalities that make up the Costa da Morte. It has been declared a SCI (Site of Community Interest), SPA (Special Protection Area) and SPA (Special Bird Conservation Area).
It is a magical area, with a lot of history and vestiges of its antiquity: Neolithic burial mounds and petroglyphs, forts of the “castrexa” culture, medieval churches and castles, Galician manor houses, modern maritime-terrestrial fortresses and contemporary lighthouses. Moreover, its collective memory is full of history, myths and legends. In the Costa da Morte is located the Apostle Santiago in several episodes of his preaching in Roman Hispania, has been the scene of Viking and pirate landings, and, even very recently, the fierceness of its waters and the strength of its winds has been the trigger for marine tragedies.
But what does the “Costa da Morte” have to do with Death? History points us to various elements. First of all, we have to go back to the time of the Roman domination, even before, because the ancient cultures settled there venerated the Sun and this was where it died, to the West, in the distant horizon. It was the end of the known Earth, the Roman Finis Terrae, taking into account that their geographers did not know the existence of America and the Earth, in their maps, was flat.
The tradition of St. James and the pilgrimage to Santiago also reaches this coast, as in Muxía is the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Barca, where the Virgin appeared to the Apostle Santiago sailing in a stone boat with angels. For this reason, many medieval pilgrims, once they reached Santiago, decided to continue to the places where the Apostle was and see the End of the Earth, as a symbol of the sinner who dies and is reborn as a new man after his tiring pilgrimage.
Closer in time, although historical, are the various shipwrecks and environmental disasters that have occurred in these seas. The most recent is that of the tanker Prestige, although the British torpedo cruiser HMS Serpent was also terrible in 1887. Again, the death of Nature and of Man.
But perhaps its name refers more to the life that so many seafarers lost fighting on these coasts, cliffs and waters. Percebeiros, sailors, fishermen,… the memory that their families and neighbours have of them we will see it manifested in so many crosses and monuments that the people of the “Costa da Morte” erected in homage to their heroes.
Signage and maintenance
The Way of the Lighthouses has a very respectful signposting with the Environment, perfectly integrated in the Nature, and that is one of the premises of this project.
Thus, the signage consists of various green marks with different motifs: arrows with a very particular design, circles and small footprints, the first two being the most repeated. We will not find cairns or milestones as in other paths, for example the Camino de Santiago or the Camino de San Andrés de Teixido, only paint marks on stones on the ground, rocks, tree trunks, lamp posts, walls, etc., so you have to be very observant and attentive during the crossing; sometimes, a small path almost hidden is the right way. On rare occasions we will find a support on foot placed as a beacon, although we will find signs on existing vertical elements. Remember that the signs are marked only in the direction Malpica – Finisterre.
The maintenance of the trail is almost natural, as most of the trails are the result of the passage of fishermen and walkers, and perhaps are very old in time. However, the trails are often delimited by gorse, so it is often necessary to clear and clean, and so, associations, institutions, fire brigades and the neighbors themselves clear and maintain the trails, as nature takes its course. Unfortunately, the fact that the route has not yet been approved as a GR Long Distance Route complicates its maintenance.
The Camino de los Faros sometimes passes through private estates, but the transit through them is allowed by their owners.
Sometimes, however, tall weeds, worn paint, or something that occasionally gets in the way can cause us to miss the sign and go the wrong way. That is why it is always advisable to carry some “track” of support. Don’t worry, we’ll make it easy for you. In any case, applying common sense, we can always orient ourselves by following the coast to the south, and be very observant at all the crossroads we come across, even the most unsuspected ones: that’s where this trail may lead us.
In addition, the official mascot of this Way, Traski, will be by your side, and you will always find an establishment identified as a “friend of the Way of the Beacons”, showing an image of him; generally they will be the bars or restaurants at the beginning and end of each stage.
Walking tips, warnings and equipment
The basic advice is common sense and caution. This is a demanding and sometimes a bit dangerous Camino, but with tranquility and care nothing should happen.
If you go in a group, there will be many sections where you can walk freely with your friends, chatting, joking, etc., but in many sections you must walk in single file: we are referring to the sections of fishermen’s paths, sometimes very narrow and delimited by gorges. Some of them run very close to cliffs and in these cases it is advisable to go in single file, concentrating on the path and walking safely. It is recommended to respect the original route and not to invent it, unless there are obstacles on the path; in that case you will have to look for an alternative route.
We recommend previous physical preparation (hiking), because we will face many kilometers and a total elevation gain of + 5000 and – 5000 meters.
Good weather conditions will help you to have a complete and safe Camino experience. It is not advisable to do this route in bad weather, storm, rain, wind, etc., because you can find waterlogged roads and the wind can complicate a lot the crossing, increasing the risks in certain sections.
The path of the lighthouses is integrated within the Natura 2000 Network, so free camping is expressly prohibited.
Many times you will feel like taking a swim at the beach and please do it at every stage! However, keep in mind that there are beaches with very treacherous tides, so analyze well the state of the sea and do not commit recklessness.
If you are a person very susceptible to vertigo, you should think about whether you want to do this route. The cliffs are not always vertical, but sometimes you can find stretches that make you a little uneasy.
It is important to bear in mind that in certain stretches there is hardly any mobile coverage. If you are going to use tracks on electronic devices, make sure you have it downloaded, so you are not dependent on connectivity. Also, remember to take your batteries well charged, as well as at least one external mobile battery.
It is very complicated to do this route by bicycle, as there are stretches that are neither adapted nor advisable for this vehicle, and you could only do about half of the route on two wheels. It is also possible to do it with dogs and even with children, especially if they are accompanied by others, but remember that the stages can take up to 10 hours in some cases.
If you like ornithology, you should know that we will pass through places of great importance. In addition, between March 15th and July 15th is the nesting season for birds on many beaches.
As equipment when walking, we recommend the following:
- 1 MEDIUM SIZED MOUNTAIN BACKPACK.
- 1 PAIR OF PREVIOUSLY USED TREKKING OR MOUNTAIN BOOTS.
- 1 PAIR OF PREVIOUSLY USED TRAINERS.
- 1 PAIR OF SANDALS THAT SUPPORT THE ENTIRE FOOT AND ANKLE.
- 1 PAIR OF QUICK-DRYING LONG TROUSERS THAT CAN BE CONVERTED INTO SHORTS.
- 1 BATHROOM.
- 1 MEDIUM TOWEL.
- 1 CAP or SIMILAR.
- 2 T-SHIRTS MADE OF SPORTS FABRIC.
- 1 PAIR OF CHANGES OF CLOTHES (ESPECIALLY SOCKS).
- 1 JACKET or SIMILAR.
- 1 JACKET or JERSEY.
- ABUNDANT WATER (REFILLABLE CONTAINER).
- DRIED FRUIT.
- CHARGED MOBILE PHONE.
- MOBILE PHONE CHARGER.
- PORTABLE BATTERY AND CABLE TO CHARGE YOUR MOBILE PHONE.
- MINIMUM PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT (BLISTER PREVENTION, REFLEX TYPE SPRAY, ETC…).
- SUN PROTECTION.
- KNEE/ANKLE PADS.