The Camino Portugués Spiritual Variant, also known as the “Variante Espiritual,” is a unique detour on the traditional Camino Portugués, blending walking with a boat journey that emulates the route taken by the body of Saint James. This route diverges from the main Camino Portugués at Pontevedra, heads towards the historic town of Padrón, and includes a boat trip along the Ría de Arousa and up the River Ulla to Padrón. This variant is inspired by the legend of the transfer of St. James’s remains from Jerusalem to Santiago de Compostela.
Here are the stages of the Camino Portugués Spiritual Variant as per John Brierley’s guide, including the boat ride:
- Pontevedra to Armenteira: This stage, approximately 24 km, takes pilgrims through chestnut groves and along a beautiful river path, leading to the Monastery of Armenteira.
- Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa: Around 22 km, this stage passes through rural landscapes and vineyards, culminating in the coastal town of Vilanova de Arousa.
- Boat Trip from Vilanova de Arousa to Pontecesures: This unique part of the journey follows a maritime route, tracing the journey of St. James’s remains. The boat trip typically covers about 28 km and offers a different perspective on the Galician landscape. Pilgrims usually disembark at Pontecesures, just a short walk from Padrón.
After the boat trip, the route rejoins the main Camino Portugués:
- Padrón to Santiago de Compostela: The final stage, approximately 25 km, takes pilgrims from the historic town of Padrón, through rural landscapes and small villages, culminating in the arrival at Santiago de Compostela.
It’s important to note that the boat trip segment requires planning as it depends on the availability of the boat service and weather conditions. This variant is not only a scenic detour but also a journey that deepens the spiritual aspect of the pilgrimage, offering moments of reflection and unique experiences.
This route is less frequented than the main Camino Portugués, offering a more solitary experience yet still rich in cultural and historical significance. Remember, the distances mentioned are approximate and can vary slightly depending on the chosen path and stops along the way.