The Secret of Spain’s Road Less Travelled

This year sees a return to the ‘Holy Year’ on the Camino de Santiago. Theoretically what this means is that they will open the ‘Puerta de Perdon’ and everyone who passes through this door will be forgiven all the sins they’ve accumulated since birth.

What this means in reality is, 1: what a load of absolute bunkum, and 2: the Camino will be impassable this year for sinners, fraudsters, and old fogeys who haven’t had the chance to commit a sin since that night in 1946. So steer clear.

There is, however an alternative. The Camín Real, a 56km ancient trail through the mountains of northern Spain, winding spectacularly among some of the grandest yet loneliest and least-known scenery in Europe. The route has been used for trade for 5,000 years, traversing a mountain range with peaks of 2,000m and reaching into some of Spain's most wildly beautiful and otherwise inaccessible landscapes. Think The Hobbit and then add some wine and Spanish shepherds. Walking through Asturias and tipping into Castilia y Leon, the route is best described by Guillermo Mañana’s in depth and passionate study of the area.

Accessible as ever, with thanks to El Señor Leary and his Ryanair flying squad, into Santander from Stanstead and Dublin, this is a route that, while it may not cure you off all your sins, will definitely make you feel a lot easier about them.

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