Introduction. A new route, created by the Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de Sevilla, which starts on the coast and links up with the Vía de la Plata in Sevilla. The Sevilla Amigos have not only devised the camino, but also painted the waymarks and produced a guide, similar in style to their excellent guide to the Vía de la Plata.
The Route This 173 km camino is probably the flattest of all caminos. Initially coastal, it then goes northeast to the sherry town of Jerez de la Frontera. For a while it follows a track near the A4 motorway before skirting Lebrija and running alongside irrigation canals across the plains of the Guadalquivir. It pauses in the attractive town of Utrera and then heads northwest to the city of Sevilla.
1 Cádiz – Puerto Real 29km Camino starts at Iglesia de Santiago. 4km on promenade by Atlantic beaches of Cádiz, then on track between the rail line and the Bahía de Cádiz to cross the isthmus that joins Cádiz to mainland. After San Fernando, path parallel to motorway through area of water channels, with vegetation from cacti to heather. Track through pines to Puerto Real.
2 Puerto Real – Jerez de la Frontera 26km Once away from the roads, a splendid walk through nature reserve and alongside Rio San Pedro. Pines, marshes and former saltpans now used for farming fish. Longish pavement section to cross Río Guadalete and pass El Puerto de Santa María. Minor road and undulating track with good views, cereals and sunflowers, to Jerez.
3 Jerez de la Frontera – El Cuervo 25km Long straight road from town, then zigzag to cross motorway and follow it for 10 km on track with cacti, oleander, pines and arable fields but little shade. Later vines and dusty, quarry lorry track to El Cuervo, a large village by the NIV.
4 El Cuervo – Las Cabezas de San Juan 28km Short stretch of main road then cross-country, gently undulating, to Lebrija. Broad tracks across plain and past large reservoir before following irrigation canal for several kilometres. Uphill to cross motorway and reach Las Cabezas de San Juan.
5 Las Cabezas de San Juan – Utrera 32km Initially on farm track then 9 kilometres alongside Canal del Bajo Guadalquivir. Zigzag to cross roads and rail lines then second canal path. Broad tracks through arable land to attractive town of Utrera.
6 Utrera – Sevilla 32km Good track to Dos Hermanas, accompanied by cacti, oleander, cereals, pines, heath, snails and many a rabbit. Camino then gets absorbed in massive urbanización development, before passing racecourse with views down to Sevilla. Descent to busy NIV and motorway, final long avenue past smart houses, embassies and parks into Sevilla.
Waymarking Well waymarked with yellow arrows. You’ll need to take extra care to look out for camino arrows through towns. The trickiest section is the last, from Dos Hermanas to the NIV on account of building works and the lack of signs from racecourse.
Terrain Not strenuous as the terrain is so flat. Rare climbs come as a pleasant change and give good views of surroundings. The local Amigos Association have obviously worked hard to find a route that avoids roads as far as possible but some tarmac is unavoidable. All stages, except 3 and 5, pass towns with accommodation and so could be subdivided. It would also be possible to cut out the first 40 kms by taking the ferry across the bay from Cádiz to El Puerto de Santa María.
Weather/When to go This is southern Spain and most of the camino offers little shade, so avoid the summer but otherwise the route is practicable all year. Weather can still hit 30 degrees even in October.
Accommodation Hostales/pensiones at end of each stage and elsewhere. Only pilgrim hostel is at Alcalá de Guadaira, opened in 2011.
Other features of the route/General It is early days and very few pilgrims use this route. However, locals do walk individual stages, especially at weekends. This is certainly a route where you will need to understand and speak Spanish and as ever, most Andalusians are warm and helpful. If you like flattish terrain or wish to lengthen the Vía de la Plata, making it a coast to coast walk (Cádiz to Coruña or Finisterre, then starting in Cádiz could be rewarding).
Cyclists Feasible virtually in its entirety. In a few places the path can be invaded by the vegetation or the track somewhat rutted.
Websites, guides and contacts
Discussion Forum. Visit the Camino de Santiago Forum to join in the current conversation.
Language. Pilgrims without a reasonable command of basic Spanish will find this route difficult.
Notes from Felix Davies, Oct 2012
1 Two options exist for leaving Cadiz but the Amigos are now discouraging use of the C/Gibraltar & Prado del Rey (busy traffic, narrow, dangerous) in favour of the exit on the ocean side of the railway and main road.. If the tide is right a pleasant walk along the beach would be possible, if not it seems to me you have a choice between a very tiring walk among the dunes or along the main road hard shoulder with your back to the traffic. All three end at the military property at Torregorda where a bridge allows crossing the road and railway to join up with the other option.
2 The exit from San Fernando by the Puente Zuazo has effectively been abandoned as a result of engineering works in favour of using the Puente Jesús del Gran Poder to cross the autovia and reach a track alongside the railway. This is a shorter and more direct route to Puerto Real.
3 After leaving Puerto Real the route provides a very pleasant park-like walk until, at a T junction, the flechas point both left and right. I took the left which leads to an interesting wooden footbridge over the river, stays among the marshes behind the beach and joins the other route for the urban trek into Puerto de Santa María.
4 On the approach to Dos Hermanos the track ends at a road. Instead of turning right here it is perfectly possible to continue straight ahead on a quiet country road signed ‘Dos Hermanos 8’. This leads directly to the Cerro Blanco barrio of Dos Hermanos and straight ahead to the town centre.
With thanks to Michael Gaches and Felix Davies
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