The English Camino is called St Michael’s Way and it is in Cornwall, UK. It is not the same as El Camino Inglés which is a short Camino across the northern tip of Spain.
The English Camino was used by early Christian pilgrims (as well as other travellers) coming from Wales and Ireland who wanted to travel to Santiago de Compostela, but to avoid the treacherous and unsafe waters off the English coast at Land’s End, and thus arrive safely in La Coruña in northern Spain. They would leave their boats on the north Cornish coast near St Ives, walk the relatively short route across the peninsular to St Michael’s Mount and re-embark on other ships or boats to continue their journey by sea to northern Spain (and southern France).
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Throughout Europe there are several pilgrim routes which lead to the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela, North West Spain – the third most important and religious place of Christian pilgrimage in the world. These are all collectively known as El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. But unknown to many is the St Michael’s Way Trail, in the county of Cornwall, on the southwestern tip of England, which is also one of these routes.
Safe travels – avoiding shipwreck!
This ancient path was used by travellers (and later by pilgrims and missionaries) to avoid crossing the dangerous waters around Land’s End, a notorious area off the Cornish coast said to contain more shipwrecks than anywhere else in the world. This overland route of early Christian travellers was one of the reasons behind the early conversion of Cornish people to the Christian faith.
See JEWELLERY TO WISH SAFE TRAVELS in our shop online
Little steps – a small adventure on the Cornish Celtic Way as an introduction to a full Camino
The St Michael’s Way (also known as the Cornish Camino or Celtic Way) is the only pilgrimage route in Britain that is officially part of a European Cultural Route, and it is a genuine British leg of the Camino to Santiago. It is only about 12 miles long but it connects five churches, four holy wells, two hill-forts, two standing stones, and two disappeared chapels, and is set in incredible scenery and unique countryside deep in the heart of Cornwall.
The Cornish Camino – a great introduction to a Spanish Camino
Walking the 20kms of St Michael’s Way now counts towards the 100km minimum required to receive one of the famed Compostelas (Pilgrim Certificates) in Santiago, when walkers arrive in the Pilgrim Office at the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (where, it is said, lie the remains of St James the Greater . . hence the other name of this famous route: The Saint James Way). Once ashore in northern Spain, travellers can walk (or cycle) the relatively short Camino Inglés (from La Coruña into Santiago).
The English Camino – the Cornish Celtic Way
The British-based part of this Camino stretches across the Cornish peninsular from Lelant (near St. Ives in the north) to Marazion (near Penzance in the south) and covers around 12 miles of beautiful landscapes and spectacular scenery (including Carbis Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site). As is the norm in Spain, Portugal and southern France, the correct route to follow in the UK is indicated by the traditional Pilgrim’s symbol of a Scallop Shell (the symbol of St. James, because his remains, when discovered, were said to have been covered in these shells that are so common on the northern coast of Spain). In fact, a sort of stylised shell based on the Council of Europe’s sign for pilgrim routes is used with directional arrows in yellow for footpaths, blue for bridleways and red for byways.
Why not wish safe travels to a friend or loved-one going on a special journey, with a gift of Scallop Shell jewellery from our online shop, as well as other GIFTS FOR LUCK and GOOD FORTUNE TRAVELLING on a trip. It has deep sigificance that is based on the real history of the Camino.
As for St Michael himself, after whom this English Camino is named (as opposed to St James in Spain), more can be read here on our website: GUARDIAN ANGELS and St. MICHAEL ARCHANGEL . St Michael is one of the Guardian Angels (an Archangel) that is said to be a protector. He is also the patron Saint of Cornwall (as well as of the military and police too) and also, evidently . . of high places, which tends to explain why, if you ever discover a Church called Saint Michael, it is invariably located on the top of a hill.
You can also source jewellery and charms for protection with the symbol of ST MICHAEL Guardian Angel, in our shop.
Planning a full Camino de Santiago adventure? Good Luck!
Eventually, as you wind your way down to the coast and off the St Michaels Way, you arrive at your journey’s end in Marazion (before embarking for Spain, if that is what you plan to do). Here you will find yourself overlooking St Michael’s Mount (the Cornish counterpart of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France), an 8th Century monastery subsequently given to the Benedictine religious order of Mont Saint-Michel by Edward the Confessor in the 11th Century. Your English or Cornish Camino has come to an end – but it could be the beginning of something much grander – a full Camino de Santiago de Compostela . . in Spain!
PS: There is, in fact, another Camino in England: A 110km-long route from the ruins of Reading Abbey (founded by Henry I in 1121, and the centre of the cult of St James in England in the Middle Ages), to the port of Southampton, from where pilgrims also used to sail to France or Spain on their way to the tomb of St James at Santiago de Compostela. But this is even less well known than the St. Michael’s Way!