Camino – Santillana del Mar to Comillas


We survive the night in the shed as sole occupants and make our way through the deserted corridor that still seems a little sinister and even more dingy as the light levels this early are poor. We open the front door with a creak and I try to close it quietly and fail miserably as it slips my grip and hits the frame like an adolescent in a strop.

The weather is, yet again, blue skies and sunshine but there is an edge that reminds us that autumn is on its way. We’re not big eaters first thing but we do like a coffee and discover an early morning cafe just off the Plaza Major so a slice of toast and an americano later we’re very definitely on our way. Once again we’re walking through the marvellous countryside with views to the Picos Mountains standing silhouetted against the blue.

The trail takes us past farms, through tiny villages and out again into these beautiful rolling hills with wild fig trees growing with fruit in easy reach. In the gardens of the houses, there are orange trees, limes and lemons most of which are green and difficult to make out against the green foliage but the odd one is ripe and when this happens they do it overnight; they go yellow or orange like a switch has been thrown and almost look false.

About one o’clock the sun is high and there are no clouds so we decide on taking forty minutes or so in the shade of a bar. We’ve taken what was referred to on the sign as the alternative route. It leads us down steep hills on to a main road but only for a short time and at a junction where pilgrims following the main upper route would emerge, we find the bar.

We order a cana apiece when some of the pilgrims that had overtaken us begin to walk past with a questioning look as they try to figure out how we got past them without noticing. No matter, there’s always a cheery wave regardless, then comes Chris and John our Lancastrian friends that we met last night and they join us for some banter and fun whilst we keep out of the sun for the mid-day hour.

We set off again and walk only for a short time together as the natural dynamics of a walking group takes effect and they find their rhythm and speed whilst we find ours. I have two Camino routes on the mapping app on my iPhone and the waymarkers gently take us away from both. The new route is coastal and far better than the ones previously defined giving us wonderful views of the coast and allowing the breeze off the Atlantic to cool us as we walk.


We stop for an ice cream in a tiny bay and walk in silence for fifteen minutes as our attention is drawn to seeing them off before they melt.

As we approach Comillas we’re laughing at the fact that the last couple of kilometres are the killers, we walked 21 already and another two or three shouldn’t be an issue but they always are. We’re looking for the municipal albergue and follow the signs through the town centre with ease; however, as we approach the hostaleer we’re greeted with the same words as Tuesday, “Completo” (They’re full) so we’re looking for a plan. We both go on TripAdvisor and look for “hostels near me” and one jumps out at us. It’s the Hotel Comillas, the same name as the town but the really special quality that makes it jump off the page is the €46 per night tariff and the Pilgrim books it before it goes up but it gets even better.

We walk across town to the hotel and realise it’s actually on the route of the Camino as it leaves the town, now that’s a bonus, but the icing on the cake is when we exit the tree-lined road and see the hotel in all its glory, it’s a 4-star beauty standing in its own grounds with an outside pool and very stylish front. We book in and access a very acceptable double room with an old writing desk, it’s also got a shower, bidet and another bonus, it’s got a bath; when you’ve just covered nearly 25km a bath is as good as a lottery win.

We take our time to bathe and allow the hot bath water to relax our muscles then it’s out and about to explore this lovely old place. There are relics from the Neolithic period and evidence of several castles together with a huge and very beautiful, elaborate, Neo-Gothic Sobrellano Palace that has Gaudi furniture.

As we enter the main square we bump into Chris and John, our Lancastrian chums and after more banter about coincidence we tell them we’re in the same hotel and after some more ribbing about stalking them we ask what room and the coincidence becomes bizarre when we realise They’re next door!

Enjoy the snaps…G..x

Please share as some folks are less able and can’t do these walks. They also enjoy the banter and photos.

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This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating.

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