2014 Camino Francés

Finding Your Way on The Way

August 20, 2014
Person's feet in blue running shoes behind a yellow arrow on rocks pointing north

Life is one big road with lots of signs,
So when you riding through the ruts, don’t you complicate your mind:
Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy!
Don’t bury your thoughts; put your dream to reality!
–Bob Marley, Wake Up and Live

Some of the most common questions I am asked about my journey to Santiago along the Camino Francés is, “How do you find your way?” “Are there signs?” “Is there a map?” “An app?” “Did you use GPS?”

The answer is lovely in its simplicity; just follow the yellow arrows and scallop shells… It’s reminiscent of a childhood treasure hunt, seeking these signs along The Way. You never know where the next one will appear; on a tree, a curb, a pole, a fence, a rock, a trash can…

Of course, all those other directional tools can be used as well; signs, maps, apps, GPS. But I loved following the shells and arrows.

(And if you get lost, just grab a local and say, “I’ve lost the arrows!!! Can you help me find them?!?”

Torres del Rio
The shells and arrows come in all shapes and sized. (Torres del Rio)
Approaching Viana

Entering Viana

Graffiti scallop shell outside Logroño

Outside Logroño

6am Logroño


I would love to know what the person who drew the snails was thinking…

The taxi advert by this arrow just outside Nájera made me smile; great marketing!

Arrow on bridge just outside Nájera. That’s Keong, part of my Camino “family” taking a break on the other side.

Outside Nájera


In the Goose Hills (Montes de Oca)


My second favorite arrow pic. Just outside Agés.

Entering Burgos. We had another several miles of urban hiking before we reached the old part of the city.

Sometimes they are easy to miss, like this little one in Burgos

On a stone pathway leaving Burgos. Notice this one is pointing left; a rare occurrence.
Urban arrow outside Burgos

Ermita de Nuestra Señora outside Burgos. At first glance it seems the arrow is in front of the door but it turns out that
is some kind of metal post. Can you spot the actual arrow. Hint: it guides you to go right….

I was extremely grateful for this sign as I went for a stretch of several hours without seeing another human being.
I wouldn’t have known whether to continue or make a turn had this not been there.

Breakfast-to-go leaving Boadilla. The arrows were especially difficult to see in the dark hours before sunrise.

Almost to San Nicolas

Palencia is a province of northern Spain, in the northern part of the autonomous community of Castile and León in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by the provinces of León, Cantabria, Burgos, and Valladolid. (I am still trying to understand what “autonomous communities” are. I believe that they are equivalent to our “states” and the provinces are equivalent to our counties. But then again, perhaps the provinces are equivalent to our states and we have nothing equivalent to the autonomous communities.)

Fancy flecha. Just about every pilgrim I know has a photo of this one.



Selfie outside Ponferrada. In the background on the right are the arrow and shell. In the background on the left are Felix and Antonio. Back in the albergue sleeping is Yeni 😉

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this sign. Other pilgrims were certain it must be a joke.
When we continued to see them, however, I became certain it wasn’t a joke at all…





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  • Ignacio Sainz-Ezquerra Pellon February 20, 2015 at 07:49

    El origen de las flechas amarillas.
    Antes de finales de los años 80 (1980) el camino no estaba marcado-
    Y fue al párroco de O’cebreiro Elias Valiña a quien se le ocurrió empezar a marcar el camino con flechas amarillas.
    ¿Por qué amarillas? porque lo único que tenía eran sobrantes de pintura amarilla de pintar las carreteras.
    A partir de entonces empezarón a venir muchos más peregrinos.
    ¿Cómo llegué yo a saber esto?
    Estando de vacaciones en Francia, camino de París, En Poitiers, intenté encontrar las flechas amarillas y no había.
    En Francia el camino de Santiago está marcado como un GR(camino de gran recorrido) marcas blancas y rojas.

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