The St. James Way Without Boundaries

Discover a wheelchair-friendly adventure on St. James Way.

By Regional Government of Galicia

San Cristovo do Real (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

More and more wheelchair users are daring to travel the St. James Way. Not all the routes are equally as accessible, and they present diverse challenges.

Monumental ensemble of Soutomerille (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

The French Way

The French Way is the pilgrimage route par excellence, and also the most accessible for wheelchair users.

Códice Calixtino, folio 163 rectoThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

It is the Jacobean itinerary with the longest historical tradition, and the most internationally recognized route. In 1135, it was described in the Codex Calixtinus, a fundamental Jacobean book. Book V is an authentic medieval guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago.

Three of the routes originating in France enter Spain via Roncesvalles, in Navarra, and go through the city of Pamplona. The fourth route enters via Aragón, and continues through Jaca. Both tracks meet in Puente la Reina, in Navarra.

St. James Way path passing through Triacastela (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

From that point, the French Way follows a single itinerary, passing through significant towns and cities of northern Spain, such as Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, and León. It enters Galicia via the region of Bierzo.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

Some recommendations

Advice for embarking on the St. James Way in a wheelchair.

Planning the Camino de Santiago (2021)Regional Government of Galicia

The first step is to plan your route: study the sections you'll be traveling on and calculate timings based on their accessibility, and the chair that will be used. Keep in mind the physical capacity of the person who will be undertaking the journey.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

It is always a good idea to travel the Way with a companion. This is especially helpful when it comes to tackling more complex sections, or dealing with challenges and difficulties that could arise.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

Just like the pilgrims who travel the Way on foot, or by bicycle, it is important to prepare yourself physically before setting off. Not all the stages of the route are the same; some sections are more challenging or require more physical effort. It is recommended that you train on both uphill and downhill terrain beforehand.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

When it comes to planning the route, it is important to be aware of the availability of possible locations for repairs to support products, which will be under greater pressure during the pilgrimage.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

It is vital to accurately calculate the backpack's weight, considering the chair and the user's physical condition, both in terms of the effort required to move the chair and backpack, as well as the strength of the chair itself.

Blisters cream (2021)Regional Government of Galicia

It is also recommended that you carry spare parts for the wheelchair, extra studs for crutches, if they are being used, gloves and creams, or products to prevent blisters.

DisCaminoOriginal Source: DisCamino

The most popular months to travel the St. James Way in any circumstance tend to be in spring and at the start of the fall, to avoid the crowds and the extreme heat of the summer.

Pilgrim next to the church of San Xoán de Furelos (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

If traveling by wheelchair, it is important to be mindful of spring showers, as these can significantly increase the difficulty of the journey. They can also result in puddles or waterlogging, which can make it very difficult to pass.

Pilgrim on the Way to Fisterra (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

All pilgrims on the Way must coexist harmoniously. However, people with a physical or any other impairment (such as sensory or cognitive), take preference at accommodation and along the way. Those traveling on foot are next in line, and last are the cyclists.

Views from Alto de San Roque (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

The Accessibility Guide to the St. James Way (in Spanish) indicates the physical accessibility conditions on the French Way in each of the lodgings that make up the Public Network of Hostels on the St. James Way in Galicia.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps