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A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago: The Way of St. James (Camino Guides) Paperback – Abridged, January 1, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Even if you don't think you will ever make this pilgrimage, you will enjoy the books because they help you feel like you are right there, making the journey along with the many travelers on the paths."  —New Spirit Journal

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Brierley, born in Aries on April 2, 1948, was educated and qualified as a chartered surveyor in Dublin, where he began his own practice in 1971. An existential crisis in 1987 took him to Findhorn in Scotland. This proved to be a turning point in his life toward a spiritual perspective. In 1996, he convened the international conference "Business for Life," in which the central issue was identified as a crisis of the human spirit. His abiding passion became the idea of business sabbaticals as an antidote to burnout and the notion of pilgrimage as a way to reappraise life’s purpose. He is the author of several pilgrim guides.

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Product Details

  • Series: Camino Guides
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Findhorn Press; 2nd edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844090698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844090693
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The revised edition remains a fine guide and the weight has dropped from 15 oz to 10 oz, making it easier to carry. Mileage and refugio information have been brought up to date.

This guide is very pleasing to look at: glossy paper, colored photos almost every page, multicolor maps and trail profiles, parts of text set off by shading. It has the information the walker needs, where the refugios are, how many beds, alternate choices. There is an introductory section with introduction, overview, followed by planning and preparation information. The main body of the guide follows, organized in 33 stages where each stage corresponds to a typical day's travel. Each stage has a map and a trail profile.

The planning section is very useful - detailed equipment list, travel info, essential phrases in Spanish and a short history of the Camino


This guide also makes a serious effort to address the spiritual or inner path side of the journey. In addition to the map and profile, each stage begins with three paragraphs - the Physical Path - a narrative overview of the day's walk, the Mystic Path - to awaken you to the spiritual potential of the day's walk, and Personal Reflections - a quotation from the author's reflections. In each stage there is a page with blank lines for the walker to write in their own reflections. The mystic path, and blank reflections page didn't work for me, but that is personal preference.

For me, the colored maps, elevation profiles and photos are the strong points of the book.

The only real competition to this guide is Davies and Cole Walking the Camino de Santiago. Brierley's guide clearly beats the original Davies and Cole on appearance, and maps and profiles are much better.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it is mentioned in the popular UK CSJ Pilgrim Guide to Spain and was also mentioned to me by another intending pilgrim. There may be better guides, but once I found this one I stopped looking. It meets my planning needs exactly.

Another caveat is that while I am an experienced trekker in Nepal and South America, I have never done an 800 km trip like the Camino Frances. So my comments will almost certainly need revision when I have completed my pilgrimage.

The book weighs 300gm and is 22cm tall x 12cm wide x 1.5cm thick. The weight is significant in the context of limiting one's load to 10 kg or less. The physical dimensions make it too big to fit easily into a pocket.

One could lighten the book by ripping out un-needed Stages and most of the planning stuff. Actually, it would have been a good idea if the publishers had allowed for this by having a binding to facilitate non-destructive page removal. Some folk, for example, may not plan to do the whole walk in one go and may need, say, only 8 Stages out of the 33 described in the guide. Why take text that you don't need if weight is at a premium?

The front pages of the book show a credit-card size map of each daily Stage (roughly 24km) to give an overview of the whole route from St Jean de Pied to Santiago. This is a nice touch for preliminary planning, but is not really necessary on the road.

Daily Walking Stages (33)

The sections on each Stage have a similar, but more detailed, full-page map. They are in "strip map" format, with the route facing the way you are walking from the start at the bottom to the destination at the top. So North does not face the top of the map in the conventional cartographic manner.
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By Kevin D. on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I walked the Camino de Santiago in the spring of 2005 and this book was the envy of all pilgrims I met along the way. Everyone who walks the camino had some type of guide that they carried along with them, but this one was the most comprehensive. It prepares the walker with all they need to know prior to beginning their pilgrimage as well as giving an overview (town expectations, alberque locations, and altitudes climbed). While I found that I differed occasionally on the review of the alberques along the way, I never felt lost or unprepared for the journey that was to lie ahead. Walk the camino -- you will love the difficult and challenging experience that will forever change the way you look at everything -- and make sure that this is the only book you take along with you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On July 14th, 2007, I began the Camino pilgrimage in St. Jean Pied-de-Port (France), and 500 miles later I finally walked into the Spanish city of Santiago on August 24th, 2007. During my preliminary research for the trek, I came across "A Pilgrim's Guide" and bought it due to the positive reviews. I'm glad I did, because without this guidebook I might not have completed the Way.

"A Pilgrim's Guide" contains helpful information for the Camino peregrino beginning his or her trek in St. Jean (or anywhere after that point), such as getting in and out of Spain, basic Spanish phrases, what to bring (and leave at home), easy-to-follow trail maps, and well-formatted text. In addition, the author has included many excellent color photographs from his personal collection. Mr. Brierley recommends 33 daily stages to walk the Camino - one stage for each day Christ spent on earth. Each stage has its own section with a route map, along with simple maps of large towns and cities where appropriate, and other relevant historical, topographical, and accommodation information. The front cover flap and first page also contain small numbered maps of the thirty-three daily stages for easy reference.

The cover flaps can be used as bookmarks, although I used the front one to hold my "credencial," or pilgrim passport. As for portability, "A Pilgrim's Guide" was small and thin enough to fit in the front pocket of my North Face lightweight pants. I constantly used it to keep me on track, and its terrain analysis and extensive listing of places to stay were invaluable for planning my daily walking distance. Indeed, it was so complete and comprehensive that I ended up giving away my Confraternity of St. James guidebook - another highly touted Camino resource.
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