Javea’s Trail Association (Asociación Xabia Camino) is dedicated to promoting the area’s rich cultural, natural and historical heritage, so the news that it has extended the Camino del Alba route will be welcomed by fans of the Camino de Santiago – a series of pilgrim routes that cross Spain en route to the city of Santiago de Compostela. The new camino was inaugurated in an appropriate manner, with members of the Trail Association setting off on an enjoyable and memorable 30-kilometre hike between Ontinyent and Aforins de Fontanars. This reminder of the beauty of the landscape will spur them on to prepare the next stage of the journey to Santiago, the historic old town that celebrates Spain’s patron saint, St. James.
The work that Javea’s Trail Association has taken on in order to allow pilgrims and hikers from the region to participate in the annual journey has been extremely demanding, and required a great amount of stamina, dedication and perseverance.
The most famous Camino de Santiago route – popularised by Hollywood stars like Shirley Maclaine who wrote about her experiences walking the camino and father and son team Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez whose film, The Way, also celebrates the pilgrimage – starts at St. Jean Pied de Port in France and finishes 780 kilometres later in Santiago de Compostela. However, it is interesting to note that roads connect all parts of Spain with the shrine of Sant Iago.
Though rooted in medieval practice, the pilgrimage has grown enormously in recent years, as figures recorded by the Office de Acogida al Peregrino reveal. In 1985 2,491 pilgrims completed the route, but by 1995 the total had increased to 19,821, and in 2005 an astonishing 93,921 had completed the walk.
The work of Javea’s Trail Association will ultimately result in a further growth in numbers, as the Camino del Alba permits pilgrims from the Costa Blanca to make their own way to Santiago de Compostela. The next stage to be accomplished will go from Fontanars del Aforins to Font de la Figuera.
Photos courtesy of Xabia Camino