Hiking Spain’s luminous Lighthouse Way

The Lighthouse Way, Camiño dos Faros in Spanish, traverses a stretch of coast that British sailors in the 19th century dubbed the “Costa da Morte” (Coast of Death) because so many of their compatriots died in shipwrecks there. The route goes between Malpica and Fisterra, Spain. Along the way it is marked by haphazardly painted shamrock-green arrows (that often look just like blobs of paint) on trees or rocks.

A group of local friends started piecing the Camiño together in 2013, connecting fishermen’s paths, farm tracks, beaches, livestock trails and the occasional back road. Their goal was to showcase the area’s rugged beauty; they succeeded mightily. A typical day’s scenery includes eucalyptus and pine forests dappled with light; wetlands; fields divided by dry stone walls; wildflowers; small waterfalls; beaches only accessible by foot; small peaks and sand dunes; sandy coves and headlands spilling down to the ocean.

While the Lighthouse Way’s scenery and the hiking are wild, overnight accommodations are not. This is not a backpacking adventure during which you schlep an overstuffed pack and spend nights in a tent. Each day, the Lighthouse Way passes through several villages and towns. You can find your own Airbnb, hotel or inn and hire local taxis to transfer your luggage to the next village or sign up for a self-guided trek that includes all of the reservations and planning, along with GPS tracks and detailed printed topographical maps.

The route rigorously follows the coast and is sometimes so near the edge you can feel spray from waves crashing below. Its name comes from the 11 lighthouses it passes.

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