October 8, 2018 – October 20, 2018 all-day

Walk in Beauty: Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago, Spain, the North Coast Route

A Kinder Camino

October 8-20, 2018

Valerie Brown, Pilgrimage Leader

Distance Difficulty

“…even before you sat down with them, broke bread and drank wine, wiped the wind-tears from your eyes: pilgrim they called you again. Pilgrim.”

—David Whyte, from Camino

El Camino: An Epic Journey Awaits

Have you dreamed of walking the Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James? Are your facing questions of life transition, life purpose, direction, and meaning and wanting space to purposefully reflect in a beautiful setting, enjoy connectedness and community with like-minded people, and nurture body, mind, and spirit? Do you want your travel to align with your values? Are you curious about the Courage & Renewal® Approach to exploring your ‘inner life’?

The crown jewel of Spanish walking trails, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela began as an act of faith as Europeans crossed Spain to visit the sacred tomb of Saint James. One thousand years later, the Camino continues to draw spiritual seekers worldwide looking to enjoy the beauty of the green rolling hills and small hamlets of northwestern Spain’s Galicia. Come be part of this magical trail as we explore a new route, the North Coast, that begins in San Sebastián and ends in Santiago.

This pilgrimage combines the stunning beauty of El Camino de Santiago, Spain with the Center for Courage & Renewal Approach to explore your inner capacity to lead a more authentic, meaningful, and resilient life. In this exclusive, small group pilgrimage, you are spoiled by breathtaking natural beauty of the sun-drenched north coast of Spain, magnificent accommodations, and exquisite food.

We begin our journey in Europe’s culinary capital, San Sebastián, a lovely seaside metropolis located in the Basque region of the northern Atlantic coast, boarding France, widely considered one of the best places to eat in the world, and home of some of the world’s best restaurants.

This Pilgrimage to Santiago takes you through beautiful forests, charming villages, and historic towns and cities such as Bilbao, Santillana del Mar, Comillas, Cangas de Onis, and Oviedo. Taking the Northern Route to Santiago de Compostela, this 164 kilometer/102 mile journey, is divided into eleven inspiring walking stages and includes a visit to the Caves of Altamira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our accommodations are in Spain’s magnificent Paradores, elegant hotels in unique settings, and in authentic Galician rural manor houses, offering superb hospitality and service.

Explore Courage & Renewal® reflective practices, including daily gathering for poetry, silence, and mutual discovery to deepen your experience. Enjoy quiet self-reflection, dialogue, and journaling, using the pilgrimage road as metaphor and open to the transformational power of this ancient trail and its culture.


Walking: Your Camino, Your Way

Walk at your own pace within a small group of no more than twelve pilgrims. The first six days are smaller stages, less walking, offering spacious time to enjoy this beautiful coastal trail. We hop ahead with our van to the next city and stage. The last five days are more rural and focused on walking the last 100 km.

In these last 100 km, we will walk each day where we left off the day before. Walking the last 100 km of El Camino qualifies the pilgrim to receive the famed Compostela, the Certificate of Completion of the Pilgrimage of El Camino!


Private Van Support & Guides

Our fully supported private van, loaded with fresh fruits, snacks, water, medicine, and first aid kits, sets this pilgrimage apart and makes it accessible to all.  A vehicle and guide for logistical support is available during the entire pilgrimage route to assist you, to transport luggage, and to address any other needs. This means you can enjoy the scenery and not worry about the unexpected!

We have meeting points along the way where our support vehicle is waiting with snacks, fruits, and water. We also offer assistance 
for any unexpected circumstance or simply to relieve muscular pain or cure blisters. If you do not want to keep walking for any reason, you can hop on the support vehicle at the next meeting point.

In this customized pilgrimage, our ground support has signals in places where some people take the wrong turn to ensure you’re on the right path. 
After the daily walk, and after you’ve had lunch we return to the hotel to shower, freshen up, enjoy well-deserved rest, savor a delicious-regionally sourced dinner, and to reflect on the day.


Luggage Support

Luggage is transferred from one hotel to the next using the support vehicle. For the pilgrimage walk you need only carry a small/medium backpack for a camera, water bottle, and personal belongings. You will receive a Pilgrim’s Kit, which contains Pilgrim’s shell, Pilgrim’s credential, a cap, a scarf, a notepad, a refillable water bottle, a bottle of foot/leg cream, informational program, route map, wet and dry tissues and snacks.


Mobile Phones

Mobile phones with a Spanish line will be handed out for the period of the pilgrimage for every two or three pilgrims. This will allow you to communicate with the driver or guides for any reason at all times. The number can also be given to family members back home to receive phone calls.


Regional-Delicious Cuisine

On this pilgrimage, you’ll savor regional delicious, local cuisine; and all breakfasts, all dinners, one lunch (except for San Sebastián and Bilbao) are included. In San Sebastián, you’ll enjoy a very special lunch, savoring a pintxos tour (Basque tapas) of the city!




Our accommodations include prestigious Paradores of Spain, elegant and exclusive hotels situated in important historical buildings and uniquely stunning locations. We will also enjoy small, charming rural manor houses of Galicia!


Preparation in Body, Mind, & Spirit

Preparation in body, mind, and spirit is key to the pilgrimage experience. We understand that taking a pilgrimage is different from a ‘hiking vacation’ and we assist you with the preparation and training you need to have an unforgettable experience. Resources include Pilgrim Newsletters, Pilgrim Training Schedule, maps, comprehensive Pilgrimage Resource Guide, and packing list with recommendations on what to bring, as well as three Camino Community Conference Calls to get to know fellow pilgrims.


About the Landscape

Walk in Beauty: Pilgrimage of El Camino de Santiago follows the sea, the north coast of Spain, through the Basque region, Galicia, and Asturias, among others. We walk westward along an old cart tracks that wind through fields and hamlets, along beautiful, unspoiled beaches to small fishing villages, with the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Picos de Europa in the distance. A highlight is a visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Caves of Altamira, boasting some of Spain’s most magnificent prehistoric cave art, dating back from 22,000-10,000 BC.

From the North Route, the pilgrimage joins the Camino Francés, the French Way for the last 100 km until we arrive at Santiago de Compostela, the final stop on this epic journey of a lifetime!


Map Route

Please visit the link below for a complete profile of route from San Sebastian to Santiago:

Click here


Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Meet in Madrid and drive to San Sebastián. Night in San Sebastián.

Day 2: Stage 1: San Sebastián – Buztintxuri (8.5 km / 5.3 mi). Night in Bilbao.

Day 3: Stage 2: Otañes – Castro-Urdiales (9 km / 5.6 mi). Night in Santillana del Mar.
Day 4: Stage 3: Comillas – San Vicente de la Barquera (12.4 km / 7.7 mi). Night in the Parador in Cangas de Onis.

Day 5: Stage 4: La Isla – Priesca (13 km / 8 mi). Night in Oviedo.

Day 6: Stage 5: Soto del Barco – El Pito (10 km / 6.2 mi). Night in the Parador in Ribadeo.

Day 7: Stage 6: Pontevella – Vilalba (11.5 km / 7.1 mi). Night in the Parador in Vilalba.

Day 8: Stage 7: Baamonde – Altos de Mamoa (18 km / 11.2 mi). Night in the Parador in Vilalba.

Day 9: Stage 8: Altos de Mamoa – Sobrado dos Monxes (21 km / 13 mi). Night in Arzúa in a lovely rural manor house.

Day 10: Stage 9: Sobrado dos Monxes – Arzúa (21 km / 13 mi). Night in Arzúa in a beautiful rural manor house.

Day 11: Stage 10: Arzúa – Pedrouzo (20 km / 12.4 mi). Night in Lavacolla.

Day 12: Stage 11: Pedrouzo – Santiago (20 km / 12.4 mi). Night in Santiago.

Day 13: Guided visit of Santiago.


What People Are Saying

  • “The scenery is spectacular and the beautiful rhythm of walking the Camino is truly revelatory.”
  • “To walk the Camino my own way empowered and stretched me into new horizons, safely and in community….”
  • “Everyday was a feast for the senses….”
  • “I am venturing home with my heart burst wide open, full of hope and possibilities. I am deeply grateful.”

Pilgrimage as Spiritual Journey

“I’ve walked El Camino, the Way of Saint James many times, over many years, and was so moved by this experience and others that I wrote my first book, The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel (Quakerbridge Media, 2012). In those days, I walked solo, carrying a heavy backpack and sleeping rough in hostels. Being super tough and super strong meant everything to me! However, it’s said that the Camino transforms lives, and it did just that for me.  

I began to reflect on my life and my work, my values and beliefs.  After stops, starts, and stumbles, I shifted my career from a high-pressure lawyer-lobbyist to human scale work. I believe that the Camino contributed greatly to help me expand my perspective and values. My deepest aspiration is to support myself and others in this process of transformation. I believe that the Camino should be accessible to everyone, not only the physically fit. As a pilgrimage leader, I have escorted people of varied abilities along the Way of Saint James and this gives me deep joy and inspiration.”

— Valerie Brown, Director of Meaningful & Purposeful Life and Work, Lead Smart Coaching, LLC

Called to Pilgrimage

Embark on a pilgrimage to discover something new about yourself. It isn’t so much a choice you make, as a response to a call already whispered to you. In the experience of encounter with unfamiliarity, you question your assumptions, expectations, and preconceived ideas, as a new way of seeing yourself and the world emerges. Discover this magical place, a place the Celtics have aptly called, a ‘thin place’, where the material and the spiritual world meet, a place of endless beauty. Return home transformed!

Want to Know More

About Your Leader

Valerie Brown HeadshotValerie Brown is an international retreat leader, writer, leadership coach, and Principal of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness in daily life (www.leadsmartcoaching.com).  She transformed her high-pressure career as a lawyer-lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy and authentic connections.

Valerie’s books include, The Road that Teaches:  Lessons in Transformation through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012) and The Mindful School Leader:  Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014), named one of the ‘best books on courage’ in 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal.  

She has studied and practiced mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition since 1995 and was ordained in the Order of Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003. Valerie is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and a certified Kundalini yoga teacher.



  • $4599.00, per person, double occupancy. Single supplement: $1100.00. Maximum 12 persons. Spaces are limited!

Price includes:

  • Transfer from Madrid to San Sebastián
  • Courage & Renewal ® Approach to reflection and inquiry and expert facilitation
  • Private Van Support & Luggage transfer
  • Comprehensive pre-pilgrimage preparation, including customized training schedule
  • All breakfasts, drinks and snacks
  • Pintxos lunch tour
  • English-speaking guides
  • Mobile phones with a Spanish line
  • Informational program and route map
  • Pilgrim’s kit
  • Value Added Tax (VAT)
  • Farewell dinner and surprise
  • 5 nights in Spain’s beautiful Paradores (based on availability) and country manor houses
  • All Dinners
  • Guided visit in Santiago & Oviedo

Price does NOT include:

  • Round trip airfare
  • Ground transportation from Santiago at the end of the pilgrimage
  • All lunches
  • Tips & Gratuities

Deposit & Payment

  • $500.00 nonrefundable, nontransferable deposit secures your space; installment payment plan available; full payment due June 8, 2018

Cancellation Policy 

  • See registration form for details.


  • Contact Valerie Brown valeriebrown95@gmail.com



Retreats & Facilitation Services

Coaching & Consulting Services

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Services

Named one of the best courageous books of 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal, this book is for educational leaders who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, and offers explicit practices to help readers avoid burnout and become the mindful, poised, effective leaders they were meant to be. Loaded with real-time encouragement with portraits of educational leaders who are incorporating mindfulness practices, like attentive breathing, mindful walking about the school building, or calming pauses in the office throughout the school day, this book is a must-have guide.

Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson. Corwin, December 2014. 344 pages.

The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel.

Not your average travel guidebook, this book explores some of the world’s great pilgrimages, destinations, and the author’s reflections on the lessons she learned from them. Read this book to discover how travel can be transformational, how to be more mindful while traveling and every day, the adventures of traveling alone, the delights of encountering new people and places, ancient pilgrimage journeys and sacred travel worldwide.

Valerie Brown. QuakerBridge Media, 2012, 152 pages. Also available from QuakerBooks.

Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond Valerie

Valerie Brown guides readers toward renewal of mind, heart, and spirit by encouraging them to take time away from the busyness of their lives through retreat. Drawing on her experience as a retreatant and retreat leader, she introduces readers to opportunities for personal restoration within a variety of focused retreats. She wonders how Friends experience of expectant waiting influences the retreat process and how retreats influence expectant waiting. She encourages the “big questions”—What has meaning and purpose in my life? What am I avoiding? What brings me most alive?—and offers specific practices for retreatants to cultivate in everyday life.

Valerie Brown. Pendle Hill Pamphlet #421.

Quakers are advised to begin worship by “centering down.” This is the first step in a Friend’s intention to wait in “holy expectancy,” to be drawn by the Light into communion with God. Centering prayer is also a practice used by Christian mystics to prepare for contemplation, and “centering” describes the meditation of a Buddhist in pursuit of that deep awareness called “mindfulness.” Valerie Brown is an explorer and teacher of centering practices, a Buddhist, and an active Friend. Drawing upon her own experiences and wide studies, she describes for Friends how these various traditions can offer us a better understanding and preparedness for our precious, elusive, mysterious, and simple practice of centering into worship. Discussion questions included.

Valerie Brown, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #407. 2014.