2015 was a fun year…not a funny year, but it was eventful.
This blog grew in so many ways and so did my love for the Camino de Santiago. The name of the site was changed to ClearskiesCamino.com when I realised that I had much more to offer. This, in turn, gave me the motivation to write more.
The blog was also nominated for “Best Travel Blog” at the Irish Blog Awards. I didn’t win but I didn’t expect to. The fact that I was listed as a finalist (with 9 pretty impressive websites) gave me enough reason to continue what I have been doing for the last 3-4 years. After the Awards, I had an amazing banner created for me and everything was fitting into place.
So what were the highlights and low lights of the year? What made 2015 stand out? There were a few, other than what I have mentioned above.
1) My return to the Camino Frances in 2015
This has become an annual event at this stage, but I don’t plan it to be. May saw my return to Spain (for the 5th time) when I walked from Belorado to Molinaseca, over 320km. I flew to and returned from Bilbao. The weather was ideal and I met great people. I mostly walked alone so that was different to my previous Caminos. However I did damage some ligaments behind my knee which left me unable to walk properly for a while when I returned. The gear I used remained the same and I didn’t buy much else. However, I bought a new backpack in the Christmas Sales in January, a Lowe Alpine AirZone. It was perfect. I had intended to blog while on the Camino, but after two days, I threw that promise out the window. Instead, I wrote about my times there when I returned.
2) The Lough Derg Way
In April, I visited some Camino friends in Limerick and walked part of the Lough Derg Way. It was great preparation for my upcoming Camino in May and their Camino in June. The Lough Derg Way is one of the many trails in Ireland and takes you from Limerick City to a little town called Dromineer. It is very close to the River Shannon and all in all it is 30km. There is an issue with signage with this trail and we needed to ask for directions a number of times, however, the weather was great and it was just what I was looking for before I headed off a few weeks later. I returned in August to walk another stage.
3) A Lack of Decisiveness – 2016
From the time I returned from Spain, right through the year, there has been an eagerness to return in 2016. Where and when, or if I am returning at all, I don’t know. I had dabbled with the idea of walking one of the less populated routes, the Camino Ingles or the Invierno, but I prefer company so the Camino Frances is ideal. In the end I decided to choose early September from Ponferrada to Finistere, which is over 300km. It should take 2 weeks, more or less. Another reason for my lack of decisiveness is that I have an incurable condition called “Santiago-phobia” (in jest). I haven’t walked in Galicia since 2011, preferring the meseta and La Rioja. I often wonder what the crowds will be like. I will find out soon enough.
4) I Gave A Talk About the Camino
In May, I was asked to give a talk about the Camino along with two other friends. It was due to be given in September in Limerick and I was given the task of talking about the different routes, a bit about the history, and how to get there from Ireland. When the night came, a crowd of over 60 turned up. I was nervous to say the least but once I got going, I was fine. I hope, in the future, to be asked to give future talks.
5) The Introduction of the Weekend Watch series
Back in July, I decided to introduce a series on the site called “Weekend Watch” with the aim of posting a Camino-related video each Saturday. At present, we are at Number 22. There is no shortage of Camino videos on YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. There are some people who post entire vlogs from the Camino or wait until they return. Give them a watch when you get a chance.
6) Denise Thiem
This has been a very sad year in the Camino community. Denise Thiem went missing in April of this year but her body was found in September. It is important to be extra vigilant now, especially around the Santa Catalina region where she was taken.
7) The Camino Through My Eyes
I decided to introduce this series to the blog back in October and it has been a tremendous success. I have asked 4 bloggers who have walked the Camino de Santiago a series of questions with the hope of passing on valuable information to those planning. What struck me is no two answers were the same. The most popular post of the year was belonging to Maggie Woodward in October. I hope to continue this series in 2016.
8) 40,000 hits
Just before Christmas, the site hit 40,000 views. This is a massive achievement and I only have you, the reader, to thank. I go into 2016 with confidence that this blog will provide future pilgrims with essential information.
If you could share my blog with your friends and “like” my Facebook page, I would appreciate that.
Happy Christmas to you all.