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Posts from the ‘caminodesantiago’ Category

Weekend Watch #64 – Portuguese Coastal Camino

This is a short video promoting the Portuguese Coastal Camino and it does a great job. September can’t come soon enough. However, I can’t help noticing that this particular pilgrim walked inland to Valenca instead of crossing the River Mino at Caminha.

The Best of a New Year…

I am probably the last to write one of these “end of year reviews”. I see many of my followers writing about their previous year. Some good, some bad. Me? I’m just walking a straight path at the moment with one eye for a short cut…

I feel very lucky to have walked two Caminos in 2019. Walking one with my brother was a highlight of the year. It was our 2nd Camino together, so he is no longer the newbie. The Camino Ingles / Celtic Camino is a great alternative to the walk from Sarria and I would really recommend it, especially if you don’t have the time. The few extra days walk on to Finisterre were special also. Arriving in Santiago and meeting camiga Linda topped off a perfect Camino.

In September, I had a few days annual leave spare so I decided to catch a flight to Lisbon and walk the Camino Portuguese. I gotta say it is one of the tougher Caminos out there and it is important that you don’t over-exert yourself on the first few days. The days can be long and there is alot of road walking but towns like Tomar, Coimbra, Santarem and Carlos’ Albergue Pinheiro’s really made up for it. I made it to Agueda, 60 km short of Porto while my pilgrim buddy walked on to Porto. I will go back one day to walk it over shorter days as I did over-exert myself at times. But with all Camino experiences, we live and learn and adjust for next time.

2019 saw me continue my involvement with Camino Society Ireland by publishing its digital magazine. That will continue into 2020.

2019 saw me take up photography also. In January, I purchased a Canon 750d which I love and I have taken out on a few outings. I need more practice however and I have some good friends who give me feedback. I have purchased a DJI osmo Pocket which will be used for video and photos on my Caminos. The size of it won me over.

2019 saw me move from WordPress.com to a Self-hosted website and to be quite honest I see no benefit in the move. So in April, I will move back to WordPress.com. It was nice to try it out but unless you are looking to monetize your site, or build an audience/mailing list, there is no real advantage.

2020 will see me back on the Camino, there is no surprise there (more about these later).

  • May 15th – 19th – Kerry Camino – Tralee to Dingle
  • September 28th – October 8th – Portuguese Coastal Camino from Porto

I am looking forward to both walks, especially the return to the coastal route. Whether I turn inland at Caminha or continue on remains to be seen. I walk May’s Camino with my brother. The Kerry Camino is part of the Celtic Camino series and should I walk from A Coruna in the future, I would be entitled to a compostela. In September, I travel alone but I am sure to meet fellow pilgrims in Porto. It will more than likely be the final time I am in Santiago in a while as there are other routes I want to walk, so I will savour it.

I’m not going to make any wacky resolutions or predictions. I just want to be happy. Let’s see how that goes. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll change something. The Camino keeps my glass full and as long as I am wandering to Santiago while at the same time writing, I will have no need to complain.

Here’s to 2020.

Towns Along The Way – “H”

Onwards and upwards in the Camino alphabet, we go. We must be near the end! The next letter we meet is H and there are a few. One is in France, four are in Castilla y Leon, and two are in Galicia. Again, please comment if you have stayed in any of these towns.

Honto / Huntto (map)

I have seen many variations in the spelling of this place name, however, this is not so much a town but an area in the Saint Michel region of France. You will pass it within an hour of leaving St. Jean Pied de Port if you choose to walk the Napoleon route. While there are bars and accommodation in Honto (gronze.com), it’s probably best to keep focused on the climb ahead and celebrate when you reach Orrison a further 3km up the road. The road up to Honto is entirely on asphalt but it leaves the road shortly after and gets a lot steeper to Orrison. Enjoy the scenery also as the road gets higher!

Hornillos del Camino (map)

Hornillos is situated about 20 km from Burgos and is in the meseta region of Spain. The meseta is known for being flat, with roads lasting long into the distance. The towns are few and far between and often are unremarkable. Hornillos would be one of these unremarkable towns; it seems as if history left it behind. While it has plenty of accommodation (gronze.com) I prefer to stay in the next town, Hontanas, a further 10 km up the road. The photo above gives you an idea of the vastness of the meseta plain with Hornillos in the distance. The picture was taken from Alto del Meseta some 2 km away.

Hontanas (map)

Hontanas is also situated some 30 km from Burgos. The name is derived from a number of natural springs (fontanas) that can be found in the locality. If you choose to walk the 31km from Burgos (like I have), don’t let the flat landscape deter you but keep on walking. It is a favourite of many pilgrims! Hontanas is built in a valley so it is very difficult to spot the town at first but when you see the church steeple you will be surprised. I have stayed in the municipal albergue at the edge of town on both occasions that I have been here, but there are other albergues (gronze.com) so it is worth looking around.

Hospital de Órbigo (map)

There are number of towns that I have passed through but wished to have stayed for longer. La Faba is one and Hospital de Orbigo is another. Situated between Leon and Astorga, it is a major stopping point for many pilgrims. The town is home to the Puente de Orbigo, a long stone medieval bridge. There is also so much history behind the bridge and the town. There are just over 1000 people living in Hospital de Orbigo. You have quite a good selection of albergues here also (gronze.com) with Albergue Verde being one I would recommend. On leaving the town, the road splits in two. One takes you along the main road, while the other takes you off-road through Villares de Orbigo.

Hospital da Cruz (map)

Hospital da Cruz is a rural hamlet located between Portomarin and Palas de Rei in Galicia. It is just over 80 km from Santiago and has just under 50 people living there. The town has a municipal albergue (gronze.com) and a number of bars for a mid-morning cerveza or cafe con leche!

Hospital da Condesa (map)

Yet another town named Hospital. It’s getting difficult to distinguish between the three! Condesa is located just 6 km from O Cebreiro. It has a population of just under 50 and again is a rural-based hamlet. There is a municipal albergue (gronze.com) and bars with good reviews. While you pass through, you will notice the Church of San Xoan (Saint Joan in English). From here on, you have a steady ascent to Alto do Poio.

Las Herrerías de Valcarce (map)

And the final town starting with H is Las Herrerias de Valcarce. Las Herrerias is situated between Villafranca del Bierzo and O Cebriero. The placename means The Blacksmiths in English. Interesting. The town is right beside the Valcarce river and is the last stop before the road climbs to La Faba. There are about 39 people living here at present. Myself, I haven’t stayed here, preferring to pass through quickly in 2012. There is an albergue here along with a number of pensions (gronze.com). Shortly after you leave Las Herrerias, you leave the asphalt road to La Faba. It’s a tough climb but it is well well worth it. Enjoy it!

My next post in this series will focus on Itero de la Vega, Linzoáin, Larrasoaña, Lorca, Los Arcos, Logroño, Lédigos and León. See you then!

Towns Along The Way – “F”

Welcome back! I hope you are enjoying this series and your memory is being refreshed! It certainly is helpful for me and interesting to see the many different types of accommodation being provided since I started walking way back in 2011. Hopefully, this won’t be the last “TATW” post of 2019 as I am on a bit of a roll.

Today, I will talk about F. Again, let me know if you have stayed in any of these towns.

La Faba (map)

Yet another village I haven’t stayed in but keep meaning to, La Faba means The Beans in Spanish. It is a small mountain town between Villafranca del Bierzo and El Cebreiro. It has a population of just over 30 people. While the name of the village doesn’t stand out, there is quite a lot of love for it from the pilgrim community and it has one of the best albergues on the Camino Frances; Albergue de la Faba. I have not stayed here myself, preferring to walk on to O Cebreiro, another 5km on. Once you reach La Faba, and it’s a long climb, you won’t have far before arriving at the Galician border.

Ferrerios (map)

One of many many small Galician hamlets that you will pass through while on the Camino. This particular town has 50 or so inhabitants and is approximately 14 km from Sarria. There is nothing very eye-catching in this town, however, keep an eye out for the Iglesia de Santa María de Ferreiros which has an unusual cemetery. The scenery is very shire-esque and when passing through, make sure you stop at Casa Cruceiro for a cafe con leche and sello. There are a number of places to stay there also (gronze.com). Just another 104km to go to Santiago.

Fillobal (map)

Another Galician town and one so small I almost considered leaving it out from the list. Fillobal is situated some 4 km before Triacastela and has a population of just 9. The town does hold a cafe and an albergue for pilgrims however at Albergue Fillobal. On walking through here in 2012, I was so focused on arriving at Triacastela and the albergue. I passed Fillobal in the blink of an eye.

Foncebadón (map)

From Galicia, we move to Castilla and the Leon hills. Like Fillobal, it has a small population. It is situated between Rabanal del Camino and Molinaseca. More and more people are choosing Foncebadon to finish walking for the day. It is very close to the Cruz de Ferro and watching the sunrise from there is pretty special. The climb up to Foncebadón can be challenging but the views are worth it. When you walk in to Foncebadon, it looks like a town in ruins, but the Camino is bringing growth to the area. During the summer months, it can be busy and there are accommodation, albergues, and bars (gronze.com). I haven’t stayed there myself, choosing to stay in the town beforehand, Rabanal del Camino. Maybe next time.

Fonfría (map)

From Leon, we return swiftly to Galicia and not too far from Fillobal. Fonfria is some 9 km from Triacastela. Again, it is a typical Galician town with green the predominant colour and many of the buildings are made of stone slabs. This is rural Spain at it’s finest. The town does have a selection of albergues and pensions also (gronze.com). On leaving Fonfria, you have a steep climb to Alto do Poio and then a further 150 km to Santiago! Enjoy your final few weeks!

Frómista (map)

Iglesia de San Martin in Fromista

The final town beginning with F and close to 450 km to Santiago is Frómista. It is situated in the province of Palencia and has a population of just under 1000 people. It has everything that a large town would have so many people choose here to lay their heads for the night (gronze.com). One of the main attractions of the town is the Iglesia de San Martin (pictured). I prefer to stay in Boadilla del Camino. You will be close to the halfway point at this stage on reaching Fromista, although the official halfway point is just before Sahagun.

The next instalment will feature towns beginning with H including favourites of mine Hospital de Orbigo and Hontanas. If you have stayed in or have any comments about the above towns, please comment below.

Weekend Watch #61 – Miriam from Germany

Another video from the Camino Frances, this time from Miriam from Germany. She recently enjoyed a September Camino and had a ball. You can watch her YouTube channel where she gets to grips with life after the Camino! I love this video, I hope you do too!

Towns Along The Way – “E”

The next letter on the “Towns Along the Way” series is “E”, as there are no towns starting with “D” (I dare you to look!). There aren’t too many so here goes…working towards Santiago.

Espinal (map)

Espinal is a typical Basque village and one of the first you will encounter after leaving Roncesvalles. At this point, you have 871km left before Santiago. Its name in Basque is Aurizberri and on leaving the town you are faced with a climb to Alto Mezkiritz. While not many stop here, there are many accommodation options (www.gronze.com). I don’t remember much of this town as I had stopped in Burguette (the town previous), and was deep in conversation with newfound Camino friends!.

Estella (map)

We meet Estella (or to give it it’s full name Estella-Lizarra) 115km from St  Jean Pied de Port. Estella is also part of Navarra and has a population of over 13,000 people. On entering the town, you cross the Picudo Bridge and are greeted with the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, a large Romanesque church. There are plenty of places to stay (www.gronze.com).  I have good memories of my time here and of the Agora Hostel, a great place to stay.

Espinosa del Camino (map)

And finally, Espinosa del Camino is located about 40km (or 2 days walk) from Burgos. It is in Castille y Leon and has a population of just over 30 people. It makes a living from the Camino with a number of cafes and albergues (www.gronze.com). It was in this town that I met a good Camino friend and had a cafe con leche, only to be told I walk too fast. And that was my first day!! Above we have Albergue La Campana, a great place to stop for a rest!

The right shoes for your Camino.

I need to buy a new pair of shoes soon as my current pair are a little run down. I embark on the Kerry Camino in May. And there is no better place for hiking shoes/boots than the Great Outdoors on Dublin’s George’s Street. I usually buy shoes at the start of the year and they last me 12-18 months.

My preferred brand is Salomon. I have worn shoes from North Face, Colombia, Meindl, and Merrell, but Salomon X Ultra GTX is the most comfortable for me so far. There are people that can walk a full Camino with a pair of €20 tennis shoes or even sandals(!) however I would prefer not to take my chances having experienced blisters and sore muscles on previous Caminos.

Salomon X Ultra GTX

Here are just a few tips before you consider buying a pair of new shoes/boots:

  1. Be sure what you need. What is the type of terrain of the route you are taking? Is it flat or rocky with ascents and descents or a mixture? Are boots really needed?
  2. What season will you be walking in? If you are walking in March or April, you may need to choose boots instead of shoes. If you are walking in Summer, boots might be too heavy.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. When you buy your shoes/boots, wear them as much as possible, break them in, get used to them. They will be your best friends on the Camino.
  4. Buy a 1/2 a size extra. On the Camino when you walk, your feet will expand due to heat so the extra space is helpful.
  5. Talk to an assistant in the store and have your feet fitted. Listen to the advice. Try on as many shoes/boots as you can. It’s probably a good idea to buy insoles with them too. Superfeet is a good brand.
rei.com

So have you any stories or advice you want to share about buying footwear? Let me know in the comments!

The Camino Podcast – Re-walking the Camino

Hi folks. If you are planning your Camino, the information you receive from people who have walked the Camino previously can be more valuable than the information you find in guide books. So the following may prove valuable to you. I came across a podcast owned by Dave Whitson from Portland, Oregon, called “The Camino Podcast”. There are over 20 episodes uploaded on iTunes, Soundcloud and on his website www.northerncaminos.com. Dave is also the author of “The Northern Caminos” guidebook which dissects the Caminos north of the French Way.

A number of episodes on his podcast form a series where Dave “re-walks” the Camino with previous pilgrims. I was delighted to be asked to discuss the stretch from Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Burgos. You can hear me at the 29-minute mark in part 2. Below are all three episodes and you can find further uploads from Dave by clicking here.

Some more walking while the evenings get darker..

It’s that time of year… I’ve seen the first Christmas trees. The advertisements have been playing on radio and TV for the last few months and people have started to get in to that frame of mind.

Christmas!

Of course, my mind is a million miles away and I’d rather be following arrows than making shops that little bit richer. Careful now, someone might accuse me of not being in the Christmas spirit. Au contraire! Give me a few weeks until we are in December and I should have sufficient time to prepare.

So what have I have been doing since I last posted nearly one month ago?

Well, the Camino spirit has not left me entirely since I returned from Portugal. Since I last wrote, plans are ongoing to walk from Porto to Santiago in September. The one unanswered question is whether I walk the coastal route or the classic internal route. By walking along the coast, I am adding 2 days to my trip however the coast gives you the added bonus of the breeze until you move inland. This question will remain unanswered until I arrive in Porto, I guess, and I will let my feet do the talking.

I have been on two walks – one long, and one short. The first was on the Boyne Valley Camino which starts at St. Peters Church in Drogheda. I was actually meant to write a bit about this walk but time got in the way however below are some of my favourite photos from the day. My friend Oihana and I took the commuter train to Drogheda from Dublin and walked the 25 km looped walk. It is a good mixture of forest, road walking, walking along the River Boyne, with the added historical element too. This walk is part of the Celtic Camino series and you can pick up a nice certificate from Camino Society Ireland if you collect stamps during your walk. More information here: Boyne Valley Camino.

Thanks to Oihana (Facebook page) for providing some of her photos. We had a fun day. It’s always great to try out newer walks, especially ones that are closer to home. I would definitely recommend the walk and if you get the chance, do walk the full loop. It can be a bit challenging during the winter months but during the Summer it would be perfect, I would imagine. The Batttle of the Boyne site, Mellifont Abbey and Oldbridge house are interesting. We did manage to get lost however, due to some signage going missing. We were back on track before long.

The following week (the 16th November), I walked a short walk with Camino Society Ireland. Out to Howth Head we would go. It would be a morning of firsts. I am so used to the purple loop or bog of frogs but due to ongoing works, this path was closed so we opted for the Black Linn Loop, following the red arrows. I brought along my DSLR, Canon 750d and took a few photos. You can check them out on the Camino Society Ireland Facebook page. I am very much a beginner at photography so any tips are useful. I guess the number one tip is practice, practice, practice.

Well that’s all the news here. I hope you are all well. 310 days before I touch down in Portugal..ha! I will post soon!

A little closer to home…

With two weeks planned for a Camino in September / October 2020, the question remains what I will do for the rest of the year. I certainly won’t stay at home and I can’t see myself jetting off on another Camino (unfortunately). With many waymarked trails and pilgrim paths on my doorstep, I have a great opportunity now to walk some of these trails.

Many of these trails are a few days long and can be reached by bus or train. Accommodation is a little different here than in Spain. There are no “albergues” and it is advisable to pre-book in a bed & breakfast or a hostel. As a result, costs can be a little more expensive. This is if you want to walk by yourself. Another option is walking as part of an organised group.

The Kerry Camino (or the Dingle Way) is a 3 day walk (57km) from Tralee to Dingle in the South of Ireland. Each year, over the May bank holiday weekend, large crowds descend on Tralee to walk this pilgrimage to Dingle. I want to walk this trail but while the organised group option is great, it is not for me.

I have already looked into the Kerry Camino for the middle of May and will cost me about the same as the price of a flight! You can watch a good video on this way below.

St Kevin’s Way (30km) follows in the footsteps of St Kevin through the hills of Wicklow to the monastic ruins in Glendalough. The main start for the route is Hollywood. The route is well marked and takes you through a wide variety of landscapes as it climbs towards the Wicklow Gap. From here the descent brings you to Glendalough and monastic ruins. I have walked half of this walk on two occasions and I love it. It can be a bit tricky when it is raining but when the sun is out, there is nothing better.

St. Kevin’s Way – VisitWicklow.ie

St. Declan’s Way is a modern walking route linking the ancient centres of Ardmore in County Waterford and Cashel in County Tipperary.  The route most commonly associated with St. Declan’s Way is 56 miles (96 kilometres) long and crosses the Knockmealdown Mountains at Bearna Cloch an Buideal (Bottleneck Pass), an elevation of 537m.  St Declan’s Way Walk utilises the route of a number of ancient and medieval pilgrimage and trading routes such as the Rian Bo Phadraig (Track of St. Patrick’s Cow), Bothar na Naomh (Road of the Saints), Casan na Naomh (Path of the Saints) and St. Declan’s Road

St Declan’s Way

There are others but I’ll be realistic as I don’t have too many holidays 🙂 I can decide on others later on.

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