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Posts from the ‘trails’ Category

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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Camino de Santiago Android Phone Apps

Just before I start, I must point out that this post is not for everyone. When it comes to phones or technology in general on the Camino, there are different types of pilgrim. There is the pilgrim who leaves his or her phone at home and wants to get the full Camino experience. There is the pilgrim who leaves his or her phone off whilst walking and uses it at the end of the day. And then there is the tech joy pilgrim. I am somewhere in the middle of the latter two. I usually have my Phone with me and use it as a Camera and a browser in wifi areas. However, there are more and more Camino related phone apps created with the pilgrim in mind. They have been developed with up-to-date information on the route and on albergues. Here are some of the best I have used while on the Camino. I own an Android phone so unfortunately, I can’t provide links for Apple devices. Here are just a few I have tried while in Spain.

Buen Camino de Santiago Pro (download)

Buen Camino de Santiago Pro

Buen Camino has sold thousands of guides of the Way of St James and continues to make available to pilgrims all the information required to complete the Way: maps, profiles, all types of accommodation and points of interest. You will find a profile of the route and maps, GPS of all types of accommodation and points of interest.

You can download the Camino de Baztán, Camino Francés, Camino Aragonés, Camino del Norte, Camino Portugués from Tui, the Camino Primitivo, and the Route extension to Fisterra-Muxia.

MAPS.ME – Offline Map and Travel (download)

An incredibly easy app to use. Download it and through wifi, download the maps that you need, whether it be Galicia or La Rioja or the whole of Spain. Then you will have offline maps on your phone before you go and save on mobile data. You also have the ability to create bookmarks which is handy.
It is also very useful if you are walking a quieter route.

Camino de Santiago Eroski Guide (download)

The Eroski Consumer guide shares all the secrets of the Way, exact kilometres of each route and stage, updated pictures, monuments and all the detailed description of the itinerary so you know at all times how to organize, what to see and what to do.
In the app you will find all the information the French Way (from Somport and Saint Jean Pied de Port), Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, Camino de San Salvador, Basque Way of Interior, Road Baztanese, Portuguese Way, English Way, Way Catalan by San Juan de la Peña, Via de la Plata, Camino Sanabrés and to Fisterra and Muxía.

The Wise Pilgrim Collection (download)

Along with the printed selection of guidebooks, there are a wide number of apps to choose from. There are apps for a number of routes. That said, I prefer the guidebook in this case and do tend to carry the WP guide with me when on Camino. But it is entirely your choice. The guidebooks can be bought at www.wisepilgrim.com.

Camino de Santiago Companion (download free demo)

Camino Companion is a guide for your Camino on the French Way. It lists more than 1,300 important waypoints (with 1,360 photographs) from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Muxia. 
The free demo covers the 42-mile (68-km) segment from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Pamplona. 
In-app purchases include:
– The 557-mile/896-km Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Muxia. The guidebook lists every waypoint in order by distance along the trail and how far away you are from each waypoint. The guidebook also includes a detailed town guide for major resupply points, towns, and services along the Camino de Santiago. 

The Way of Saint James – CaminoTool (download)

Another handy app that will help you find something on the Camino. CaminoTool helps you find what you need whilst ensuring the best quality and service: accommodation, restaurants, food, bars, pharmacies, podiatrists, dentists, hospitals, souvenir shops, footwear, excursions, taxis, bookshops.

miCamino – my Camino de Santiago Mobile (download)

Through miCamino you will discover the different routes that make up the Camino de Santiago.
You will learn information from 5 different routes ranging from accommodation to GPS.
The app connects with all major social networks too so you can share your experience.

Have you written about the Camino de Santiago?

Have you walked the Camino Frances or any other Camino? Have you written or created a video of it?

If so, please feel free to share.

You can either post your link in the comments below or email me at clearskiescamino@gmail.com.

To see my current links, click here.

Buen Camino!

Camino Society Ireland hike – Ticknock Woods – 1st July 2017

65 days.

The countdown to my next Camino continues and I long for the day I throw on my backpack and find the first arrow. I can then let the simple life take over and let the walking do the talking. It’s not long away, that’s for sure, so any practice hike until the 4th of September is a good one. Camino Society Ireland held their third hill walk today for members and friends. After last month’s washout in Bray, I was hoping that the weather would be a little kinder to us. A little sun even?

We weren’t disappointed however as the forecast was for variable cloud and sunny spells. I’m not going to argue with that. That said, I did bring along the rain gear, just in case the folks in Met Eireann were passing on false information!

Ticknockmap

Ticknock Forest is located to the very south of Dublin and in the Dublin Mountains. Now, being from the north-side of the city, transport was always going to be an issue but the Camino Society posted directions on Facebook and Google Plus a number of weeks beforehand so all was well. A quick journey on the Dart and following a cross-Dublin bus trip, we were collected and brought to the start point in Ticknock Forest. It is also the site for Biking.ie, a Mountain Biking Company, so we would be sharing the trails with bikers. The word “bicigrino” flashed before my eyes!

I had decided beforehand to invite members of our Camino Prep meet-up group along as it might be helpful to them in their decision to walk the Camino. Eight came along and I was delighted with that. We started off, after some safety announcements, shortly after 11am and it was uphill from the off. The numbers were close to 30, most I knew, some I didn’t. So I wanted to get to know the folks I hadn’t met before. We varied our walk between sections of the Dublin Mountain Way, the Wicklow Way; all the while taking in the best views of Dublin. Naturally, the higher we climbed, the colder it got, so I was glad to bring along a fleece! We reached the top of our climb within an hour and decided to stop for some lunch. Una sabia decisión!

The terrain varied from clear rocky trails, boardwalk, loose gravel, to a particularly dodgy descent through boggy marsh. But maybe that was me taking a wrong turn! Hmm! Highlight of the day was descending through a pine tree forest and spotting an arrow on a tree. It reminded me of the descent to Roncesvalles on day one back in 2014. All in all, we walked close to 10km however, it is one part of Dublin I want to return to. There is potential to walk for longer and there are many trails. An enjoyable day. Thanks to Bernard and Jim for organising.

The next walk will be at the end of August, so if you are interested and live close to Dublin, keep an eye on www.caminosocietyireland.com. If you have an Instagram account, make sure you follow the Society also, there are plenty of exciting things in the pipeline. Below are just a few photos that myself and my fellow peregrino Oihana took today.

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Another Weekend Walk..

Last weekend, myself and some from the Free Camino Prep meet-up group met up and walked a section of the Grand Canal Way. We decided to meet outside of Dublin in a little town called Hazelhatch. The great thing about this trail is not only is it way-marked but it is serviced well by Irish Rail, so myself and my brother caught an early train to Portlaoise from Heuston Station in Dublin. We were practically the only people in the carriage so this was a novelty considering it is exactly the opposite during the week! We arrived in Hazelhatch Station, just outside of Celbridge just after 10am and waited for the remainder of the walkers. By half ten, we were 9, including the both of us, and we decided to make a start. We had 600 metres to reach the start of the trail so it wasn’t far. The Grand Canal Way actually starts in Lucan in Dublin but I chose this 12 km section as it is the easiest to get to and it is the most scenic. It isn’t difficult either, in fact, it is all flat and didn’t cause any of us any bother.

The route is well maintained and it passes many towns if you want to stop for a snack or a coffee. The Grand Canal itself is used to this day by boats and barges making use of the 117km river. We saw plenty of kayakers flying up and down the canal as we walked westward. The trail passes the Lyons Estate with it’s boutique hotel and cafe. €183 will get you a room for a night! After the 12km, we arrived at the town of Sallins. We grabbed a coffee and made way to the train station for the next train Dublin-bound.

I really enjoyed this walk but it lacked any ascent or descent for that matter. If you want an easy walk with good scenery, I would recommend this trail. But as practice for a Camino, I would give it a miss. It can be walked from start to finish in 5/6 days and many people carry tents if they were to walk it as a whole.

Tomorrow, a number of the group walk from Dun Laoghaire to Killiney Hill and back. I will write when we complete that. Follow me on instagram (@clearskiescamino) for some photos as the day progresses.

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The White Spinc Trail – Glendalough

Another beautiful day and another trip with the Camino prep meet-up group. Each time I meet with them, I feel like I have stumbled across a pot of gold. Yesterday, we took on the Spinc trail at Glendalough. As some of you may know, Glendalough is home of St. Kevin’s church and monastic site. The Wicklow Way also passes through this area.

Walk-of-the-Week-1-May-Glendalough-Claires-map-1024x668

We arrived at 10am and started on a short walk to the trail head. At that point, we were greeted with a long and steep climb. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though as there were steps to aid us..near on 650 of them! It wasn’t long before the calves began to give in! After a half hour, we reached the top and were met with a fantastic view above the upper lake and Glenealo river. After a quick breather, we marched on, taking advantage of the boardwalks. A short time later, we reached the top of the Spinc. Boy, was that tough! But for all the aches and pains, we were rewarded ten-fold with amazing views. Looking down over the cliff-face, you can see the path on the other side of the lake. We would be walking this in a few hours.

The trails were full while we walked as many took advantage of the Easter season and took in a hike. There were many tourists out also. I was really impressed to see children of all ages run up the ascent with no bother! A further hour passed and after a descent (in some parts dangerous) we reached the old Lead-mine ruins. We all stopped here for lunch and a breather. We weren’t far from the end, with another 4 km on the flat left. On arriving back to base, we grabbed a coffee and a snack in the Glendalough hotel. I was really happy with the day and having no rain was a bonus! The next few weeks’ walks will keep me busy as I have the Howth Bog of Frogs planned with the Camino Society of Ireland on Saturday, followed by the same on Sunday with the Camino Prep Meet-Up group. The next Saturday (29th April) we have decided to walk from Hazelhatch to Sallins along the Grand Canal Way. Let’s hope it is fine that day too.

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Double D4 Run & New Shoes!

The weekend so far has been great..get out and enjoy it if you can! Fine weather, a perfect Friday night and win in a raffle….. and it’s only Saturday. You can’t beat that!

First of all, last evening, I walked just over 5km in a fun run / walk event with all proceeds going to cancer research. This was the Double D4 Run. The course of the run was on Sandymount Strand, a stretch of beach along the south cost of Dublin. Over 250 took part and I clocked in at 47 minutes. Not bad for just walking. The winner arrived home in 18 minutes. Unbelievable. I often wish I could run but I run into pain (pardon the pun!) with my tendons and shin splints. If you can think of a way to get me running, leave a comment below!

After the race, a delicious BBQ was made available to all and some great music was played. There were some great prizes also. I won a voucher for a pair of Brooks runners / trail shoes! At first, I didn’t know a whole deal about the brand. I had worn Colombia, North Face and Meindl on all my Caminos and I was quite happy with them. However with a little research, it appears that they are very popular in the US and well recommended as a trail shoe. So, after speaking to Drew over on TrailtoPeak.com, I was recommended the Brooks Cascadia 11. Now I need to call the Irish rep to arrange a fitting. It’s a pretty decent prize, so I’d like to thank whoever arranged that.

 

I’m also well into my preparations for the Gudbransdalen in Norway. May 2018 is pretty much set in stone at the moment. So far, I have purchased a Therm-a-rest Z-lite Sol sleeping mat (above), an Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag (which I have yet to receive), and Alison Raju’s Guide to the walk to Trondheim. Onwards to adventure..

 

September and Beyond…

Hi folks, I have been a little pre-occupied over the last few weeks so posts on the blog have been few and far between. However, I don’t have long before my Camino from Santiago to Finistere in September. I’m really looking forward to this. It is new ground and I have heard so many good things about watching the sun fall over the horizon in Finistere and Muxia. Another three months before I board a flight to Santiago!

However, I have been thinking a lot about what to do afterwards; when I return to Dublin and the dust settles. Do I return to Spain and walk another part of the Camino Frances like I have done year-on-year? Or choose another route within Spain? Or maybe about France or further afield? All of these options have whizzed through my mind for a while now. There are so many different walking routes around Europe, including Spain. One such route is in Norway – the St. Olav’s Way. It is under the radar at the moment compared to the routes in Spain, but is being actively promoted by the government in Norway. I believe it will be the “next-big-thing” after the Caminos de Santiago within the next ten years. At present, if you walked alone on one of the Ways in Norway, you will be lucky to meet other pilgrims for days. It is for that reason I have chosen to park it to one side..until now.

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I received news from a pilgrim friend that she intended to walk it in May 2018 with some of her friends. When asked if I would like to join them, naturally I jumped at the chance. While it is a pilgrimage, there are so many differences between walking in Spain and in Norway:

So what is St. Olav’s Way? – St. Olav’s Way is a pilgrimage route to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, the site of the tomb of St. Olav. The main route is approximately 640 kilometres (400 mi) long. It starts in Oslo and heads north up the Gudbrandsdal valley, over the Dovrefjell mountains, and down the Oppdall valleys to end at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

What about accommodation?  – I have a lot to read up on this. All I know is accommodation at present is MUCH different to Spain. Spain offers cheap and plentiful albergues in most towns. There is no guarantee that there will be somewhere to lay your head in Norway so planning and booking ahead will be required. I have also purchased a sleeping mat and bivvy bag as there is a good chance we will be sleeping under the stars. I actually hope we do!

Will my packing list be different? – At present, I am hoping to walking the final 10 days to Trondheim but that may change. My Lowe Alpine 35-45l bag should be fine for this trip however I will need to take sleeping outdoors into account. The temperatures will be colder than in Spain so warm clothes and raingear will be a priority. Also, I will need to take account that I will be carrying food with me. Here is a good example: http://pilegrimsleden.no/en/plan/pakkeliste

I have ordered Alison Raju’s Pilgrim Road to Trondheim guide book which is well recommended. I have a good few months to read up on the walk once I return from Spain in September, but I have already started the planning well in advance!

Some good links: