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!

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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.

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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: