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Posts from the ‘walk’ Category

Weekend Watch #60 – Christmas Ideas for a Pilgrim

So it’s that time of year. If you are a pilgrim or you have a friend or family member who is a long-distance walker or pilgrim, this video may be helpful. For me, a few small items or a voucher for an outdoor store means more than splashing out on anything I won’t use.

This great post from Nadine lists a number of other suggestions, including books, backpacks, or journals. But if you are closer to home, why not treat your favourite pilgrim to membership to his or her local Camino society or association, in my case Camino Society Ireland. It is just €20 for the year and you will be in touch with other pilgrims as you plan other Caminos.

Buen Camino!

Howth Head – A Camino on my doorstep…

I can’t praise Howth Head and it’s various loops high enough. I live 15 minutes on the train from this great town and it’s impossible not to get tired of this beauty of a walk. The Bog of Frogs Loop – it’s longest walk at 12km – has many surprises and I’ve often described it as Camino in one day. It has everything – uphills, descents, bright colours, smells and of course, the sea!

I walked it on Sunday with the Camino Prep / Training meet-up group, starting out just after 10.30. Howth was pretty quiet at this time save for a pipe band that were setting up, possibly for a competition later on that day. Before arriving at the head, there is a gradual ascent on footpath – a little like what it’s like coming out of St Jean Pied de Port, until we arrive at the cliffs. A decent climb up rocks leads us to the cliff face and you can see all of Dublin at this stage. On busy days, people from all over the world visit this area to take in it’s views. I don’t blame them.

Onwards we walked with the strongest walkers at the front and myself and fellow peregrino Oihana at the back. Three hours later we arrived back to the village and devoured a well deserved cafe con leche. It was also great to meet new members to the group, some of whom are planning their own Caminos in the coming months.

Next Saturday, the 1st of July, I walk through Ticknock and the Dublin mountains with Camino Society Ireland. If you are in the area and want to join us, more information is here

Below are some photos of the walk on Sunday, many thanks to Oihana for taking such great pictures.

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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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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..

 

So how did you hear about The Camino de Santiago?

I’ve been asked to go into this in brief in the Camino talk next week so I think it’s an ideal time to post about it. The majority of people have found out about Santiago and it’s many Ways from the amazing Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez’s film, ‘The Way’. Others may have read about it in travel magazines or books, most notably, The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. However, I found out about it purely by accident.
aware-logoI have the great organisation, Aware, to thank for in this case. Because if it was not for them, I would not have this addiction and urge to go back to Spain each year. In the middle of 2010, I was handed a hastily put-together leaflet telling me about their plans to “Walk the Camino”. At the time, Aware was my chosen charity and I have fund raised a number of times for them. Anyway, I read through the leaflet but put it to one side once I had finished, not giving it a second thought. It just wasn’t for me but I promised that I would advertise it where I could. A number of weeks later, I saw the leaflet and thought..”well, let’s see what’s involved first?”, and wrote an email to the organisers. Within a few days, I received a information pack giving me a little bit of information about the Camino, the plan, what to bring, costs and what was required to fundraise!
At that stage, my two feet had taken their first steps, so to speak. I had started walking longer distances and had started to fund raise for this great charity. I will never forget the Table Quiz night in a packed pub in Dublin when I raised the vast majority of funds. However, while things were starting to fit into place, little did I know what to expect when I arrived there. I had done very little in preparation for the actual Camino, spending more time on fundraising.
June 3rd 2011 – All 8 of us boarded our flight for Santiago de Compostela. It was my 1st time in Spain with 0% Spanish. We were carrying suitcases, save for one guy with a backpack. On arriving in Santiago, we met our guide, and zipped across to Sarria, some 110km westwards. He got to know us all and gave us details of our next day’s walk. We were of all ages, from all over Ireland, with various abilities. I was pretty sure I could walk 20km the next day, but for 5 or 6 days in a row..time would tell. We checked into our nice hotel on arriving in Sarria and had some dinner. The one thing I remember is desperately wanting to stick with one of my fellow walkers as I had no spanish. I felt totally lost otherwise.
Garry1The following day, we left our hotel with nothing but a day-pack, a packed lunch and some water. Within a few kms we were greeted by a whole host of people walking in the same direction..whoa!..”is it normally this crazy?” I thought to myself. I also noticed folks carrying large rucksacks. “Is this normal?”, I thought again. I’m not sure I would be able to do that, and not at the pace they were going at. I met people from the world over, quite a lot were willing to stop and chat and tell you about their first day. I learnt my first few words of Spanish also..”de donde eres?”..”where are you from? You either get a look of bemusement, which means the person in question is not Spanish, or a conversation will begin! That day I was introduced to the Camino, and I was delighted to arrive in Portmarin some 22km later. The following days were tough, I won’t lie. I suffered. But, I enjoyed my times with my walking buddies. I loved the Spanish way of life and culture and when I arrived in Santiago, I celebrated, took it all in and left. I didn’t think I would come back. For me, I had “Walked the Camino”.

Garry50It wasn’t until September of 2011, when I started looking over photographs, did I reconsider going back to Spain and walk another section. This time I wanted to walk a different Camino, I wanted to walk my Camino. I emailed Garry, the guide from the previous trip, and he sent me on great information on packing lists, albergues and great information on how to get to Leon, my starting point. At this time, The Way had just been released and there was a great increase in interest. I set off in May 2012 and I guess the rest is history. I connected with the spirit of the Camino this time, no matter how much pain I feel. It’s a great chance to strip away the layers of materials that you have in everyday life, so all you’re left with is happiness. I just wish I could walk a full Camino, but hey! ho!..that’s for another post!! 🙂

In many ways, my Caminos from 2012 to May 2015 have been different to 2011, but I will always be thankful for that hastily put-together leaflet given to me in 2010.

So how did you hear about the Camino de Santiago?

Leafy Loop, Durrow…

The last few months have been the busiest I have been work-wise. The heavy storms in December to February have taken its’ toll on me as well as lot of people in Ireland. Sometimes, working in property claims is not all it is made out to be. But now that things have calmed down, I can finally start thinking of my return to Spain. I have a little over 2 months before I touch down in Biarritz. Now where is that backpack of mine?? 

I have arranged for a practise walk in a well known trail in the midlands before I go. I hope to meet some guys I met on the Camino last May and walk the Leafy Loop in Durrow, Co Laois. It is 24km long walk through forests, rivers, up hills and down into Durrow itself. If it is a fine day, it could be exactly what I need before I tackle the Pyrenees. It is just a start though. I am by no means prepared so hopefully this walk will point me in the right direction.

You can get a closer look at the Leafy Loop on Everytrail.com here.

Table Quiz / GAA League

Just thought I’d give an update on how things are going now that I have 6 weeks to go to the event. I am on few days annual leave so it is best to get this out now as I never will otherwise. I have a few things in the pipeline with regards to fundraising for the Camino walk. Firstly, I have a table quiz organised for the 13th of May in Dublin. I’ve invited work colleagues, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and pretty much everyone I know to come along. It promises to be a great night. It will be the first Table Quiz (or any event) I have organised so it is all new to me. So if you have time on Friday, the 13th May, drop in! Also, I have (along with the brother) set up a GAA Fantasy Football league to commence on May 22nd right through to the end of September. Basically you can pick 7 teams and along the way, you pick up points for every win, goal and points scored, provincial title won and so on. The winner will end up with €200. You don’t need to be a GAA whiz at all to enter. I am in the process of arranging an online payment system, but when I have that arranged we are all ready to go. I really hope to get a good uptake and if popular I can make this into an annual fundraiser. Again, all additional funds go to Aware. Aware have been a charity of choice for the last few years. If you want to find out more about either the GAA Fantasy League or Table Quiz or if you would like to donate for the trek, feel free to message me on Twitter @clearskies or email me at caminogaaleague@gmail.com. Thanks. David.