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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My Wrist is Free!

Just a quick post to let you know that today my cast on my left wrist has been removed. I have been discharged as the doctors feel happy that the wrist has healed. As you can imagine, it feels very strange and tender now, having been restricted for a month and a half. I had a session of physio following the removal of the cast and I was given some homework to do. My wrist is pretty stiff at the moment but hey! it’s making progress. I’m back to the physio in a month by which time I will be able to do handstands (or at the very least use my pacerpoles).

So now it’s time to get cracking on the exercises given to me, and feel glad that I can eat Christmas dinner with both hands.

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Ouch!!

Fitbit fanatic – guilty as charged.

Fitbit!

One of the many many “activity tracking wristbands” that measure your lifestyle from how many steps you walk in a given day; how many calories you lose to how many hours you sleep. Nike, Garmin, Jawbone and Microsoft all have products, and prices range from €50 right up to €250 depending on what features you are looking for.

simple.b-cssdisabled-png.h825b270eef65f5acc229a4cf487d8cc7I have been a Fitbit fanatic since the middle of 2014 when I bought a Fitbit Flex and I haven’t looked back. Yes, there may be other features on other brands that differ but the Flex (for me, anyway) was great for starting out. I am such a stat geek that this pulled me hook, line and sinker. I liked the thought of having a record of each of my walks stored and the tracker had a number of smartphone apps to choose from also. You can also set goals for yourself. I try to walk 50km per week. I try to use any excuse to get away from my desk in the office and watch my steps increase. However, the Flex has it’s downsides. It can come off your wrist with any amount of force and I have previously bought two replacement bands.

So, I used my upcoming birthday as an excuse to buyfitbit-charge-hr-heart-rate-and-activity-wristband-blk-large-fb405bkl-iset the Fitbit Charge, the Flex’s sturdier, more steadfast but more expensive brother. But I love it! I own it over a week now and it has given me even more motivation to get out and beat my goals. On it’s main screen, you are provided with the time, your steps total for the day, kms walked for the day, calories lost and the amount of floors climbed. While this shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a watch, I don’t need to wear one.

So, do you wear an activity band? How do you find it? Also, if you own a Fitbit, you can find me here!

Camino 2015 – Day 1 – Belorado to Atapuerca

Ok ok..I’m one day behind on the blog already and I’m only two days in. The shame! So now that I’ve just finished my menu del dia and I’ve located some wifi, I’ll let you know how I got on yesterday.
I woke up before 6am ready to hit the road. The couple at Casa Waslala had been great but it was time to move on. It was still dark when I left and it wasn’t until 7am until the sun started to rise. Wow what a sunrise. I stood still waiting for the sun to pop up and gradually the temperatures rose. I stopped at Espinosa del Camino and had a coffee, croissant and Aquarius. Lovely. Lisa from Germany sat down and we had a chat for a half hour or so. I said goodbye shortly after as my pace picked up. I reached the truckstop town of Villafranca Montes de Oca and took another rest stop. Here the Camino takes a sharp incline and I struggled a bit trying to reach the top. I entered a wooded forest of pine trees at this stage and while it’s all well and good from a natural point of view,  12km of it is mundane. I had music so I was happy. I reached St Juan de Ortega before 11am. The church is undergoing work, long overdue in my book. Still can’t understand why JBB has Ortega has an end stage? I walked on still feeling fine and under no pain. I think Ages will be fine to stop, I thought to myself. Hmm..not to be. All the albergues were booked up, just like I had predicted. Onwards to the Unesco heritage village of Atapuerca where I was greeted by the same albergue I stayed in 2013.
El Peregrino was not open until 1pm so I had under an hour to kill. I looked for the other albergue without luck, so I ventured back to El Peregrino. It’s a flimsy,  pre fab with very little care for noise control. I think I got 4 hours sleep. That said I met some great people that I hope to meet again in the coming weeks. Lisa stayed there along with Tom and Caroline from Ireland. There was Franz from Germany and Tina from Denmark. I ate in the aptly named Como Sapiens.
All in all a tough day walk but at least the next day would be shorter.

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Article : National Pilgrim Paths Day

Article : National Pilgrim Paths Day

Today was National Pilgrim Paths Day in Ireland and this link has a great article to highlight that. Over the last few months, there has been a great drive to encourage people to walk one (or some) of the many walkways throughout Ireland. There are looped, circular and linear walks, each with their own forms of difficulty. Many (if not all) are way-marked and much work has been done to maintain these treasures. Websites like www.irishtrails.ie and www.pilgrimpath.ie promote these trails.

While trojan work has been done, I think that there should be work done in weaving these paths to create one trail over a number of counties. Not only will this attract tourists but it could be great for the many towns it passes. It may be difficult putting structure in place like the various Caminos in Spain but there is no harm working towards it.