I stumbled across this video on YouTube after the Camino Society of Ireland posted it on Facebook. It was made last year during an open day in Galway, Ireland. The people in the video give their reasons why they walked the Camino, should you walk alone or with a group and how to prepare.
For those based in Ireland, the Irish Society are holding a number of open days around the country. More information about that can be found on their website.
I’m smiling as I write this.
I hope (and want) to be back in Spain in September but I have nothing planned…no leave booked, no flight tickets bought, nothing. In previous years, I would have everything arranged and would only be counting down the days on my Camino-themed laptop desktop! (Yes, I’m obsessed!) It’s actually the least prepared I’ve ever been for a trip. But does it bother me? Nope! I have a feeling it will work out fine. I might have to pay a little bit extra for flights but that’s not a problem.
However, the one thing that I have prepared is my kit. Over the last few weeks, I have been putting together my packing list for the next time I put my feet on Spanish soil. I haven’t given my kit much thought since I returned last May and now is an ideal time to do that. I was given vouchers by family and friends for my favourite store, Great Outdoors, and bought 2 items there. I also bought 2 items on Amazon, which I have used over the years. So I may as well get started:
Helly Hansen Velocity Fleece – I have worn light fleeces since I started out on the Camino.
My favourite brand would be Helly Hansen but Berghaus are pretty good too. Last year, I bought a Helly Hansen Daybreak Quarter Zip, but what I have chosen is a full-zip. Ideal for cold mornings.
Bridgedale Men’s Coolfusion Run Speed Demon Socks – I have been a big fan of 1000 mile fusion socks since 2012. I never saw the need for a change.
But, I just decided to give these a go. I haven’t actually tested them out on a long walk, but I will do so soon. I have never worn short socks either, so I’m in the deep end here. They look great though!!
Craghoppers Kiwi Men’s Long Sleeved Shirt – I’m a big fan of shirts while on the Camino. You have the collar if it is too warm, and you can roll down the sleeves if it is too cold / warm.
Last year, my brand of choice was Columbia but it is just a little worn so I’ve bought a Craghoppers to bring the average age of my kit down a little. Here’s hoping it lasts a little longer. It’s quick dry also which is a plus in my books.
And finally, I bought an Icebreaker Tech Tee Lite Shortsleeve. I has got to be merino for me. It is red – meh..the colour is not a problem, but I bought it as there was a sale on 🙂 I still have a Helly Hansen Polo neck tee shirt which is perfect..light, quick dry. I wore it last year and it caused me no problems. So I guess I will wait until closer to the day before I decide which of those I choose. Maybe both!
So I don’t think I will add to my kit until closer to the time. I’m quite happy with what I have now.
There are so many “Ways” to Santiago de Compostela. From the South, you can walk from Seville on the Via de la Plata or from Lisbon on the Camino Portuguese. From the North, you can walk from Irun, Ferrol, Bilbao or Santander on the Camino del Norte. From the West, your feet can take you from Muxia or Finistere. Or from the East, your Camino can begin in many different points across Europe including St Jean Pied de Port on the Camino Frances. Although, it is a well known phrase that you can start your Camino from the moment you leave your front door!
However, one increasingly popular way is the Camino Primitivo…the Primitive or Original Way. Many pilgrims are veering away from the over-crowded Camino Frances to walk a shorter Camino and still gain a compostela. It is said to be the oldest route and pilgrims use that as a great reason to walk it. The Camino Primitivo starts in Oviedo and works it’s way across western Asturias and Galicia. It is 320 kilometres long and can be walked in two weeks. A caveat however….this Camino is much more challenging than it’s cousin that begins in the Pyrenees, so be prepared.
So why am I writing about this, you may ask yourself? Well, I just want to share with you an article I stumbled on, written by Peter Murtagh in the Irish Times. Peter and his daughter, Natasha, wrote Buen Camino!, and if you are serious about the Camino, you should give it a read. More recently Peter and his son walked the Camino Primitivo and this article is a journal telling us all how they both got on. Give it a read…maybe you will consider it in the future. I know I will.
…it’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
..I haven’t got used to writing it yet, but at least we have got one extra day to try and complete all those New Year’s resolutions, eh?
Christmas was good but I’m happy to be out of silly season. There wasn’t much walking done, however, as the weather was as Irish as you can get. However, I was one of the lucky ones as hundreds of homes around Ireland were destroyed due to flooding. The beautiful Lough Derg Way which I walked last year, and the towns surrounding it, is submerged in water. The weather, in general, has been unusual for this time of the year with tornadoes in America and extreme heat in Australia. I find it insane that some people still don’t believe in global warming.
Anyway, moving on…
I’m really eager to receive a new purchase in the post next week. I love keeping an eye out for books (paperback or kindle) about the Camino and I have found one written by Luke Darracott. Luke walked the Camino a couple of years back and decided to write about it before going. He also video logged his journey. Once I receive it and read it, I will post a review. It can be bought online on lulu.com. I love the cover art, it’s very vibrant and it’s just like the Camino during the months of May and June.
And finishing up for now, I’ve decided on returning to Spain in September when I will walk from Ponferrada to the coast. I haven’t walked this section since 2012 so I’m eager to return. More on that later.
2015 was a fun year…not a funny year, but it was eventful.
This blog grew in so many ways and so did my love for the Camino de Santiago. The name of the site was changed to ClearskiesCamino.com when I realised that I had much more to offer. This, in turn, gave me the motivation to write more.
The blog was also nominated for “Best Travel Blog” at the Irish Blog Awards. I didn’t win but I didn’t expect to. The fact that I was listed as a finalist (with 9 pretty impressive websites) gave me enough reason to continue what I have been doing for the last 3-4 years. After the Awards, I had an amazing banner created for me and everything was fitting into place.
So what were the highlights and low lights of the year? What made 2015 stand out? There were a few, other than what I have mentioned above.
1) My return to the Camino Frances in 2015
This has become an annual event at this stage, but I don’t plan it to be. May saw my return to Spain (for the 5th time) when I walked from Belorado to Molinaseca, over 320km. I flew to and returned from Bilbao. The weather was ideal and I met great people. I mostly walked alone so that was different to my previous Caminos. However I did damage some ligaments behind my knee which left me unable to walk properly for a while when I returned. The gear I used remained the same and I didn’t buy much else. However, I bought a new backpack in the Christmas Sales in January, a Lowe Alpine AirZone. It was perfect. I had intended to blog while on the Camino, but after two days, I threw that promise out the window. Instead, I wrote about my times there when I returned.
2) The Lough Derg Way
In April, I visited some Camino friends in Limerick and walked part of the Lough Derg Way. It was great preparation for my upcoming Camino in May and their Camino in June. The Lough Derg Way is one of the many trails in Ireland and takes you from Limerick City to a little town called Dromineer. It is very close to the River Shannon and all in all it is 30km. There is an issue with signage with this trail and we needed to ask for directions a number of times, however, the weather was great and it was just what I was looking for before I headed off a few weeks later. I returned in August to walk another stage.
3) A Lack of Decisiveness – 2016
From the time I returned from Spain, right through the year, there has been an eagerness to return in 2016. Where and when, or if I am returning at all, I don’t know. I had dabbled with the idea of walking one of the less populated routes, the Camino Ingles or the Invierno, but I prefer company so the Camino Frances is ideal. In the end I decided to choose early September from Ponferrada to Finistere, which is over 300km. It should take 2 weeks, more or less. Another reason for my lack of decisiveness is that I have an incurable condition called “Santiago-phobia” (in jest). I haven’t walked in Galicia since 2011, preferring the meseta and La Rioja. I often wonder what the crowds will be like. I will find out soon enough.
4) I Gave A Talk About the Camino
In May, I was asked to give a talk about the Camino along with two other friends. It was due to be given in September in Limerick and I was given the task of talking about the different routes, a bit about the history, and how to get there from Ireland. When the night came, a crowd of over 60 turned up. I was nervous to say the least but once I got going, I was fine. I hope, in the future, to be asked to give future talks.
5) The Introduction of the Weekend Watch series
Back in July, I decided to introduce a series on the site called “Weekend Watch” with the aim of posting a Camino-related video each Saturday. At present, we are at Number 22. There is no shortage of Camino videos on YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. There are some people who post entire vlogs from the Camino or wait until they return. Give them a watch when you get a chance.
6) Denise Thiem
This has been a very sad year in the Camino community. Denise Thiem went missing in April of this year but her body was found in September. It is important to be extra vigilant now, especially around the Santa Catalina region where she was taken.
7) The Camino Through My Eyes
I decided to introduce this series to the blog back in October and it has been a tremendous success. I have asked 4 bloggers who have walked the Camino de Santiago a series of questions with the hope of passing on valuable information to those planning. What struck me is no two answers were the same. The most popular post of the year was belonging to Maggie Woodward in October. I hope to continue this series in 2016.
8) 40,000 hits
Just before Christmas, the site hit 40,000 views. This is a massive achievement and I only have you, the reader, to thank. I go into 2016 with confidence that this blog will provide future pilgrims with essential information.
If you could share my blog with your friends and “like” my Facebook page, I would appreciate that.
Happy Christmas to you all.