Camino Portugués – May 2018

On arriving back to Ireland in September, my thoughts turned to next year. This is natural for me!! I had many different routes on my mind, including walking from A Coruna on the Celtic Camino however I settled on the Camino Portugués. I am walking with my brother next May from A Guarda at the Portuguese border and over the course of 10 days, we will walk to Santiago.

I was mindful that this is his first Camino and I wanted to choose a handy stretch for him, and one where he will gain a compostela. The Camino Frances is at the back of my mind for a few years to come. So I hope to walk along the Coastal route from A Guarda – Oia – Baiona – Vigo and into the Central at Redondela. Then we will walk to Santiago.

I don’t know much about this route but I have both Brierley’s and Wise Pilgrim’s guides to read over. Now to get my brother organised with a backpack and some gear!

2018

 

Thoughts on 2018….and a departure.

Heh…I haven’t laid a step on the Camino this year but I’ve already been quietly putting plans together for 2018. It’s constantly on my mind.

Three things are for certain, one other, not so much.

I move into my new humble abode “Casa Herrero” on returning from my meseta Camino in mid-September. With the added responsibility of bills, mortgage etc, from living there, I can’t see walking for more than a week being the right thing to do. I have spent quite a bit on decoration and refurbishment there, so a 2-3 week Camino is not viable. I “could” do it, but it would be far far from wise. So a short few days, no more than a week, is on the cards. Also, after hearing so much about the excellent new Celtic Camino, walking from A Coruna is ideal. So that’s the number one certainty.

Another certainty is I won’t be alone. My brother has been talking about walking a few days on the Camino with me and I’ve been putting him off for quite a while. I suppose because I like to walk alone. But he is persistent 🙂 and rather than introducing him to the Camino at Sarria, starting in A Coruna fits the bill. Short and sweet, and I just know he would be put off from returning if he was to walk from Sarria. He has been gathering all the gear slowly and walks quite a bit…nearly as much as me! Now I wonder if he will carry his pack..hmm…even if he prefers not to, jacotrans is there.

I would love to see the coast again..so I haven’t decided if I will spend a few extra days and walk to Muxia. I need to run that question by my brother also.

Another certainty is, after my meseta Camino in September, I will say goodbye to the Camino Frances for the unforeseen. There is so much of Spain I haven’t seen and so many routes left unwalked. Now is the time to gather information about them. The Celtic Camino is a great start and I will gain my first compostela since 2011, however this one will mean much more! The Camino Frances is a beautiful trail and I have great love for it but it no longer offers surprises, I know what is around each corner.

So I suppose that is 2018…more thoughts later.

Buen Camino amigos y amigas!

Your Stories, Your Camino – Reg & Sue Spittle

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Sue Spittle after she read my post asking for other people’s experiences on the Camino de Santiago. Both Sue and her husband Reg, decided to walk the Camino Frances from Pamplona in 2013. It was their first long distance walk and their first time with backpacks. It seems they really gained from their time on the Camino as they both are “living life with less baggage”! More details about Sue & Reg’s Camino can be found on www.carryoncouple.com/caminodesantigo.

So what was Sue’s impression of her Camino?…..

“We should do it!” That was my reaction in August of 2012 as the credits rolled signaling the end of the Emilio Estevez/Martin Sheen movie, The Way. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I really meant it.

My husband thought I was nuts. We had no backpacking experience, with the exception of an overnighter with friends some 30 years earlier. How could we walk 500 miles? How could we carry everything we needed in a backpack? Where would we stay? What would we eat? What about our privacy? All valid concerns to which I responded, “What if we can do it? Besides, (we were recently retired) what else will we do with all our time?”

Fast forward to an April morning in 2013. Equipped with brand spanking new packs, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, assorted clothing and an abundance of other non-essential personal items, we took our first steps along the Camino, leading us out of Pamplona, Spain and into an entirely new way of life!

● Our training consisted of a variety of day hikes, with and without packs, only 100 miles in all. Trekking poles are a must!
● Albergues, with their dorm-style rooms, were intimidating at first, but we met wonderful people of all ages and nationalities. Do stay in some!
● Some Pilgrim meals were better than others, but all were affordable and often shared
around a communal table. Don’t miss out on this!
● Walk your own Camino. Find a pace and daily mileage count that suits your abilities.
For us it was 12 miles/day. It is not a race!
● Nor is it easy! Sore muscles, tired feet, blisters, sun, rain, snow, snoring, top bunks,
co-ed bathrooms…be prepared!
● The Camino has much to teach all who travel The Way. Appreciate each day for what it
is.

While reaching Santiago was our original goal, we weren’t far from Pamplona when we realized that the adventure would be about so much more. We both experienced a variety of emotions upon arriving in Santiago. Exhilaration, relief, sadness, gratitude…I would encourage you to find your “Way”. It just might change your life!

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Reg & Sue after reaching the top of O Cebreiro

Camino Information Centre – First day proper….

I had such a great time today and the time I was there flew by. I could have stayed much longer, you know?

Today was my first day in Camino Society Ireland’s Information Centre in St. James’ Church. The centre is open from Thursday to Saturday from 10.30am to 3.30pm but I can only take on Saturday due to work. There was myself and another volunteer there for the day and we are there to try help any visitor who had queries about the various Caminos to Santiago. We also sell pilgrim passports, guidebooks and badges for backpacks.

We had a whole host of visitors today. Some walking from Sarria to Santiago, others starting in Astorga and a few taking on the Northern and Portuguese ways. I find that the Portuguese Way has increased it’s popularity.

One future pilgrim is taking her child with her on the Camino del Norte, starting from Bilbao and they hope to walk to Santander. Short and sweet. The little girl must not be over 10. I think that’s brilliant if she is used to walking.

Another future pilgrim is walking from Le Puy in France all the way to Spain and will then continue on the Camino del Norte to Santiago. Once that route has been completed, the plan is to walk from Lisbon to Santiago. This is all for a worthwhile charity – to help Syrian refugees. Truly amazing! I have no idea how long that will take but I’d love to take it on someday. Unfortunately, I have a mortgage now and my pilgrimages will be much shorter for a little while to come.

We finished up at 3.30 and I am back again in the Information Centre in August. I look forward to it and I look forward to continuing to give something back in whatever way that may be.

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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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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The Camino Information Centre – Starting Out

I had such a fun day yesterday at the Camino Information Centre. Based at St. James’ Church in Dublin, the Centre is open from Thursday to Saturday from 10.30 to 3.30 and is run by volunteers for prospective pilgrims. After walking the Camino for a number of years, I felt that the next step was to pass this knowledge on to those who were to take their first steps in the coming months.

I arrived at St. James’ Church after 10am and was greeted by Joe and Aileen, who were to “show me the ropes”, so to speak. This was my training day and although I feel passionate about the Camino and talking about it, I had many questions. My experiences revolved around the French Way out to Finistere but I have very little knowledge of any other routes. Luckily, Joe and Aileen had good knowledge of the Portuguese Way and could give hints and tips regarding great towns to stop at and accommodation.

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We had many visitors and it had to be one busiest days of the year, so I was glad to experience that rather than have the opposite. Many came to buy pilgrim passports, while others came to tell us how they got on after returning from the Camino. We also have a visit from a couple who were hoping to walk from Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago in 7 days! We planned out an itinerary for them and recommended accommodation for them. I can’t wait to hear how they get on! I had a visit from 2 friends from the Camino Prep Meetup group, so that was a surprise. One is walking this Thursday from Sarria so I wish her a Buen Camino! I picked up a pilgrim passport myself for my walk on St. Kevin’s Way and then from A Coruna to Santiago in March or April of next year.

The day had a downside however as we heard the news of the drowning of Danny Sheehy after his currach Naomhog overturned on the River Mino in Galicia as he and his team made way for Porto. It was Danny’s idea to row to A Coruna from Ireland over the course of the last four years.

I make my return to the Camino Information Centre in July and after my time yesterday, I am looking forward to it.