Your Stories, Your Camino – Peadar Costello

I was delighted to receive an email from Peadar Costello, a long time reader to this blog. He has been on the Camino Frances a number of times and has been been bitten by the Camino bug. He returns in September walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Belorado with a friend. Maybe he will write about this particular Camino when he returns? I wish him a Buen Camino either way!

Peadar writes…

I am blessed and fortunate to have been able to walk the Camino Frances. It took me three separate visits to complete the entire Camino and in classic Irish fashion I walked the last section first!

This is my first Camino story :

September 2011 : Astorga to Santiago de Compostela / Finisterre / Muxia

I was 50 in 2011 and had a long standing fascination with the Camino. My wife suggested that to mark this milestone, it was time to stop the Camino talk and start the Camino walk! So on a beautiful sunny Saturday evening I stepped off the Madrid bus in Astorga and headed for the Albergue Siervas de Maria to claim the last bed. Early the next morning I took my very first (nervous) steps on to the Camino but by the end of that first days walking I had secured a bed in the wonderful Albergue Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino and shared my first menu Peregrino meal with a multinational group of fellow Pilgrims.

I went to bed that night knowing that the Camino was to become a major part of my life from that day on.

From Rabanal I followed the following route :

El Acebo – Ponferrada – La Faba – Fonfria – Samos – Sarria – Portomarin – Palas de Rei – Ribadiso – O Pedrouzo.

After 13 magical days of walking I found myself in the Praza Obradoiro in Santiago staring up at the magnificent Cathedral tired, elated and emotional. My 2011 adventure continued further with a bus journey to Cee followed by three more magical days of walking from Cee – Finistere – Lires – and finally Muxia.

A wonderful end to a fantastic and life changing adventure . I had well and truly been ‘bitten’ by the Camino bug that resulted in further visits in 2013 and 2015 to complete the Camino Frances.

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My chat with Dan Mullins on My Camino – the podcast

I recently talked to Dan Mullins, an Australian producer and musician, about my experiences on the Camino and it has been uploaded for all to listen to. I had a blast talking to Dan as he has walked the Camino and is walking again in September. We touched on kit, blisters, the history of Irish pilgrimage and on giving back to the Camino through local Camino societies.

CaminoPodcast

If you have some time, give our chat a listen. By the way, Dan has interviewed a whole host of folks from all over the world equally as enthusiastic about the Camino. Go and listen to some of these podcasts as you are guaranteed to enjoy them. Dan is walking from Lourdes to Santiago in September and I hope to meet him while I walk the meseta. Fingers crossed.

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

Your Stories, Your Camino – Máire Keane

I have received quite a few e-mails from readers wanting to write a few words about their Camino experience. Thank you to everyone who has written or are considering writing. I hope to continue this series on a weekly basis. The first post comes from Máire Keane. Máire walked the final 100 km of the Camino Frances from Sarria in June of this year. It was her first time on the Camino and it seems like she had a really positive experience. Another Camino awaits 🙂

Máire writes…

I am a lady of a ‘certain vintage’ and decided to walk part of the Camino on my own in June 2017. Because I was a solo traveller with some health issues I travelled ‘self guided’ using a specialist company. This was a great decision because they planned my route, organised my accommodation and luggage transfers and were available for additional support should the need arise – thankfully it didn’t.

My camino experience was extremely positive but I would advise someone starting to plan a camino adventure to train – the whole experience is way more enjoyable when your feet are happy and your legs are tired but able.  I met some sorry pilgrims with blisters, with calf strain, with pulled hamstrings….. I suffered nothing worse than a few insect bites.

I have great memories from my week in Galicia – great views, early mornings, good food, laughs, stories, paddling in the stream, head space, digital detox, a lightening of the mental load, farms, lemon flavoured Aquarius, lanes, coffee, forests, towns, churches, prayers, aging stoners recapturing their youth, nuns, rockers, bell bottom trousers, bikini tops – the Camino Francés had it all.

No negatives at all although on my next camino I will plan more myself (now that I know the ropes) and will probably book on a b&b basis rather than half-board.

I did feel a bit of an anti-climax on reaching the square in front of the Cathedral in Santiago – the square was almost empty and there was scaffolding in front of the Cathedral.  I think I must have had ‘St. Peter’s Square’ in Rome in my subconscious but thankfully some new friends I had made on the way met me and ramped up the excitement.  The pilgrim mass at 12 was a highlight, not solely because of the religious aspect but also the community feeling of having completed a journey together yet apart.

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Your Stories, Your Camino…

Have you recently walked a Camino? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Now, I realise that walking all or part of a Camino can be difficult to put into words. It took me a while to process all the thoughts in my head after my first Camino in 2011. What I am ideally looking for is a short synopsis of your Camino – where you walked and for how long, what positives you took from it, and if you had any bad experiences. If you could write about 100 words and include a picture or so, that would be ideal. Maybe you have created a video of your time on the Camino? If so, send me the link and I will post it. I will post your summary so others who may have not walked the Camino will take note. I think it will be very helpful.

Let me know if you are interested in getting involved by emailing me at clearskiescamino@gmail.com.

 

Weekend Watch #39 – Along the Way – El Camino de Santiago

It’s been quite a while since I posted a Weekend Watch, so now is a great time to post one of the best videos I have seen. I’ll be honest with you but I wasn’t far from shedding a tear around the 1 minute mark. It confirms my belief that the Camino is much much more than just a walk. Enjoy!

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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