The Challenge link Final Preparations link
Photographs link Sponsor link , £2,267 raised for Zoes Place link
Independent Catholic News link Friday 22nd September 2017
Find about about the French Way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Way
Diary taken from Peter’s facebook page…
Day 43: “We then walked on into Finisterre, this is where I decided to walk the last three miles up the hill to Finisterre lighthouse on my own, taking in the breath taking views out to sea with my thoughts of what I have done.”
Sunday 8th October 2017. Day 45. Last day – Arrived home
Early start, taxi picked us up at 7.00am at the Hotel Rural Prado da Vin and took us to Santiago Airport.
Felt sad to be leaving, but at the same time delighted to be going home to my family.
Arrived at the airport in plenty of time, to hàve a snack and board without any fuss or pressure.
Arrived at Stansted on time, where I was met by my wife Nellie and son Francis. Stopped off for a meal on the way home.
Great to be home, and I now realise how tired I am.
A couple of photos attached
So, thats the end of a wonderful six weeks. I will try to get my thoughts together and put everything in place over the next couple of days.
Most important, I want to say a big thank you to all my family, friends and neighbours and everyone who continually supported me over the last six weeks. It meant so much to me to see your supporting comments every day, knowing you were with me every step of the way, Saint James Way. I remembered everyone who asked for prayers for your own intentions.
God bless you all.
A special thanks to the seven ladies who walked with me for my first eight days, Tracey O’Connor, Bernadette Doherty, Jude Doherty, Jude McKinnon, Evelyn Lappin, Breege Burke and Carmen Robinson. And to Tony Luff who walked with me for the last weeks. John Davey and Tony Grantham who walked one week from Sarria to Santiago . To Tracey O Connor and Bernie Doherty who returned for the last week from Santiago to Finisterre, with Euphemia. Thank you one and all your company and support was invaluable.
Saturday 7th. 7 October 2017. Rest day in Finisterre.
Up at 7.30am and went for a walk to the beach where I took a photo of the full moon.
Breakfast at 8.00am, went into town done some shopping, and found a church for mass this evening.
While there I met a man I had seen previously earlier in the week. He had walked from Santiago and was now moving on to Porto and Fatima.
Went to the beach in the afternoon and enjoyed a swim in the sea.
Went to 8.00pm.mass in a beautiful packed church.
We then had our evening meal and back to hotel to prepare for an early start to our return journey home.
Friday 6th October. Day 43. Cee to Finisterre. Walked 12 miles – Steps 26045.
For Whole Walk Total miles 574, Total steps 1,291,185. Average for 38 walking days. 15 miles per walking day. 33978 steps per walking day
This was the last day of walking the Camino of Saint James Way. This day six weeks ago I arrived at Saint Jean Pied de Port. So todays walk was special for me, the completion of the walk I never thought I would do, but here I am feeling good but tired. This is a day for gathering my thoughts together about my experiences, the wonderful things and places I have seen, the lovely people I have met from all over the world, made friends with, some are now face book friends.
I walked with the girls most of the way , the last three miles were mine, up to Finisterre light house and the ‘0’ mile marker, mine with my thoughts and taking in the beautiful ” End of the World ” views.
Our day started after breakfast at 9.00am, a pleasant day, warm and nice. Of course we had our usual ascents and descents on natural paths, tarmac and occasionally some rocky stoney paths, but overall it was not a difficult walk.
Shortly after starting an American lady joined me, she saw my Irish flag, Mary Hogan, third generation Irish, she plays the Irish harp and knew all about the famous Irish Harpest O Carolan. She visits hospitals and Hospices to play music for patients. She was interested in hearing about Zoes Childrens Hospice. She is a retired Electrical Engineer, an interesting lady, we are now facebook friends. Like me, she likes meeting people and then walking on to be with her own thoughts.
So I caught up with the girls and continued on towards Finisterre enjoying the beauty of the seaside the beaches and surrounds. We stopped off at a seaside cafe and had a very relaxing break in the sunshine and on the beach. We then walked on into Finisterre, this is where I decided to walk the last three miles up the hill to Finisterre lighthouse on my own, taking in the breath taking views out to sea with my thoughts of what I have done. As I neared the lighthouse I was joined by a French Canadian man , who had completed the French Way to Santiago, he took a bus from there to the Lighthouse because of time constraints. He walked and talked, encouraging me to the ‘0″ mile marker where he congratulated me, took my photo , this act summed up the wonderful people I have met. When he left I sat in quiet spot on a rock overlooking the sea, waiting for the girls to join me, with my thoughts enjoying the view: and my Wexford family will understand this, I played The Murphy brothers – playing “A trip to Cullenstown ” on their mouth organs, twice. I was thinking, this is the same Atlantic ocean at Finisterre that at this moment is rolling on to the strand of my home beach in Cullenstown , County Wexford , emotional moments.
When the girls arrived we had celebratory hugs and congratulations all round , took in the views together, took photographs and had a snack in a nearby cafe.
We then returned to Finisterre town and booked into our hotel Rural Prado. We then went to the Information Centre and got our Finisterrana Certificates for the walk from Santiago to Finisterre.
I got one for Zoe’s Baby Hospice as did Tracey for her charity, Motor Neurone Disease.
I then returned to the hotel and had a bath.
We went to the beach to see the sun set at Finisterre, and then went into town and had a meal, the end of a very long emotional day.
I was very tired, elated and satisfied, but I not sure if I have taken in yet what I have achieved. The reaction I am getting from my family and friends is making me feel proud and great about my whole walk.
Thursday 5th October. Day 42. Oiveiroa to Cee. Walked 12 miles – 29032 steps
1214 feet above sea level, dropped down sharply to sea level at Cee.
Day 42: A Spanish man who was passing by said: “he is dangerous and a bite will mean three days in hospital”
Left this morning at 9.00am, it was mild with a bit of fog hanging about.
Todays walk was on a mixture of natural paths and tarmac through nice countryside and farmland and trees, farmers were busy with their tractors in the fields. We had to stand back a number of times to let tractors and machinery through on the Camino route. The paths were mostly level with a number of easy ascents and descents until the last two miles into Cee when there was a drop from 1000 feet to sea level . There was one cafe on the way at the village of Hospital where we had a break, leter we took another short break for water and bars.
The entry into Cee was great, to see the sea on what was now a beautiful sunny afternoon. We sat on the sea front wall for awhile taking in what was for me a wonderful scene after six weeks of walking Saint James Way Camino. Although by now I am feeling tired, to see and hear the sea lapping against the sea wall was a great feeling and experience for me at this time and gave me a much needed lift.
Today’s walk was interesting, we travelled slowly taking in our surroundings and people, especially those we met walking in the opposite direction to us.
The first contact was with a young German man, Gudo who was walking in our direction, a charming young man who slowed for awhile to talk. He has walked all the European Caminos. On this occasion he walked from Porto to Santiago and was now walking to Finisterre and Muxlow .
We then met a couple, he was from the Isle of Wight and she was from Wiltshire both now living in Majorca, they were walking the English Camino from Irun along the northern coast of Spain and doing the loop of Muxlox and Finisterre, walking on to Santiago . They have walked the French Way four times. This is the Camino I am completing.
As we neared Cee we met a sprightly 70 + man, John from Morecambe, he was heading back towards Santiago having walked ftom Porto to Santiago. He then got the bus to Irun, walked the English Way along the Northern Spanish coast via Muxlow and Finisterre to Santiago . He has walked the French Way five times , the last time last March. He plans to come back next year after Easter with two young grandsons for a week.
As we walked the path near the village of Ermita das Neaves, Tracey brought my attention to a small snake on the footpath. It looked interesting so I decided to take a photo. I got down on my knees to take a close up when a Spanish man who was passing by said: “he is dangerous and a bite will mean three days in hospital” . A bit later I met the man again with his friend who could speak English. He confirmed it was a poisonous snake . I later googled it and found it was a Viper Seonei and was venomous, found in Galacia, where we are now. Photo attached. After all “the fun and games” I booked into our hotel which had a wonderful bath. We had our Meal in our hotel Insua, joined by a German Lady , Hiki who walked with our group today.
Day 41: “We set off on damp and foggy morning on what turned out to be a 11 hour day of walking . During the walk I had two breaks, drank three litres of water, had 5 cans of juice and 3 ice creams to keep me going the distance”
Day 39. “Another four days walking, I am continuing on to Finisterre in the morning, 52 miles. Flying home on Sunday 8 October. Will be back in the gym, probably a couple of weeks”
Day 37 “Tomorrow we will walk into Santiago de Compostela”
Day 35 “If all goes well 42 miles to Santiago, 58 miles Santiago to Finisterre Total 100 miles to go 7 days walking”
Day 27 “So far I have walked 366 miles, that’s an average of 15 miles per 23 walking days.I have walked 769,823 steps, that’s an average of 33470 steps per 23 walking”
Wednesday 4th October. Day 41. Negreira to Oiveiroa. Walked 21 miles – Steps 49685. Height 1640 feet.
We set off on damp and foggy morning on what turned out to be a 11 hour day of walking . The walk was through shaded eucalyptus and other greenery paths mainly tarmac and some natural paths. During the eleven hour walking the weather changed from being foggy to beautiful warm sunshine and later in the afternoon it became breezy and warm. It was a hard sweaty day, but very satisfying.
During the walk I had two breaks, drank three litres of water, had 5 cans of juice and 3 ice creams to keep me going the distance.
We eventually arrived at the As Pias hotel had a quick shower and had a late evening meal, feeling very tired and ready for bed, but of course this has to be done for my daily blog.
On the way I met Raphael from Italy walking in the opposite direction, he was walking back to Santiago, having already walked from Lisbon to Santiago on to Finisterre and Muxia.
Shortly after I met a nice young couple from France who had walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago , then on to Finisterre and Muxlow where they stopped a week at each location . They were now returning to France at a leisurely pace. They were camping as they went along or stopped in people’s home when they were invited.
Tuesday 3rd October. Day 40. Santiago de Compostela to Negreira. Walked 14 miles – Steps 32083. Height 885 feet
This is the first of four days walking to Finisterre, I have been joined by Tracey O’Connor , Bernadette Doherty and Euphamie who arrived ftom the UK yesterday. Tony Luff is continuing on with me for this last week.
We left our hotel after an 8.00am breakfast on a very mild overcast morning. We walked into Santiago past the Cathedral to get on to the Camino to Finisterre through the town on to natural paths through dense eucalypus trees, although there was evidence of a two forrest fires in the recent past. This was an interesting and different terrain. The paths were well sheltered by trees for a lot of the way, which protected us from the sun which was getting hotter as we walked on. We walked through seven villages on the way and stopped for a break and snack twice.
At the begining there was a testing climb. Half way along we had a very steep and long climb for about two miles. We had our second break at the top which is far from being the highest on the Camino, but went up from sea level to 886 feet in such a short distance. The underfoot surface was good, either asphalt or natural path.
On the way out we gave an early morning call to a camper, see the photo , a happy Australian Dutch man.
Our next interesting ecounter was with two men and their dogs walking toward us. See the photo, as best as I could understand they were two Spaniards who have been walking thd Caminos of Europe non stop for two years with their dogs. Showed me map of the Caminos of Europe they have walked, they told me they had walked as far as the UK and Cyprus and are now on the way to Rome
Nearing Negreira we crossed over a lovely river Rio Tambre and spent some time on the bridge relaxing in the sunshine before moving on again.
This was not a difficult walk, it was pleasant, but hot and sweaty.
We booked into the Hostel La Megquita on arrival in Negreira showered and had our evening meal together
Monday 2nd October. Day 39. Rest Day in Santiago.
Had a lie in this morning, had breakfast at 8.30 am. Then sorted my belongings for the next week.
Walked in to the Cathedral and identified the route for tomorrow morning to Finisterre.
Went into the cathedral at 11.am for 12.00 midday pilgrim mass . This was a beautiful service by a bishop. The church was packed with pilgrims. At the end of mass, eight men swumg the giant incense burner Botafumeto.
When mass was over all four of us went for a very nice meal in a local restaurant . John then left to join up with his wife Mary still in Spain . Went with Tony Luff to do some shopping for presents for my family.
Tracey, Bernie and Euphemia flew in this evenining , it is nice to have them with me. The girls went to evening Mass in the Cathedral and afterwards we met for a meal in a nearby restaurant.
All set for our walk tomorrow
Sunday 1st October. Day 38. Pedrouzo to Santiago . Walked 16 miles – 39568 steps. Height 1214 feet.
Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago – 25 August to 1 October. Walked 515 miles. 1,154,340 steps
Average miles for 34 walking days : 15 miles per day. Average steps :–33951 per day
After a good breakfast we were transferred back to the Camino to continue from where we were picked up from yesterday afternoon. It was a damp and misty morning and stayed like this for good ,until about 11.00am, when the sun broke through. This stage was through dense and ever present eucalyptus on natural paths that led on to tarmac until the end in Santiago.
On the way out I got my Camino passport stamped in the Tourist office. There was a short incline at the begining, the walk today was a level walk with another incline and a sharp climb and descent into Santiago where we booked into the Hotel Mirador de Belvis. On the way out today I walked into four villages and past a televidion studio. I stopped at the Saiñt John Paul memorial. I also walked around the outside of Santiago airport where I will be next Sunday returning home please God.
I also spoke to a lady called Martha from Switzerland I first met on my second week. She had four days off because of tonsillitis. She caught up by using a taxi.
This one is for Coventry parishioners:-
I visited a small church in Lavacolla where I met three Ladies from Salthill in Galway. One of the ladies, Margaret Mulhollend is the mother – law of Aiden Hoare from Coventry. His parents from Mount nod , Billy Hoare and Kathleen RIP were regulars at Coventry Pioneer functions. She also knew Pat Murphy (Coventry Police) from his regular visits to the Salthĺll area from where he comes.
It was a great feeling to reach the Cathedral square in Santiago having completed 515 miles and over a million steps on the way over the past five weeks.
I felt a great sense of achievement and this pilgrimage walk will live with me for the rest of my life.
I have met so many lovely people from all over the world , some are now friends on Facebook. I planned and prepared for this pilgrimge walk over the last year and I am delighted it has been such a personal success for me. I am also delighted and elated with the support and encouragement from all of you, my very good friends, family and relatives over the last year since I said I was doing this pilgrimage walk. In particular my wife Nellie who done everything to ensure I was prepared in every way. I love you all and a big thank you to everyone. I will remember you all in my prayers at the Pilgrims Mass in the Cathedral tomorrow, in particular all of you who have asked for prayers.
To finish off for tonight, it will be a rest day tomorrow and then four days walking to Finisterre.
How today finished, after an emotional arrival at Saint James Cathedral, I booked in to my hotel, I then went to the Pilgrims Office and queued for two hours to get my two certificates, one for Zoes Childrens Hospice. I then went to 7.30pm Mass in the Cathedral and had a meal before retiring for the night.
God bless you all.
Saturday 30th September. Day 37. Walked 12 miles – 29278 steps. Height 1378 feet
After a good brekfast I was dropped off from tbe hotel to the same spot where I was picked up from yesterday.
The day started off cold and overcast. Walk today was mostly on natural paths, occasionally it was on tarmac surface. There was a steep climb out of Arzua,
otherwise it was on the level, Walking through eucalypus trees and one lesser climb into Pedrouzo.
The people I met and sometimes walked with made it an interesting day. First I saw a young couple using an adapted push chair pushing their young 4 year son along the Camino.
I then spoke to a young mother who was walking the Camino from Sarria to Santiago with her two, 5 and 6 year old sons , doing about 10 miles each day.
Further along I saw a camping tent on a field, obviously the occupants saving their money.
There a number of memorials along the side of the Camino to deceased family and friends, some have died walking the Camino. See photo.
Later I spoke to a couple, he was pulling a trolley along with both their back packs on it. They had walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port . Then I saw a young couple walking with their 5 year daughter
along the Camino.
Finally I spent awhile walking with a nice lady from Monaghan. She is working in Drogheda as a legal executive with Coca Cola, my company of employment as Service Manager prior to joining the police .As we walked past one of the memorials I mentioned above,she saw a card in memory of her nephew Lorcan, her brothers child who died soon after birth because of a brain bleed. She was very emotional. The card was left there last May by her sister in law. After an exchange of photos, we both moved on.
We were blessed with the nice walking weather and easier terrain today. At the end of our walk we were picked up by a taxi from the hotel we are stopping in for tonight, the O Muino de Punide in the country, where I had a nice bath and evening meal. Captioned photos of the terrain and some of the people I met are attached .
Tomorrow we will walk into Santiago de Compostela.
Friday 29th September. Day 36. Palas de Rei to Arzua. Walked 18 miles – 42317 steps.
Set off after breakfast at 8.40am
It was raining initially and was dark with poor visibility .
The walk was mostly on natural paths with some tarmac through delightful woodlands. It was a testing walk with a number of long inclines followed by similar testing descents. The path criss crossed the main roaf a number of times on the way to Arzue.
On the way out I stopped at a nice little church, said a prayer and got my Camino passport stamped. Passed through six villages on the way to Arzue, and had two breaks. The town of Melide was at the half way stage, done a bit of shopping and bumped into a lady I met at Mass last Saturday with her two friends. She had not walked for two days because of an infection in her big toe. She told me she is recovering from breast cancer. She will walk again tomorrow, and she and her friends will be met by their husbands at the end of the walk in Santigo.
When I finished my walk after a long and difficult day, I was transferred to tonight’s accomodation at Casa Assumpta, three miles into the country. Will be transferred back in the morning .Showered and had evening meal at the hotel.
Of interest, it must have been children’s day on the Camino today, there was over 100 15/16 year olds walking a short distance.
It has been a long hard day so I am off to bed now feeling the tiredest so far on this walk, tomorrow promises to be an easier day.
Thursday 28th September. Day 35. Portomarin to Palas De Rey, Walked 15 miles- Steps 33757. Height 2362 feet.
At breakfast spoke to a Garda Chief Superintendent and his Assistant Commissioner wife who started the walk in Sarria. He is responsible for a busy area in the Irish Midlands. Left for walk at 9.00am this morning as it was very misty and foggy.
This was a day of varied terrain started with a climb up through woodlands and on to this main road which was crossed several times. Todays route passed through five villages and was on natural stoney and rocky paths some of the time . When I got to the village of Gonzar I had egg and chips, while there I spoke to two couples from Cavan and Cork.
Walked on to Ventas de Naron and had another steep climb of course followed by steep descent.
At the village of Eirexe saw a young couple with a young child in a back pack .
This is still dairy farming country. Scenery was good and green, when the fog cleared it got hot.
Walked through a number of dairy farms.
Nearing Palas de Rei I spoke to three Irish people, I talked to Mary who has just retired as a nurse from Saint Vincents Hospital and is joining her sister in a business in Navan.
At my hotel I spoke to two Cousins who live 2000 miles apart Diane in Ohio snd Mary Anne from California . They too are walking the full Camino. We exchanged memories of our walk so far . They showed me photo of a 93 year old woman From Washington who is walking the full Camino with her 62 year old daughter. They are walking 10 miles each day and will take 2 months.This was confirmed by another lady who also took a photo of her .
Wednesday 27th September. Day 34. Sarria to Portomarin. Walked 14 miles – steps 33247
Height 2165 feet.
On the way out I spoke to Tina from Texas, she started her walk today in Sarria with a sister and two brothers all over 50 years . We all left at 8.30ish, Tony Luff, John Davey, Tony Grantham and a lady Caroline from the USA, who wanted to be sure to get back on the camino.
This was an easy walk today , stiff climb out of Sarria, and a difficult decent into Portomarin at the end which required a bit of zig zagging to make it easier. The walk was mostly on natural paths which at times were a bit rocky and stoney, and through 3 villages and a nice green
country side . The photos give an idea of what it was like.
Spent a bit of time walking with Liam from Tralee, who started 6 days ago in Astora. He had a captive audience when he fed apples to a horse and explained the horses anatomy and eating habits .
We booked in to the Hotel Ferramenteiro , showered and rested. Had a meal in a local restaurant and went to 7.00pm.mass and pilgrims blessing at Saint Nicholas church.
And very important, got my laundry done at the hotel this afternoon.
Photos are attached.
Tuesday 26th September. Day 33. Walked 12 miles – 27324 steps. Height 2970 feet.
After a nice breakfast at the unique Casa Pacios with two Italian ladies,one of whom worked on Dublin for a year teaching Italian, I was transferred the two miles back to the Camino in Triacastela. It was a nice pleasant morming but cold with a dew hanging over low lying areas
Today was a straight forward walk mostly on natural paths and minor roads. There was a steep climb, not severe, out of Triacastela all the way to Alto do Riocabo, about three miles out. I got so warm my glasses fogged up. I took my jacket off at this early stage and continued on through the villages of Furela, Pintin and Aguiada. There was a testing steep descent from Alto do Riocabo into Sarria. I walked through a number of dairy farm yards, this was still dairy and poultry farming country.
As I neared Sarria I was joined by a Spanish man who works in Madrid as a tax collector. When I first looked at him I thought it was Phil Savage. I was still looking at him when he later walked on. He was originally from one of the villages local to Sarria . He told me all about his parents and his love of Dublin and its culture, he is a frequent visitor. He told me Fidel Castro’s father emigrated from a local village one hundred and twenty years ago as a 18 year old, the rest is history.
I walked the Camino route into the centre of Sarria, done a bit of shoping for essentials to keep the old body going for the next 13 days. I remembered the Sarria Camino from last year. I booked into the Hotel Roma and as I had no snack break today I had egg and chips at the hotel. I had my shower and rest pending the arrival of Tony Luff , John Davey and Tony Crampton who are joining me for the walk into
Santiago. After they arrived and rested we had dinner in the Hotel Roma restaurant.
Monday 25th September. Day 32. O Cebreiro to Triacastela. Walked 13 miles – 30479 steps. Altitude 4380 feet
It had been raining heavy during the night. I had to cross the road to the restaurant for my breakfast at 7.30am. The weather was very damp and misty, visibilty was poor. I waited until 9.00am before setting off, at least it was brighter.
So, it was full wet weather gear with leggings and poncho. It is only the third time I had to wear wet weather gear.
I took photos to show the conditions.
Today I walked through five villages. The scenery was different even if it was initially obscured by the conditions.
Today’s walk started with a stiff climb continuing from yesterday.
The first village was Linares two miles out where I visited a little church, said a prayer and removed my wet weather gear.
I continued the steady climb to Alto San Rogue where I had a photo taken beside the imposing statue of a medieval pilgrim. As I continued on visibilty and conditions improved. I took a break and snack in the next village Hospital del la Condesa . Refreshed I carried on, it soon became obvious this was dairy farming country. I walked through a number of dairy farm yards, phew! and met a number of herds of cows actually on the Camino path being taken to the fields. There is a photo of a cows traffic jam, they dont give way to pedestrians.
Still climbing on good natural paths I reached the highest point today , Altl do Polo at 4380 feet, the third highest climb on the Camino. At the top there was a little cafe packed with pilgrims seeking refreshment . I had another break and snack.
Since Astorga five days ago the Camino has become noticeably busier with numbers of pilgrims increasing, of course there will be a large increase in numbers between Sarria, where I reach tomorrow, and Santiago. This is the most popular section walked on the Camino.
I walked on through the village of Fonfria where thd descent to Triacastela started. It began to descend steeply from Biduedo and on to Filloval which is four miles to Triacastela. I find the steep descents more challenging than climbing. I find it hard on my arthric toes, my ankles and shins. I take it easy and with care.
On the way into Triacastela I photographed a very ancient tree, if only it could talk. Overall it was a day of very diffetent views because of the conditions, there was no sunshine until I reached Filloval near the end of my walk
To get to my accomodation on reaching Triacastela I had to go to the Esther Cafe, owned by the same people providing the accommodation, two miles out in the country. I had a meal at the cafe first before being transferred to the Casa Pacios where I am tonight in a very rural and peaceful setting. After breakfast at 8.00am in the morning I will be transferred back to the Camino. This place looks ancient, I am in a bed that reminds me of my Grannies, but it is comfortable.
Sunday 24th September. Day 31. Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreiro. Walked 17 miles – 38697 steps .
I have achieved the lot in three days :-
Friday I climbed the highest route on the Camino
Saturday I walked the longest route on the Camino
Today, Sunday I have walked and climbed what is described as a strenuous stage , the whole route ascended gradually all the way to O Cebreiro, with the last 5 miles being the steepest on the whole Camino. It was a hard day on tarmac, gravel paths, stoney/rocky paths and the never ending ascent and climbing.
Day got off to a good start with a nice breakfast. Because of the difficulty of todays walk I left at 8.00am. It was very cold and windy, so it was jacket, hat , and glooves which I wore for the first 6 miles.
The walk was hot but the atmosphere was cold with wind.
There was six villages on todays route. As I walked towards Pereje a group of cyclist stopped to discuss their route. They were eight Irishmen from Clare, Tipperary, Mayo, Westmeath and Offaly. The craic was good for awhile. The Clare man, Finuchane was only interested in talking about Wexford hurling and their Clare manager. During the conversation you were mentioned Senan Lillis, he asked is he (you) from Corraclare, Yes, Ah! sure I know his family. A small world, you are know everywhere Senan.
At Pereje I took a break and had a snack.
Todays route was nice with trees, green vegetation, and of course beautiful tree covered hills and mountains.
The path was adjacent to the river Pereie all the way to Herrerias at the foot of the sheer climb. This was a fast flowing and noisy river which gave unwanted encouragement to an old man . I continued walking on through two more villages and had another break in La Portela, also visited a little chapel and said prayer for all. After the village of Vega de Valgarce I met a young man walking in the opposite direction. I stopped for a chat, he was Ben from Holland, see photos, Ben started walking from Saint Jean Pied de Port on the 25 of July and walked to Santiago and Finisterre. He was now walking the return route back to Saint Jean Pied de Port well over 1000 miles, and hoped to finish by the end of October .Ben is an inspirational young man who was seriously ill in hospital prior to his walk. He suffers from Chronic Fatigue .
My walk continued towards Herrerias at the foot of the steepest climb on the Camino, as the incline got steeper and harder, it was still mostly on tarmac, at this time it was very hot and sweaty. The climb into O Cebreiro was not easy, every time I Iooked up to the top I thought thats it, but it just kept going up and up and round and round on stoney rockey paths , great care and concentration was required. The reward was stunning views all the way. I eventually arrived in O Cebreiro at 4.30pm feeling a sense of achievement, and very thankful for all the training I put on particularly on the Malvern hills .
O Cebreiro is a unique little Celtic village, bag pipes could be heard in a shop nearby. I booked into the Hotel Casa Navarro. The church and restaurant are opposite the hotel.
I went to 7.00pm mass in the church of San Maria which dates back to the 9th centuary. The parish priest who was here until 1989 done much to restore and preserve the dignity of the Camino. It was his idea to mark the route with the now familier yellow arrow.
I then went for a evening meal.
Saturday 23rd September. Day 30. Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo. Walked 20 miles – 44990 steps
Ascent 1805 feet.
The day started well with a proper breakfast. I left at 8.30am, weather initially was a bit cold but nice blue skies. Later in the day it became very hot and sweaty.
Yesterday I walked the highest route, today I walked the longest route, a true test of my stamina and staying power. 70% of the walk was on tarmac and roads, the remainder on natural gravel paths. Today’s walk was mainly on the flat with four inclines thrown in , two were a bit stiff.
The views all the way were nice and interesting, through vine yards, wine processing plants and many vegetable growing areas.
There was seven villages/towns along todays route. On the way out of Molinaseca I caught up on Thomas and Anna(nice German couple). I spoke to them the previous day on the mountain, both were bit uncomfortable. Today Thomas was having a small problem with his knee , I have him a velcro knee support I had in my bag since day one. I walked on into the village of Campo where I had a coffee and got the first stamp of the day on my Camino Passport. I walked on to Ponferrada, I could have spent a lot of time in this town .I did visit the Castle of the 12th centuary Templars which is a National Monument and is open to the pubic. I also visited the nice church Basilica de la Encina.
On the way out I met a young man from Costa Rica, we walked and talked until we came to the first climb , when he moved on.
I continued on through the villages of Columbrianos and Fuentes Nuevas, where I visited a nice little chapel and said a prayer for all those who asked for one. I then walked on to Camponaraya where I had a break and a pizza. Here I met a young girl who was struggling with her ankle, she asked if I had pain killers, I gave her Ibrufen. That was my good deeds for today. I then walked on trough Cacabelos and Pieros getting nearer to Villafranca and through the continuing vine yards and vegetable fields, and nice views. I thought Villafranca was never going to appear. I still had to climb a long incline on the road and then was surprised with an even more testing climb as I got nearer to my destination for today, this one was long and on a path.
About two miles outside the town on a hillside, a large party was begining to get on the way. Hundreds of very orderly young people were walking out of town on the Camino to the party. I spoke to one lad who was wearing an Ireland T shirt. He was not sure where Ireland is.
Eventually I arrived at my hotel San Francisco, and was very pleased it had a normal bath.
I went to 7.30pm Mass for the weekend in Colegiata de Sant Maria. This church was once inhabited by the Monks of Cluney. I ended the day with a meal in an outside restaurant.
This was a much different day to yesterday, it was a long hard day because of the distance.
Friday 22nd September. Day 29. Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca
Walked 16 miles- 38649 steps. Ascent 4940 feet to Cruz de Ferro were the Iron Cross is situated.
5036 feet to top of Alto Altar Mayor, the highest point on the Camino which is ignored by most pilgrim’s.
First thing at shout 7.00am I checked the weather outside, it was still a nice starry night , I was surprised to see a group heading off on the Camino wearing head torches.
I had a nice breakfast at 7.30 and set off at 8.30am. The weather was good but a little cold for which I was dressed in anticipation . I started off on the steep climb when I saw a French man carrying his 68 year old friends baggage and his own on a trolley. He done this from Saint John Pied de Port. This was uphill most of the way until the top of Alto Altar Mayor is reached at about 9 miles out. After about 2 miles I removed my jacket as it was now hot and sweaty. There was four villages on the route. The first one was only about 3 miles, Foncebadon where I took a hard earned break and snack before continuing the climb to the Cross where everyone leaves a stone or shell to remember loved ones or event in life. By now I realised it had got cool again, so it was jacket back on before continuing to the Cross. A bus pulled into tbe village and dropped 20 people off to start their climb to the Cross. On the way up I passed a large forested area that had been burned. The path in places was very difficult and required concentration and care. The views on the way up were beautiful, it is not always possible to catch this in a photo . It was not long before the Cross on the summit appeared. People were leaving stones or what ever memento for their own personal reasons and having a photo taken. I done the same, I left a small stone which I originally brought from Cullenstown strand, near to my home in Ireland. While I was there I saw a stone from Russell Kenny, remember the man from Leicester yesterday doing tbe reverse route with his trolley, he was commemorating his brother. I took a photo, my little stone is ditrctly below his with ‘Peter’ written on it.
The next village is abandoned, Manjarin is falling into ruin. Past this point there was an option to take a short detour to climb tbe highest point on the Camino Alto Altar Mayor at 5036 feet. As I got this far I took the opportunity to make this climb. The views all round were awesome, there was no other person about so I recorded the occasion with a selfie. The descent was very steep and treacherous on a rockey path with loose stones and boulders. I noticed a number of walkers leaving the Camino to take the road and some a bus. I saw something funny on a directional sign, “The North Wall” I saw this on a sign about 3 weeks ago, no doubt put there by a wag from Dublin.
The ascent continued to be dangerous in places, I saw at least four people who suffered injuries. The photos will give some idea how difficult it was. First village on the descent was Acebo , I stopped here for another well earned break and snack. The descent and difficulty seemed to be never ending. At times there was not many pilgrims about. What I realised was some people take a bus or walk other routes off the Camino.
I eventually arrived in Molinaseca and felt delighted at last, it was also easy to find my hotel Rural de Floriana.
I left at 8.30am and arrived at 4.45 pm. I did take breaks and walked carefully. It was a hard rewarding day and after a nice shower felt better. It was jackets off on the descent, this turned out to be one of the warmest days over the last three weeks. To finish the day I had a nice meal in a local restaurant.
Thursday 21st September. Day 28. Astorga to Rabanal del Camino . Walked 13 miles- 28204 steps. Ascent 3770 feet
Glad to be back on the road again, although after the rest day it took about an hour for the old joints to get going properly again, even though I had fully warmed up before I set off.
After a nice breakfast I left at 8.00am, the weather was surprisingly mild. I wore the gear I bought for the mountains. Today the walk took me through five villages and into the mountains. As I walked out I noticed a military establishment set back from the Camino, shortly after I met a number of small groups of soldiers jogging in regulation PT gear.
The first small village, Valdeviejas has a Medieval Hermitage. I visited this beautiful little church with its nice altar. Here I got my Camino passport stamped for the outward journey. Because it was getting so warm I took my jacket off at this point.
The next village was Murias de Rechivdo where I had a break and a snack. I continued my walk on straight gravel paths, there was a definite change in the scenery, with greenery, trees and scrubs. As I continued I heard footsteps behind me for some time . Eventually a young girl from Rome caught up with me and chatted for awhile before moving on again. It was her first day on the Camino, she told me I had rythem even though I wasn’t singing .
I walked through the village of Santa Catalina de Samosa. The path continued to be very straight, there was now a bit of an incline on a gravelly track that ran adjacent to a very quiet road .
Along the way I met Russell Kenny from Leicester. He told me his parents were from County
Kilkenny , and that he walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santigo , Finisterre, Muxlow and was now walking back to Saint Jean Pied de Port and was hoping to walk to Paris. He was towing his guitar and belongings behind him on a trolley. He started on the 5th August. He was now running out of money and hoped to do some busking to raise money. I gave him an energy bar after he posed for a photo. He was wearing sandals without socks, his toes were in a bit of a mess.
I walked on through the village of El Ganso now approaching the mountain but still on a very straight gravel track , with a steady incline and very near the road . It was along here I met Julie the Falcon, with her handler who was raising funds for a children’s hospital in Leon. I had the opportunity to hold her on my arm and stroke her chest .
Shortly after this the ascent to the top of Cruz de Ferro began . The track was now every rocky with loose stones and rocks, care was now required .
I eventually arrived on the outskirts of Rabanal where I saw a young German couple sitting outside a restaurant having a break. I first met them.on Monday walking out of Leon, we had a couple of stops together at that time. They invited me to sit with them, I needed no convincing as I saw egg and chips being served. While eating with had a very pleasant chat. Anna and Thomas are a very pleasant and delightful young couple. We have friended on Facebook after they posed for a photo.
On the way into Rabanal I went into a small church Capilla de San Jose, the entrance porch was open facilitating the viewing of the ornate altar with image of Santiago Pergrino.
I booked in to hostel El Refugio which had another of those ‘scut’ baths.At 7.00pm I went to chant and Prayer in the Benedictine church opposite the hostel , which has been renovated by a group of Bavarian monks. I had dinner at the hostel .
Today there was a noticeable increase in the number of pilgrims on the Camino for the first time today, and this is how it will between here and Santiago
Wednesday 20th September. Day 27. Rest Day in Astorga
Juan, the organiser of my walk done me proud by arranging a rest day in this nice friendly town.
Although a rest day, I was still up at 7.00am. The breakfast was in the hotel restaurant, an excellent menu was provided obviously for all hotel customers. Spent first part of morning checking my case and preparing my laundry for later.
I walked into town , visited the beautiful Astora Plaza Cathedral. In every town and city the Camino passes directly past the Cathedral. While I was taking photographs, my friend Euwan Dolan walked past on his way to his next destination. This Almost 10.00am, I thought this is a reasonable hour to start walking, but as Euwan pointed out this stage was a shorter walk as it will be for me tomorrow.
I went to 10.00am Mass in the beautiful Astora Plaza Cathedral.
Afterward I took my laundry to a self service laundrette, it took an hour to successfully wash and dry.
Had a nice lunch in the restaurant adjoining the hotel. I then had an afternoons rest and siesta.
At 5.00pm when the shops opened again, I found the best sports store ever. It was run by a Swiss man and his German wife.
I will be going back into the mountains again in the next couple of days and the John Brierley guide advises to be suitably dressed for these stages of the Camino. Also the mornings have now got much cooler. I only took light clothing with me, so after a goodly spend I am now ready for the next venture where I will walk the longest and highest stages of the Camino. I was also able to stock up on foot creams for blister prevention and foot comfort.
I had an evening meal in a little restaurant in an adjoinging plaza, it was similar to a pizza, a crust croquet, delicious, see the photo.
During my walk about I was able to take a few photos , a building in the same plaza as the hotel, the Avuntamienta which houses flags from famous battles. It has an ornate clock which strikes the hour as two mechanical figures, a man and woman dressed in Matagato costume, strike the central bell.
In the next plaza there is a handsome lion monument in memory of the siege of Astorga during the Peninsular war.
Astorga was a walled town.
There are several photos of the Cathedral know as the Bishops Palace. There are no bishops there now.
Next to the Cathedral there is Camino museum.
So far I have walked 349 miles, that’s an average of 15 miles per 23 walking days.
I have walked 769,823 steps, that’s an average of 33470 steps per 23 walking days.
I have at least 196 miles to walk, but I am sure it will be many more, it will depend on the geography, circumstances and the Sat nav I was born with.
I have 11 walking days before my next rest day in Santiago. This will be followed by four walking days to Finisterre, then another rest day in Finisterre, flying home on the 8th October, Ryan Air permitting.
The last four weeks walking in Peace, Tranquillity and Prayer has helped me reflect and to remember to walk tall, walk straight, and look the world right in the eye.
Tuesday 19th September. Villadangos to Astorga. Walked 18 miles – 38861 steps
Ascent 2970 feet, mostly on the level with two gentle hill climbs later in the walk. This is described as a relatively solitary long walk with few villages on the way, only one with real facilities.
The day started off with what I would describe as a ‘non breakfast ‘ which was suppose to be in the Hostel next door, breakfast on a daily basis go from one extreme to the other.
As usual now I waited for the sun to rise. It was cold but nice and fresh morning. I left at 8.30am
The route was again mostly on paths, some times gravel and sometimes tarmac. It ran parallel to an extremely busy and noisy road all the way to Astorga. There was the occasional divergence on to nice leafy paths out of sight of the traffic, but not out of ear shot.
After about 3 miles I walked through the village of San Martin de Camino, there was no facilities and it was getting surprisingly warm, so my jacket was off at this early stage and into my knapsack.
The next village, Hospital de Orbigo which was 8 miles out the road, and 3 hours later, did have a nice restaurant with an outside seated area in a garden at the rear. I had a substantial bite to eat here . See photo. Birds were hovering about for the crumbs.
On the way out I met Euwan Dolan again, the retired Gardai from Dublin, after a brief exchange I went on my way. I took some photos of one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain dating from the 13th centuary and built over an earlier Roman bridge which formed one of the great historical landmarks on the Camino. It’s many arches carry you across the river Orbigo. Further on I stopped to talk to an American lady who I first met over a week ago. Euwan caught up and we continued our walk together for another lengthy period discussing our careers. As we approached two gentle climbs I decided to take water and Euwan continued on.
I caught up with him later at a rest area on a hill above Astorga, where photos were taken. Euwan is a very interesting man, he rowed coxless fours for Ireland in world championship and was of the same era as the famous British rower Steve Redgrave. The month before he retired from the Gardai he graduated from Portsmouth University with a Doctorate degree in Criminal Justice. When we arrived in Astorga we made our farewells, having made the long walk interesting and enjoyable for each other, he will be walking on tomorrow, I will be having a rest day.
This was a tireing walk because of the distance, the traffic and the long straight solitary paths. We finished at 4.00pm.
I booked into the very nice Hotel Astur Plaza, which to my pleasure has a huge bath. I went to a restaurant next door for an early evening meal.
I then went to 7.00pm Mass in the Santi Spirtu Convent. There is a beautiful church used by the public. The nuns are an enclosed Order and they were in a chapel of their own at the back of the main church. I took a photo of the beautiful altar and the nuns chapel on the way out after Mass. They did not object to the photo being taken.
Monday 18th September. Day 25. Leon to Villadangos. Walked 14 miles – 31,117 steps. Ascent 3956 feet mostly on the flat with two gentle climbs.
Checked outside first thing, it had been raining over night but not as cold as the previous three days.
Today’s breakfast was the best yet for choice. Had cereal, fried egg, green tea with a little bread. Took some bread with me to eat with the soft cheese segments I buy in supermarkets, for later out the road.
I left at 8.30am and was met with the morning rush of people going to work and children going to school. I needed to be awake alert for the discreet shells on the pavement and yellow arrows could be anywhere.
On way out I stopped off at another beautiful building, an ancient monastery dedicated to Saint Mark. It is now a pilgrims hostel and museum. I went in for a quick look around and got my Camino passport stamped. Outside I had my photo taken with a “medieval pilgrim sitting at the base of a cross looking up at the building and resting his weary feet.
I moved on crossing over the river Bernesga. Further out I spoke to a lovely nun waiting for a bus, me speaking in English, she in Spanish, it brought a smile to her face and she posed for a photo with me. She wanted one on her phone, but the arrival of her bus prevented it happening.
James from London took the photo, an interesting young man who had recently graduated from university. I walked with him for a about10 minutes, probably the longest I have walked with anyone since Senan Lillis. James was missing the friends he made earlier on the walk, he stopped an extra day in Leon. He will be back for his graduation ball in October. He will start work as a scrub nurse in a London hospital.
There was a bit of a climb out of Leon, it was an interesting sight looking back over the city in the morning light.
After about 2 hours I eventually got out of the city suburbs. I stopped at La Virgen del Camino for a coffee and a cake for energy.
I moved on again and as on a previous day I came to a point where I had two options, to take the wrong one I would miss my destination. This time the options were clearly marked, so no problems. There was two gentle hill climbs, otherwise the walk was very much on the level adjacent to a very busy road all the way on a gravel path mostly.
I met a young German couple walking their first day, nice to talk to and saw them again when I had my break. Later I spoke to a Canadian couple also on their first day , took a photo for them and walked with them for awhile. They have climbed to an Everest base camp. As we walked through a tunnel she burst into song,” I love to go a rambling with
my knapsack on my back” I joined her until we got the other side of the tunnel. So singing continues Senan Lillis as long as I have a lead singer.
I later spoke to an Italian lady also on her first day, she had her dog with her also walking. I later spoke to a South Korean lady who was enjoying a relaxed walk.
Prior to arriving in Villadangos I took another break and had my hotel snack, resting on low wall.
I arrived at Hotel Avenida 111 which is on the approach to the village. I booked in and had bath in a bath you could swim in. I then walked into the village and got a few things in the only supermarket there. Evening meal is in the hostel next door as is breakfast in the morning.
Sunday 17th September. Day 24. Walked 15 miles- 33801 steps. Ascent 3920 feet, mostly flat again with one good climb to bring me back to reality.
Spoke to French ladies at breakfast, they were doing the Camino in stages from Le Puy in France to Santiago . So far it has taken them five years and they hope to finish it next year, it is over 1000 miles. One ladies husband done this walk in one go , walking from their home in France.
A parishoner from Holy Family Parish, Bill Corceaux, done this walk about 5 years ago.
We had a good full breakfast served by the host before I left at 8.30am. It was cold again so I waited for the sun to appear. It was still nice and sunny, but you could see slight frost on the roofs.
The walk today was again mostly on dusty gravel paths adjacent to the road for most of the way. I was on the road for a short distance.
I walked through 5 villages today, although the last one could be described a suburb of Leon.
The landscape was more interesting. Rural part was farmland, lots of greenery and trees.
On the way out spoke to a French couple stopped for a break. The man was feeding a cat sat in his lap. The cat had followed them for 3 miles (photo).
I stopped off in the village of Puente Villarente for a break, camomine tea, lemon and pancake. Took my jacket off as it was now my much warmer. A group of over 50 loval cyclist passed through the village.
There was a short respite from travelling beside the road between that village and the next village, Valdelafuente.
I saw a good climb ahead at this stage, so I took a break on a path way seat and had my cheese sandwich from the hotel.
After the climb I descended down to village of Puente Castro, really a part of Leon.
From here had to stay alert and be vigilant for directional markings going into the city, usually on the pavement and kerbs. I was pleased it was Sunday with not many people about. That changed as I got into the city centre and near the cathedral, the place was packed with people, so it was a case of taking it slowly looking for the signs on the pavements, which usually were blocked off by the mass of people. So slowly, some times even standing still I found the signs and arrived at my hotel.
The hotel Real Colegiata is part of an ancient monastery that used to accommodate around 100 monks within its walls. It houses the church of Saint Isidore, this hotel and two museums.
After showering I visited Leon Cathedral which is absolutely awesome. Not enough time to take in the beauty and history of the place. (photos).
This evening I had a pizza in a little Italian restaurant. Hotel restaurant was booked out.
I went to 7.30pm mass in Saint Isidore . We also got a pilgrims blessing.
It did get very warm towards the end of the walk.
Saturday 16th September. Day 23. El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de Las Mulas. Walked 14 miles – 29626 steps. All on the flat as you could get.
Before breakfast, I had a quick check outside, it was very cold, 4c
Had a served breakfast, full menu whether you wanted it or not. After a simple selection, I decided to wait until the sun appeared. Started off at 8.30 am it was still very cold, but fine and dry. I dressed in my jacket and my trusted Tilley hat, which protects you from the sun when it is warm and keeps the heat in and cold breeze out on a morning like today.
Today’s route ran parallel with the road on a gravel track all the way to Mansilla, again it was miles of long straight roads. The path was very dusty and gravely so I walked on the tarmac for about 5 miles until the path improved. The further out I went the landscape did change, trees and greenery, but no buildings until I arrived at the village of Villamerco, which is off the Camino, so I did not go there. The road to the village has a display of old farm machinery at the side of road on the way in. There is also a very small airfield with three grass landing strips.
I took a break in a seated area here, had my toasted cheese sandwich I had from the hotel at breakfast, I also decided it was time to remove my jacket .
I continued on to the only village on the Camino for today’s walk, Reliegos, I had a healthy snack break. While I was there a lady Swedish pilgrim was taken away for medical attention to a badly injured knee, she was then to fly home from Leon. I noticed her for a couple of days and she was really struggling. She left with a promise to return next year and continue where she left off. Her walking partner continue on alone.
I also spoke to a couple in their 70ies from Blackpool, they have walked for a week and will finish in Leon, completing the whole Camino in stages over a number of years.
To break the monotony , I passed over two canals and a completed new motorway, not yet open.
I arrived in Mansilla and booked into La Alberguetia .The owner offered me a drink so we toasted each other, me with a glass of lemon and he with a glass of wine.
During the morning a police helicopter flew low over the Camino in both directions, probably from Leon to Burgos and return. By the time I arrived at my hotel the temperature was improved.
The walk was near two rail lines, the trains kept me interested as did the many cyclist on the Camino today again. There have not been many walkers on the Camino for the last couple of days.
After I booked in I showered and rested .I went out for a walk and visited the Provincial Museum for Leon which is situated in this town.I spent a very interesting hour, it preserves the richness of Leons province traditional culture , especiaĺy Saint James Way. It is situated in an old Augustinian convent which appears to date back to 1500 The only bit of the convent remaining is the door way in the shape of an arch (photo)
I walked to the bridge over the river Esla and watched a fly fisherman in action. While I was there a passing pilgrim stopped to talk. He was a retired Detective Superintendent from the Gardai in Dublin . He retired on the Wednesday and started walking the following Friday 1 September at Saint Jean Pied de Port, a week after I started, he is travelling fast, he looked a very fit 6′ 2″ still with an eagle eye.
I went to 8.30 Mass for the weekend in the modern, on
the outside, Saint Maria church, it was a typical beautiful Spanish church on the inside. As usual the singing was beautiful.
Came back to the hotel the owner especially made a nice meal for me as I had been to a late mass.
Of interest this is walled town, some of the 12th centuary mediaeval wall is still in position.
Friday 15th September. Day 22 Sahagun to El Burgo Ranero. Walked 12 miles – 27044 steps. Altitude 2890 feet. The whole walk was on the level with a few gentle ascents.
I did not leave this morning until 8.30 after a somewhat non breakfast. It was fine and dry, but the coldest day yet. I had to wear my jacket and set off on a brisk walk to try and beat the cold. It took an hour’s walking before removing my jacket.It was still the coldest day yet.
This was another day of nothing of great interest. The walk was on a gravel track all the way and to ensure the monotony there was miles of straight road with no buildings, it was farm land all the way.
On the way out of Sahagun I crossed the historic stone bridge over the river Cea. It was originally built by the Romans, but was receconstructed in the 11th and 16th centuries. It’s five strong arches have stood the test of time and the powerful waters of the River Cea (photos).
The route out was tree lined, pleasant and nice fresh air but cold.
I soon arrived at a point where I had two options for the correct route to take me to El Burgo Ranero. To take the wrong route I would have completely missed my intended destination, there was no other pilgrims about at the time. While I was trying to decide which way to walk my Guardian Angel appeared in the form of a lady in a van who was delivering baggage along the Camino(photos) she pointed me in the right direction. For some reason when I looked at her I thought of my mother guiding me.I will admit I became tearful and felt emotional for quiet a bit of the remainder of the walk.
The path continued along adjacent to the main road all the way to Burgo Ranero, every so often I passed by groups of cyclists shouting Buen Camino. It was something when five minutes later I could still them cycling on in the distance.
As I passed under a motorway bridge someone had written “To the end of the flat world”. But this is how it will continue for another five days when I move back into the mountains again and the highest point on the Camino.
I saw what looked like an interesting notice under a cross (photo) Using my magic machine I have translated in the caption to the photo.
I passed through the only village on the way, Bercianos del Real Camino where I had a break and snack.
Finally arrived in El Burgo Ranero and booked into my hotel where I have my evening meal.
On my way into the village a large boxed lorry drove into the village, horns blasting and speakers blaring. It was a mobile shop selling fish, meat, vegetables and other goods,(photo) the villagers were soon queuing to make their weekly purchases.
This was another easy walk on the coldest day yet, in the nice country air and blue sky’s.
So it will be an early night and good rest tonight.
Thursday 14th September. Day 21. Calzadilla de la Cueza to Sahagun. Walked 17 miles – 35836 steps. Altitude 2890 fèet mostly on the level.
After breakfast had my photo taken with the owner of the Hostel, Cesar Acero who walked the Camino 8 times, then set off on today’s walk at 8.00am.
The walk was on gravel paths for most of the way to Sahagun with a couple of short tarmac spells on roads. It was a beautiful morning at the start, blue sky and not cold. After a couple of hours a slight cold fog descended on the Camino. When it lifted it was comfortably warm, with a refreshing breeze and blue sky’s. There was a couple of inclines, but nothing testing.
On the way saw a number of buildings built with clay/straw walls (photo) .
There was four villages on the route today. I had a break in the first village Ledigos, simple coffee and toast. Walked through the second village Terradillos de Los Templarious. The landscape was more interesting than yesterday (photos). Saw little cave houses built into the side of a hill, there was a notice saying “The hobbitts don’t live here”.
The next village was San Nicholas del Real Camino, here I eat my sandwich I brought with me from the Hostel. I also visited a beautiful little church Saint Nicholas , courtesy of the church cleaner. The alter piece is described as a fine Baroque. (Photo).
Walked on to Rio Valderaduey where I visited a hetmitage of Our Lady of the Bridge. A short distance further there is a gateway which is the half way point between Roncesvalles and Santiago (Spanish Way). The French Way which I am walking starts at Saint Jean Pied de Port and continues on the same Camino in northern Spain
Shortly after I arrived in Sahagun and booked in to my Hostel, had bath, won’t discuss the dimensions of the bath today!!
I went out town then to visit a number of churches, one in particular Senora la Peregrina. I had a bit of difficulty finding it, I saw an ambulance driving off from its base, I asked the driver if the church was near by. He indicated I get in to the passenger seat of the ambulance and drove me a couple hundred yards to the end of the road where the church is. So I had a trip in a Spanish ambulance and not as a paient.This church was a Franiscan Convent in the 15th centuary. There I was given a certificate for completing the half way walk to Sahagun. I spoke to other pilgrims at this church, one was Mary from my neighbouring County Waterford, she asked to be remembered to that popular man of the Camino Senan Lillis.
During the day I met pilgrims from Australia, Sweden, Spain, France, and the USA, one lady from the USA is walking up to 20 miles each day. I met a man who is walking the reverse route, a French man who told me he started walking on the 25 July and from what I could understand, he started walking in Paris.
Overall this was an interesting days walk, which I really enjoyed , the conditions were nice . Except for the brief spell when the fog hovered over the Camino. There is an Irish pub around the corner from the Hostel, none of staff speak English.
I have now completed 3 weeks walking the Camino, little over 3 weeks to go!!
I had my dinner in the Hostel.
Wednesday 13th September. Day 20. Carrion to Calzadilla de la Cueza. Walked 11 miles- 23,606 steps.
Altitude 2950 feet but no ascents all of walk on the level.
Started day after 8.00am to a beautiful day with clear blue skies initially it was a bit cool, as the walk progressed it got warmer with sometimes a gentle brèeze.It was a very pleasant walk.
It was very much a featureless walk the whole way. Started off on the tarmac for about 3 miles, eventually sent on to the 2000 year old paved Roman path which is now covered in a gravel overlay.
There was hardly any shade the whole way, no villages or facilities. Pit stops had to be made when walkers were far enough away front and rear. The path was almost continuously straight for the whole walk.
After leaving Carrion the only facility was a service station on the edge of town, there I bought a sandwich and got my Camino passport stamped. I was unable to make a sandwich at the hotel as there was waiter service for breakfast.
After I crossed over the river Carrion I passed the San Zoilo former monastery , a very fine building which is now a luxury hotel, see photos.
The walk continued exceptional featureless, the saving grace was the very nice day, blue skies and the country air.
I have taken photos showing how featureless and flat the landscape is.
I stopped at the only shaded area with seating and had my sandwich, then moved on and saw a sign for a food truck further down the road, the Cafe Movil where I had another snack.
The only other point of note was I could have had a cold shower as I walked past a full length of the field irrigation unit which was spraying water on to the Camino.
Photos show the continued landscape of nothing exciting .
When I arrived at the the Hostel Real I had to wait an hour before my case aŕrived, first time this happened, but of course I didn’t have easy walks other days. It was the easiest 11 mile walk I have ever done, I did not even work up a sweat. Surely it must be ‘the walking calm before the proverbial walking storm over the next three weeks.’
At the Hostel I have the smallest bath I have ever seen, you probably don’t need to know, when I got into it my head was between my knees! Not complaining, still enjoyed it, but didn’t fall asleep.
This is small village with two Albergue, one Hostel, a church that’s not open and a small supermarket. Had my evening meal in the Hostel. The owner has walked the Camino eight times. The Camino is his life. Not an exciting day.
Tuesday 12th September. Day 19. Rest Day in Carrion de Los Condes.
Today I had a lie in until 8.00am and went for a late breakfast ,while I was sat in the restraunt I was joined by Senan Lillis who saw me through the window. We had breakfast together and a very nice conversation about our Mother Country. After an hour or so we left and Senan moved on to Leon to finish his walk to Santiago by a certain date.
This was a day for relaxing and taking stock, I listened to Irish music on You Tube, ‘A trip to Cullenstown’ by the Murphy brothers on mouth organs and other similar music.
Went shopping to replenish creams and rock tape essential to me to continue to keep my feet blister and pain free. I also had a snack, see the photo and you will be surprised, and an ice cream.
I also checked my route for tomorrow morning.
I had a relaxed afternoon, listened to Desert island discs, which my son Francis sent to me featuring Irish writer Colin Tobin from Wexford, he made very nice selection of my type of music.
Con McHugh prepared and arranged with Zoe’s Baby Hospice a presentation on their face book page and social media. It can be seen on my Day 17 by scrolling down the page. Anyone wishing to support this can do so at :- www.justgiving.com/peter-martin72 Con is doing an outstanding job in doing PR for me.
This place where I have my rest day is one of the best I have stopped in and I thank Juan Gutierrz email@example.com for the excellent arrangements of my itinerary.
I was asked about distance and steps so far. I Have walked a total of 549932 steps that’s an average of 34371 steps per 16 walking days. I have walked a total of 249 miles in that time.
I finished the day with my evening meal in the Hostel excellent restaurant, it is always full. I met the large Dublin group again who are having their rest day here tomorrow .
I went to 8.00pm mass in the church Our Lady of the Way, where all pilgrims received a personal Blessing from the priest. The service ended with all nationalities singing the beautiful Salva Regina in Latin. I said a prayer and lit a candle for all who asked for prayers.
I give special thanks to all you my friends and relatives for your interest, support and encouragement.
There is a prayer I carry in my back pack, devoted to my late mother R IP, see the photos, she is with me every step of the way.
Monday 11th September. Day 18. Fromista to Carrion de Los Condes. Walked 13 miles – Height 2725 feet.
Today’s stage has been described as soulless as the walk goes along side the main road all the way with no shelter and adjacent to the traffic.
There is an alternative route, scenic and a bit longer which I took.
I did not leave until 8.00am today when it was bright and reasonable warm. This was an easy walk all the way , on the way crossing over the A67 motorway. There was only three 3 villages, first one was Poblacion de Campos, this is where the tranquil river route started, it was pleasant but the river was almost dry and was dry later in the walk. There was a very strong warm breeze for most of the way.
My first stop was at the Hermitage of Our Lady of the River which houses an image of Santiago, unfortunately it was not open, there was sheltered seating where I eat my bread, egg and cheese I took with me from the hotel.
So far on the walk,we had Our Lady of the Shepherds, Our Lady of the Apple and Our Lady of the River.
Continued on the scenic route and joined with the main route at the village of Villalcazar de Sirga. Here I spent time visiting the 12th centuary Knights Templar church of Santa Maria housing the tombs of nobles and royalty. Again as will be seen on the photos it is a beautiful church, Senan Lillis was already there so I joined him for a snack in the restaurant next door.
I then walked on to Carrion, while I was talking photos Senan caught up with me. We walked together into Carrion to Senan singing The Cropy Boy and The Rising of the Moon .
I booked into the very nice Hostel La Carte and made arrangements for my laundry to be done.
After a very nice bath I visited the church of Santa Maria del Camino which is opposite the Hostel. I lit a real candle and said a prayer for all those who asked for prayers, especially my sister Mai who is recovering from an operation. Senan was also at the church. We went to my Hostel restaurant for our evening meal, where we were joined by two ladies from South Africa and Tasmania. This will be my last meeting with Senan as he is moving on. The next time we will meet will be in Blackwater, County Wexford. I thank Senan for his delightful company and very generous donation to Zoe’s Baby Hospice .
On todays reasonable easy walk I met pilgrims from Dublin, Blackpool, Wexford, Dominican Republic, South Africa , Tasmania, Italy, Canada, Holland, Germany, Australia and Spain.
Sunday 10th September.Day 17. Castrojeriz to Fromista. Walked 16 miles-ascent 2952 feet.
13 miles of today’s walk was on earth tracks. The day started off cold but otherwise weather was good, clear skies , I had to wear my jacket at the beginning, which was not good for a strenuous climb out of Castrojeriz, by the time I got to the top I was in a
sweat. There was no shade on today’s walk which did not help the situation. When I got to the top of Alto de Mostelares there was a rest area for recovery. There was three ladies there, Australian mother and daughter who I had met on other days, told me they had Irish ancestors ,and a Spanish lady who lives in Dublin for the past 5 years.
I continued on the beautiful Meseta today, Next came across the albergue San Nicolas which has an interesting history. It is popular even though the only modern facilities it has is a toilet and shower built as an extension. It was restored by an Italian group who retained candle light for illumination. The original hospice for pilgrims was founded in the 12th centuary, a Cistercian monastery was added later. Photo of the little chapel in candle light is attached.
Crossed over the river into the province of Palencia which is mainly agricultural served by rivers and canals for irrigation.
The first village was Itero del Castillo where I went into a restaurant for a snack, Senan Lillis was ready to leave, he recommended a meal to me which was just what I wanted, see the photo. Senan left to walk on, I went outside when I finished my meal, Senan was still there with a group, I joined them and Senan started singing, I joined him in a verse of Bolavouge, I can’t believe I done that. When we finished there were calls for more!!! Ever time I have met Senan he has given me a lift, he has a great outlook on life, he is quiet a character and is becoming a celebrity on the Camino for his singing. People I speak to always smile and mention the singing Irishman.
I continued on to the Meseta, the scene was beautiful this morning, sights, blue sky and peaceful. I crossed the Pisuerga canal and on to the extensive and beautiful Meseta, see photos.
I met an other mother and daughter from Ukraine, they were having a morning picnic .I met them previous days, first I though they were sisters, even twins, needless to say there was one very happy lady.
Later I stopped at a shaded area for a drink, there was a French lady Danni, painting the
landscape, she done this every day since she started along the Camino in France, she showed me her book of beautiful paintings. I regret not taking a photo.
As I walked along the Meseta I heard someone behind I thought was was running, it was a lady called Julia from Canada, who was walking very fast, she told me she had severe blisters which were on the mend, she said the faster she walked her feet became numb???? She works in local services and got six months off on half pay to travel.
The scenery changed the nearer I got to Fromista, the path now went parallel to the Canal de Castilla, this was a pleasant Walk, see the photos. It was here I met another French lady who was walking the reverse route from Finisterre, having already walked the route I was doing.
This was a very pleasant walk today, after the initial climb and cold start and a descent which was never easy, it was good, peaceful and time to enjoy the nice butterflies and birds, the fresh air and country smells.
When I got to Fromista I booked into the San Martin Hotel where I had a very nice reviving bath.
I had dinner in the hotel. Three ladies I saw at our earlier singing session, invited me to join them, Martha and Annie from Bolivia and Carol from Florida.
Sunday 10th September. Day 16. Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz. Walked 13 miles- ascent 3117 feet.
Today’s walk was a Continuation of yesterday’s walk in the Meseta, described as lonely, didn’t see many pilgrims for most of the walk.
The morning started by making my own breakfast, all the food was left out for guests, gave me the opportunity to make a sandwich for later on the day.
It was a very dark and overcast day with storm clouds hovering and rain never far away, so that was the initiative to move on.
There was only one village on the route which was about 7 miles on.
On my own for most of the way until a young Swedish lady on a bicycle rode along side me for awhile chatting.Since finishing college she has been travelling the world for 5 years. She brought her own bicycle from Sweden.
A bit later I saw a lady in a corn field sitting on a bale of straw resting. Further along there was a small group sitting/lying on their sleeping bags in corn field oblivious to the threatening rain storm.
The walk was much the same as yesterday with a gradual climb, nothing difficult.
I eventually arrived at Hontanas the only village on the route. On the way I stopped at nice little grotto to Saint Bridget of Sweden, then as I arrived at the Albergue/cafe there was cloud burst, I got inside just in time to avoid getting wet. Pilgrim’s were rushing along drenched to get out of the down pour. My new friend Senan Lillis was already there, as we decided to wait for the rain to stop or ease off I ordered a pizza. It was so big I shared with others who were sheltering. Senan is singing his way along the Camino, (for my wexford friends) I had one verse of Pecker Dunne’s Traveller Man. Photographs were taken and eventually the rain stopped, so every one moved on again.
There is a beautiful little church in the village, Saint Brigid, where I lit a candle and said a prayer for all those who asked for a prayer. See the photos.
Here I met a young Dutch lad who liked pizza, between there and Castrojeriz our paths crossed a number of times. He was on a month’s vacation and he was walking the full Camino in that time. On his first day he walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Zubiri a distance of 30 miles. Pilgrim’s normally take three days to walk this because of the difficulty involved. Today he was walking 18 miles and all at a nice steady pace. He told me he is a very organised person, for this he made no plans, carried all his clothes in his back pack, took his chances with accommodation where ever he decided to stop for the day, and he keft his phone at home. He was relaxed and happy an amazing young man.
The walk itself was similar to yesterday until I got nearer to Castrojeriz, I encountered more rocķy paths and landscape changed, more green with trees and of course the hills were back.
I passed the ruins of a 14th centuary ancient convent, part of which was renovated and used as an albergue. Here I also saw the first horses on the Camino being prepared for their walk with pilgrims aboard.
Arrived in the village of Castrojeriz which is overlooked by the ruins of a castle established in the 9th centuary.
Booked into my little quaint hotel, showered and had a good rest. Went to 7.00pm.mass in the Church of Our Lady of the Apple, another beautiful church. Had my dinner in the hotel.
Friday 8th September. Day 15. Burgos to Castrojeriz. Walked 13 miles – ascent 3117 feet.
Today’s walk was through the relative wilderness and what is described as the sublime Meseta.
This walk is over earth tracks through endless crop fields, wheat, barley, and oats; all now harvested. There is no shade on the Meseta. There was only two villages and it is a fact that many pilgrims get a taxi for this and the next stage, in fact I overheard a taxi been arranged in the village of Tardajos.
This was a good day for me, thanks to showing my Irish flag.
On my way out of Burgos a young lady who was on her bicycle asked if I was Irish, she told me she was going to work at the university. She worked in Cork for 3 months, she was happy to cycle along talking about the Irish and Cork.
A bit further on I met street cleaners actually washing the street. When I went out of the hotel first thing to check temperature etc I noticed the street wet and thought it must have rained, it was the street cleaners.
As I continued I saw a state prison with watchtowers, photo see above link.
On the path I met two of my Canadian friends, Mike and Kathy Cusack they are usually walking, but they have taken to bicycles for a couple of days, they plan to mix walking and cycling. Photo photo see above link, all nice people on the Camino.
I took a break for a snack in the first village of Tardajos , where I met Senan Lillis (for my Irish friends and family) Senan has just retired as head teacher of Adamstown vocational school and lives in Blackwater, a Clare man long settled in Wexford, a pleasant man and good company. He knows the Furlong family in Adamstown and that Betty was a teacher in a local school, Holy Family in Coventry.
I moved on and stopped in the next village of Rabe de Las Calzadas, there a Spanish lady wanted to speak about the world famous Hook Lighthouse, my Irish flag again worked. I went into a beautiful little monastery here, there was two nuns inside, stamping Camino passports and giving out miraculous medals and a prayer . I now have one attached to my back pack.
You are warned to look out for shepherds and their flock of sheep , I saw one in the distance, he was leading his flock of sheep through the fields, not driving them along. ‘I know mine and mine know me’ comes to mind.
I next stopped for a break at Fuents de Praotorre, a shaded picnic spot where I eat my bread, cheese and egg I had from the hotel at breakfast time. I was joined by Senan and two just retired teachers from Canada, Mark and Kerri. Senan who is into the traditional music and singing scene, sang a song he wrote about the Camino to the air of Cockles and Mussels, excellent . He shared the words to me on face book which I have shared on my time line.
I continued on through the crop fields of the Meseta which was a slow climb, pleasant but got very hot. I only really noticed the climb when I started to descend into Homillos, where I visited the very nice local church with Sunday only service.
Hornillos is nice small village where I am stopping in a nice little hotel. Senan Lillis joined me for an evening meal, we spent a pleasant hour and half. Good and pleasant relaxing company.
This has been a good and uplifting day for me on the Camino, I might say thanks to showing my colours.
Thursday 7th September. Day 14. San Juan de Ortega to Burgos. Walked 16 miles- ascent 3543 feet
A much different day again, a cold start to the morning, first time I wore a jacket for the first 3 miles, it got brighter later a good day for walking.
I was picked up from the hotel and dropped back on the Camino in San Juan exactly where I finished walking the day before. It started off in the rio Vena valley and then ascended into the lonely Sierra Atapuerca. This was a difficult climb because of the rocks and very stoney footing. It was a nice and peaceful walk through the villages. This changed as soon as I arrived in the urban area on the outskirts of Burgos. This was a long stretch of about 6 miles of pavement and tarmac past factories and commercial buildings. To put it nicely I am not a fan of such urban walking.
Before that the first village was Ages, a nice place where a lot of pilgrims took an early break.
The next village was Atapuerca, this is where the earliest human remains in Europe were discovered, it confirmed our ancestors were cannibals. The prehistoric caves where the remains were found were declared a UNESCO world heritage site. The dig is still ongoing. I had a break here and was given an Irish Flag for my back pack by a lady who was part of a group of 22 from Dublin. Continued on through 4 more villages.
There is pretty little church in the same village, see the photo.
The walk into Burgos was a non event. I visited the beautiful.Santa Maria cathedral and went to the 7pm mass in one of the many side chapels.
Wednesday 6th September. Day 13. Belorado to San Juan de Ortega. 15 miles – ascent 3773 feet
San Juan has a population of 20, a monastery and one albergue, so not much happening here.
Today’s walk brought a variation of terrain and tracks out of Belorado through 4 villiages and through woods of oak and pine. You could hear the wind blowing through the trees, and smells from the Forrest, this was a most enjoyable walk, even though there was steep climbs again, this is what is expected on the Camino.
On the way out it was overcast and dark, the rain was never far away, but I did not have wear rain gear.
On the outskirts of the first village, Tosantos, you could see an unusual hermitage of Our Lady of the Crag, it has a 12th centuary image of the Christ Child. There is a photo, if you focus you can see the hermitage set back in the side of the rocks.
The next village was Villambistia, I went into the albergue here for a break and snack, on the main road outsids this village there are traffic works. There is a photo, you will see a made up dummy with a red flag giving advanced warning, the Spaniards have cracked it, a lot of euros saved here! I then continued on through Espinosa del Camino. The next village was Villafranca Montes de Oca. There is a hotel and Albergue here, I am stopping in the hotel here tonight, I walked through here at about 11.00 am and continued on a further 7 miles to San Juan. San Juan is so small there is no accommodation, so arrangements were made for me to get a taxi back to this hotel, and in the morning I will be dropped back out to San Juan to continue from where I left off, all part of the service.
After Villafranca the serious climbing started again, the beauty of the woods compensated.
Further along there is a monument to the Spanish Civil war , it also marks shallow graves of those executed. It is a tragic symbol of what some say is Spain’s unhealed memories, but perhaps that can be said about civil wars through out the world over the years.
The climbs and descents continued. Near San Juan another enterprising Spaniard had a pit stop set up, I took another break here and eat my hard boiled egg, cheese and bread that I got from the hotel at breakfast time.
Reached San Juan and arranged my lift back to the hotel.
This evening’s meal in the restaurant for hotel and Albergue was the best since I came here, 3 course for €12 there was about 80 pilgrims and no delays in service what so ever.
This was an enjoyable day.
Tuesday 5th September. Day 12. Santo Domingo to Belorado. Distance 14 miles – height 2657 feet.
Actually walked 17 miles as I returned to Santa Maria Church for evening Mass and pilgrim blessing. I went into the church on the way into Belorado.
Today’s walk took me through 4 villages. Paths were adjacent to the very busy N-120 for most of the way, there was little shelter on the way except through the villages, so pit stops were very difficult because of the open country side for miles.
There was mainly harvested wheat fields for far as the eye could see.
Between the villages of Granon and Redecilla I crossed the boundary line between the region of La Rioja and Castilla y Leon, which is the largest autonomous region in Spain.
The village of Viloria del Camino is the birth place of Saint Dominic, the house no longer exists.I had a snack in this village of my favourite potato omelette, further on in the village of Vila Mayor I eat the sandwich I made in the hotel before I left.
On the way I met a man and his dog, both walking the Camino.
Because of the refreshing rest day yesterday I was able to overtake Sammie the snail, see the photo.
As I said I went to evening Mass and pilgrim blessing in Santa Maria church, it was a nice service with beautiful singing. The pilgrim blessing took half an hour,I think there was 28 there of mixed nationalities, only one English speaker , me! No jokes please. Prayers were said in all languages by the people present, there was a bit of a sing song which ended with a group photo, a lot of the faces were familier from the Camino.
Ancient cave dwelling once home of hermets can be seen behind the church, there are some with modern conversation.
The scene along the route is mainly harvested wheat fields for as far as the eye can see.
I forgot to mention I am in a nice hotel with a great bath and I got my laundry done, very important!
Monday 4th September. Day 11. Rest day in Santo Domingo.
Thought I might do 10 mile training walk, but no , only joking, done 3 miles enjoying the sights of the town.
Had lie in and late breakfast. Spent over an hour in the beautiful cathedral of Santo Domingo, which was first built towards the end of the 12 centuary. A live cock and hen are kept in a special coop in the Cathedral , there is a photo but not easy to see because of the lighting in the coop. The cock even crowed while I was there.
There is long story of a miracle which involved a cock and hen it involves a German pilgrim who was hanged as a result of false allegations made by a woman. He was with his parents who had walked on and were not aware of what happened. They saw him hanging and alive on their way back. The boy said Santo Domingo brought him back to life.
They told the Mayor who was having his meal, he told them the boy was as much alive as the two cooked chickens on the table. At that the chickens came to life and began to crow, so the live boy was taken down from the gallows. So, there you have the abridged version. Since that time birds have been kept in the Cathedral.
Rest of the time, sused out my route out of town in the morning, done a bit of shopping, had a snack and decided to get in out of the 28 degrees sun shine and rest until dinner in the hotel this evening.
Because it was my rest day you were probably thinking he won’t have much to say today, but the story of the miracle of the boy and the cock and hen with Saint Dominic was worth telling.
Sunday 3rd September. Day 10. Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. 13 miles walked – ascent 2445 ft.
The majority of todays stage was on wide open country tracks passing through remote and gently undulating farmland. The last stretch into Santo Domingo was along side the main road.
As usual there always seems to be a steep rise at the start of each days walk, same today. As the walk progressed, walked through the villages of Azofra and Ciruena, also saw the first golf complex.
There was a couple of steep inclines, nothing serious.
There was a lot of nice views across cultivated and harvested farm land, it is obviously a very fertile area for corn crops and vegetables.
This was a comparatively easy 13 mile walk.
Met a pilgrim with a donkey carrying all his belongings, he was walking in the reverse direction.
Only other thing of note was a conversation between ladies who I thought were American , found out later, they were one Canadian and two Australians. I could not get away no how hard I tried, the topic was breast reconstruction after cancer surgery, I now have expert knowledge . Later I was sat in the shade under a tree eating my toasted sandwich and having a drink of nice cool water,I have now got into the habit of making a sandwich at the breakfast table for later in day.
While I was there the Canadian lady who was doing all the talking stopped to talk to me. She was a very happy lady in her early 40ies walking with her husband who was ahead. She had breast surgery for cancer and a reconstruction . She was positive happy lady. It is great meeting all these nice people who have their problems and difficulties in life and are making the best of what God has given them.
It was a lovely morning for walking, overcast but nicely warm, you could move on with ease. Later the sun appeared and it got warmer. I finished early, showered, had a nice afternoon nap and evening meal in the hotel. Went fòr an evening walk in town , it was nice to see all the families in their Sunday best, the young and the old enjoying themselves in the side walk restaurants.
Saturday 2nd September. Day 9. Logrono to Najera. Walked 18 miles – height 1968 feet.
Set off at 7.30am, being Saturday there was not many people about. Walk was not easy at the beginning as a lot of the marker post scallops had been removed by protesters, similar to the route on the previous evening. The walk was mainly on pathways and tracks passing through parks initially. When I got into the country it was grapes most of the way. It appears to be a bumper grape crop.
Passed a reservoir outside Logrono which is packed with fish , see photo. Went through a park which had red/ black? squirrels all over the place.
There was nothing note worthy on this day in relation scenic views. It was very fertile land with mostly grapes.
There was a little old man in a hut selling fruit and other bits and pieces, Santa Clause, see photo.
I had a break in Navarrete and had my favourite potato omelette.
There was two steep climbs, second one with a difficult surface of rocks and stones, as I was ascending I heard someone sbout, ‘oh s–t’. I thought someone must be in trouble, when got around the corner I saw a man sitting on some stones with his bike parked nearby, he was complaining about the stone surface, he was a very funny French Canadian man with an infectious laugh.
Further along there was a busker from Santiago, with a guitar and mouth organ, so we had a song or two, he didn’t know any Irish songs.
May not have been wonderful views but there was variety of sorts on today’s walk.
In the evening I had a meal on my own , but I was joined for awhile by Dean Crocker and his wife Kathy, Dean had an accident on the first day, but is still walking.
Finished the day in the Santa Maria Monastery for mass for this weekend, beautiful church and beautiful singing by the priest and one other man, especially the Salva Regina at the end of Mass.
Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and be ready for tomorrow.
Friday 1st September. Day 8. Los Arcos to Logrono. Walked 18 miles – ascent 1870 feet.
Most of this stage was on natural paths through open arable farm and which is managed and harvested recently. Luckily there was no strong sunshine in the early stages of the walk which made it a bit easier. This was our longest walk so far with a number of short steep climbs to keep the pressure on. Today both Tracey and I wore our sponsorship shirts for Motor Neurones decease, and Zoe’s Place.
The group walked together into the village of Sansol where light refreshment was had. As is usual on the Camino every one finds their own pace, and we carried into the town of Viana where there was market.
There was nothing note worthy about this stage except of course the length of the walk and the heat towards the end.
This is the ladies last day on the Camino with me.
We walked 109 miles since last Friday, they were absolutely outstanding in their endeavour and commitment, many different emotions were experienced.
During each day we often did not see much of each other, which is the nature of walking the Camino, we made other friends and always got together every evening. It was great to have them with me for the week, we knew we were never far away from each other.
Jude Doherty and Jude McKinnon stopped in the same hotels as me, as arranged by Juan. Bernie Doherty, Tracy O Connor, Carmen Robinson, Breege Burke and Evelyn Lappin stopped mostly in hostels/hotels as arranged by Bernie.
They are all going back to the UK tomorrow. Bernie and Tracey will be joining me again for my last week on the 1 October to walk from Santiago to Finisterre. We all walked the same itinerary for the week.
I will miss them, so I am off in the morning for the next three weeks on my own. When I get to Sarria I will be joined by three friends for the week into Santiago.
To finish the day we went for a pizza and then went to Mass for the first Friday in the Santa Maria cathedral.
Thursday 31st August Day 7. Estella to Los Arcos. 13 miles 2132 feet high.
As with yesterday, the majority of the route was on nice natural paths, which made for easy walking. There was some inclines but nothing serious, weather was nice, not too hot, it was a delight to walk today.
On the way we went through the villages of Irache, Azqueta, Villamayor. The country side was mainly good farming areas. The landscape was pleasant and interesting.
Just outside Estella there is a wine fountain near Irache, no surprise there were queues at 8.00am for free wine on tap.
We met the Italian man again pulling his boxes along, now he had ‘no wheels on his wagon ‘ they were completely worn down, he was helped along at various stages by energetic young men.
There are a lot of cyclist on the Camino, saw one who had a cute little dog in his back pack, see the photo, I had to run after him to get the photo. In Los Arcos a Belgian couple came into town on their bicycles, the man had a dog wearing sun glasses, in a basket on the front of his bike.
The land all the way is well harvested, saw large tractors in operation.
I also spoke to a man who I noticed on previous days walking with a very pronounced limp and looked like he was struggling badly, he is 71 year old from Saint Albans who had polio as 7 year old, 64 years ago. His wife died 3 years ago, he was doing it for his wife. There are some very inspiring people on the Camino.
Our group had our evening meal in our hotel , The Monarch; after which we all went to Mass in the beautiful church of Saint Mary’s of the Arches. Again the priest gave all pilgrims a special blessing and gave each person a beautiful prayer leaflet. Again we saw our Italian friend with his boxes at Mass.
We had the first two courses of our meal before mass and as we were pushed for time, the staff told us to come back for our sweet after mass, this is what you call excellent service.
Oh yes I passed by a small holding with chickens and goats.
So a very interesting different day which was enjoyable without any great difficulties.
Wednesday 30th August Day 6. Puente La Reina to Estella. Walked 16 miles, height 1640 ft.
This was a quite stage along gentle rolling farmland and vineyards with few trees and not much shelter. The first section had steep climbs and tricky down ward paths because of stones and rocks under foot. This led to three hilltop villages on the way, Maneru, Cirauqui and Lorca. Stopped off at a nice little church in Villatuerta just outside Estella.
It was a good day for walking not too sunny until towards the end when it got very hot.
On the way stopped off for a snack near Lorca where I met Dean and his wife from Canada. On the first day in St Jean Pied de Port, Dean fell off a bridge and is now struggling badly with his knee. I gave him some pain killers, he is not even carrying a back pack at this stage. He did make it to Estella, but will have to take time to recover. Brought home the perils of this walk, you meet someone every day suffering blisters and injuries.
The two Judes and myself stopping in a hotel quite a bit off the Camino and the other 5 girls are stopping in a Convent tonight.
Another important task for the 6 weeks, done my laundry today at the end of the walk.
Tuesday 29th August Day 5. Pamplona to Puente La Reina 16 miles, highest point 2590 feet.
A very mixed day with heavy rain, visibility, and under foot conditions, and eventually sunshine, but nothing serious.
The first 3 miles was on city pavements and suburban roads.Passed through 5 villages and a steep climb through wind turbines. Could see the turbines as we approached them, by the time we reached them, they were gone from view because of low cloud and heavy rain, we could hear them. Under foot it was very muddy and also in places on decent because of the wet stones it became very treacherous. Great care had to be taken.
I managed to visit 4 nice churches, St Andrew in Zariquiegui; St Stephen Gothic parish church in Uterga; and took a 3 mile detour to visit a Romanesgue Church of Santa Maria in Eunate, which unfortunately was closed; and the parish church of St John in Obanas, where a very colourful festival was taking place, a parade with a statue of Jesus, all the parishioners dresses in white and red, and lovely brass band.
Every day is different, it was another enjoyable Day, got to my hotel, washed my boots and had a glorous bath, first hotel with a bath.
Finally met the group , 5 of them for the first time today.
Monday 28th August Day 4. Walked from Zubiri to Pamplona. 14 miles, highest point 1837 feet.
Really nice day for walking, nice sunshine at times but not too hot. It was tranquil initially by the rio arga, nice shade along the river banks. Pamplona is a busy city so the scene changed. On the way in we visited a beautiful church run by the Sisters of The Sacred Heart in Zabaldika on the outskirts of Pamplona, with a statue of St James, it brought home to me what the pilgrimage walk is all about, today was a great experience for me. The day ended with our usual group meal.
It was a different day again walking through farm communities at the early stage. Peace, Tranquillity, and Prayer. Oh yes, this evening we had a brief severe thunder storm.
Sunday 27th August Day 3. Roncesvalles to Zubiri a distance of 15 miles and a rise of 3133 feet, not as severe as yesterday. As you will see from the below photographs the countryside and terrain is different from the beautiful sights we saw yesterday. The land was fertile and we walked through mostly countryside with a farming community. The only difficult part was the last two mile very steep down hill into Zubiri because of stones, shale and rocks, it was a challenge and could be dangerous.
I had good advice the day before I left from a Coventry/ Aussie friend Martyn R. Paterson, which has stood me in good stead particular on the first day and which I will remember for the next 6 weeks:
‘Remember it is not a race
Walk your own pace
It matters not what time you get there
Its about the journey
May the sun bring you energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world and know it’s beauty all the days of your life.’
(A couple of lines added by me).
Thanks to all my friends for your encouragement, support, and prayers.
26th August. Day 2. St Jean Pied de Port to Ronchevalles. Walked 16 miles. Climbed 4757 feet.
A Hard day leaving at 7.30 and finishing at 5pm. The decent back down was probably more difficult than going up. The highest was the Col de Lepoeder. The views were awesome, especially on the French side. But it was a pleasant enjoyable experience. Not too warm, but I still drank 3 litres. You were right Enda Hughes, my back pack did get lighter but at the wrong stage of the walk. Ended the day with Mass in the Cathedral where the celebrant called all the pilgrims present to the altar to receive a special blessing . The day was complete when the group of eight of us had a meal in our hotel.
25th August. Day 1. Eight of us traveĺled from Birmingham Airport, one drop out. When we arrived in St Jean Pied de Port, five of the ladies walked on to Orrison, about 5 miles , to get a start for tomorrow’s day into Roncesvalles. Three of us are stopping over night in St Jean and heading off in the morning at 7.00am, it has been a Very warm day and more of the same is expected tomorrow.
24th August. Day 0. Went to 12.00 Mass at Christ The King to get my pilgrimage walk off to a good start for tomorrow. At the end of Mass Father Andy called me up to the altar and gave me a special blessing for my six week journey, feeling emotional. God bless you Father Andy and best wishes in your new parish appointment, from Peter and Nellie.