UKC

/ Camino de Santiago

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mypyrex - on 25 Mar 2018

Has anyone done it?

Having been watching the progress of Ed Byrne et al I'm just wondering, apart from the length, how strenuous or demanding it is.

Obviously the programme is edited but there seems to be a lot of moaning about what appears to be relatively easy walking on obvious paths.

 

Post edited at 21:30
syv_k - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I am heading off on Wednesday to do this. The first two weeks or so will be with a friend, then she has to go back to work and I will finish it solo. She will do the second half next year. 

I have never done a multi day trek before but don’t anticipate too many problems as I do a fair bit of walking. However the cold snap is a problem - I had planned lightweight clothing and shoes, and my pack is under 5kg, but hearing that the mountain bits are under three feet of snow is making me worry a bit about being underequipped. But taking big boots for one or two days and then carrying them for another thirty isn’t great either. There is one mountainous bit at the start and another three quarters of the way through .

I am hoping that when I come back I will be nice and fit for my annual Via Ferrata holiday in the Dolomites, even if I don’t get any spiritual insights along the way.  

Post edited at 22:04
Mark Collins - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I'm enjoying the programme but haven't done it. For those that don't know, there is also a feature film starring Martin Sheene, "The Way".

mypyrex - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to syv_k:

Thanks for your comment. I shall be interested to hear about your progress.

I know I may be wrong but having seen it on tv it looks, compared to other walks I've done, pretty straight forward, even a doddle.

I'll be interested if anybody contradicts that opinion

mypyrex - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to Mark Collins:

> I'm enjoying the programme but haven't done it. For those that don't know, there is also a feature film starring Martin Sheene, "The Way".


Saw that - very enjoyable

Alex@home - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

My mum is in her 70s and she's done it all apart from the Pyrenees section in the last few years. She's done it in sections of about 2 weeks at a time and never complained about any difficult. It sounds like a fantastic experience

lordjim - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I completed the Camino  with my girlfriend who was a very inexperienced walker in Feb/March two years ago to arrive at Easter for the festivities. It was a very satisfying experience and at that time of year relatively quiet until the last 100 km when the holiday inspired the crowds to join in.The walking was always  easy and obvious with excellent signposting and dry underfoot if sometimes cold and snowy  during our trip. Compared to  Kinder Scout it was an absolute pootle.The accomodation was cheap and good quality.The walking itself is a mixture of well trodden trails,roads,footpaths and urban pavements and was sometimes unexciting if beautiful.The  quality of the Camino lies in it's history,it's ancient towns and outstanding bridges and churches.It often feels like walking through an artwork.There is a great camaraderie among fellow pilgrims and the locals are always ready with greetings , directions and hospitality. I did as a non believer still find it to be a spiritual  and heartwarming experience.I am planning to repeat the experience soon on the Northern route.The continuation to Finnesterre is very worthwhile.

Mal Grey - on 25 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I've walked bits of some of the extended French parts, all very pleasant, pretty easy, but passing through some lovely country and, as mentioned above, the villages and towns are full of wonderful buildings.

 

Some folk I know did their own version, which was, err, a little different: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php/47254-An-Extraordinary-Pilgrimage-to-Cape-Finisterre

 

 

 

 

Tom V - on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Brian Sewell, the art critic, did a six part series on it. He seemed to tackle it faiirly easily but then he was driving a Mercedes 560 SEC most of the way and only hopped onto a donkey for the last few miles.

Doug on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I've walked (& driven) parts of some of the French routes (there are several) and all see very easy walking, well signposted & lots of gites, B&Bs etc. Some sections in France seem to follow roads much of the time & don't look particularly interesting.

I don't know if you read French but if you do you might find Immortelle randonnée - Compostelle malgré moi by Jean-Christophe Rufin interesting.

Trangia on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Two of my friends did it last year separately. They both enjoyed it, but said some of the long stretches besides busy main roads in Spain are boring, dusty and quite dangerous with big lorries thundering past. They both said the Pyrenees are the most interesting. It can be very sociable, but if sleeping in hostels take ear plugs, she said it was like trying to sleep in a room full of motorbikes!

Blisters seem to be the biggest problem even for those more used to mountain walking, because continuous stretches of road walking for some sections causes them.

Also it can sometimes rain, and rain hard! Northern Spain is green for a reason!   

Kimono - on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

I walked the first part of the Camino del Norte though the Basque Country a couple of years ago.
I chose this route as the Frances (the main one) is pretty over run now and the Norte is more scenic.
It is largely relatively quite due to the first week being quite tough. One Spanish girl gave up on the first day, despite having planned the trek for a year! And another guy ended up mailing half the contents of his pack home

Truth is, you can go very lightweight as you are sleeping indoors each night. I made it with a 25lt daypack

Wiley Coyote2 - on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

How busy is it? I watched the first prog and thought it looked interesting but midway through the second one it looked like walking down Oxford St during the sales and I went off the idea

mypyrex - on 26 Mar 2018

I was discussing the Camino with a friend of mine and he also had been watching the programme.

He was very much of the opinion that the so called celebrities had failed to appreciate the realities of a long distance walk, had done little research and had assumed they would walk a few yards each day whilst on camera.

Ed Byrne appeared to know what was involved and, to me, he seemed to have a much better knack of pacing himself. The others seemed to be trying do it at the gallop.

1poundSOCKS - on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> How busy is it?

Depends which route you do. I started on the Primitivo, and hardly bumped into anyone while walking. Towards the end it joins the Francais (the most popular one) and it was packed into Santiago.

Moley on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to syv_k:

> I am heading off on Wednesday to do this. The first two weeks or so will be with a friend, then she has to go back to work and I will finish it solo. She will do the second half next year. 

 

My friend Nick starts tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, so if you meet a 60 year old Englishman from wales, say hello from me, he lives across the field from our house.

Have to say it doesn't appeal to me, im sure it can be immensely rewarding and scenic to some, but a made up path, track, road that  takes 100s of thousands of walkers per year is not my cup of tea (300,,000 in 2017).

Good luck and enjoy the experience, may the wine be with you .

jess13 - on 26 Mar 2018
In reply to Wiley Coyote2:

> How busy is it? I watched the first prog and thought it looked interesting but midway through the second one it looked like walking down Oxford St during the sales and I went off the idea

I joined the camino going the opposite way above Roncevalles early in the morning, I was on the HRP and had seen no one the previous day except shepherds in the distance. On crossing the col down to the fuente de Roland( a tap in the wall) the sight of hundreds of people coming towards me was overwhelming - the world and his wife, people of all nationalities, some with their kit on donkeys, some in monks habits, nuns with large hats (wimples?). The day was getting hot (in fact it reached 42C that day) and the crowd around the fuente were already looking a bit jaded luckily the HRP veered off here and back to solitude.This was in late June 2011.

PCD - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to jess13:

There are plenty of world-wide walks where you can have a personal, spiritual experience. I watched The Way with Martin Sheen and enjoyed it. But then I realised that what they had was an experience available elsewhere. And there is one part of this experience which leads me not to undertake this trek. The celebration of a religion that is totalitarian, oppressive and god fearing, with death, torture and abuse throughout the centuries and into the present day. Didn't expect this? Well, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition....

felt - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

Friend of mine who lives in Galicia did it with his dad, who flew over from the UK. The dad's a military type, everything regimented, shipshape and Bristol fashion. He drove my friend mad with his constant emailing of lists of things to bring: 12 handkerchiefs, pressed; dubbin; shorts, creased; cap, peaked; binoculars, wrapped in silk. You get the picture. This developed into a real ding-dong of yes and no, I will, I won't, you bring this, I'll bring that, that's absurd, no it isn't, until they were barely on corresponding terms. A spiritual jaunt had turned into a long-distance logistical spat.

Imagine my friend's satisfaction, then, when his dad alighted from the plane in Spain and announced that he'd left his boots behind in Luton.

DerwentDiluted - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to felt:

> The dad's a military type, everything regimented, shipshape and Bristol fashion. He drove my friend mad with his constant emailing of lists of things to bring: 12 handkerchiefs, pressed; dubbin; shorts, creased; cap, peaked; binoculars, wrapped in silk. 

Types, military, up with them, what is?

felt - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to DerwentDiluted:

Me, tell, you.

Wiley Coyote2 - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to felt:

His dad was Yoda?

benp1 - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

made me slide :D

PCD - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

There are plenty of world-wide walks where you can have a personal, spiritual experience. I watched The Way with Martin Sheen and enjoyed it. But then I realised that what they had was an experience available elsewhere. And there is one part of this experience which leads me not to undertake this trek. The celebration of a religion that is totalitarian, oppressive and god fearing, with death, torture and abuse throughout the centuries and into the present day. Didn't expect this? Well, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition....

PCD - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to syv_k:

Martin Sheen's real son (not Charlie) acted the part of his characters son in the film The Way...all about this trek. He died in the Pyrenees as he was underequiped. 

mypyrex - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to PCD:

> There are plenty of world-wide walks where you can have a personal, spiritual experience. I watched The Way with Martin Sheen and enjoyed it. But then I realised that what they had was an experience available elsewhere. And there is one part of this experience which leads me not to undertake this trek. The celebration of a religion that is totalitarian, oppressive and god fearing, with death, torture and abuse throughout the centuries and into the present day. Didn't expect this? Well, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition....

I know what you mean and I agree with your comments about religion,  but if I were to do it I would not set out to do it for any sort of religious reason. I am sure there are many who undertake the Camino who do so without any or little though of the religious aspects. One does not have to have any belief in any sort of religion to be able to enter many of the places of worship. I have been to Lourdes several times, I have visited Buddhist temples but I feel no more attracted to Catholicism(on the contrary) or Buddhism for having done so.

 

Rampikino - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to mypyrex:

It is possible to complete the Camino and still get "credit" for it, though not the full Compostela.

 

There are a number of key factors at play with the Camino.  Not only has mobility improved throughout Europe and beyond, allowing people to take on such "challenges" but also the rise of the internet and sharing of information has made it easier too.

I would also argue that we have changed culturally.  There seems to be a desire to make everything in our lives experiential.  I would almost argue that we are the experiential generation at the moment.  Now when you google Camino de Santiago you can find all kinds of challenges (for charity or otherwise), offers, groups, books, experiences et al.  There is even a race!

The growth of the participants is quite interesting too:

http://santiagodecompostela.co.uk/statistics-camino-de-santiago/

Now, does this diminish the whole Camino?  It is, after all, intended to be a reflective, religious pilgrimage but appears to have become a mass participation experiential challenge.  I would argue that you can have your own reflective experience (religious or otherwise) on or off the Camino - you just need to show a bit of individuality and imagination.

Certainly when I go to Northern Spain every summer I seen dozens and dozens of weary pilgrims passing through, and I am not sure they are all motivated by religious reflection.  What's more - the numbers continue to increase.  Great for the Alberges and cafes...

syv_k - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to PCD:

The Route Napoleon (where the fictional son, and some real pilgrims, died) is closed until April on pain of fines from the French authorities, and possibly even later this year as the weather has been bad. Nevertheless two Scottish pilgrims were rescued there yesterday from a hut with an emergency phone. 

Sensible and law abiding pilgrims like me will be taking the Charlemagne route instead which is lower and safer . Interestingly the reason the higher route became favoured when possible is not just the views, but it was on open ground so less vulnerable to bandits. 

On the religious angle, I am an atheist, but thank you for your warning and I will try to avoid any Spanish inquisitors that leap out from behind the bushes.  ????. I will be treating it as a contemplative, humanist  journey nonetheless. 

Rampikino - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to syv_k:

> On the religious angle, I am an atheist, but thank you for your warning and I will try to avoid any Spanish inquisitors that leap out from behind the bushes.  ????. I will be treating it as a contemplative, humanist  journey nonetheless. 

You won't face any issues that I am aware of.  You just won't be able to claim a full Compostela - you will get a simpler certificate of completion.

These days nobody really does expect the Spanish Inquisition!

 

jess13 - on 28 Mar 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

Ah -ha nobody expects the Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise! But you may end up sentenced to the comfy chair.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf_Y4MbUCLY

 

syv_k - on 15 Apr 2018
In reply to jess13:

I am now almost half way through, so worth a brief update?

The walking itself is not difficult for anyone who has done some hillwalking before.  Nothing technical, mostly wide gravel tracks, arrows all over the place for the most directionally challenged. The first day over the Pyrenees was tough due to the weather... 4 degrees and stinging hail in the town at the start, which switched to rain, sleet and heavy snow at various points over the day. My walking companion was a novice hiker and went to see the Pilgrim Office before I arrived. They advised we stayed on the road and avoided the parallel and shortcut paths due to mudslides and deep snow. So we took the road,27.5km and 890m ascent, and due to the lightweight gear we were pretty cold and wet standing in the accommodation queue when we arrived. In retrospect waterproof socks I could have posted home later would have been comfier. But after the first day you can structure it as you like as there are hostels every few miles in most places. We have seen everything from ex Iron man triathletes doing 50km or more every day to old ladies with heart conditions doing 10km and taking a taxi over the hills. What I find more interesting than the walking (sometimes great views but also boring bits) is the way we are meeting strangers and bonding so quickly. Beware, it has been described as a “mobile therapy group for fifty something divorcees “ which fits my walking companion to a T although not me. The history and architecture is amazing. I think many on UKC though would prefer the Camino del Norte (there are multiple pilgrim trails to Santiago and this one goes along he coast) which I have been told is more beautiful and remote but requires more self sufficiency and longer days.

 

syv_k - on 15 Apr 2018

Replying to the question of how busy is... it feels less busy than it actually is because everyone is going in the same direction at  a similar pace. So for the first four days we almost never saw anyone behind or ahead of us, but as soon as we stopped to adjust a pack or whatever, five other pilgrims trooped past, two or three of whom we recognised from the hostels on previous nights.

Currently we can mostly see some backpacks of those ahead of us, but as well as the trail getting busier it might be that the landscape has changed from twisty hill paths to Roman roads over the Meseta - an arable plateau.

But what other walking route has a free wine fountain and the thought that when you are washing your underwear at night millions of other people over a thousand years have been doing the same thing at the same spot, feeling the same sense of pleasure when the destination comes into view, and so on.

 

Moley on 15 Apr 2018
In reply to syv_k:

Good you are enjoying it, latest news from my friend Nick is just over half way. Keep an eye out for a bloke with a flute (or penny whistle thing), someone may have crushed it in a hostel and chucked it in the bin by now!


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