I’ve had many, many memorable experiences in my life but to date none more so than walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as ‘The Way’.
I’m proud to say I’ve hiked the Camino de Santiago twice now. The first time, taking the Camino Frances route, I did it simple for the challenge of doing it. My only real focus was getting to the end point and as quickly as possible. Starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, south-western France, the first stage took me up and over the Pyrenees into Spain. From there a long and winding path across northern Spain, finishing in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of north-west Spain’s Galicia region. Almost 500 miles of seemingly endless paths, through open countryside, tiny villages, bustling towns and sprawling cities. Challenging, demanding, exhilarating and life-changing.
As well as having a truly amazing adventure I also managed to raise £658.00 for Breast Cancer Research, thanks to the many people who made the generous donations they did.
The second time I wanted to enjoy the journey itself and took the time to do that. On that occasion I started out from the same point as before – Saint Jean – but once I reached Leon I took a bus north to the coastal city of Gijón and then picked up the Camino del Norte route. The route taken followed the very picturesque northern coast until reaching Ribadeo and then heading down into and across country once again to Santiago de Compostela. The most noticeable feature of the Camino del Norte, aside from some of the most stunningly beautiful coastal villages I’ve ever spent time in, was how few ‘pilgrims’ there were compared to the Camino Frances. After reaching Santiago I was also privileged to spend a few days travelling on to Cape Finisterre, a place which in roman times was believed to be the end of the world, and then also on to Muxia before returning by bus that day to Finisterre and Santiago by bus the following day.
(BTW: Almost as amazing as the journey itself was the fact that, using public transport, I could travel all the way to the starting point of Saint-Jean quite literally from the bus stop outside the house I lived in at the time.)