Back in April, after ending a very long and drawn out personal relationship, I decided that my mind needed to be purged. What better way to do it than push yourself, to break yourself, so that you can then be refreshed, and get fixed.
I feel in need of a re-boot. I lost my way… and I’m off to find it.
Planting the seed
I was reminded of a brief discussion, many years ago with a passing friend, about the time he stepped on to the Camino, the Way of St. James. A 500 mile path beginning in the south of France and finishing at the tomb of St. James in (SdeC) Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It sounded like something I would do, one day.
The distance immediately intrigues me. Walking 500 miles amongst beautiful scenery and testing yourself, testing your body, to breaking point. Above all, I loved the idea of the challenge.
Initially I wondered if I should do this particular trip as generally it is branded as a ‘pilgrimage’. I blatantly state that I do not follow the path of Christianity, in any way, but fair respect those that do, or need to, in order to get up in the morning.
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.
I’ll take the moral significance and metaphorical journey from that.
The Camino was actually a pagan route long before it was Christian, and I’m pretty sure it certainly meant something to someone long before that. ‘The Way’ is open to all people. You do it because you have your reasons. I do have mine and each to their own.
In order to prevent talking myself out of it I decided to book my flights straight away. However, because I cannot have a full month off work (required in order to do the entire 500 miles) I can only do half of it. But where to begin?
There are actually many possible routes in to SdeC. The ‘Camino Frances’ is the most popular. Hundreds of pilgrims can be found trudging, in pain, along it’s length, every day. To be honest I do love my friends, but even they will tell you that I love my own company. So the idea of sharing this experience with ‘hundreds’ of other people almost put me off. But I discovered smaller routes, tougher routes, more scenic routes and quickly told myself that they were the way for me. There will still be other pilgrims on the route, and I do enjoy sharing a coffee with the odd (really odd!) random strangers – as I do consider myself to be one of those!
It really couldn’t have worked out any better. Rather than flying in to one of Spain’s major airports, like Madrid or Bilbao, both of which are way off the beginning of the path and would take a day just get across to the start point, I spotted a small airport, right at the northernmost edge of Spain, in Asturias, just north of Ovideo. It was bang in the middle of the Camino Norte path, and also intersected with the Camino Primitivo path.
Right… starting point found, ending point known, now… which way?
Camino Primitivo is quite difficult, very ‘hilly’, and my old knees don’t appreciate the hills. Camino Norte follows the coast for 70 miles and then turns inland. The coast, I thought! I love the coast, I live near the coast, the sea, harbours, coves, beaches are my mecca… it’s a no-brainer… the Norte it is!
Now I have a plan: It is simple. I have flights in to Asturia on a certain date and flights out of SdeC, 14 days later. I have to cover 200 miles… lets’ go.
And that’s it! That’s the plan. I have no hotels or hostels (Albeques) booked. I have a pair of boots. I have the equivalent of 1 weeks clothing crammed in to a backpack weighing 8kg. But most importantly I have the will to do this, because I’ll come out of it a better person.
Of course I also have a route, roughly. I also plan to do it in 11 days. This will push me to the limit. It will give me a goal each day. But it will also give me a couple of days for true sight-seeing and chilling out at the end of it. Of course, it also gives me breathing space to stretch the legs, literally. I’m no stranger to a small amount of walking, doing about 5-6 miles every day. I’m not super fit, my 6-pack turned in to a barrel a few years ago. So this is not going to be easy, in fact I may just have bitten off more than I can chew. But that’s the point. Positivity will pull me though and I cannot put in to words how much I am looking forward to this experiance. Come back when I write something after 3 days in and see if I feel the same 🙂
Here’s the route:-
I’ll try to update this blog as often as possible.
Spare a thought for my old knees and spine, they will need all of the support they can get.
See you on the other side 🙂