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When I first bought my fabulous Osprey Tempest 30 Mystic Magenta (don’t you just LOVE that name!) backpack I decided to name it Pepe. I wanted to take something with me on my first Camino that would be in remembrance of my Mom who died 34 years ago at the age of 52 and never had the opportunities I have had, or been able to do some of the amazing activities I have done or been to places I’ve been. So I wanted to take her (my Mom), on pilgrimage with me to Portugal and Spain when I walked my first Camino.

packing for the camino, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, solo travel for women over 60, walking over 60, preparing for the camino

However, bearing in mind that weight is an issue, I was reluctant to carry anything more than I absolutely had to, so I decided that I would give my backpack a name, something that signified memories I had of my childhood and something powerful that was linked to my Mom. So Pepe it is……

The back story to this is that when we were very young; 7 (me) & 4 (my sister) and just after my parents divorced, my Mom got us a dog. A little sausage dog. We named him Pepe after a little donkey I had seen in a film my Mom and I went to after my Grandmother’s funeral. Over the years we had a number of sausage dogs named Pepe and each had a number added; Pepe then Pepe 2 then Pepe 3. After that I don’t recall having any more sausage dogs, although we did have many pets in our lives. Pepe was reserved for a special time.

So every day while I was walking, with Pepe on my back, I thought of my Mom. Buen Camino Mommy.

In the meantime, besides the daily repacking on the Camino, I have repacked Pepe 3 times since I got back. Needless to say I’m preparing for my (unexpected) 2nd Camino; the Camino Ingles in September 2018. Unexpected because at the time I planned my 1st, I said I would do just the one and maybe another. Now I have 6 planned LOL It was that amazing.

To read more about my first Camino click the link 😉 Enjoy.

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We all know by now the damage being done to the planet with our perpetual use of plastic, seen the horror of a defenceless turtle with the plastic straw stuck up it’s nose, watched with shudders of horror as the blood poured while the rescuers tried to remove it, seen dead seabirds of all species lying on the rocky shores their guts filled with our plastic non-decomposing bits of waste while their chicks are starving to death, seen the whales and dolphins washed up on the beaches gasping their last breath as they lie there waiting to die from starvation caused by swallowing our plastic waste, and knowing that straws perforate the stomachs of penguins. Massive islands of plastic trash floating in the oceans, rivers and streams dead spaces clogged with plastic trash; our plastic trash.

We have to stop it somehow, but it seems insurmountable. Everything is either made with plastic in the process, contains plastic in the fabric or is simply a plastic container. Packaging manufacturers are slow to develop alternative materials that can genuinely compete with traditional plastics because there’s no real market for it. And there’s no market for it because there is not enough demand from consumers.

The supermarkets and production corporations don’t help with their perpetual insistence on using reams of plastic; vegetable wrapped in plastic, fish and meat wrapped in plastic. All because we are a throw-away species with only convenience on our minds.

Slowly but surely though, the message seems to be seeping into our brains and our consciousness; PLASTIC KILLS. And it’s not only killing off the planets wildlife and sea-life but it’s now in our food chain and in the fullness of time, we too will die of plastic related illness and cancers. Or starvation.

no straw november, ocean guardians, single use plasticBut there is so much we can do…..and #nostrawnovember is a very tiny action but it will save a massive amount of plastic from ending up in the oceans, rivers, streams and ultimately killing off the planet. And commit to avoiding single-use plastic water bottles

FYI: Just Americans ALONE use 500 million drinking straws EVERY DAY. To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That’s 46,400 school buses every year! Americans use these disposable utensils at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day.

After watching that awful video with the turtle I decided to not use plastic straws anymore. I saw a website where you sign a pledge to never use plastic straws ever again and signed immediately. My daughter bought me a packet of paper straws for Xmas.

So what you do to help reduce the number of plastic straws ending up killing off our wildlife and sea-life? #bestrawfree – join the campaign, be a super hero – and besides saving the planet, save yourself  https://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree Join the #nostrawnovember campaign and make it for life.

“In the UK alone, on average 3.5 million McDonalds customers per day buy a drink with a straw. That means 3.5 million straws a day are discarded” #strawwars

Of course it’s not just straws, it’s plastic bags, single use plastic bottles, cling-wrap, plastic ear-buds etc etc etc. The list just goes on. But, if we collectively just stop using those 5 items (amongst others), it will massively reduce the amount of plastic destroying the planet. We are meant to be the Guardians of Planet Earth, but sadly, on the contrary, we are the harbingers of it’s destruction. Our 20 minutes of convenience have major hidden consequences.

Other items you can stop using include: plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic coffee pods.

Landfill is not the answer, Recycling is not the absolute answer (you just make it someone else’s problem with that route). Most plastic packaging items are used only once before being discarded, and globally only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling.

Instead we must stop using plastic wherever we can and urge our supermarkets and politicians to help us clean up our Earth.

Leaders in this field:

Wetherspoon to ban single-use plastic ones from its 900 pubs across Britain and Ireland in war on waste.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4919604/Wetherspoon-ban-single-use-plastic-straws.html#ixzz4yW7sJtqS
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Do you realise:

PLASTICS:

Number of years to decompose
PLASTICS:
-plastic bag: 10-500 years
-plastic straw: up to 200 years
-plastic water bottle: 450 years
-plastic beverage container: 500+ years
-plastic 6 pack holder: 450 years

Support Brita’s #SwapForGood campaign, commit to avoiding single-use plastic water bottles and carrying around a reusable bottle instead. It really is that easy. If you can carry a single-use plastic bottle; you can surely carry a reusable plastic bottle.

OTHER THROW-AWAY PRODUCTS WE USE ON A DAILY BASIS:

FOAMS/ECT.:
-styrofoam cup – will never decompose – NEVER!!!! Made from styrene; a known animal and probably human carcinogen. That is horrendous. Go #foamfree

foamfree, styrofoam, single use plastic, no straw november, no single use plastic
-wax milk carton- up to 50 years
-tinfoil- will never decompose – NEVER!!!! That is horrendous.
-cardboard- 2 months

Other articles to read:

https://www.plasticoceans.org/

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/30/retailers-manufacturers-reduce-plastic-use-waste-lily-cole-ellen-macarthur

https://www.cottonbudproject.org.uk/

We read so many articles about practising ‘mindfulness’ and yet we are the throw-away generation…..of all ages.

Make the straw you last used the last plastic straw you use  https://thelastplasticstraw.org/resources-2/

 

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Day 12 Monday 2017.09.18 and Day 2 of 5 of my Spanish pilgrimage – O Porriño to nearby the small fishing village of the San Simon Inlet (just beyond Soutoxuste and 1 km before Arcade).
The only way to climb a mountain is to put one foot in front of the other….

santiago de compostela, walking the camino, portuguese camino route, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela, inspirational quotes, climbing mountains,

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela

Time left O Porriño 08:30. Time arrived at San Simon 17:30. 9 hours including stops for meals and rests. Walked 21.87 kms. 48437 steps. Elevation 287 metres. Felt like Mount Everest.

Today was the first time I experienced rain on the Camino.
After a really good night’s sleep despite there being 6 people in the room, I left the hostel at just on 8.30am. I had planned to leave at 7.30am but my body was still tired and I’m trying to be sensible and listen.

About 5 minutes after I left the hostel as I was walking towards the Camino route I had a dizzy spell so immediately went into the first cafe I saw; Cafe Zentral and ordered café con leche and a croissant, delicious. By 9am, I was on my way. I mosied on thru O Porriño following the tiled scallop shells and ubiquitous yellow arrows; on the road, sidewalk, walls…ever so handy.

o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

Breakfast in O Porrino at Cafe Zentral

O Porriño was one of my planned cash withdrawal points so I stopped at one of the ATMs…have you ever tried to withdraw money in a foreign language? I remember the first time I needed to withdraw money in Portugal….The instructions were in Portuguese and initially I tried to guess which buttons to press based on the configuration I was used to in the UK. Uhmm, yes rather LOL. Eventually, I realised there were a number of icons; flags of various countries on the machine. Press the Union Jack…voila English. What an adventure. Admittedly though, I was terrified the machine would swallow my card if I made too many mistakes.

learn to speak spanish, o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

learning the language is a good idea LOL

After withdrawing my cash I set off with determination; destination Arcade. This end of O Porriño was very industrial and not as pretty as the side I entered and as I rounded a corner, I saw there was a Lidl supermarket!! What?? Lidls in Spain? Bizarre. LOL

o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

leaving O Porrino via an indusrial estate

Shortly after that I had to negotiate a nasty round-about that was exceedingly busy but I finally got a gap and zapped across. In front of me lay a long stretch on the motorway; Estrada Porrino Redondela aka N550. Horrible.

It was thereabouts that I encountered my very first large group of Pilgrims. It was weird to see so many people occupying this space and I felt affronted by the noise of everyone chattering away and grateful that I was on my own and didn’t have to participate. I know it was really unfriendly of me, but I tried my very best to lose them…eventually after realising that they were walking faster than me – they had daypacks, I was carrying Pepe – I fell back and finally they disappeared into the future. The next time I saw them was at Mos, they were leaving as I arrived. Perfect.

o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

finding the way and encountering the N550 and large groups

I had noticed a metal plaque attached to a rock wall with famous mountain peak elevation comparisons and thought “oh please let us not be climbing mountains today!!!” Well, ultimately my prayer was not answered. OMG 😱😱😱😱 it’s hard going and it’s raining, a fine soft rain that soaks through everything.

Still following the tiled scallop shells and yellow arrows, on walls, stones and trees the route took us away from the highway and on a scenic tour through the suburbs. I saw a cute little doggie face peeking over the top of a wall from a distance and stopped to chat. He was sitting with his paws resting on his chin just watching all the pilgrims walking by. 😊😊😍

o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

how much is that doggie on the fence there…keeping an eye on the pilgrims

After crossing beneath the A52; Autovia das Rias Baixas, soon I was out of the city precincts. The route took me onto a fairly rural stretch where I started to see more and more pilgrims. The weather was inclement with spurts of soft rain and bursts of sunshine.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

a scenic route through Galicia and yes, those grapes were very tempting, and no I didn’t 😉

After a short while once again across the Estrada Porriño Redondela, and onto a more pleasant road; Camino das Lagoas. Except for the odd stretch of motorway, or crossing said motorway (N550), this was a pleasant route that zigged and zagged, this way and that, and stretched pretty much all the way to Redondela.

I eventually caved in and stopped at one point to put on my poncho and the backpack cover on. I got myself into an awful tangle with trying to straighten the poncho out after I got Pepe back on, so a tiny little Spanish lady assisted with straightening me out. She rattled away in Spanish but I had absolutely noooo idea what she was saying. I just kissed her cheek and said “Grazias Senora” and chau as I waved goodbye, ever so grateful for the assistance. It’s been hard work trudging up hills but I’m getting there…. wherever there might be 😂😂

I loved walking through the fields and vineyards, admiring the Spaniards creative recycling; using plastic bottles to make scarecrows, of which there were many and they were inventive and adorable. There were a number of the hórreo; Spanish granaries on the route, as well as some really beautiful shrines, some of which were works of art.

shrines on the camino, hórreos, o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

a stroll through the Galician countryside on a cloudy day, lots of hórreos scattered about and beautiful shrines

shrines on the camino, hórreos, o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

a beautiful shrine and creative scarecrows

It rained on and off the whole morning. Well done to my Mountain Warehouse backpack cover, absolutely brilliant. Kept everything dry. My Mickey Mouse poncho, bought in Florida in 2003 and never yet worn, was put to the test. It passed.

Finally I reached Mos, not that far from O Porriño as the crow flies, but bleeding hell going up those steadily increasing inclines. Murder. I hadn’t ever considered there might actually be mountains on the Way to Santiago LOL.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Mos was such a pretty little hamlet.

Mos was a delight!! Beautifully paved road, a few houses and a scattering of restaurants, a Pilgrim’s gift shop and a quaint little church; the church of Santa Eulalia. I decided right there and then to stop for another café con leche and a rest. But first I had to investigate the gift shop; Bo Camino, and have my passport stamped.
Stamp. Carimbo. Sello. Timbre – catering for many languages!

bo camino mos, walking through the galician countryside, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Bo Camino, Mos. Get your passport stamped here. I loved the way they used the scallop shell to register different languages

93.194kms to Santiago.
I tried to find out more about Mos but there is very little by way of information on Wikipedia and don’t even bother to look at TripAdvisor: Type in keyword Mos and you’ll get dozens of responses, none of which are actually in Mos, but mostly miles away. Urgh. All I got was “There is no significant urban nucleus and most of the population live scattered across the municipality. Family-owned farms and vineyards are very common.” And that was that then.

By 11:15 I was on my way – 92.936kms to Santiago; barely 200 yards LOL

I was amazed to discover I was still on the Roman route: Vias Romanas A Tianticas!! Part of the 19th Roman road on the Antonine Itinerary. Whoa, okay! Awesome. I did some research while writing this blog and found an absolutely fascinating website (you’ll need to translate it) that lists a number of routes and places. Awesome http://www.viasromanas.pt/

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the route out of Mos and onto the ancient Roman roads; Camino da Ponte da Roma and “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”

Leaving the Pazo dos Marqueses behind, you start climbing the Rúa dos Cabaleiros up to the cross of “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”, a polychrome 18th century cross, on one side the image of the Virgin and on the other of Jesus Christ, named for the horse fair that is held here. Also called “Cruceiro da Vitoria” to signal the victory over Napoleon’s troops, the milestone not only worked as a boundary marker, but it’s also believed to have fertility powers for women who want to have children. After opposition from the locals it was left insitu and not moved to the Museum of Pontevedra.

After leaving Mos the route takes you along Camino da Rua onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno and eventually onto Camino Cerdeirinas and back onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno. It’s not a straight road to Arcade!! You have to wonder about the all the mead those Romans drank. The route switched back and forth between Via and Estrada to Camino and Egrexa (?) and a sign saying Camino de Santiago. At that moment I kinda wished that I was in Santiago, I was that tired. But….not to be wishing the days away, I was loving my Camino.

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the yellow arrows and scallop shells; the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. I loved the sculptures

A Roman marker; fascinating discovery

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

a Roman marker indicating the remaining miles, much like the markers we have today

Time 12:43 Walked 11.80 kms. Approx 10 kms to go to Arcade. Thankfully it’s mostly downhill now. About 5 minutes ago I missed the turn off from the asphalt and walking determinedly head down ‘in the zone’, when I heard people shouting “Hello, Hello. Hello Senora!!” I looked back and a group of pilgrims I’d seen a few times were shouting for me to indicate I’d missed the turn LOL Who knows where I’d gotten to… probably not Santiago.

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Camino de Santiago…but if you’re walking with your head down, you won’t see it!!!

It’s been really challenging all this climbing, but according to a couple I met yesterday, I’m walking strong and that’s encouraging to hear. I truly could not have done it without my walking poles; Gemini. I stopped in a forest glade to recuperate. The pilgrims are all whizzing by me now as I sit relaxing and finally eating the trail mix I’ve carried around for the last 12 days hahaha. 300 grams off the load soon. It’s been raining on and off most of the morning and Mickey Mouse has given me a free sauna. Jeez it’s hot under that poncho. I’m hoping to reach Arcade today… Hold thumbs 😉
Galicia is poetically known as the “country of the thousand rivers” (“o país dos mil ríos”) and although I don’t recall crossing many rivers today, I did see and pass a number of streams. I guess the rain helps to keep them filled.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Estrada de Padrón and those downward inclinations that I was not inclined to walk down. Level ground was gratefully received. My walking poles a life-saver

Enroute I walked along the Estrada de Padron!! But not the Padron I was aiming for located just before Santiago, although it was marvellous – lots of trees and greenery. And now we were into the serious inclines….up and up. It seemed never ending. The views, albeit misty were amazing. I got all excited when I spotted some boots on a wall, being used a flower pots. I remembered seeing this on Facebook!! My spirits lifted and I grinned from ear to ear. I so loved discovering these little scenes.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

One of my delightful discoveries. Just before Bar Corisco

8 kms to go to Arcade. I’ve stopped again 😉 Barely made 1 km progress in 1 hour but OMG that was the worst incline I’ve experienced so far. What goes up, must assuredly go down again. If I’d known what was waiting for me, I’d have stayed in that forest glade. Blimey. The downhill gradient was so steep that I couldn’t actually go down straight. I took it in a zig-zag fashion and hopped sideways. My right ankle is unhappy and my left knee even more unhappy. I wish I had a sled.

Meanwhile it seems I’ve walked 5 kms since I saw the sign for the Bar Corisco on the Camino Romano. When I saw that I had arrived at the place I decided to stop for lunch. Many other pilgrims had the same idea and the place was full. Incredibly, with all those patrons, there was just the one Senora rushing about taking orders and serving food. Poor woman. I felt like I should help her. The soup was just amazing and I ordered a 2nd bowl. Food for the soul and spirits. For someone who doesn’t normally touch Coke, I sure drank a lot on the Camino. Gave me energy.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Lunch at Bar Corisco. Best vegetable soup ever

I left her a whopping big tip. I know you’re not meant to, but by golly she was working hard. They also have an albergue here. Camiño Romano, 47 – SAXAMONDE – 36816 – Redondela (Pontevedra) If you’re interested in finding out more about Bar Corisco https://www.paxinasgalegas.es/corisco-194770em.html

After leaving Bar Corisco I continued walking downhill on the Camino Romano. Just after the bend I saw a tractor chugging up what is a very narrow road and steep incline so crossed to the other side and stopped to wait for it to go past. As soon as it was far enough past me, I turned to my left to look for traffic and a car raced past so close I’m sure my pants cleaned the side of his car!!! I shudder to think of how close he went by. If perchance I had stepped forward just one step first and then turned to look he would have knocked me down. If I’d been unfocused before that moment, I was hyper alert after!!!

Hint: Just after Bar Corisco the road narrows substantially and is very steep going downhill (Camino Romano).

The route from here was horrid….exceptionally steep declines. What goes up, must I guess, eventually go down. Very uncomfortable to walk along. I can’t remember much of the walk after that, except that there were uphill and downhill challenges to get through. I do remember a group of about 13 cyclists whizzing by at one stage, most of them calling out “Buen Camino” I shouted back “grazie, Bom Camino” and tried to not feel envious at how quickly they flew by. I did call them bastards in my head. Petty jealousy LOL

Continuing along the Camino Romano which blended into Camino dos Frades and then after about an hour or so I was back on the N550; Rua do Muro/Estrada Porrino Redondela…..blah blah blah. I was too exhausted to care about much except a bed.

reaching redondela, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Reaching Redondela.

And then I was in Concella de Redondela, passing along a stretch of the N550 which was exceptionally busy and quite horrible. Mostly industrial. I finally entered the town proper and was so glad I’d decided to go to Arcade instead of stopping there. I passed a handsome church as I entered the town; Convento de Vilavella, aka Vilavella Ensemble – a combination of convent, church and monuments. Construction started in 1501 and completed by 1554. After various changes, it now functions as a restaurant and wedding hall. I wished I had the time to visit….

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Convento de Vilavella, Redondella. circa 1501

I passed some fountains and a few interesting features but there was nothing to get excited about until the route took me through the old town which was just charming. Since I stuck religiously to the Camino route, following the arrows and tiled scallop shells, I didn’t venture off course and thereby I suspect I may have missed the more picturesque areas of the town. When I look at my route on mapmywalk I can see there is a large park-like area alongside the canal/river.

concello de redondela, redondella, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela on the Portugues Camino de Santiago

I passed the house, built in the classic Galician style, where Casto Sampedro y Folgar lived; lawyer, archaeologist and folklorist, he was apparently one of the most emblematic characters of Galician culture. The streets along this section were absolutely fascinating and I briefly wished I wasn’t just passing through. A priest asked me, in Spanish, if I was looking for a place to stay or passing thru. I had no idea what he actually said, but with my few snippets of Spanish and some sign language I got the gist of it. I’m passing thru grazie. We waved goodbye. A few paces on and some random gentleman walking past wished me Buen Camino. Even after all these days, it still catches my heart and I just wanted to kiss him. Instead I shook his hand and thanked him with a big smile.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela on the Camino Portugues

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Right in the centre of town; An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone.

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela. Wish I’d had more time to explore

Apparently Redondela is where the Portuguese Way of St James becomes one; coastal via Vigo, and central via Tui.

Redondela is apparently most famous for its viaducts. Two viaducts built in the 19th century meet here; the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra. I think I shall have to walk this route again….I didn’t get to see the viaduct properly this time around 😉 There is also the church of Iglesia de Santiago de Redondela dating from the 16th century that I didn’t get to see.

viaduct in redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra meet in Redondela

It took 45 minutes to pass from one end of Redondela to the other!! I was in quite a lot of pain and hobbling more than walking. That right ankle was a bitch, but I didn’t want to stop. It felt like if I stopped, I’d not get going again.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the blue tiled scallop shells and the yellow arrows

And then I was into rural countryside and from 4pm onwards I barely saw a human being, till I reached the albergue.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

leaving Redondela and this chap was pretty much the last person I saw till Arcade.                     Rua Torre de Calle 81.775 kms to Santiago

The Rua Torre de Calle. 81.775 kms to Santiago.

The route took me past some beautiful areas, forests and farms. The only sign of life; a few sheep and birds. My right ankle was hurting terribly by then and I hobbled along like a decrepit hobbit. Hahaha. Oh I’d have paid a king’s ransom for any form of transport at that stage.

Every now and then I encountered the dreaded N550 again!! ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – Cesantes 0.5kms. I passed loads of sign boards advertising the names of various albergues, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop just yet…I had planned on reaching Arcade before nightfall with the hopes of finding somewhere to sleep there.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

shady glade, inclines, declines, and the dreaded N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – asphalt and gravel were my constant companion LOL

Traversing the slopes of A Peneda, a mountain with an elevation of 329 meters, was a real challenge. Dragging myself up inclines and zig-zagging down the declines, I walked through lovely, green forested areas, so quiet and peaceful. Thankfully the route didn’t take me all the way over the crest of the mountain, but rather along the sides…still, it was high enough!!

I passed an installation near Cesantes covered with dozens of scallop shells, all with dates and names written on. If I’d had a marker handy I could have left a message.  I hadn’t seen anyone since I left Redondella and was entirely on my own.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the scallop shell installation near Cesantes and O Recuncho Do Peregrino 🙂 and the sun was now behind me

I noticed a sign-board with details for an albergue that I’d seen at least 3 times before now; O Recuncho Do Peregrino (raven of the pilgrim), and suddenly I just made up my mind; this was the right place and exactly at that minute I phoned and asked if they had a room available for the night? Yes, a double room. I don’t care that I’m paying double I just want a bed and my own space. I booked it. Arcade can wait till tomorrow!

79.122kms to Santiago. I could scarcely believe that it was now less than 80kms to go.

It was completely wild here, lots of trees. Galicia is one of the more forested areas of Spain, mostly eucalyptus and pine and shrubbery growing with wild abandon. The route is incredibly variable; asphalt, gravel, sandy and cobbled and as I hobbled along I suddenly noticed glimpses of what I thought was the sea through the trees!! It was in fact the Ria de Vigo lagoon.

o recuncho do peregrino, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

The Ria de Vigo Lagoon, and my journey’s end O Recuncho Do Peregrino and my bed!! Hoorah 🙂

And then finally, O Recuncho do Peregrino; 250 meters. I had arrived at my destination. The albergue is just 250m from the Pilgrim’s Way and despite being right on the verge of the N550, it wasn’t noisy. As it turns out, Arcade was only another 1 km further, but I was in no mood for walking…I wanted a shower, food and a bed. Pronto!!!

This albergue is excellent, very simply furnished, and very clean and Miguel, the proprietor is wonderful. So welcoming, friendly and helpful. I had a fantastic hot shower, which was blissful. In O Porriño the water was cold by the time I got to shower so this was sheer heaven. Miguel organised my laundry for me; washed and dried for €6. Brilliant. He also organised to have my backpack transported with Tuitrans to the motel in Caldas de Reis. I quite simply cannot carry it again through the mountains and tomorrow is a 32/35 km day. For €7 it’s well worth the cost and will take the pressure of my ankle. I hope I can actually walk tomorrow.

Not so much a #buencamino at this stage than a mere #camino. If I wasn’t in polite company I’d use that word that Helen Mirren advocates, I was that tired LOL I would have loved to take a walk down to the beach, but just the thought of walking even 10 feet, never mind 30 meters was too much for me. I repacked my bag and went to bed, too tired to even be hungry.

So wow my Camino 2017 set about throwing up some interesting challenges. Never once in all the planning and researching I had done prior to walking the Camino had I registered/realised that I would have to climb ‘mountains’. I couldn’t believe how many inclines there were. Okay it wasn’t really proper high mountains, but I can assure you, that with Pepe on my back and my ankle playing up, it felt like Everest.

Places I walked through today: O Porriño, Ameirolongo, Veiga Dana, Mos, Santiaguino das Antas, Saxamonde, Redondela and stopped just 1 km short of Arcade near the fishing village of San Simon Inlet. I could see the shimmer of blue of the lagoon from my bedroom window. I’d forgotten there was the island nearby, but truly, I was too tired to care. Even if Queen Elizabeth had come to visit, I woulda said – terrific, I’m glad for her. And still gone to bed!! LOL

FYI the albergue; O Recuncho do Peregrino, is closed during 2017 for the months of November, December, and January and February 2018. This albergue is listed as #1 on my Places I Stayed on the Camino If you’d like to know more for 2018; his website is http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

If you’re interested in learning more about the Roman routes, I found this website linked to the Portuguese aspect of the Roman roads. http://www.viasromanas.pt/vrinfo.html

Tomorrow: Arcade and the marathon to Caldas dei Reis.

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O Porriño was an absolute delight. I meandered aimlessly here and there, down this alley, through that square, along this lane admiring the older and characterful buildings and houses, a small church; Capela San Benito tucked away behind some trees, some fountains, the regal castle-like council building and just rejoicing in the wonder of being in this amazing place. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was able to walk the Camino, to experience all the trials, tribulations, surprises, hamlets and towns and breath-taking scenery it has to offer. There is nothing quite like travelling and exploring a new country.

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O Porriño – The Spanish sure took The Camino in their stride…every where you looked there were Camino shells or references to Pilgrims. I loved it all.

Being Sunday there were, much like I found in Italy, families walking through the streets; different generations arms linked and chatting away, children running about shrieking in play; dashing around on scooters and bicycles, the air filled with laughter. That is one of the aspects of Mediterranean life that I absolutely love…..it’s such a joy to see family groups out and about enjoying the mild evenings, church bells ringing in the background, calling the faithful to pray. Along the pedestrianised part of the town, Plaza del Generalísimo and in the squares, cafés and restaurants had their tables spread out in the mild autumn evening, peopled by residents, tourists and pilgrims alike, waiters scurried back and forth trying to cope with the ever increasing demands. A cacophony of sound; people enjoying life.

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evocative churches, pedestrianised streets, care-worn buildings

I noticed that much like towns in Portugal, there were a number of ramshackle buildings interspersed amongst others in better repair, albeit very old.

O Porriño it turns out was in the province of Pontevedra. It seems that we cross over into the different districts without much notice and you think you’re in one place, but are in quite another, the route a mix of hamlets, nature reserve, rivers, forests, towns and industrial parks. The area around O Porriño is a fairly industrialised due to the proximity of Vigo’s sea port. Most of the buildings and churches in the town and surrounding areas were built using granite, and apparently O Porriño’s granite is known worldwide as Rosa Porriño (Pink Porriño), and exported via the Port of Vigo mainly to countries like China, Italy and Japan.

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the castle like council building, children playing, pretty fountains and quaint houses; O Porrino was a delight

Eventually, I reached Plaza de San Benito where I turned around to make my way back… by now with my tummy grumbling, I walked back through the centre of town towards the albergue. None of the cafés or restaurants on the way appealed and after looking at various menus I decided to chance my luck and eat at the lively Restaurant; Paso A Nivel I had seen just before the railway line near to the albergue.

There I was to not only meet up with the fellow who was occupying the bunk above mine at the albergue, but a lovely English gentleman who saw me sitting on my own and came over to offer me a place at their table. Although I declined the offer, we did strike up a conversation and he went on to say that his group had had a torrid few days; it seems they lost their Priest in Valença 😦 This shook me up somewhat because I knew that Mel, whom I had met just outside of Porto on the 11th was also travelling in a group led by their Parish priest. I sincerely hoped it was not the same person.

I ordered a substantial meal (the menu was thankfully also in English) and sat down at the back of the room. Suddenly, to my delight, there was my Dutch room-mate. He came over and I invited him to join me. We had a wonderful evening, chatting about the Camino, the experiences we had had, the places we had seen and the people we had met. He was intrigued to realise that I was travelling solo. Not the first time people had expressed surprise at this. I wondered why, since I had read about so many women my age who travelled solo. Perhaps it was more common on the Camino Francés.

Finally after gabbing back and forth for over an hour, we walked back to the albergue which was in the same street, albeit further along and quietly crept into the room.hostel

With 6 occupants and a tiny room it was difficult to move about and not disturb anyone, but I think I managed fairly well and all too soon, with a bonne nuit (French LOL) I, with ear-plugs firmly installed, slipped into the heavenly land of slumber. It was just after 10.30pm and I didn’t stir till morning. Bliss.

Read more about Part 1 of my journey: Valença to Tui
Read more about Part 2 of my journey: Tui to O Porriño

addendum: Sadly, as I was to discover just a few days later (22nd) after I arrived in Santiago, the Priest who died was indeed Mel’s priest and friend, and to my horror, it seems that on the evening I bumped into Mel in Valença, was the night he died. Of which at the time I met Mel, she was as yet unaware. I felt sick to my stomach.

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Valença to Tui and onto O Porriño (part 1)

A Sámi proverb states, “How it goes with the first day’s travelling, so it will be with the rest of the journey.” – and in this instance that proved true; I had an awe-inspiring journey, an mix of early mornings, beautiful albeit tough terrain, cool air, peaceful forests and joyful greetings. I was on my Way.

This was day 1 of 5 walking from Tui to Santiago de Compostela; no rest days inbetween. With my alarm set for 6am, I woke with an overwhelming sense of anticipation, finally the day had arrived for the push through to Santiago de Compostela and excited beyond belief, I felt like I wanted to run every mile and jump with joy. I didn’t of course 🙂

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117.624 kms to Santiago – this was the first of many such route markers I saw along The Way.

I set off really early at 06:43 while it was still dark, and made my way to the walled city. Thank goodness I had found the route last night. Thanks to Mel for the heads up!

Although still quite dark I could see the sky lightening in the east. The streets were eerily quiet and while navigating the city I saw only 3 people the whole time I was walking through. The air was fresh and cool with the wonderful stillness of pre-dawn. I faffed around taking photos of each section of the route, recorded the church bells (because I am like that!) and took a few selfies while keeping an eye on the time. I was keen to watch the sunrise from the bridge into Spain.

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Fortaleza de Valença do Minho (Valença do Minho Fortress) boasts over 800 years history.

The city felt timeless as I made my way along the quiet streets, stopping briefly at the Roman milestone and Santa Maria dos Anjos church. If you walk this way look out for the Roman milestone dating from the 1st century AD. It marks 42 Roman miles (62 kms) on the road from Braga to Tui, and has the following inscription:

TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESER AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. IMPERATOR V CONSUL III, TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE III. PATER PATRIAE BRACARA XLII.

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A Roman milestone dating from the 1st century and Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos; the mother church of Valença do Minho consecrated in 1276

Finally I set my compass for Spain, my ‘Camino eyes’ carefully scanning for the yellow arrows as I trod gingerly along the cobbled lanes, down numerous stairs, through tunnels and beneath the fortified walls; muralha primitiva. It felt primitive.

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along the narrow lanes of Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century and relating to the reign of King Sancho I

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Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century

It was thrilling thinking about all the thousands of pilgrims who, through the aeons, have walked that route before me. The history of this awesome place is mind-blowing.

Then suddenly I was on the bridge and standing on the border, with one foot in Portugal and the other in Spain. My excitement knew no bounds. 🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣👏👏👏

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Tui International Bridge (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge), completed in 1878 is on the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge)

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. In the distance to the right you can see the cathedral of Tui on the hilltop

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In the past, pilgrims coming from Portugal had to reach Galicia, Spain by crossing the river Miño on a boat, but lucky me I could walk across via the bridge 🙂 These shoes are made for walking…

Tip: when you walk across the International Bridge from Portugal into Spain, be sure to walk on the right-hand side looking upstream, for the markings on the walkway. A footnote (pun-sorry LOL): I was so impressed with my walking shoes; a last minute buy a couple of weeks before I left, these shoes have done me proud: 123 kms so far…good support and no blisters!! The socks; brilliant combination of IsoCool liner socks and double layer anti-bacterial socks worked really well for me. But back to the sunrise…..

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The river Miño flows between Portugal and Spain.

Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. I watched a magnificent pink-hued sunrise, took dozens of photos and finally once the sun peeked above the horizon in Portugal, I walked the final yards into Spain…. Hurrah, now I was on the Camino Portuguese Central Way to Santiago de Compostela. (Compostela (comes from the Latin “Campus Stellae” (i.e. Stars Field) – love that!!! ❤ 

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España 🙂 finally I was in Spain for real and on my way to Santiago de Compostela – Camino Portugues – Camiño de Santiago

Unbeknownst to me at that point, I was also going to be walking along sections of the old Roman Road ‘Via Romana XIX’ – see pic in top right hand corner. I just liked the design without realising the connotations 🙂

Tui, one of the seven capitals of the ancient Kingdom of Galicia, is the first town in Spain on the Camino Portugués Central Way and has an awesome cathedral just waiting to be explored. I met two ladies who told me the hotel; Parador Nacional San Telmo, would stamp my passport so I popped in and got my first Spanish pilgrim’s stamp. There was no way I was going to leave without visiting and getting a stamp. Hint: It’s advised that you get your credential (pilgrim’s passport) stamped at least twice a day between Tui and Santiago de Compostela to qualify for your certificate. This is not too difficult as there are so many churches and restaurants etc enroute where you can get a stamp (sello).

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Tui was the capital of a province in the Old Kingdom of Galicia, Spain.

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Parador Nacional San Telmo where I got my pilgrim’s passport stamped, the view across the River Miño and a final photo of me before setting off

Then it was a strenuous but picturesque climb up steep winding streets to the cathedral.

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Benvidos a Tui – Welcome to Tui on the Camiño de Santiago Camiño Portugués : 115.454 kms

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Tui, Galicia in Spain – 1st town on the Portugués Central Way to Santiago de Compostela

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the medieval narrow cobbled streets and lanes of Tui. I loved it 🙂

Tui has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of this are the sites found during construction of the highway Vigo-Tui, on the border with Porriño. The medieval city was composed of three elements; the cathedral, its hamlet of dwellings, and its city walls. After a very steep climb I finally reached the cathedral.

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Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui. On the top of the hill, the cathedral, begun in the 12th century, preserves Romanesque elements and has a Gothic façade.

Wowwww what an awesome church. Begun in the 12th century, during the Romanesque period, it has a Gothic façade, one of the first in this style in the Iberian Peninsula. The interior is, like most of the churches I had seen so far in Portugal, very elaborate with a number of chapels, altars and shrines to various saints. There’s a fantastic scallop shell as you enter the church and a number of references to St James and decorative scallop shells. In a corner near the front of the cathedral interior is a statue of King Alphonso.

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I explored every corer of the church and the museum. It’s absolutely beautiful

The cloister is also of Gothic style; the oldest in any Galician cathedral. Along the walls and over the archway of the 12th century Chapter Room are a number of intriguing Roman numerals.

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The Cloisters and Romanesque Chapter Room of the 12th century, the primitive meeting room of the canons of the first temple of the city. Just mind-blowing.

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The Cloisters of Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui

I had my pilgrim’s passport stamped at the Tourist Information Centre next to the church, my 2nd of the day in Spain…too exciting. I paid the €4 entrance fee at the cathedral which gave me access to the church, museum, cloisters and battlements, and spent a good 45 minutes exploring and, despite saying no more climbing towers, I climbed the tower battlements for some amazing views. The steps were so high you almost needed a step ladder to get up them!!! Going down was tricky. 

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climbing the church tower of the Cathedral of Tui

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the view across Tui, the river Mino and in the distance the International Bridge and on the hilltop, the walled city of Valenca, Portugal

I was, at about 9:20am, startled to discover the time!!! Wow, I figured that I had been exploring the church for 2 hours, but in fact I had forgotten that the clocks went forward by 1 hour between Portugal and Spain LOL. Whew. Nonetheless, it was time to get going. As I was leaving I stopped to photograph the elaborately carved doors and noticed the cross pattée (?) carved into the walls on both sides of the entrance…intriguing.

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A cross pattée carved into the walls and the elaborate doors

As the bells chimed 10, I reluctantly left the cathedral area and made my way along steep winding picturesque streets, only this time downhill. I looked out for the Camino markers, which were plentiful and believe it or not, I photographed every one of them all the way through Tui and just about the whole 18.39 kms to O Porrino…just because. 😉

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looking back at the cathedral, charming little pilgrim sculptures, streets of Tui

I just loved the little pilgrim sculptures on the walls.

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a little pilgrim sculpture shows the way. if you look above his head you can see a faint yellow arrow

I passed the Hospital for the Poor and the Pilgrim’s, past the Convent of Las Clarisas where I saw my first rather large groups of pilgrims,convent of saint domingo tui, church of saint bartolome tui, Camino Portugues, Camino de Santiago, tui, spain, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, portuguese central route to santiago, walking the camino, porto to santiago, walk 1000 miles, over the hill and still travelling, baby boomers, silver surfers, the boomer generation, things to do in your 60s, bucket list for the older generation, walked down stairs, through tunnels and along deserted downward sloping streets and lanes. It seemed spookily deserted!

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Tunel das Monxas and following the Way through the streets of Tui in Galicia

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the route is so well marked with yellow arrows, scallop shells, shell tiles and various other markings, you can’t fail to find your way. I walked completely sans maps or guide books.

I saw only a few of the locals along the route, and occasionally a few pilgrims, certainly not in the large numbers I was expecting.

There was one sculpture and cross that absolutely intrigued me; located on the wall of the bridge that crosses over Rúa Canónigo Valiño, it looks like a sculpture with religious connotations; souls burning in the fires of hell?? Intriguing.

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an intriguing sculpture

I have not been able to find out more information about this despite extensive google searches.

(2017.11.13 – addendum with huge thanks to Maria of  ‘Spanish Tuition Services‘ “I can help you with the “intriguing sculpture”. This type of construction is called “peto de ánimas” (roughly translates as souls’ money box) and they are quite common in Galicia. They represent souls in the fire of purgatory, with some figure watching over them (in this case, the dove/Holy Spirit). They also have a “peto” or money box for passers-by to leave an offering for the salvation of those souls. When a soul is saved and goes to Heaven thanks to your offering, they will later intercede on your behalf, so you can go into Heaven too”. – so there you have it; I’m so delighted to finally know what it signified)

Passing a number of fascinating historical buildings and churches I was longing to tarry awhile and explore further, but O Porriño waits and I can tarry no more.

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The Judaic Tower, the Convent of Saint Domingo (built 1330),  Praza San Bartolomé bandstand, the Church of St Bartolomé and an ancient communal washing area.

I was absolutely amazed to discover that I was also walking along the Via Romana XIX!!

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walking along a section of the Via Romana XIX

It always gives me a thrill, no matter where I am walking, when I discover links to Roman times…the thought of those Roman soldiers marching along the roads…I can almost hear the tramp tramp tramp of their sandalled boots on the cobbles….ahead of me was the tramp, tramp, tramp of the modern day pilgrim in their special super duper gortex, arch-supporting inners and uppers, special lace-up, isogrip boots in leather, fabric and waterproof, with  performance soles and protective toe bumpers!! I wonder what the Romans would make of today’s hiking footwear. – according to wikipedia:  Caligae (heavy-soled hobnailed military boots) were constructed from three leather layers: an outsole, the middle openwork layer which formed the boot’s upper, and an insole. They were laced up the centre of the foot and onto the top of the ankle. Additionally iron hobnails were hammered into the soles to provide the caligae with reinforcement and traction – okayyyyy, not quite what we wear today then. 

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a few pilgrims on the way; Bom Caminho – 114km to Santiago de Compostela

Suddenly I was out of urban Tui and into fields and the rural landscape of Galicia.

Camino Portugues, Camino de Santiago, tui, spain, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, portuguese central route to santiago, walking the camino, porto to santiago, walk 1000 miles, over the hill and still travelling, baby boomers, silver surfers, the boomer generation, things to do in your 60s, bucket list for the older generation,

and suddenly I was in the countryside…..

I was seeing more pilgrims now as well as locals. I called out “ola, bom dias” or “ola, Buen Camino” to everyone I saw and got many a cheery wave and “Buen Camino” in return. I’m on the Camiño de Santiago 😁😍🚶‍♀️

Continued….Part 2 Tui to O Porriño.

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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

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St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

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Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

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signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

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sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

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Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

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Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

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You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

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The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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So a few months ago, after a random meeting with a walker on the Isle of Wight in January who was using what turned out to be Nordic Walking Poles, and after reading various articles about the merits of having walking poles for a long journey as well as the various yays and nays of the merits and benefits and nuisance value of carrying walking poles about for anything up to 790 miles (thankfully I’m only walking 165 miles), on the various Camino forums, I finally decided I best get myself a pair…which I duly did in April.

nordic walking poles

propping up the corner in my bedroom….

Since then they have not only decorated my bedroom but have been carted around the UK from job to job, between Oxted and Ireland, Broadstairs and Ironbridge while I procrastinate (what’s new?) about getting them set up and actually putting them to use and learning ‘how to’.

 

Well I FINALLY set them up yesterday and used them for the first time!

 

 

 

 

Hoorah!!! So the prognosis is this…..I dislike them intensely, but they work. So I guess I’ll have to suck it up and use them LOL.

Initially I just strapped them to my wrist, unextended, the idea being to get used to having them in my hand. Horrible. They made my hands all sweaty and the wrist band around my wrist felt horrendous. Under normal circumstance I can’t bear ANYTHING around my wrists….which is why I don’t wear a watch or bracelets or anything such like…I don’t even wear shirts with button down sleeves…it’s that bad. Grim.

nordic walking poles

perhaps I should have left them on this bench LOL

But I persevered. When I arrived at Titsey Hill on impulse I decided I would just get them set up and at least try them out on the first stretch of the very demanding slope. A slope that usually has me stopping halfway; breathless and heart pounding. But……to my surprise I breezed up the slope barely even hesitating. Now unless I suddenly got super fit overnight, it can only be the benefit of the poles. They sure made a difference.

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taking a rest on Titsey Hill

I then set off jauntily along the path, between the trees with the poles flying akimbo…. especially the left-hand pole that seems to go off piste all on it’s own from time time. Mmmm not sure about that, but I think with practice I may actually get used to using them.

Then it came time to go downhill…..and once again the poles came to the party and I whizzed down with my knees hardly noticing the difference. The end result is that….I still dislike them…intensely, they interfere with my photo taking, and getting my water bottle out the pouch and open is a challenge, but my joints took way less impact than usual and I felt more confident going downhill with my backpack on.

 

So today I decided to go without them and see if I could identify if there was any difference! Was there ever!!! Firstly I felt so free not having them strapped around my wrists and the annoyance of the left-hand pole just doing it’s own thing was a thing of yesterday….but and this is a huge BUT….boy did I ever notice the difference going up that slope again. Yesterday I nearly breezed up (not quite, but nearly) and found the going so much easier…but today it was back to heart pounding, breathless and stopping halfway to recover. Going downhill I very much noticed the difference with my left knee in particular tweaking and twinging in protest. Hmmm…..

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going downhill on Titsey Hill…

So I’m guessing that despite my dislike for them the poles must go….with me on the Camino!!!

As for the backpack…wow, is this thing ever so heavy!!! I’m not sure how it is that 6.35 kgs can weigh 635kgs by the end of 2 hours, but it does. I’m really glad I decided to pack it and start practising now because I can see this is going to take some getting used to.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

One of the articles I read that I found to be of interest was on this website http://caminoways.com/walking-poles

With my walk from Southwark to Canterbury coming up soon I will have to make a decision on whether or not to take them….at least they fold up nicely into my backpack, so if I do take them and they annoy me I can just fold them up shove them back in.

Time will tell.

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