Posts Tagged ‘walking the camino’

Since deciding to walk The Camino, I’ve read a wide range of blogs written by the vast array of people; both men and women of all ages that walk the different Camino routes – some blogs are documentary, some short, some long, many are very personal; walking the Camino and lessons learned.

different paths; different journeys

different paths; different journeys

I have learned a lot about how some folks behave on the pilgrim routes – which honestly has come as quite a surprise.

One of the most profound stories I’ve read so far relates to sunflowers;

It started when I really considered the sunflower plant. I often leave town in the early morning darkness. That’s when the sunflower has its head bowed low awaiting that first ray of sunlight. Then it perks up and turns its face toward the sun and absorbs sunlight and energy all day. Then, at evening, it again bows low and rests for the night. After a period of time, it starts to lose the beautiful yellow crown surrounding its seedy face. It becomes more difficult to raise its head toward the sun. At last, it dies. That is, the plant dies, but the seeds live on.

Another interesting blog I read, also spoke about sunflowers:

That is, I had never considered their significance until the life cycle of a sunflower was explained to me by a German opera singer named Anja.  As she explained it, just before sunflowers die, they give up their seeds from the brown part of the flower (the seed head).  Their last act, if you will, is to give of themselves to ensure that future sunflowers will grow in that area next season.

and continued with a story about keeping the peace; relating a situation with a man called Ted – a story I found to be both interesting and shocking. It described how this man would get drunk and behaved in a manner totally unacceptable in normal society, never mind on a pilgrims route; it never entered my head that people would behave like that on the Camino!!

What I found so interesting was how they both said the same thing: I had never considered.

Another fascinating journey that I am following on instagram is Walking for Peace. It’s been so interesting to follow Mony and Alberto and see the lessons they are learning; some of which have reduced me to tears, given me goosebumps. It’s marvellous that they are so aware of what is being learned. So often in life the lessons we are meant to learn present themselves again and again before we finally accept them.

Since I started my ‘journey’ and even though I haven’t yet walked even one step on ‘The Camino’, I feel as though my journey has already begun. I’ve been walking a lot (604.89 miles since 01/01/2017), practising with my backpack, feeling my way with how much I can or cannot cope with. I have enjoyed hours and hours of travelling, walking and exploration by myself. I am becoming more observant of my surroundings, something that would please my daughter who gets very frustrated with my usual lack of observation!! My usual answer when she says “did you see that Mom?” – and I’m like “What?” But it was right in front of you!!! LOL

I find that I am slowly learning how to ‘let go’, although that is still a really difficult and annoying part of my personality; replaying over and over and over in my mind after an incident that disturbs me: ‘I should have said this’ or ‘I should have done that’, the emotions of the moment churning and churning till I want to go mad.do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace - dalai lama xiv

I am beginning to believe that this churning incidents over and over in my mind relates very much to my childhood, a long period of time when I found myself in bad situations, times when I felt completely helpless, unable to verbalise my fears, afraid of what might happen if I did speak up.

I’ve noticed a common thread among these pilgrim stories; the real Camino begins once a peregrino returns home.

And as my journey draws nearer, I do muse on what lessons The Camino will hold for me. It has certainly consumed pretty much my every waking thought in the meantime.

walking the camino and lessons learned

the many paths in life we get to choose…..

Do join me on my journey as I prepare for what is the 2nd most important journey of my life. Follow along on instagram as I travel around the country, working, walking, learning and discovering more about myself and the country I now call home.

Buen Camino.

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The Spirit of The Camino and the spirits on The Camino.

When I first contemplated walking The Camino my head was filled with inspiring thoughts of happy, adventurous people all walking along; a merry band of comrades, climbing mountains and being amazing in their aspirations to reach Santiago. I had a somewhat romantic view of cosy alburgues, relaxing snoozes in the sun and the cameradie we saw in the movie ‘The Way’ (which, by the way, I must watch again before I go).  I had this notion of admiring locals who opened their homes and hearts to the ‘pilgrims’ who walked their way up mountains and down, along paths and through villages and towns, strolling into their chosen alburgue in the evening to find a cosy bed and a hot shower, of meals shared with laughter and fun.

And yes, this does in fact happen; the Spirit of the Camino.

I’ve read some extraordinary stories of people ‘rescued’ by kind-hearted locals who seeing their distress take said distressed person under their wing and guide them to a hostelaria/alburgue, or give them a hot meal, a lift in their car/truck/lorry to a place of safety. How pilgrims help each other out, lending money, clean clothes, toiletries, guidance and very often a shoulder to cry on. The Spirit of the Camino.

The Camino is also, by all accounts, tough!! Some people die. The spirits on the Camino.

There is also the dark side, a little of which we saw in The Way. People die on the Camino. People start walking and never reach their goal; their journey cut short by the grim reaper. The reasons are many: heart failure, complications from surgery, falling off a mountain, falling off their bikes (those who cycle) and some die from traffic accidents; knocked over by trucks or cars. Some people start the walk in the hopes that they will reach Santiago, but knowing that they likely won’t. It’s their final walk. Some people have reached the steps of the cathedral only to drop down dead right there at the last step.

And then there those that are murdered. Wow, I can tell you when I discovered that last year…. it came as one hell of a shock to me. The prospect of dying on the Camino had never entered my head!! I learned about this quite by accident last year when I first joined the Camino forum on Facebook. It literally took the wind out of my sails. Just a simple post to say that she, the person who made the update, had laid a stone on the cairn for Denise Theim, an Arizona lass who had disappeared while walking.  If you have the stomach for it you can read about it here.

I immediately set about investigating the story and that lead me to the reports of her disappearance, death and the eventual discovery of her body. The perpetrator as per the above article has since been captured and tried, soon to be incarcerated.

But what startled me most of all was reading the many stories of people who have died on The Camino. I often see photos on the facebook groups of memorials to people from across the world, both young and old who never left The Way; the spirits on The Camino.

I often think about these people now as I prepare for my Camino in September and of course the thought crosses my mind. Will I die while walking? Of course I have no idea, that is, as they say, and depending on which religious or spiritual belief your follow, determined by fate or the book of life…..your death predetermined before you are even born. Not sure I believe that notion, but there it is.

I have to say that it does bother me a lot. The f.e.a.r. presents itself in many ways, and I am in constant conflict with the emotions that arise from these thoughts. My daughter is getting married next year and I will be walking her down the aisle, guiding her to the man she loves, watching as she and he join their hands and lives in marriage and walk into a new future. I would be devastated if by dying on the Camino I caused her any pain and spoiled her special day by not being there. Although I’m sure she would kick my ass for saying that!! 😉  Mind you, she’s already advised me that she would be seriously pissed off with me if I die while walking. LOL We have discussions about this from time to time. About the reality of death.

I’ve questioned myself over and over. Am I being selfish? Am I not putting her happiness first instead of my selfish desire for adventure? Should I have waited till after the wedding…? I did contemplate that.

See what I mean? FEAR – false evidence appearing real. It manifests on a daily basis and gives me palpitations – and I haven’t even started yet!!!

But after many talks and encouragement from her I went ahead and booked my ticket. Not because we are fatalistic in any way, not because we discussed it in depth and not because I have a flippant answer “it won’t happen to me” (I don’t believe in making promises like that!), but because life is life. I could just as easily step off a pavement in my day to day life and get run over by a car or bus…. I could get knocked over on the many walks I take in my day to day life, some of which are along narrow country roads where cars whizz by at 80 kms p.h. leaving dust and a shivering wreck of a walker in their wake. Or I could contract one of hundreds of diseases that abound and die anyway.

So should I not go on this walk? Should I allow the fears to win? Or should I grasp life and go anyway. Well since I’ve already booked my ticket, obviously so far, that is what I will be doing.

But it still doesn’t stop me from thinking about the people who do die. I’m sure it must be absolutely devastating for their families. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to receive the news. I have read of one Mother whose daughter died before they started their Camino. She will be taking her daughter’s ashes along with her to distribute at special places along The Way. God, I can’t even imagine how hard that would be.

I was doing some research this morning and found this blog https://gabrielschirm.com/2016/08/22/deaths-on-the-camino-de-santiago/

Gabriel gives a number breakdown of the more recent deaths on the Camino. It’s not a macabre list, just a matter of fact observation that yes, people do die while walking the Camino.

I also found this amazing blog; a beautifully compiled memorial to Camino pilgrims who have died on the way – some on their first day, others as they completed their walk.


It makes a sobering read. The spirits on the Camino.

So again it brings me back to the age-old question! Should I or should I not? F.E.A.R. But as mentioned earlier I’ve already booked my plane ticket for this year, booked and paid for some of the accommodation, bought the backpack, the badges, the clothes and equipment, the books…..and so on. And with my daughter’s blessing, I will walk the Portuguese Coastal Route in September.  I certainly plan to discover the Spirit of the Camino; but I have no plans to become a spirit on the Camino. And yes, despite the fear, I am excited 🙂



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One of the first things I did last year when I had first made serious plans for walking the Camino was to find out what equipment I needed and what I should wear. I confess I did go on a mad spending spree while in South Africa last year in May and bought a whole load of clothes and things at the duty free store LOL!!! I’m sure they saw me coming with my bushy tail, bright eyes and Rands (£’s) to spend!! I also went a little bit mad last year when I got home and I’m sure my purchases increased the profit margin of Mountain Warehouse quite substantially. Since then I calmed down a bit and did the sensible thing: research!! I found a fab link that I downloaded immediately

Printable Packing List

a most sensible list

So, in light of all this excitement, and especially since I have now booked my plane ticket, and the journey is real, I have set up various spreadsheets and done loads of research;

Equipment – what do I need, what’s useful and what can I realistically leave behind?


Lookie looook!!! 🙂 Some of my #Camino2016 gear has arrived!! In keeping with the colour of my jacket and rucksack, I’ve bought as much as I can in purple…can’t help myself; colour coding LOL. So in this pile is a Summit 250 sleeping bag, an emergency foil blanket, survival bag, waterproof pouch (for carrying stuff with easy access), poncho, BPA free water bottle, IsoCool t-shirts, microfibre travel towel, travel bottle set. All of which will be useful for future walking trips and camping too.

I bought a lot of equipment/accessories while I was in South Africa, and so far the tops and pants I bought are going with. The jacket has been converted from two layers to one; the fleece will go with me, the outer rain-jacket will stay at home (too bulky). The gloves will go with, as will the woolly cap. Not sure I will actually need them, but I don’t want to spoil my experience by freezing. The khaki bush-veld sun-hat I bought, although totally unflattering 😉 will go with me. Trainers I bought in SA are totally not suitable and hurt my feet like blazes, so they have been traded in for a different pair, which so far, although quite comfortable, will also not be going with me…not quite right. So the search for suitable walking shoes is still on, although the sandals I bought are amazing. I foresee lots of walking along the beaches of Portugal in those!! Pants; found the ideal type, only problem is that they are men’s. Why don’t they make women’s pants with the same accessories….like leg pockets on both legs??? You have no idea how useful those pockets are for accessibility and storage. Oh well.

Clothes and accessories – again, how much do I realistically have to have.

Fortunately I have a sister and brother-in-law who do a lot of hiking and camping out, so they have given me some advice. Of course being a woman, my inclination is to take enough for every eventuality, but common sense is struggling to prevail and I am already mentally discarding this, that and the next thing. The Facebook pages I joined have been very useful as experienced Camigas have posted updates on what they took and what they discarded as the days went by and the pack got heavier (funny how that happens!!). One thing I have decided on is that I will cut my hair very short before setting out. Save on carrying shampoo and conditioner, and also for ease of wear. I tried on a monk’s outfit at Torre Abbey In Torque earlier this year! Perfect!! I’m seriously considering…..

Backpack – I have taken to accosting people at airports and train stations when I see a backpack that looks like it might fit the bill.

camino luggage

some ideas for the equipment

LOL The wearers have so far been very accommodating and happy to answer my many questions. So many aspects to consider….who knew??? But so far, the backpack I was going to borrow from my daughter last year has been found wanting, my backpack has been found wanting, and after much research and 5 columns on the spreadsheet to compare features, and the many I have seen on the Camino forums, it seems that Osprey will fit the bill – now to decide on which one. It’s a toss-up between two models: Osprey Sirrus 50 L or Osprey Tempest 40 L – urgh. Decisions, decisions.

the portuguese route to santiago

A map showing Portuguese Routes to Santiago

Distances – how far can I walk each day to accommodate my time allowance without killing myself!! My average speed/gait that I walk normally, is 4 km’s per hour. That means I can comfortably walk 24km’s in 6 hours. However, there is the backpack to consider, the heat to consider, the terrain to consider, and my durability to consider. The towns where I have decided to overnight (this is open to change) are all within 20-26 km’s apart with only 1 day being 32kms; Tui to Redondela. I am therefore staying in Valenca for 2 nights and a day to recover/prepare for the next stage. So far the total route is either 260 km’s or 285 km’s depending on which site you read. I’ve done a google distance calculation from town to town, added on a km to each and hoping for the best. Except for the last 100 km’s which you have to do consecutively in order to qualify for the certificate; Compostela, I can if necessary use the occasional bus or train. But I feel this would spoil it somehow so hoping to manage to walk the whole way.

Walking!!! Yes this raises all sorts of issues: care of feet, the correct shoes, types of terrain and poles!

Gosh, who knew that poles could be such a contentious issue? I posted an update just the other day to say that I had bought a paid of Nordic walking poles and had anyone on the group any comment? Yes, they did. 90% were positive but one or two were quite patronising and scathing. LOL. Anyway the concensus is that they are a good thing to have, now I just have to learn how to use them properly…there is apparently a special way of walking with them for maximum benefits. If they save my knees and ankles, then baby I am there!! Besides the training, it seems you need the rubber tips for cobbles and spikes for beach. Hmmm, who knew? I’ve also found a fab site, Camino Ways, and although I haven’t booked any tours with them, their foot care advice has been most useful. http://caminoways.com/footcare-when-walking

Accommodation – where to sleep each night?

sculpture of a pilgrim in dublin

I saw this truly evocative sculpture at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin

The obvious choice would be alburgues, but from what I’ve seen on the various forums, this is a bit tricky. They are cheap and highly sought after and in many instance ‘pilgrims’ jump ahead by using taxis to get to the next town early and secure the accommodation before the ‘walkers’ get there. Seems a bit ludicrous really and not at all in the spirit of the Camino. To each his own hey! So I think I shall take a mix of AirBnB, hotels and the pilgrims alburgues. The AirBnb would give me the benefit of a private room, a place to prepare a proper meal, a comfortable bed and a dedicated shower LOL. Hotels likewise except for the meals, but mostly they include a continental breakfast….the alburgues are very basic, communal facilities and bedrooms with bunks, but mostly with kitchens where meals can be prepared, so I shall balance the 3 to both enjoy the experience and stick with the pilgrim aspect. From what I’ve seen on the forums, except for the purists, this mix appears to be the norm.

Food – what to eat?

I recently spent 10 days in Italy between Pisa and Florence and as usual was so busy exploring and tramping the streets trying to see as much as possible, I didn’t get to eat much…as a result of which I have suffered terrible cramps in my feet and legs since getting back home. Obviously my body couldn’t cope with the burning up of nutrients without being topped up!!! Lesson learned. I asked on Facebook and got some useful advice that I shall follow. Meanwhile I’m beefing up on protein. Being vegetarian this is a bit tricky but research has given me some fab food groups to incorporate into my diet. Nutrition is going to be key for a healthy Camino. So lots of fruit and vegetable protein will be on the menu. I’ll have to do some research on what’s available for my very spoilt British palate. We have way too much variety and choice in this country!!

Locations – this is the best part for me. I adore history, so my research on the different locations along the route have provided hours of pleasurable reading. Oh my word! So much extraordinary history. It’s almost unbearable. I wish I had twice the time I have allocated so that I could spend 2 nights and a day in each location. But I have chosen the highlights and of course; my favourite venues – the churches and cathedrals, anything Roman and of course amazing architecture.  Some snippets:Portugal is a country I have wanted to visit for some years and although not top of my dream list so to speak, it’s history has intrigued me and of course there’s the stunning scenery. I’m also intrigued by the fact that they are such a small country, surrounded by sea and Spain, and have yet maintained their independence through thick and thin.

My Camino de Santiago will start in September from Porto:

Porto, a coastal city in northwest Portugal, is Portugal’s 2nd largest city and known for its stately bridges and port wine production. In the medieval Ribeira (riverside) district, narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes, and is also a UNESCO world heritage Site. São Francisco Church is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate gilded carvings. The palatial 19th-century Palácio de Bolsa, formerly a stock market, was built to impress potential European investors.

I cross over into Spain from Valenca and so to Tui; from there will complete my final 100 kms to qualify for the Compostela (Certificate).

The gateway through which the Portuguese Way passes into Galicia was, and continues to be, Tui.

I am currently working on a project called ‘Project 101’. Many of these locations will fulfil some of my objectives and to my delight I have discovered some UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some fantastic cathedrals and Roman towns on the route. I’m planning on spending 3 days in Porto before I start walking, to acclimatise and of course, most importantly to explore the city. It too is a UNESCO heritage site and last night I discovered that the town of Coimbra (which is a place I’ve wanted to visit) is only an hour by train from Porto, the University is a UNESCO World Heritage Site…so that too is now on my Project 101 list, and a must visit while I’m in Porto. Gosh will I have enough time to do it all??

So yes, time, like me, is marching on and I’m reading up on as many blogs, doing loads of research, watching videos, learning how to use my Nordic walking poles, and walking walking walking…… And exactly 4 months from today, I will have started walking…..my Camino 2017. I should have made inroads (pun intended 😉 ) on my 2nd 500 miles by then and I hope that I might just complete the full 1000 miles while I’m there…that would be awesome!!! #walk1000miles

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~Lao Tzu

walk 500 miles

Becoming a Proclaimer 🙂

You can follow my journey on instagram

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Back in 2010 my interest was piqued by a conversation I had with the niece of a lady I was caring for at the time. I mentioned to her that I was thinking of walking ‘The Camino’……and it turned out that she had already walked the route!! 🙂 A woman. Solo. On her own! Hmmm…….since then of course I’ve discovered that thousands of women walk solo every year; from teens to octogenarians. Pretty damn awesome!!

Prior to that I had heard of the Camino de Santiago in an obscure sort of way; I can’t recall exactly when I was first aware of it, probably in one of the many books I read, and of course my father had already cycled some of the routes. My father was in London one year (I think it was 2007) and we met up to watch the Tour de France pass through the city. We chatted about the Camino and made tenuous plans to ‘do it’ together….but he wanted to cycle whilst I want to walk…so it was probably never going to happen.

camino de santiago

My father in his latter years, shortly before he died at the grand old age of 85.

But the seed was planted and after the conversation I had in 2010, the idea took root: I would actually walk it myself, by myself. And of course there was the movie ‘The Way’ with Martin and Charlie Sheen that was released in 2010. It’s taken some 7 years, but I have finally put my money where my mouth is and booked my plane ticket!!! On 19 April 2017 I posted this on our family’s ‘WhatsApp’ news feed:

*Breaking news*  Yes!! Its done …I’ve just booked my flights for #Camino2017
I Fly to Porto in Portugal on 7 September for 3 Days in Porto  then start walking 285 (260?) kms to Santiago de Compostela on 11 September along the coastal route to Caminha, then inland to Valenca for my last night in Portugal, then crossing the Minha River to Tui the next day for the final 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela. I’ll spend 3 days in Santiago and then fly to Barcelona for 3 days and back to UK on 28 September. Too exciting for words!!

I cannot tell you how terrifying and yet exciting it was to finally make the decision and when I posted this to the family news feed and then made a Facebook update it was with a huge sense of trepidation; am I doing the right thing?

I actually wanted to walk the Camino in 2016 but due to one thing and another, namely; reasons and excuses, I didn’t take the final step of booking my flight! I had started training earlier in the year in preparation since I didn’t want the pilgrimage to be spoilt by lack of fitness and too much pain, but even so, I realised by September of 2016 that in fact, despite my desire to go and love of walking I wasn’t anywhere near fit enough. Reasons and excuses.

At the beginning of this year I joined a Facebook group #walk1000miles and that has given me a massive incentive to get out and walk; almost every day. While working my time is usually limited to 2 hours per day (my break), but I manage to do 5 miles in that time and have loved every minute. Besides that when I’m home, I take long walks along the coast to Margate, Ramsgate, Cliffsend and have even walked to Sandwich (26 kms) on one memorable day 🙂

Due to my job, I travel all over the country and so have had the pleasure of walking in different locations, with different challenges and landscape – this country is so beautiful. I am lucky. All these walks have added to my fitness levels. From the Isle of Thanet to the Isle of Wight, I’ve also walked in Ireland and along the North Downs, the Malverns, Worcester and Oxted amongst other areas. I’m truly fortunate.

camino practice walks 2017

I’ve had some wonderful walks all over the country

camino practice walks 2017

walks on the Isle of Wight

camino walks

walks on the Isle of Thanet, Ireland, the Malverns and Italy

Since 01/01/2017 I have walked  500 #bootson miles. If I had to include my ‘at work/on duty’ mileage I’m certain it would be well in excess of 1000 miles….but for purposes of training I have only added my actual ‘training’ time where I set out specifically to ‘walk’! As of today, in Ireland, I became a ‘Proclaimer’ LOL I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more…..

walk 1000 miles

I have walked 500 miles 🙂 and I will walk 500 more

Meanwhile, and as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have, with heart in my mouth, and a mix of excitement/ terror/trepidation/joy picked up the phone and booked my ticket…..no going back now!!!!

I’m finally going on my Camino. 🙂 hooray!

And exactly 4 months from tomorrow, I shall start walking…..my Camino 2017.

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The more you give the more you get back. It’s scary opening our heart sometimes but I urge you to try it. If you have the courage to be vulnerable, especially if you’re in a leadership role, you empower others. I arrived in India 2 days ago to do a yoga course and didn’t know […]

via The power of being vulnerable  — Less is More

I’ve shared Helen’s post as it comes a few hours after I read an article about the Camino that really caught at me. I posted the article on facebook along with this comment:

“Reading this actually brought tears to my eyes….I simply cannot wait to go. It also clarified for me why I want to do this on my own….I want to be taken right out my comfort zone, I want to be confronted by challenges, I want to be alone in the crowd and yet one with my companions, I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, I want the Camino to ‘walk’ me!!! I simply cannot wait…albeit wait I must…but soon. Soon.”

Helen’s post resonated with me tonight because when walking the Camino we do open ourselves up to being vulnerable; in so many ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend until we start.

Here is the Camino article. http://www.caminoadventures.com/days-arriving-santiago-de-compostela/

What really caught my attention in the article was this: the 3 important questions necessary for growth (if not sanity):

  • Where am I going?
  • Where have I been?
  • Who am I?

I can answer the first two fairly easily, but it was the 3rd question that caught at me. This is something that I have been questioning of late and sometimes I really don’t know. Life has shaped me in weird ways, experiences have either warped me or shaped me…..Who am I? is a question that I reckon my journey along The Way is going to challenge me.

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On the eve of my impending journey to my next assignment, this time in Lancashire I decided to write and update on My Camino and the journey so far. You may recall I wrote a post a short while ago about ‘doing’ the Camino my way. Well ‘doing’ it correctly is clearly advisable, so in order to gain some insights I joined two Camino groups on Facebook (I have since joined another). I have gleaned so much by way of interesting and useful hints and tips as well as safety advice that I am beginning to feel a little more ‘prepared’ than I was when I first started to lay my plans. Of course one of the most important aspects of walking the Camino is being at least relatively fit…a fact attested to by many of the walkers in the group. Feet appear to be the worst hit!

camino 2016; the journey so far

My Camino; the journey so far

One evening in May this year, my daughter and I took a walk from Broadstairs to Joss Bay; something we do quite frequently…go for long walks, that is. When we got back home, I suddenly realised that this is what I could do as part of my training.

We often walk to Ramsgate and since I walk a lot anyway this seemed an ideal way to up my distances and improve my fitness…..in order to keep track of my progress, I downloaded a fantastic little app called MapMyWalk that tells me how far I’ve walked each day, how long it’s taken me and what my pace is per km…I immediately started using it…..this is my journey so far! The app gives you a lot more info but those are the 3 items I’m most interested in.

Since starting these walks, I’ve learned quite a lot about myself.

1. I am far more durable than I though. A bit like the Energizer bunny I just…

my camino; the journey so far

…keep going

2. I’m way more resilient than I thought. 319.11 km’s walked so far

3. I can endure walking in the rain!!! LOL

my camino; the journey so far

not too much singing going on…but I did walk in the rain LOL


4. I can walk wayyyy further than I have since I was in my 20’s. Sandwich 28.54 kms


5. I’ve confirmed that I really do enjoy my own company.

my camino; the journey so far

not a soul in sight…

Just walking, not responsible for anyone except yourself, gives you a sense of freedom. I’ve always enjoyed my own company and seldom get lonely. But walking on your own for 185 miles through a foreign country is a far cry from holing up at home with a good book, or spending a week away on my own, so we shall see. I do believe however that the route/s always has people walking or residents of the hamlets and towns along the way…so if I need company, I’m sure I’ll find it.

I haven’t had any of the lightning-bolt epiphanies that people say they experience when walk long distances on their own, but I have learned that in my 60’s I am still very much happy to walk and walk and walk, and talk to myself. I call it ‘doing a Forrest Gump!! I have some very interesting conversations. I also tend to rant a lot, which wouldn’t surprise my daughter in the least! LOL

I can’t share any spiritual or emotional insights so far, but that may well still happen when I do walk the actual Camino…..in the meantime this is my physical journey. The one day that impressed me the most was the day I walked to Sandwich!

Day 1 : 19/05/2016 Broadstairs to Joss Bay – I’m not sure how far I walked this day as it was pre mapmywalk, but its been really interesting since then to see my stats.

my camino so far

Day 1. 19.05.2016 the day it all started

Although I haven’t walked on consecutive days, I have walked whenever opportunity arose

Day 2 : 22/05/16 : Broadstairs to Royal Esplanade Ramsgate and back : Walked 12.38 km  -2 hours 59 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 2. 22.05.2016 Ramsgate Royal Esplanade

By day three I was really keen to stretch myself a little bit so undertook a marathon:

Day 3 : 23/05/16 Broadstairs to Margate and back : Walked 17.94 km – 4 hours 5 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 3. 23.05.2016 Margate

As you can imagine after that walk!!!! I needed to rest for a day LOL  Then it was off to London for work and a new environment in which to stretch my legs 🙂

Day 4 : 26/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston and back : Walked 7.37 km – 1 hour 32 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 4. 26.05.2016 Kingston

Day 5 : 27/05/16 Thames Ditton to East Moseley and back : Walked 6.73 km – 1 hour 19 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 5. 27.05.2016 East Moseley

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 2.24 km – 25 minutes

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton to Canbury Gardens, Kingston Upon Thames : Walked 7.64 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 6. 28.05.2016 Canbury Gardens

Working so near to Hampton Court Palace was tantalising so I asked for an extended break

Day 7 : 29/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 11.59 km – 2 hours 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 7. 29.05.2016 Hampton Court Palace

On the 31st May my gear arrived!!! 🙂 I was so excited to be unpacking just some of the items I would need so I could start trying them out. However, with testing various items in the meanwhile, I have in fact discovered that there is much I actually wouldn’t need

my camino; the journey so far

Clearly I am a fan of Mountain Warehouse 🙂

While working, my breaks are usually two hours and I found I could easily fit in a walk to Kingston and back. Although it was very hot over that period, which I found most unpleasant, I really enjoyed the walks; such a lovely part of the river.

Day 8 : 31/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.19 km – 1 hour 43 minutes

Day 9 : 01/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 7.81 km – 1 hour 45 minutes

Day 10 : 02/06/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 3.93 km – 48 minutes

Day 11 : 03/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames and back : Walked 8.38 km – 1 hour 44 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Scenes from my Thames Ditton to Kingston walks

Day 12 : 04/06/16 Thames Ditton circular walk : Walked 3.43 km – 46 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 12. 04.06.2016 Thames Ditton circular walk – stopping to smell the roses

I was keen to make a 2nd attempt at a walk along the Thames riverbank to Hampton Court Palace, so one day I took myself off. I love the palace so it was a treat to visit, albeit briefly.

Day 13 : 05/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 10.90 km – 2 hours 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 13. 05.06.2016 Hampton Court – it was very hot this day..I rested in some shade

Day 14 : 06/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.72 km – 1 hour 56 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Friends – I’m sure I will make new friends on the Camino in time

Once I got home to Broadstairs after that assignment, I got right back into walking to Ramsgate and back, which I find is a good stretch without being too exerting.

Day 15 : 08/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 7.43 km – 1 hour 24 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 15. 08.06.2016 Ramsgate

I was keen to see if I could manage another walk to Margate and to my surprise found it much easier the 2nd time….I even walked right around the bay….When I left home it was overcast and gloomy, by the time I reached Margate it was a most glorious day…I do love living at the seaside.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 the other side of Margate Bay

Day 16 : 09/06/16 Broadstairs to St Peters Village to Margate and back : Walked 23.59 km – 6 hours 23 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 via St Peters to Margate

Day 17 : 10/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 9.42 km – 2 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 17. 10.06.2016 Ramsgate

All too soon I was off to my next assignment at Bexhill on Sea, and having worked in the area before, I knew it would offer great walking opportunities…and so it did. The East Sussex Coast is beautiful; very flat with pebble beaches, great for walking although I didn’t do much walking on the beach – it’s really hard to walk on pebbles.

my camino; the journey so far

Bexhill on Sea

Day 18 : 12/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Cooden Beach and back : Walked 5.71 km – 1 hour 36 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 18. 12.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 19 : 13/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.03 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 19. 13.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 20 : 15/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.70 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 20. Bexhill on Sea

Day 21 : 16/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.47 km – 1 hour 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 21. 16.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 22 : 17/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.90 km – 1 hour 14 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 22. 17.06.2016 Bexhill on Seas

After quite a few decent walks I was dead keen to try a walk to Hastings and back. If I came unstuck I could always take the train back LOL. And so the next day, having arranged some extra time for my break, I set off for Hastings. What a marvellous walk. Truly beautiful and I so enjoyed the time alone with the sea breezes gently blowing off the sea. I felt that this is what it would be like on the route from Porto to Caminha which is where I would head inland to Valenca and then crossing the Minho river into Spain near Tui.

Day 23 : 18/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings and back : Walked 17.36 km – 3 hours 30 minutes ( I really enjoyed this walk).

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings

Although I didn’t make it all the way into Hastings itself, I did get as far as the Pier which was superb…it stretched quite far out into the sea and offers fantastic views looking back.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 From Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Pier

Day 24 : 20/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 6.65 km – 1 hour 37 minutes

Day 25 : 21/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.58 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

Day 26 : 22/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.35 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

Day 27 : 23/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.84 km – 1 hour 52 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Days 24-27. Bexhill on Sea

Even though most days I walked much the same route, with a few slight variations, I made the most of my breaks to keep my fitness levels up. I had all sorts of weather to contend with; blazing heat with the sun baking down, windy blasts from across the channel and rain…..rain that soaked me to the skin, at which time I discovered that in fact my shoes were not waterproof hahaha. One day I got so wet my shoes squelched.

After two weeks it was back home; once again to enjoy my lovely long walks along the Kent coast.

Day 28 : 25/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 8.90 km – 2 hours 16 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 28. 25.06.2016 Ramsgate – I stopped frequently on this walk to take a photos

Day 29 : 27/06/16 Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back : Walked 4.36 km – 1 hour 6 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 29. 27.06.2016 Dumpton Gap

By this stage I had spent a considerable amount of time planning my Camino and having decided to walk along the Portuguese Coastal Route, using google maps I calculated the various distances starting from Porto through to Santiago. On the whole the routes were averaging about 14-18 kms, which after all my practice walks I knew I could easily manage, but on some days I would need to walk up to almost 30 kms, so I was keen to see if I could walk that far and thus planned a walk along the Kent coast from Broadstairs to Sandwich….. 🙂 Would I make it?

Day 30 : 28/06/16 Broadstairs to Sandwich (train back home) – you didn’t expect me to walk home?? after I’d already : Walked 28.54 km – 7 hours 2 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 Sandwich

The walk to Sandwich was amazing. I discovered a path that led right along the top of the cliffs and so, after passing through Ramsgate, I walked via a twisting route to Cliffsend and then onto Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve and finally to Sandwich, by which time I was exhausted and famished. But the views were just stunning and well worth the pain.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 views across Pegwell Bay

As part of the Camino test, I wanted to be sure that I could indeed walk two long days on the trot (no pun intended!!) ….so next day, with aching feet and legs and a back that wasn’t happy with the backpack, I set off once again to Sandwich….I nearly made it 🙂

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 taking a lunch break in Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

I did stop at the very edge of the nature reserve and then walked back….so…..

Day 31 : 29/06/16 Broadstairs to Pegwell Country Bay and back                                           Walked 21.84 km – 5 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

Although I didn’t get as far as the town, I did have to walk back again as there were no trains nearby! hahahaha. But it was a fantastic day, well spent.

Day 32 : 30/06/16 Broadstairs to Botany Bay and back : Walked 7.90 km – 2 hours

my camino; the journey so far

Day 32. 30.06.2016 The Stacks

with a 2nd walk in the evening from Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back, I walked another 3.54 km – 56 minutes

And then life got in the way……I had recently been to South Africa to sort out my belongings and ship them over to the UK. All went well and I got everything packed up and shipped over…..and then came the surprise…..UK Customs and Excise….even though the shipment was of no great value, my posessions were in excess of 15 to 45 years and older, and for my own personal use….I still had to pay Customs Duty on the goods. Urgh!! and so endeth my Camino 2016, which will now have to be Camino 2017 LOL or not!!

The shock of this news kind of threw me off stride (no pun intended). The cost of the duty pretty much absorbed my travel money and I didn’t want to dip into my savings. Besides that I had just started my next assignment, and due to the nature of the position I was unable to leave the house for any length of time unless there was another person there.  So except for one day (see below) that took care of that; no more  Camino 2016 practice walks.

Day 33 : 24/07/16 : Oveny Green to Chevening and back : Walked 7.75 km – 2 hours 4 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 33. 24.07.2016 Chevening Church

I so enjoyed being able to stretch my legs again after 3 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed the excursion. I got a little unwell while I was at this assignment and for no discernible reason I still find myself quite without any energy.

Since then I have barely walked any distances at all, except if you count my 3 day visit to London 2-4th September for the Fire! Fire! London’s Burning 350th anniversary events when, as usual, I walked my feet off (but forgot to switch on the app – duh!!).

the great fire of london 1666

the City of London in wood…due to be burned on 4th September for Great Fire 350 event

It’s now mid November and I still find myself very low on energy, so my longs walks have ceased for now.

My plans for Camino 2017 are going ahead. For that walk I have decided to walk the English Way from Ferrol to Santiago. I haven’t yet decided on the precise dates, but suffice to say, I must get myself walking again.

my camino; the journey so far

…follow that shell. I saw these Pilgrim Shells in Brussels recently and loved how they lead you to different pilgrim’s churches in the city

We went to Canterbury in August where we visited the East Bridge hospital dating from 1190. It’s an intriguing place, very old with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural. Once a place for pilgrims to stay; a hospitallier….the word hospital derives from this, no ill people were treated there, it was more a place to stay…like a hostel.

my camino; the journey so far

Eastbridge Hospital on the right; Religious hospital dating from 1190 with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural.

Canterbury is one of the most notable pilgrim destinations and you may recall the Geoffrey Chaucer famously travelled there; his Canterbury Tales.

So not only am I planning on walking the Camino, I am also following in the footsteps of Chaucer…albeit a lot slower than he did!! LOL

This is my Canterbury Tale so far : My Canterbury Tales

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814).

I recently stumbled upon this site about getting walking fit for the Camino 

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Just a few months ago I became a British Citizen. In fact today is the 3rd monthaversary of my citizenship ceremony.


at my citizenship ceremony in Maidstone

I have a list of ‘things to do once I have my passport’ and one of those is the Camino.  I wasn’t really sure which section I wanted to do but since I have always wanted to visit Portugal, when I discovered that one of the routes is from Porto I decided to make that the route I would take.

I can’t quite make up my mind whether to walk it all in one go, or rather break it up into 2 stages.  So in September of this year I plan to walk the Camino from Porto to Santiago or maybe just the first stage. It will all depend on how I feel at the time LOL

I have completed part of Chaucer’s route to Canterbury and in order to practice for the Camino I am going to continue the journey and complete it before I leave for Porto (hopefully; time being an issue).

My passion is London and the history of the city, and I have explored and visited many of the areas where Chaucer lived and worked,


a wooden structure depicts the Algate house Chaucer lived in 

and on one of my recent work assignments I discovered part of the ‘pilgrims way’ and immediately set out to walk the section nearest to where I was working.

IMAG2659 - Kent April2016

The Pilgrim’s Way – Winchester to Canterbury

passportI am a 61 year-old single parent of a most wonderful daughter aged 35+. Born in South Africa, I crossed the seas in October 2001 to visit my sister and her hubby who were living in Ireland at the time. I loved Ireland and after deciding that London was where I wanted to live, I returned to SA poste-haste to obtain my ancestral visa (my grandfather had the good sense to be born in Wandsworth) and never looked back…..after living and working in the UK for the past 15 years I recently obtained my British Citizenship and relevant passport and hope to put it to good use.
Since getting my passport on 30 March I’ve been from Dover to Calais, specifically so that I could see the White Cliffs of Dover.IMAG2395.jpg

My daughter and I went to Paris on 24 April for lunch (courtesy of her and my sisters Sue & Caroline – thanks guys, it was amazing)

My next trip is to Brussels in July to spend a few days with my friend Valy,

and of course I’ve been to South Africa, but since I used both my passports, it only semi counts as a trip post UK passport 😉

It has been my dream for some years now to walk the Camino as well as spending a few days to explore Santiago. My father (deceased 2015) has cycled the Camino a few times, the last being in 2015 a few months before he died at the age of 85…although he didn’t complete the route due to deteriorating health. One of my younger sisters was with him at the time and they managed to fit in a visit to my brother and family in Hungary…..I’m going to visit them in Budapest for a few days before my #Camino2016.kevin & timi and family
I have lived in the UK for 15 years now and have travelled extensively both in the UK and in Europe and 3 times to the USA.  Prior to my departure in 2001  I travelled extensively in South Africa, and during the 6 months I lived in Ireland between October 2001 and March 2002 we travelled all over the island and then some….I’ve been to just about every county.

I plan to buy a motor-home in 2021 and start travelling the length and breadth of the UK with occasional trips to the Continent. It’s so easy it would be a shame not to.

traveler and sun

heading for the sun and surf…suitcase following close behind

I look forward to meeting fellow pilgrims in September.
Here is an extract from the site http://santiago-compostela.net/

Walking the Camino

Walking the Camino is not difficult – most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible!

Origins of the pilgrimage

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.

The Way was defined then by the net of Roman routes that joined the neuralgic points of the Peninsula. The impressive human flow that from very soon went towards Galicia made quickly appear lots of hospitals, churches, monasteries, abbeys and towns around the route. During the 14th century the pilgrimage began to decay, fact brought by the wars, the epidemics and the natural catastrophes.

The recovery of the route begins at the end of the 19th century, but it is during the last quarter of the 20th century when the authentic contemporary resurge of the peregrination takes place. There is no doubt that the social, tourist, cultural or sport components have had a great importance in the “jacobea” revitalization but we cannot forget that the route has gained its prestige thanks to its spiritual value.

Buen Camino 🙂

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