Walking a Camino, I first became aware of the Camino when a friend walked the Porto to Santiago Camino in the Spring of 2014. The reports back and pictures revealed a way of being that silenced my rather cynical and in retrospect tiresome world weary view on life.
Walking a Camino in 2014, walking anywhere, seemed an impossible dream, Recently diagnosed with coeliac disease and chronic gout made 500 meters a challenge. A strict gluten free diet, lots of nutritional support and crucially new gout meds in 2016 meant I could easily manage 8-10 miles by the Summer of 2018. A health blog will follow soon!
Easter 19 we were in Porto. We notice a regular stream of people in hiking gear with the ubiquitous ) heading North up the coast. Curious we explored what they were doing until it dawned on me this is what my friend had done in 2014. We decided to walk the stage Matosinhos – Vila do Conde about 20 k. (Pictures) to see what it was like…..
It was a revelation, despite the massive blister, we were totally hooked. Following the distinctive yellow arrows that mark the Camino is somehow different to any other walk. There is a camaraderie of simply acknowledging fellow travellers with a common goal. Stopping by the Roman remains, walking through landscapes where humans have lived by the sea for thousands of years was uplifting and humbling.
Sitting outside a bar just off the route in the edge of Vila do Conde in the late afternoon sunshine felt magical, the first glass of wine slipped down in awed silence, the second started the “when are we going to do this”…… conversation.
Back to work time spent with our children and grandchildren across the summer, our 20th wedding anniversary, the dream faded. A chance viewing of ‘Remarkable Places to Eat’
had me checking out Easy Jet flights to Bilbao, £50 each return Stansted Bilbao had us booked for the week of my birthday in October to San Sebastián and the Basque Country. An e mail to Casa Julian secured a table and “ oh look Debbie the Camino del Norte runs through San Sebastián shall we do a couple of stages”
The scenery is stunning and the walking exhausting, for a pair of fat, unfit 60 year olds. We were hooked all over again. The route is clearly ancient predating the medieval pilgrimage route. There is a stretch of Roman road, about 2k, as you drop down into Orio. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful but a complete nightmare to walk on. The stones of the road have shifted and buckled over the intervening 2000 years making every step an ankle twisting challenge not the steady 120 paces a minute the Roman infantry would have marched at. (Picture)
We ended in the day in Orio, a quietly beautiful medieval town. ‘A local bar offered an €11 menu. Fish soup (picture) was the starter, we fell on it like a pair of hungry wolves, there is nothing like a day on the Camino to work up an appetite.
Back to England – the question of how we get to walk the Camino in the back of my mind. I am driving back up the A1 to Harrogate and home. Its a slow, dark wet November afternoon. It’s regular thing. Debbie, my wife, works in W. London, I stay with her when I have meetings about the 1950’s retro style kitchens I design and makehttps://www.refurbyourkitchen.com/retro-kitchens
So driving North I am pondering the route of the A1 and it’s it’s origins. Reflecting on the rich seam of history, geography and society. It’s been the road in my life since Mum and Dad traveled between Cambridge and Gretna as young parents with a 6 week old baby in 1957. Apparently it took them 12/16 hours on a good run. Much longer if the A66 over Bowes Moor or the A6 over Shap Fell had bad weather. 62 years later I am still on it!!
Often thought it would be fun to spend some time exploring the side lanes, the pretty towns and villages it bypasses now, how the route has changed and developed, the first Doncaster bypass the Romans built to get round the river Ouse and Humber estuary. No bridge then it was a ferry across to where the now A15 stops abruptly at the waters edge on the South bank.
The mad idea popped up “why not walk from York to Santiago” a text to Debbie , a one word reply YES.
We leave on the 13th April Debbies 60th birthday