Camino de Santiago (French route) – The complete index

Camino de Santiago
Our journey from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela
20 Sept – 1 Nov 2016

The Complete Index

There is something undeniably special about walking the Camino de Santiago. As one of the great medieval pilgrimage routes it draws people from all over the world – irrespective of religious belief or lack thereof – to do something extraordinary. To walk in the footsteps of a thousand years of pilgrims is a way to touch a deep cultural history – something we rarely get to do in a busy life. Scroll down to find links to all the posts about our 2016 Camino.


Camino - Don't stop walking

The Camino, like most travel, is at least three journeys in one. It is a physical journey, in which you discover what distance can be covered in a day’s walk, and the strange feeling of walking across an entire country. It is also an inner journey of the mind, as your perspective changes, your assumptions are challenged, and you have an opportunity to spend time out from a busy schedule to gain a new perspective on life. Thirdly, it is a cultural journey spanning a thousand years of history. As UNESCO has stated: “Europe was built on the pilgrim road to Santiago.” Buen Camino!

Compostelas with shells


INDEX to the Camino posts

I have collected here links to the story of our journey to Santiago de Compostela in 2016 – feel free to dive in at any point, or to follow the story sequentially.

Camino training

Trekking pole tripod – camera mount

Camino training – a lighthearted look

Packing for the Camino de Santiago

Camino Credential from Notre Dame Paris

Paris – the final pack for the Camino

Paris to St Jean Pied de Port

Camino Frances: St Jean-Orisson

Roncesvalles and the Witches Wood

Espinal to Zubiri: A sketch and a close call

Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz – a hidden gem

A Bell before Pamplona

Pamplona rest day and a moment with Heidegger

Zariquiegui and on to the Mount of Forgiveness

On to Puenta la Reina

Magic House at Villatuerte

The Wine Fountain then on to Villamayor de Montjardin

Villamayor de Jardin to Los Arcos – and a special sunrise

Viana and a micro-fiesta

Logroño – city of farewells

Logroño to Ventosa

Ventosa to Azofra via Nàjera

Azofra to Santo de Domingo de la Calzada

On to Villamayor del Rio – and some thoughts on the Camino

On to Villafranca Montes de Oca

Camino Frances: Haven’t seen you in Agés…

Atapuerca and on to Burgos

Burgos – And a Museum of Human Evolution

Burgos – A Cathedral, a Prince and a Toy Train

Leon – Stained glass to rival Chartres

Leon – Hogworts, a museum, and the weight of history

Hobbit houses, then on to Villar de Mazariffe

A long bridge and a fiesta – Puente de Orbigo

Passing Astorga

Tex Mex on the Camino

Cruz de Ferro – a poignant moment

The descent, then on to Ponferrada

Villafranca del Bierzo – and a Camino angel

To O Cebreiro – Gateway to Galicia!

O Cebreiro to Fonfria

Sarria – Beginning of the final leg

Sarria to Morgade

Portomarin – and a moving church

Off to Hospital – and an encounter with Spanish plumbing

Palas de Rei

Camino – Casanova scammers and on to Melide

Melide to Arzua and an encounter with raspberries

Arzua to Pedrouza

Pedrouzo to Santiago – Arrival at last!

Santiago moments, and an encounter with the Botafumeiro

Camino Kilometre Zero at Finisterre and on to Muxia

Encounter with the Secret Pilgrim

Lessons learned on the Camino

Santiago cathedral

bronze Camino shell

Packing for the Camino de santiago

The Camino de Santiago (French way/Camino Frances) is an 800km/500 mile trek. It is a traditional Christian pilgrimage route from southern France, over the Pyrenees, and across northern Spain. The route is open for anyone to walk, whether for fitness, tourism, spiritual or religious reasons.

The distance is not to be undertaken lightly and it is important to keep your backpack as light as possible – after all, you will be carrying it for around one million steps over a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions.

Walking in solitude

Accommodation is typically in municipal or private albergues, or hostels. So at least you don’t need to carry a tent or your own cooking utensils, but by all accounts, it is a not insignificant trek.

I made a video showing what I have chosen to pack – your mileage may differ (see below) 🙂

Some people view the Camino as an opportunity to unplug from the world and escape the frenetic pace of contemporary society. Indeed some are critical of those who stay in touch through social media. For me, social media provides a means for my family and friends to follow our progress; and a chance for me to share with others this great experience – and perhaps inspire others to consider walking their own Camino.

One of my passions is photography. Most people take a phone/camera or small point-and-shoot camera. These can produce great images, especially in good light. But for me, they are not great in low light, and many interiors such as churches or museums challenge those cameras. So my one concession to weight is that I will be taking my DSLR camera, albeit with just one lens.

Pilgrims in past ages would travel from place to place and keep journals, write letters and maintain such communication as they could with those back home. So I see no contradiction in taking some light technology to help deepen the experience through providing access to information, translation of menus, or simple navigation, as well as to communicate with those close to me but distant geographically. For me, there is no distinction between a modern pilgrim asking for wifi and the medieval pilgrims who asked for paper and ink.

I hope this video helps others considering a long trek, such as the Camino – and I welcome comments here or below the video on YouTube 🙂


INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog

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Camino training – a lighthearted look

Training for any long walk, including the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across northern Spain, requires some preparation, both physical and mental.

Physical preparation – walking with backpacks

Firstly, physical preparation must include walking on paths analogous to the kinds of track we expect to encounter, with distance and hills and varying terrain. And as departure time approaches it is important to get used to walking with poles – remember a million step walk over 800km (500 miles) requires you to lift those poles a million times. The poles feel light, but you need to build those muscles. And of course, it is vital to practice with packs loaded with everything you intend to carry. Here is a typical day on the track. We are currently covering around 10-12kms (6.2 – 7.5 miles) a day training with packs.

Becoming aware of the bigger picture – taking note of your surroundings

Walking frees the mind and de-stresses the body. The body establishes a natural rhythm and if you keep your eyes open you will see connections that show how the landscape shapes a society, or you will encounter and take note of those services required to maintain a modern society the way the components of a complex organism interact to sustain life all around us. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking it…

Acceptance of setbacks

Life is full of setbacks – some minor, some major – and these serve to make us pause and consider alternative solutions to our problems. It is part of the creative process that enriches our lives. Setbacks can be in our career, our relationships, or losing that fiddly little piece that sprung out of your glasses frame. Whatever it is, there is an analogue in finding a physical barrier to our habitual training route. This time after walking for 4km only to have to turn back and find another route before breakfast.

Making friends with the locals

No matter how isolated your training path may be, no matter how isolated you feel, there are always unexpected encounters. As the saying goes, “there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet”. We are often accompanied on our training walks by a whole range of such friends – be they people out for a ride on a mountain bike, or fellow walkers enjoying the fresh air and bucolic ambience. But quite often there are no people at all – just the local kangaroos or foxes or cockatoos bemused at our antics.

It will be interesting to see how well our training has prepared us for the road ahead. And let me know in the comments about your insights into preparing for a long trek.


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