Walking the CaminoPublished on March 16, 2017
We have been wanting to walk all or part of the Camino Frances in Spain for several years. I think seeing the movie ‘The Way’ solidified this idea and as soon as I saw the Step by Step tour on Supercoucou, I decided this was how I wanted to do it.
The walk was about 124kms over 5 days, our accommodation was booked for us each night, luggage was transported each day for us, and we were provided with maps and directions to each of our hotels. All we needed to do each day was get up, have breakfast, leave our bags at reception and head out for the day’s walk.
We started in the small town of Sarria, about 500kms north west of Madrid. We caught a train which took about 6hrs. It was an easy pleasant journey and we got to see some of the countryside as we travelled. There were lots of fellow walkers (or pilgrims) on board and we realised how popular this stretch of the walk is. When we arrived in Sarria we were delighted to find our hotel for that night (included in our tour) was only just across the road from the train station, so nice and easy. After finding some dinner, we got our things organised for the following day and settled into bed.
Each day we hiked through small villages and said hello to people as we walked past, through beautiful forests and crossed streams and creeks. A lot of the way was on dedicated pathways, some was rocky and rough, some was concreted paths, sometimes we were walking next to the road and occasionally we had to walk on the road, but there was never that much traffic so it wasn’t really a concern. We got into the habit of starting our walk straight after breakfast, and even with stopping a few times for rest or food stops, we were usually at our nights’ accommodation by 1:30-2pm each day. This way we avoided walking too much in the heat.
The scenery constantly changed, from big open plains to forests with huge trees and moss covered rocks, lovely little streams with cool refreshing water, and a highlight was discovering a huge field of sunflowers. It was an amazing sight, I took so many photos and didn’t want to leave!
Along the way, we met and chatted to many people as we walked. Mother and daughter, father and son, lots of couples, some friends and quite a few solo walkers. It was nice to chat as we walked, exchanging stories about where we’ve been and where we’re going. People that we passed would wish us ‘Buen Camino’ which translates to ‘Good Way’ and it became something that we said to others that we passed as well, just a friendly greeting and a bit of encouragement.
We finished in the city of Santiago de Compostela where we marvelled at the beautiful cathedral. There were so many people there, lots of fellow walkers. Some like us had done the last 100 or so kilometres, many had been walking for several weeks. All were celebrating finishing their walk.
The walk was not easy, you need to have a moderate level of fitness to be able to walk that distance each day. On average we did 24kms each day, some were less and one brutal day was 29.5kms. There were a few steep sections on several days and a really difficult rocky downhill stretch towards the end of the first day. So that does take a toll on your body, and we experienced sore muscles and a few blisters but thankfully no major injuries. It’s a good idea to pack lots of bandaids and some heat rub!
The accommodation was very good, either hotels or guesthouses. All were extremely clean and comfortable, our luggage was always waiting for us when we arrived each day and breakfast was included so that was a good start to each days walk. The paths are well marked and easy to follow – just look out for the yellow arrows!
We enjoyed this trip so much we are now thinking of doing it again next year.