We finished our short walk on the Le Puy Camino, Chemin de Saint Jacques, last Sunday evening – I was glad to get into Conques as my feet had been killing me the whole way. This is not a route for walking shoes, boots should have been the choice, I know now.
Already the walk seems far away. I think 10 days is not really enough, it is the first time that I have walked for such a short time, my previous trips on the Camino have been around 30 days each. I was only really starting to get to know people other pilgrims after about 6 or 7 days. I think this was how it was for me for previous pilgrimages.
This route was much harder than I expected, I had looked at some of the available elevation maps, but they were not detailed enough for me to understand how tough this was going to be. I will be adding my own maps and elevations during the next week as I used GPS to map the route and have all but one day, that day my battery died after 8.5 hours and the day’s walk was 11 hours – really we had no idea it would be that long.
Anna speaks French so this made life considerably easier, without this it would have been much harder to talk to people and book Gites, (hostels in France) – which have to be done here, or take the risk of not having a bed for the night.
A lot of the route is walked above 1,000 meters and it is fairly remote. The wild flowers on the top however were great, fields of them – I will have the photos up shortly.
In many ways it did not feel like a Camino to me. I think this was a combination of things: lack of integration with church organisations along the route, walking only for 10 days, very few English speakers – 99% of pilgrims were French, and my expectations. Perhaps the last was the biggest issue. When I first walked a Camino I had no idea what to expect, and I started walking this expecting a Camino more like Spain… I live and learn, expectations catch me out all the time in life.
As usual other pilgrims were very friendly and did their very best to communicate with me. I was less out going than normal – the language barrier really hit me. This problem has though inspired me to start taking Spanish lessons as I want to complete the Via de la Plata next year, all going well.
I realise while writing this I am a little down this morning. Camino blues perhaps?
Anyway I have lots of information and will start organising and putting it on the site today.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.