Yes, our feet still hurt and at the end of the longest day of the whole trip, (41km, a choice so I didn’t have to stay in a dormitory…), I thought I would die. But the next day our bodies were as good as new. I was the fittest I had ever been, no knees problems, bunion issues or back complaints.
This section wasn’t strictly the Compostela/ Camino. One of our hosts who only allowed you to stay if you carried your pack the whole way told us it would be fine to do this by train, but while we intended to take it a bit easier we walked.
The weather was extraordinary. An early summer had hit the region. No snow and brilliant blue skies and 28 C (75 F). In Biddarray on the first night, we went to Hotel Ostape (amazing. We did take the golf cart down the drive) and I even went swimming. Lush green pasture, rugged mountains and people that seemed to think we should speak Basque. Certainly, if you strayed a meter over the border they no longer spoke French and we hadn’t got our Spanish phrase book yet.
It seemed we were destined to walk the Camino. Well, in retrospect. I had six months long service leave and we had a house in France. Okay we could have stayed and enjoyed the local food, wine and terroire but from the first time we saw the scallop shell on a lamp post in Tramayes, which our house is on the outskirts of, we were hooked. Enough to do a one day course back home that told us the dos and don’ts of the Camino, to buy some books and watch a video or two.
I was three weeks into my Camino from Le Puy when I first considered giving up. On a cobbled road outside an organic snack shop in rural France, I pulled out a rickety iron chair set out for patrons and started taking off my shoes. Slowly, slowly, using both hands, I lifted them off my feet and peeled off my socks. I hadn’t fully understood the severity of my predicament until my feet were out of my shoes, which were far too tight and damp.
This is the third post of three and it cover the last section of the French Way, the first is Walking the Camino Frances, and the second is the middle part of the Camino Frances. These are the last of the email compilations from Douglas and Christine Ball’s journey on the Camino Frances during 2015. The text below cover the last section of about 155 miles.
In 2015, two pilgrims to undertake the Camino Frances walk were Douglas and Christine Ball, from Gateshead in the north east of England. Here is their personal story of ‘Walking the Camino’. (I have split this into three parts as it amounts to 20,000 words and would make for a very slow loading and long page). The next two post are the middle section of the Camino Frances and last part, the last section on the Camino Frances.
My name is Ineke and I’m from The Netherlands. The idea of experiencing the Camino started about two years ago. I saw the movie ‘The Way’ with Martin Sheen and I guess it triggered something. The idea of emptying my head and the physical challenge appealed.
I first considered walking, but that was never really an option. I’m physically challenged, there was no way that I was able to hike the Camino with a backpack. So I started looking for other options and I came across someone who had cycled the Camino Frances.
Many are aware that the Camino de Santiago is an ancient Christian pilgrims route with Santiago de Compostela as its final destination. What most folk don’t realise until they’ve been and walked the Way, is that it’s only one of many pilgrimage route to Santiago.
Each Camino de Santiago has its own name; thus the most popular route which enters from the SW of France is known as the Camino Francès.
Brittany formed an important stage on the journey to Compostela for medieval pilgrims travelling from Ireland and southern England or even further afield. The main points of entry were Le Conquet on the Atlantic coast in the west, and on the Channel coast, St-Pol-de-Léon and Locquirec in Finistere, Paimpol in Côtes d’Armor and Mont St-Michel, which is now in Normandy but was once within the Breton boundary before the course of the river Couesnon changed.
In 2010 a new Camino to Santiago has been restored and marked with 1000 stickers in Italy by the small association “Amici del cammino di Santiago da Venezia”. The idea was to give the same spirit as on the camino de Santiago .
The new pilgrimage route is a connection into old pilgrimage routes in the perspective of walking about 2500 km… a very long and lonely distance to Santiago.
Dara Haskins was my friend. He died, on the 18th Aug 2005 aged just 30, while I was walking the Camino in 2005. It was due to him that I found out about the Camino. He used to go on about this bloody walk in northern Spain. To me it did not sound like fun, but hell. The idea of walking every day for weeks, no room to myself, sharing in hostels with many others – not a way I thought to spend a precious summer. Eventually he convinced me. I had many misgivings about the whole idea, but I set off to start from St Jean in southern France. My life has changed as the result of this and, I suppose therefore, because of Dara. It does sound strong to say life changing, but for a cynic like me it has been.