Border crossing

Walking for Peace

I met Mony, one of the authors of Walking for Peace, at a conference about the Camino de Santiago in October 2015.  I found Mony an engaging person to chat with and discovered during one of our talks that she had written this book. Because of that, I bought and read the book.

best sock liners

Best Sock Liners

Contents1 Can Sock Liners Really Help Prevent Blisters?2 Best Sock Liners List3 Wigwam Ultimate Liner Pro Socks4 Injinji Liner Crew NuWool Socks5 Fox River Adult Wick Dry CoolMax Ultra-lightweight Liner Crew Socks6 Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks7 Fox River Wick Dry CoolMax Liner Sock8 Realtree Men’s Liner Socks9 Outdoor Obsession Men’s Lightweight Over The …

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T-shirt

13 Gifts Ideas for Camino de Santiago Pilgrims

Beautiful and unique gifts for pilgrims-to-be and memorabilia for pilgrims already finished with the Camino.

Buying presents can be hard especially for pilgrims. Many peregrinos while walking realise that they need very little in life. They live off a backpack for several weeks and stick to a routine of the Camino — wake up, eat, walk, sleep.

Thus material things are no longer as important as before.

Hiking

Best Fleece Jackets

If you are looking for a fleece jacket, chances are you live in a cold part of the world, of you like to go hiking and camping. A fleece jacket is a versatile item of clothing that can be worn on numerous occasions. However, it can often be hard to find the right fleece jacket. This is because you’ll often come across many different brands, materials, and thicknesses. So how do you find the right one for you?

Hiking shoe

Best Hiking Shoes for Backpacking

Depending on the terrain and the weather I like to have a good choice of hiking shoes, walking boots or trail running shoes for my many treks.  As I am generally a fair weather hiker I have good experience in buying lightweight hiking shoes that I use all summer long.

Hiking is a wonderful way of exploring the great outdoors, and as I live in a city it refreshes me every weekend when I get out onto a hill and get in a decent long hike.

best backpacking sleeping bag under $100

Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Under $100

Finding the best backpacking sleeping bag for under $100 can be a tough deal. When you are on a budget every cent counts. Well, there’s a trick that backpacking pros have been using for a long time. You just have to know where to look. Join us as we discover the best backpacking sleeping bag that you can get, under $100.

Leslie & Anna Camino

How Walking the Camino de Santiago Changed My Life

I first walked the Camino de Santiago in 2004 on the Camino Frances route.  I found it quite difficult back then to find information before I went so I had little idea what lay ahead.  In hindsight that was maybe good for me, if I had seen some of the images of where people sleep at night and the stories about sharing I would likely have chosen something else that summer.

best waterproof socks

Best Waterproof Socks For Hiking

Not many people would argue with the fact that your feet are the most important part of your body to take into consideration when hiking – only the best hiking socks will do.

If you want the best waterproof sock I recommend SealSkinz Waterproof Trekking socks.

Having the proper footwear is highlighted as a priority in many different articles, but it’s often ignored what type of socks you should wear or why they can make your hiking trip great or terrible.

Minimalist sandals

Best Minimalist Sandals – Guide to Barefoot & Running Sandals

The best minimalist sandals only use a few straps and they are made with zero drops. Drop refers to the height difference between the heel and the ball of the foot. I wasn’t sure about zero drops, given I often use walking shoes which have a drop of around 10mm.

If you are in a hurry or just don’t want to read through a few thousand words, I recommend Xero Shoes Z-Trail in their versions for men and Xero for women are the best minimalist sandals.

But there are a few advantages to this design, which includes a more natural walking or running experience. At the same time, minimalist sandals are not as bulky as they are made with just a few straps which hold the sole to the foot.

Camino family

What is a Camino Family?

I reflected in a previous story, that the Camino is a place where magic happens, something I have not experienced anywhere else, there is strange ‘need’ to return that I cannot explain, a longing for something … the places, the experiences, and the people. You have no doubt read about pilgrims who return again and again, to walk their previous route or other routes on the Camino – why do we return, what is it that we seek?

Outdoor jacket

Best Lightweight Rain Jackets for Hiking & Backpacking

Protecting yourself from whatever Mother Nature throws at you while out on the road is vital. If you want to stay safe and well when you’re out in the wilderness, you need a backpacking rain jacket that works well.

Just in case you don’t want to read the full review, my favourite is this jacket from Outdoor Research my current jacket from them is 12 years old and still the one I want to carry most often – even though I have bought quite a few others during the last few years.

Mountain view

Best Cold Weather Sleeping Bags

Unlike many outdoor activities, in most places, you can camp all year round – as long as you have the right winter backpacking gear.

If you don’t want to read all my reviews or if you are just in a hurry, the best cold weather sleeping bag on this list is undoubtedly the Outdoor Vitals Summit Sleeping Bag.

While many enjoy camping in the summer, heading out hiking during the cooler months can be just as rewarding. With winter camping there are fewer bugs; you won’t get overheated while hiking and nothing beats waking up to gorgeous autumn leaves and a warm cup of coffee. If camping in the cold sounds like your thing, don’t head out without the proper gear. Here’s a round-up of the best cold weather sleeping bags on the market to stop you freezing at night.

Pyrenees

Walking the Camino Frances in Our Retirement

If you can afford and plan to use hotel accommodation, restaurant meals, and luggage carried then this route report is not for you. In our five Caminos between 2006 and 2015, we stayed in albergues, cooked our own or shared meals and carried our own backpacks. Our last Camino we were 72 and 77 years old and it took us 44 days of walking compared with between 30 and 33 days earlier.

Scotland

Making Time for the Camino de Santiago

I have been thinking, dreaming, and planning for this for nearly 20 years. I first read about the pilgrimage to Santiago Compostela in a 14th century biography, The Book of Margery Kempe. Margery, a quirky English mystic, took several pilgrimages over the years, including Rome, and Jerusalem. The medieval and ancient concept of pilgrimage fascinated me.

Leslie and Anna

Camino: Should You Travel Solo or in a Group?

When planning a pilgrimage, we are often faced with a choice of going for it alone or as a part of a group.

The forums are swirling with questions such as “I want to do the Camino, but I have nobody to go with, should I go alone?”, “I couldn’t agree on dates with my friends, but I still want to go, is it OK?”,  “Is it better to travel via an agency if I go alone?”, etc. Bottom line, everyone wants to know what is the better option.

I walked the Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre and, truth be told, I never doubted for a minute I wanted to do the whole journey alone. Was it better or worse than a group, I can’t really tell, but I can definitely offer a few pointers.

Jakobsweg

How Much Does the Camino de Santiago Cost?

The main costs for any of the Camino de Santiago routes are your daily budget on the Camino and getting to and from your start and finish points.  For most of in Europe it is fairly quick and easy to get to and from any of the routes – not so from North America, (see travel page here), however the exchange rate between the US Dollar, Sterling and Euro currently makes walking the Camino cheaper than it has ever been for pilgrims from American and Britain.

Women shorts

Best Hiking Shorts for Backpacking

If you’re planning on hitting the trail any time soon, you’ll need some thin, light clothing if it looks as though the weather is going to be good. Wearing the right hiking shorts means you can have the freedom to move around as you please, but it also means you won’t overheat.

First aid kit

What About Medical Help & Health Care?

For all those that reside within the twenty-eight countries of the EU taking the E111 card is a must, the card is also known as the European Health Card.  The card is issued from your own country of residence and entitles the holder to free emergency treatment.  If you are from outside of the EU I strongly suggest you have some travel insurance, often your healthcare provider can provide this at a lower cost than elsewhere.

Countryside

Planning Rest Days on the Camino de Santiago

For most people walking the Camino de Santiago means a month walking across northern Spain covering about 800 km, (500 miles). So it is not surprising that most of us plan on a few rest days along the Camino.

Below are some of the towns and villages that I suggest are good places to stop for a day and be a tourist instead of a pilgrim.

Hiking in rain

Best Rain Ponchos for Hiking and Backpacking

When you’re out hiking or backpacking, you need to make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather. When it begins to rain, you need to know that you’re not going to get soaked through.  You need the best rain poncho that’s going to work well for you no matter how much it’s pouring down, ensuring you can carry on with your day.

If you are short of time or just don’t want to read all the reviews, I suggest that adventures world has the best rain poncho as it is light, won’t be so much like a tent and it has a peaked hood.

You are not going to have your umbrella with you out on a hike – stay warm and stay dry by having great waterproofs.

Jakobsweg

How to Prevent and Deal with Blisters on Your Feet

Blisters are every hiker’s worst nightmare, and not just because they can be very painful. If you roll your ankle or your back gives out, it feels like a proper injury, and you’re more than justified in packing up and going home. Blisters on the other hand always feel like something that you can walk just one more mile with.

The problem with this way of thinking is that all it does is make the issue worse. by never addressing the root causes, and ploughing on regardless. If you want to be able to get the most out of your walking holiday, you’re going to need to give some serious thought to how you plan to protect your feet. A little time and effort now could save you miles of walking in pain. Certainly worth it when you think about it, isn’t it?

Sunset

Top Ten Things About Camino de Santiago

The other pilgrims I met is my number one on the Camino, all Camino routes. I feel I was blessed. I don’t like crowds, however, I do in general like talking, and listening to other people. I, being an English speaker, was amazed at the number of people that spoke English when it was their second and third language – I felt quite ignorant as the result of this – I can get a coffee in a few languages – but cannot communicate in any bar English.

Fiesta

Blister Prevention for the Camino de Santiago

What’s the most common injury experienced on the Camino de Santiago? Without a doubt, foot blisters!

They’re painful.
They’re frustrating.
They take precious time, effort and skill to look after.
They make you walk differently and that can stir up other aches and pains.
They can get infected, and wind you up in the hospital!

Blisters have the potential to spoil your Camino experience!

Waterproof jackets

How to Choose Waterproofs for the Camino de Santiago

This is the third post in my series about walking gear for the Camino, the first is how to choose the best hiking boots or lightweight hiking shoes, the second is how to choose a backpack. This is a general article on waterproofs – the age-old discussion about a waterproof jacket or poncho continues on the forum.

Canon camera

Best Camera for Hiking and the Camino de Santiago?

The pilgrimage to Santiago is an adventure rich in breathtaking views and unforgettable moments. Still, some travellers prefer to completely unplug from the noise of civilization and leave all the tech gadgets behind. Others, like me, can’t resist documenting whenever possible, and because of that finding the best camera is important.

Whether or not you decide to disconnect completely and leave the camera behind is a matter of personal preference. I didn’t find it technology that distracting. In fact, I am glad I captured the special moments. You see, memories tend to fade and the Camino is definitely not short on capture-worthy moments.

Hiking socks

Best Hiking Socks for Long Distance Trails in 2019

Long distance hiking is a pursuit that is enjoyed by men, women and children of all ages. With many stunning trails to cover, from the glorious mountains of Scotland to the amazing and varied scenery of the USA and the long and windy roads of the Camino de Santiago, there is no shortage of destinations to choose from, and you may have plenty that you want to tick off your ‘must walk list.

Leslie and Anna

Training Plan for the Camino de Santiago

How fit do I have to be to walk the Camino de Santiago or what kind of training do I have to do?  This is one of the questions I am asked most often.

The answer depends on your Camino plan.

How long do you want to take?
Are you walking the whole way?

If you have a lot of time say 40 days or more you don’t need to have good fitness, you can risk getting fit as you walk, this is what most people do – however, this is not a good or advisable strategy for looking after your body, finishing, or reducing the inevitable pain that comes with walking every day and carrying a backpack, even though you will likely lose a lot of weight.

Camino food

What is Food Like on the Camino de Santiago

Yes, what about food? A question which had not occurred to me before going to Spain and France to start my first Camino. I have had the pleasure of travelling in Spain and France on numerous occasions before and I love their food. Compared to the usual British cuisine I find it tastier.

All that said, the food along the Camino is was not what I had become used to or expected in Paris or Madrid.

A house in Spain

Bed Bugs on the Camino de Santiago

The Camino to Santiago might be a spiritual journey, but it’s not exempt from common earthly troubles like bed bugs. Who would have thought that such little creatures could be such a huge pain in the neck? In the past decade, bed bugs have infested some albergues along the Camino causing trouble not only to pilgrims but also hospitaleros.

Although bed bugs on the Camino de Santiago are inconvenient, the problem is being handled and should not be a reason to give this one-of-a-kind journey. In fact, bed bugs are not exclusive to the Camino or the cheap albergues. You can equally come across them in a five-star hotel. Their widespread reign was not brought about by uncleanliness as much as by the massive increase in international travel.

Ploy bag liner

Best Sleeping Bag Liners for Hot or Very Cold Weather

A sleeping bag liner is designed to go inside your sleeping bag. The best sleeping bag liners can be used all year in different situations.  If it is very hot, you only need the liner and not a sleeping bag. In winter or where it is very cold, a sleeping bag liner helps keep your warmer and can save you having to wear your clothes while sleeping at night.

Spain hikers

Best Microfiber Travel Towel for Hiking, Backpacking & Travel

Microfiber towels aren’t the most exciting subject to talk about, but they are nevertheless vital. If you are heading out on a hike or are going backpacking, you’re going to need a microfiber travel towel.

Towels such as these make life on the trail so much easier. These little pieces of fabric are quick to dry, quite small and usually quite affordable too.

Southern Upland Way

Hiking the Southern Upland Way

If you want to get away from it all on one of Scotland’s long-distance hiking routes then there’s perhaps nowhere better to head to on your next walking holiday than the Southern Upland Way.

The beauty of the highlands is something that you really do have to see to believe, and it’s an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Many people will tell you that a holiday is only a holiday when you’re sunning yourself on a beach and that Scotland just doesn’t afford you such opportunities. But what they’re missing is the beauty of unspoiled nature at its finest.

Rob Rob Way

Hiking the Rob Roy Way

There’s nothing more relaxing than getting the chance to take some time off, get away from it all, and immerse yourself in a great walking holiday, is there?

The Rob Roy Way was officially recognised only in 2012, but it offers an incredible route that people have been enjoying for centuries.

If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, explore dozens of quaint little towns and villages, and make memories along the way, read on.

Buen Camino book

Buen Camino! by Natasha & Peter Murtagh – Book Review

If you are looking to get a very good impression of the French Camino or bring back some of the memories from your own journey you can’t go wrong with this book.  I found myself unable to put the book down and wanted to read what happened next – something I am used to in a good novel, but this is real life.

Great Glen way

Hiking the Great Glen Way

If coast to coast walks are your thing, and you want to tackle one that you could do in a week or less, then look no further folks.

The beauty of the Great Glen Way is that it’s long enough to challenge your endurance, but not so long that you have to train for months on end to be able to tackle it.

Take a look at what we loved about it, and then decide for yourself if it’s going to be the destination for your next break from it all.

Coastal path in Scotland

Hiking the Ayrshire Coastal Path

Located on one of the most beautiful coastlines of the British Isles, the Ayrshire Coastal Path is a fantastic choice for hikers who are eager to explore nature, wildlife, as well as memorable historical sites.

The path is part of the International Appalachian Trail, and it was declared one of Scotland’s Great Trails by Scottish Natural Heritage. It is considered a great adventure for excited walkers but, since some areas run alongside beaches, the middle and north sections are also suitable for horse riding. In addition, there are parts which cyclers can very well enjoy, in the northern section between Ayr and Largs.

Mountain peaks

Hiking the Arran Coastal Way

Unlike most long distance hiking routes in Scotland, the Arran Way is a circular route, and it can be walked in usually five days. When you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of back home, there’s perhaps nowhere better to do it than the quiet and peaceful island of Arran.

It’s often described as ‘Scotland in miniature’ and it’s a little corner of the British Isles that’ll sure not disappoint. The beauty of the place is that you can see the entire island in just a few day’s walking, and at just over 100 km in length, it still provides a real challenge for even the most seasoned of walkers.

Annandale way

Hiking the Annandale Way

Scotland is an area that’s known for the beauty of its walks, and perhaps none more so than the Annandale Way. By walking the length of the river bearing the same name as it makes its way to the sea, you get to enjoy the full range of Scottish terrain. The ground gently undulates, a calming breeze keeps you nice and cool, and you’re surrounded by amazing wildlife – the Annandale Way is certainly one of Scotland’s best walking holidays.

Fife Coastal path

Hiking the Fife Coastal Path

Fife is an area of Scotland that people have come from all over the UK and further afield to enjoy for decades now. The terrain is varied, the views are spectacular, and there’s so much to see and do along the way. To give you plenty of new ideas, we’ve put together a simple 5 minute read that will tell you everything you need to know about the local area. That way, all you need to do is read, have a quick think, and then book your trip. It’s just as simple as getting away for the week should be, isn’t it?

Pilgrims passport

Where Can I Get a Pilgrims Passport?

A pilgrim’s passport is a must on any of the Camino de Santiago routes, (also known as a credential), you must have one to stay in the municipal and parish Albergues, some of the private albergues do not require one.

The passport will have spaces for sellos, (stamps), this proves that you have walked that day and are entitled to stay in an Albergue, (pilgrims only hostels), if there is space, they are valid for walkers and cyclist.

Scalop shell

The Meaning of the Scallop Shell on the Camino de Santiago

The scallop shell is one of the most iconic symbols of the Camino de Santiago, and no matter where you are on the road, you will see countless scallop shell symbols.

They are used today, together with the yellow arrows, to guide the pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela. But you will see them on walls, churches, signposts, on pilgrims’ backpacks and on their bodies as tattoos or at their necks in the form of necklaces.

Water filter

Best Backpacking Water Filters for 2019

If you’re heading out on the trail you need to make sure you stay hydrated at all times, however, this is often easier said than done.

If the weather is warmer than you expected, if your water bottle leaks or you simply didn’t bring enough water with you, you could find yourself in need of water or risk dehydration.

Rather than drinking dirty water and risking illness you may want to invest in a water filter that can get rid of harmful bacteria. Making water much safer to drink, water filters can potentially save your life.

Rain poncho

Poncho or Rain Jacket?

Preparing for rain when you’re about to embark on the Camino de Santiago may not seem like something you need to do all year round, but you’d be surprised.

Whilst it offers brilliant weather during most of the summer, there’s always the chance of rain – I have been caught in thunderstorms in July and August. That’s why deciding between a poncho and a rain jacket is really important if you want to stay dry and get the most out of your Camino.

St Cuthbert

Hiking St Cuthbert’s Way

If you want to explore a route that’s steeped in history without having to go further afield, then St Cuthbert’s Way could be the ideal route for your next walking holiday, and is one of Scotland’s more popular hiking routes.

The scenery has largely remained untouched from the days of 650 AD when the legendary St Cuthbert himself would have traversed the route that bears his name. Just what you want when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle back home, and immerse yourself in a corner of the UK.

Stove for backpackers

Best Backpacking Stoves for 2019

If you are heading out for a long hike like the West Highland Way, it’s likely that you’re going to be taking a lot of essential equipment with you, though that depends if you are camping or staying in hotels or hostels.

I know that sometimes having a backpacking stove with you can turn a difficult day into a much more manageable one. With the ability to heat water so you can enjoy a hot drink and get yourself going once more, stoves are essential if you want to feel good, no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at you.