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Walking to the end of the world

Two years ago this week I heaved on my pack, left St Jean Pied de Port in France and set off on a track over the Pyrenees. I walked for 500 miles,  all the way across Spain.

Or almost. Five hundred miles took me no further than Santiago de Compostella. In my mind it had always been the final destination, the culmination of my month-long pilgrimage along the paths and roads of rural Spain and its villages, meseta, woods, towns and cities .

Some of my friends rested a day in Santiago then carried on walking and many others took a bus trip to the coast.  I did neither. I just needed to absorb the atmosphere of the ancient place after the weeks of sweat, pain, heat, friendship and laughter involved in reaching it. I felt that rushing on and doing something else would diminish the pilgrimage experience that had been a month – or indeed years – in the making.

I knew I wanted to go to Finisterre  one day, to experience the “end of the world” like so many pilgrims had done and the only way I wanted to do it was on foot. I knew it would happen, when the time was right.

And in exactly four weeks I’ll be meeting up in Santiago with a few of the people who became my Camino family in Spain in the autumn of 2012.

Irish John, and Doug and Pam from Perth, Australia will be waiting in Cathedral Square (having done parts of the Camino again) when Helen from Sweden and I arrive. And after a vino tinto or two we’ll pull on our boots and set off walking next day, for Finisterre, Muxia and the sea.

Other old friends will be sadly missing but we’ll toast them. Suzanne, Ramon, Donald, Elaine and Bill, Anna and Nikolai, Tasmanian Scott, Lisette, Andreas, Bibi,  Ada (although she might turn up too) Carmen and Nathan and so many others.

Many of these people have influenced these past two years of travel, fun and adventure. I’ve seen Western Australian beaches with Doug and Pam; skated, skied and explored Ontario with Donald, celebrated Canada Day thenBurns Day with him in Scotland; I’ve hunted kilted Jacobites, walked the West Highland Way, drunk tea and whisky with Helen all over the Highlands; shared beers and stories in a Copenhagen park with Bibi and Lisette; seen Denmark by bike and at speed from Anna and Nikolai’s perspective and had lunch with Ada in Glasgow.

My Camino didn’t end in late September 2012; it just keeps on developing. And I’m impatient now to walk again, to renew these  friendships and maybe to forge new ones; to discover where the Way will lead me next.


19 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this, Nancy. I’m in the beginning stages of planning my own Camino, sometime in 2017. I absorb these stories and savor them, dreaming of writing my own . . . Have a beautiful trek to Finisterre. Cannot wait to read more!!

    September 2, 2014
    • Still four weeks to go and I’m excited already. But the build up to the Independence referendum is equally thrilling so this is definitely a time to be on home ground. Anything could happen.

      September 2, 2014
  2. Keep on walkin’!

    August 31, 2014
    • Sure will … I’ve been up seven mountains in the last three weeks and plotting more before the weather starts to change.

      September 2, 2014
      • You are intrepid! Most excellent.

        September 3, 2014
  3. Sure wish I could join you, I still have the urge to go back. Someday…

    Have fun and stay healthy! Tell everyone Elaine and Brian say hello and Buen Camino!

    August 29, 2014
  4. What a wonderful adventure!

    August 29, 2014
  5. The Way. The unbelievably beautiful Way. What a wondrous journey you are choosing. Enviable here, at least for the present moment. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your walking, along the Camino and otherwise.

    August 28, 2014
    • And thank you for taking the time to read it Eric. I pore over my photos of two years ago and sometimes I just long to do it all over again, afresh, and more slowly. In the meantime the new adventure looms and I try to be patient.

      August 28, 2014
  6. ‘Way’ to go Nancy. Will you go to Muxia too? The parts after Santiago were at least and probably more memorable in many ways for me. I wish you well.

    August 28, 2014
    • Yes to Muxia too and then start walking back towards Santiago, all being well. Thanks for the good wishes, Scott.

      August 28, 2014
  7. What an undertaking that was. Good for you, Nancy. I bet your camera got a good workout on that trip.

    August 28, 2014
    • The camera’s workout was easy. It got a lift all the way!

      August 28, 2014
  8. How wonderful!! On my walk to Finisterre I met and befriended a Canadian woman who walked the Camino 6 years ago, ending in Santiago. Like you, she knew she would return to walk to Finisterre one day, and she fulfilled that promise to herself this summer. I loved walking with her and hearing how the Camino influenced her life, and her reflections on returning to complete something she started years ago. I can’t wait to hear about your own experience… and it made me smile to read that you are reuniting with old Camino friends. Buen Camino!!

    August 28, 2014
  9. Have a great time, I know Mum and Dad are crazy excited to do it all again and meet up with old friends 🙂

    August 28, 2014
    • Thanks Anna. Look forward to seeing them, even though they’ll be super fit by the time they arrive in Santiago and will leave me trailing in their dust!

      August 28, 2014

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