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The countdown to Camino Finisterre


I begin my walk to the End of the World tomorrow.

It’s a daunting thought, but yellow arrows and scallop shells will be my guide down windy cobbled streets, through remote villages and eucalyptus woods, past ruins and stone crosses, up steep hills (always more up than down) all the way along the ancient pilgrim routes of rural Galicia, to the sea.

And from where I’m standing in the ornate stone square below the scaffolded spires of Santiago Cathedral, Finisterre is only around 55 miles away, give or take the odd ambiguous arrow or early morning digression.

It’s been two years since I was last here, and every day since then I’ve thought about my journey in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims who crossed over the Pyrenees and walked all the way across Spain to reach this cathedral that was built to the glory of Sant Iago, Saint James, whose relics lie in a silver casket inside. The camino to Finisterre may not be a true pilgrimage but even in pre Christian times it was one of Europe’s most significant spiritual sites; a special destination.

So I’m excited about starting another journey in the wake of peoples who came to search or to dream.  The yellow arrows and the brass shells leading through Santiago’s cobbled streets brings back strong memories of friends, tired feet, sweat, laughter, vino tinto, pilgrim food and the perpetual horrors of bedbugs, blisters and snorers. They also promise freedom and perspective, the prospect of adventure, chance encounters, the satisfaction of physical strength, and the time for reflection. It’ll be different this time, much shorter, and I’ll miss my old friends and those special days in the autumn of 2012.

But in the morning I’ll fill my water bottle, pack an orange, heave on my mochila and set off. I’ve looked out the first arrow already but – unlike two years ago – I won’t start out tomorrow wearing a head torch. I’ll save the walking till daylight as I don’t want to miss anything this time.

I can’t wait to hear the first “Buen Camino”.


Santiago Cathedral under restoration and wraps

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love those wraps on the cathedral – they weren’t there in May, although the scaffolding was. Are you walking to Muxia as well? Buen camino!

    October 4, 2014
    • Yes, Muxia’s part of the plan. And I thought the wraps were great too, very imaginative – and considerate to the thousands who dream for many weeks of walking towards the spires. It may not be the real thing, but much better than masonry.

      October 5, 2014
  2. Catherine Young (Isobel's sister) #

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rain fall soft upon your fields and until your journey’s end
    may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
    (A Gaelic blessing)

    Best wishes,

    October 3, 2014
    • It’s a beautiful blessing, thank you Catherine – and how lovely to hear from you! Maybe we’ll meet up next time Issy’s back x

      October 3, 2014
      • Mrs Gillman Isobel #

        It’s even more beautiful when sung Nancy – which I can do x

        October 4, 2014
  3. I look forward to reading all about it! Beun Camino!

    October 3, 2014
  4. Enjoy every step!!

    October 2, 2014
    • I’m loving it and trying to remember (when the steps seem relentlessly uphill) that I’ll long for them again when I reach the end.

      October 3, 2014
  5. Yes, take the time to enjoy!

    October 2, 2014

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