When I was asked to go and experience the Camino Frances I was over the moon, I was desperate to get out there and find out just what I was missing!
The adventure began in Leon which is a beautiful historic city, visiting the old part of town where the cathedral is located is a must. It is full of atmosphere and wandering around the cobbled streets to discover a surprise at every turn is just delightful!
There is huge variety of cities, towns and villages that I walked through so I was never short of new and interesting places to explore. I was blown away by the architecture every place no matter how small seemed to have a treasure or two hidden away just waiting to be found.
As a walking novice I was convinced that if anyone could get lost on the route, I could! But, I could not have been more wrong! The way is so well marked by the iconic yellow arrows and shells I did not even have to refer to my route notes (I only checked up to see how far it was till a lunch stop!)
I have to admit that I was not prepared for the difference in “Pilgrim Traffic” between Stage 4 (Leon to O’Cebreiro) and Stage 5 (O’Cebreiro to Santiago). When I walked on stage 4, I only saw another 5 or so groups, but on stage 5 the route was filled with other Pilgrims working towards their end goal. Don’t get me wrong, it is far from wall to wall people and you still have the odd stretch where you are alone to enjoy the peace and beauty of the countryside.
The scenery along the route is amazing and you can note the gradual change which it undergoes on this stretch of the Camino. Starting in Leon, you are still in the Meseta, so it is flatter and more featureless, but the closer you come to Galicia the greener it becomes. When I close my eyes I can still see long white paths stretching for miles in front of me through the cool and fragrant eucalyptus forests. I was also pleasantly surprised that when you are walking beside roads (which is inevitable when you are approaching towns/cities) that in general you will only come across a car every 10 – 15 minutes, which certainly does not have much of an impact on your enjoyment.
The famous Camino Camaraderie is definitely strongest during the final stage especially in the small rural towns/villages where everyone tends to eat in the one place sharing their stories of the day. During the walk you tend to catch up with people you have met (perhaps days ago!) at drink and lunch stops and everyone is friendly and greets one another with handshakes and hugs. This was what it was all about for me and I know every other pilgrim feels the same. To be untied with people, all working towards the same goal was a truly lovely experience.
I have really only scratched the surface of this incredible journey so if you are tempted please take the plunge and experience this life changing adventure for yourself!
If you would like any further information on walking the Camino, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Lesley at Macs Adventure at [email protected] or call us on 0141 530 8886.