Winter Walk – day 14

Day 14  –  Castrojeriz  to  Frómista   (25.5 km) Today was the final day of my adventure. In September I had started the summer walk in Frómista, and now, in February, I was ending my winter walk there. As a result I will have completed the Camino Francés from Roncesvalles at the foot of the Pyrenees, right up to Santiago de Compostela. My guidebook tells me that, without detours to places that especially interested me and that were off the regular Camino, the distance is 773 km. Inclusive of deviations, I probably had walked a nominal distance of 800 km. When I got out of bed in the large dormitory in Castrojeriz that morning it was still dark, but I could … Read full text

Winter Walk – day 13

Day 13  –  Rabé de las Calzados  to  Castrojeriz   (29.1 km) Apart from my struggling with the clay, the walk was wonderful and lonely. Not lonely in an unpleasant sense, but wonderfully peaceful – I felt on top of the world. This might give the impression that being alone is the preferred state – that I or we pilgrims are burdened in the company of others. Obviously this is not so, in fact, in time I, and surely most of us, would regard absence of company and lack of communication debilitating and distressing. Communication in general and being able to communicate effectively is a major subject which I would like to examine in the context of awareness and honesty: When awareness … Read full text

Winter Camino – day 12

Day 12 – Santo Domingo to Rabé de las Calzados (12 km) It was still raining the day after my Santo Domingo experience and, after returning to Burgos and visiting Monasterio de las Huelgas Reales, I was again on my way due west. At about five in the afternoon I reached Rabé de las Calzados which had the only albergue open during winter for the next seventeen kilometres. It was the place for my night’s stay, although I had only walked twelve kilometres. The albergue was surprisingly modern and well kept. I had a double-storey building all to myself and the wife of the hostelleria cooked a three-course dinner and made a wood fire in the ‘dining room’ hearth, all … Read full text

Winter Camino – Day 11

Day 11  –  Agés  to  Santo Domingo de Silos   (23.7 km) Snow had fallen during the night in Agés and it was bitterly cold in the morning. We walked past Atapuerca along a quiet tar road and shortly afterwards the Camino path branched off, leading uphill to Alto with the cruceiro. After that it was downhill to the valley with Burgos in the distance. There were car tracks visible on the snow-covered road and the landscape on either side was white. Later, on the trail to the cruceiro, new snow and wind had obliterated any traces of previous footprints and the path was difficult to identify. Vegetation was sparse and a crooked barbed-wire fence running uphill was partially submerged in … Read full text

Winter Camino – Day 10

Day 10  –  Belorado  to  Ages   (27.7 km) The town of Belorado did not appeal to me as most others did; it was old but lacked charm and atmosphere and the name had no ring to it. For a short while I attended evening mass but then crashed early into bed. The next day I was eager to reach Villafranca Montes de Oca (Hills of Geese) – the name of this town fascinated me and I looked forward to climbing the chain of hills that followed. Knowing that I was nearing Burgos probably gave me extra energy. Snow still fell heavily and the temperature was well below zero. Early on I had seen an old and rusty thermometer next to … Read full text

Winter Camino – Day 9

Day 9  –  Santo Domingo  to  Belorado   (23.9 km) Logroño, where we slept two nights previously, is the capital of the small province of La Rioja, and we crossed the eastern border of the province into Castile just before reaching the outskirts of the city. Today we left this province about ten kilometre past Santo Domingo, so the district of La Rioja at this point appears to be only sixtyfive kilometre wide. In the past an important event had occurred close by. Legend tells us that in 844 a great battle was fought near Logroño where vastly outnumbered Christian forces defeated a Muslim army commanded by the Emir of Cordoba. In the battle the Apostle Saint James, whose stone sarcophagus, … Read full text

Winter Camino – Day 8

Day 8  –  Nájera  to  Santo Domingo   (23 km) During the 11th and 12th centuries Nájera was the capital of Navarre and a major town on the Camino de Santiago – the buildings here bear testimony to this. Monasterio Santa Maria de la Real with its royal pantheon housing the burial sites of many kings, queens and knights of this kingdom is impressively stark from the outside, but when I arrived late that afternoon, the doors were already closed and I did not wait for them to open the next day. Perhaps in hindsight I should have taken the time to make the historic connection to royalty of this region, but I missed this chance, just as I had missed … Read full text

Winter Camino – Day 7 – Logrono to Nájera

Day 7  –  Logroño  to  Nájera   (29.4 km) Nájera, 30 km west of Logroño, was the next overnight stop. On leaving Logroño I crossed an immensely large public park with natural surroundings. A huge lake stretched far into the distance, there were mountains, mostly covered with forests, picnic spots and playgrounds, other facilities were dotted about and buildings were available for recreational purposes. In summer this must be paradise; a most beautiful and relaxing place. When I passed through, the landscape was white and the path iced up, slippery, most treacherous and difficult for me to navigate. Wherever possible I walked in the deeper snow on the verges, so that I was able to find some grip underfoot, although this … Read full text