Saturday, 18 July 2009

Exeter Cathedral to Santiago de Compostela

My walk from Exeter to Compostela raised nearly £2,000 for Farm Crisis Network, as well as being a time of Pilgrimage. Thank you again for all your prayers and support as well as the generous donations to FCN

Leaving Exeter, 21st April 2009

Arriving in Santiago 28th May 2009

The photographs and early reflections on my Pilgrimage are below (Exeter to Santiago), as well as the original blog posts which run 'blogwise' Santiago back to the start in Exeter.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Camino Photographs and Reflections

The photos run from the beginning of Terry's Pilgrimage through to his arrival in Santiago (May 28th) and visit to Finisterre (June 1st). The blog then runs from that point backwards - to his first entry when making his preparations.

'First Reflections on my Pilgrimage' can be found below

'Reflections Along the Coast' is at the post for 2nd July.

'Further Reflections on my Pilgrimage' is at the post for Monday 22nd June.

We left Santander on 4th June, arriving in Plymouth and then home on the 5th.

You can read more about the Pilgrimage at the Camino de Santiago forum

Monday, 6 July 2009

First Reflections on my Pilgrimage

After 411.6 miles, 38 days on “The Way” and 32 different beds, I arrived in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday 28th May, two days earlier than planned. The feeling of walking into the plaza in front of the cathedral is impossible to describe! Mixed emotions of joy, triumph and, strangely, a certain feeling of sadness were all there and it was hard to hold back tears. I have brought back, along with the memories, over 500 digital photos which I have been busy sorting through and labelling. These are going up a few at a time as and when Valerie is able.

Did the Pilgrimage meet up with my expectations? Yes! and way beyond anything that I could have anticipated. Was it hard? Yes at times, but nowhere did I feel like giving up, even when walking in the pouring rain over the 'Puerto del Palo' - Alt. 1,140 mts and shrouded in mist!. Did I ever feel afraid? No, not once! I was alone for much of the time, and walking alone through remote areas I never had ‘the grues’. The only time I looked over my shoulder was when I saw the huge paw print, the size of my hand, on the track. Wolf? Bear? Great Dane? No, after asking some locals later, apparently it was a Porcupine!!

One great joy for me was the ability to talk to people in their own language. (There’s a sermon there somewhere!). Being able to walk into a cafe-bar and ask the way. Stop at the side of the road and talk to the local farmers about the weather / cattle / T.B. test. Even being asked to translate for a group of Germans who only spoke German and English! All this meant that I was close to people and their way of life.

So, it is a time to reflect and also a time to say ‘Thank-you’. The first thank-you is to my wife Valerie, she not only let me go, she gave me positive support and encouragement! Without her I would not even have considered it possible. Thanks also to friends here in England and further afield who have prayed for me over the past weeks. That prayer support was the reason for my inner calmness and the constant assurance of God’s presence.

Thanks to all those who have given a donation to the Farm Crisis Network. When all the promises are in, my hope of raising £500 will easily be met.

Finally, I want to put on record the kindness and help that I have received from the Spanish people themselves. I have been a sojourner in a foreign land, and from stepping off the ferry on the 27th April to driving back across Spain with Valerie and a friend, I have been treated with respect and courtesy. Nothing was too much for them to do and without the help of dozens of unknown people my pilgrimage would not have been so marvellous. Thank you all!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Photos: Santander - April 27th 2009

Having arrived in Santander in the sunshine, on April 27th, I walked to Boo de Piélagos in the afternoon.

Photos: Santander to Boo de Piélagos

Out of Santander the Way passes through Peña Castillo. The first Waymark was just along the road. In late April the Picos de Europa still had a good covering of snow. The view from the albergue window in Boo

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Pilgrimage Reflections

As I walked I was looking at the countryside and the farming. So many problems faced by farmers everywhere! I have been given sponsorship money for my Walk and, with Gift Aid, will have raised about £1,000 for Farm Crisis Network.

The Just Giving site directly related to my pilgrimage is closed, but you can still give to FCN (now named Farm Community Network) if you wish through Just Giving - Farm Community Network.

Photos: Boo to Santillana

The long walk round to avoid crossing the raiway bridge. The boat looked inviting, but not the guard dogs! The bridge can be seen through the trees. The photo for the post of 28th April 'Boo to Santillana' was taken from the opposite side of the river.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Photos: Santillana to Cóbreces

A selection of churches. The Collegiate church of Santa Juliana in Santillana. The church of San Pedro at Oreña. The Abbey at Cóbreces and the parish church with the Abbey just showing in the background to the right.

Photos: Cóbreces to San Vicente

A fortified house near Rabia.

The church of San Pedro near La Revilla has a tree growing on it!

The road near San Vicente showing the town and the bridge which is 1.8km long.

The church is visible on the hill in the centre of the photo and the castle towards the right

Photos: San Vicente

A very early morning view of San Vicente from outside the albergue.

The castle is on the higher walkway above the town and not far from the church and albergue

The 13th C parish church of Santa María de los Angeles.
The albergue is in the white house nearest the church.

The Way leaves San Vicente near the church and climbs along the track to the top of the ridge and towards La Acebosa.

Photos: San Vicente to Colombres

View from the hill near La Acebosa, looking back over the village to San Vicente

The Torre de Estrada built in the 14th C. by the Dukes of the House of Estrada

The bridge over the river at Unquera is at the boundary between Cantabria and Asturias

The albergue at Colombres

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Reflections Along the Coast

The first two days of the walk from Santander to Santillana are, quite frankly, boring! The modern Camino is on tarmac for the whole of this stretch and the area around Torrelavega is heavily industrialised. It would be possible to shorten this walk by using the pavement from Oruna to Requejada, or even taking the narrow-gauge railway from Santander to Requejada!
Once Cobreces is reached there is the feeling of being on a straight road! Only a feeling mind, the Way still winds around but at least goes in a westerly direction.
Do we have a 'built in' sense of direction? I took a small compass with me and only used it a couple of times in the rain and mist, when I felt that I was heading the wrong way. And I was right both times! Certainly, when on the old track-ways I had a feeling of being on the right road. The times when I went astray were in the city of Oviedo, on diversions that stopped the waymarks halfway, and on 'pavimiento' in the pouring rain when I missed a 'mojon' (concrete marker post).
In Comillas in the rain I saw a lone peregrino looking puzzled in the main square, a young 'gap year' German called Sven. He spoke excellent English but hardly any Spanish! After a welcome 'cafe con leche' I asked a taxi driver the way out of town - easy! From there we walked some 20 kilometres together to San Vicente de la Barquera.
Once past Colombres there is a beautiful coast path (not on the ancient camino) that goes most of the way to Llanes. From Buelna through to Sebrayo is what I will for ever think of, as the 'Camino de la Costa'.

Lessons learnt early in the Camino were: -
Don't ignore your 'gut feeling'. If it feels wrong, it most probably is wrong!
Don't be afraid to ask the way. The best people are taxi drivers rather than the police. The taxi drivers know all the shortcuts, legal and illegal!
As far as possible always speak to people in their language. If they know yours they will happily practise on you, which may make them more difficult to understand.

In Christian terms this last point could be called 'Incarnational Theology'. When God wanted to communicate with the human race He didn't sit on a cloud and shout. He sent His Son born of a woman, a human being like us; speaking our language.

The things we learn about on Pilgrimage!

Photos: Colombres to Llanes

Leaving Colombres; the snow capped mountans can be seen behind the church

A very tidy little farm near El Campo

Two cows grazing near Pendueles

The coastline all along here is stunning.

Photos: First views of Llanes

I had to walk on the 'hard shoulder' on the road near Llanes as there was tree felling on the other side where the Way is marked.

The 'new' town centre with the old castle, which is across the harbour, in the background.

The path along the cliff.

The view from the harbour out to sea

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Photos: Llanes (rest day)

The old town centre at Llanes. The house in the centre dates from 1200 and has a seperate kitchen building on its left.

The steps on the coast walk pass a natural cave under the cross.

At the other side of the square is the part Romanesque church of Santa María de Consejo with its ornate carved doorway

There is more about Llanes, with photos, at the posts for 2nd and 3rd May - 'Colombres to Llanes' and 'Llanes

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Photos: Llanes to Nueva

The Way crosses the beach at Celorio.

Gentians growing by the path

The deserted monastery at San Antolin

A wild looking pig in a pen near Naves

Monday, 29 June 2009

Reflections from the Coast to Oviedo

The Camino Antiguo and Camino Real

Photos: Along the Camino Antiguo

The Picos de Europa near Nueva

Near Torriello: the Way here is known as the Camino Antiguo

Photos: Ribadesella and Camino Real

The Way leaves Ribadesella over the bridge.
At La Vega the Camino Real is still paved. (See blog for May 5th)