Friday, 20 February 2009


The taxi deposited us in the cathedral square the finishing point of the walk,a bit of an inglorious end but we had got there, all but 25k on foot against the loss of 2 days and with the elements against us, I reckon we had done bloody well especially Rosie with her bad knee on this last days walk, I was even more pleased to find the fare was 15 and not 50 euros.we went in search of a bed for the night and found one just by the Cathedral in a small square,but not before we had circled the old town looking,Rosie was tired and had had enough-strong words were spoken as she took the initiative
my purse feared the worst but I got off lightly.

40 euros for a double room in the heart of Santiago
we had sat in this square on a sunnier visit watching the world and his brother go by,most of them wearing backpacks and here we now were wearing our own.

we had soon showered and changed and set off in search of food and wine.
a nice but pricey tapas bar served the purpose but tonight we were tired and weary and soon back in our warm room.

we spent the next morning the day of our departure as tourists,me seeking yesterdays Sun
day papers and a Internet cafe,while Rosie sat in a nice cafe and drank cafe con leche and eating Santiago tart.

we revisited the pilgrims office for our final stamp and compostella ( we had earned it)
far too soon we were on the bus to the airport stocked up with ham cheese and a bottle of alberino which we consumed while reflecting on what had been our first (fairly) long walk together and hopefully not our last

we landed to a snowy welcome and to find the police had broken up a party held by our 18 year old daughter at our house on Friday night,the house though was spotless everyone had tidied up afterwards,if only we can get them to do that on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009



Hospital-de-Bruma is a great auberge and well run,but wrap up well it can be a cold place, as Bruma means mist it was no surprise to see the conditions as we set off early on this straightforward section.
Rosie's knee was still painful and on any downhill section she developed a sideways crablike walk which seemed to help.
a lot of this walk is on the road and any detour was welcomed for the change of surface.the roads were very quite with hardly any traffic, partly due to the fact it was Sunday morning and also we later found out most of the local population had been up most of the night partying at a
giant discotheque.

It is easy to presume that in quite rural area's that nothing ever happens, but the opposite is quite often the truth as people will turn out enmasse for the smallest event.
the day continued to be dark dismal and wet punctuated by many signs of the old mixing well with the new and a few quite surreal roadside sculptures.

our Bar of the day today was the Cafe bar o Cruceiro at
Calle de Poulo the last bar before Sigueiro and one of a trio on route where some English is spoken,
the barman had spent 23 years in Primrose Hill London running his own business before returning home.
yet more hot sausages were placed in front of us with our drinks and the conversation flowed,the bar had a English look to it with photographs of regulars and various football teams going back over the years,one old black and white team pic of 40 years ago was pointed out to us as not only including one of the customers at the time but the barman himself,
prior to coming to Galicia we had been told they could be cold dour and being the birth place of Franco, quite right wing in their views, I found the opposite to be true in my experience, although this was based on a few visited bars with decent people in them,bars that had an ambiance that many English pubs would envy.
having tasted a little too much of the ambiance we stepped
out and continued on this long and not so winding road.
the last 4k is a pleasant if seemingly never ending walk through the woods.
Rosie knee was giving her increasingly more pain and the decision was made to catch the bus to Santiago from Sigueiro
plus our delayed start to the walk meant because we had a plane to catch on Monday time but not the walk had beaten us.
Sigueiro didn't seem that bad a place as we walked over the Bridge to the Church of st Andrew to get our credencial stamped and pass some time before the bus,this church was the only one I entered on the whole journey and was a good choice. A because the place didn't fall on my head and B the young priest about the same age of my own son stamping our passports amid the giggling girls with mobiles in what I presume was the pre-mass bible group,a rural scene not that dissimilar to my own Yorkshire Methodist upbringing minus the mobiles of course.
The bus never did turn up (we waited 1 hour) rosie was tired and tetchy and I just wanted a conclusion to the day,so a taxi it was,we asked the price and couldn't figure out if he said 15 or 50.past caring we got in the car and enjoyed the 13k into Santiago.

Monday, 16 February 2009


The walk to Bruma was always going to be the longest days walk,before we came we knew this stage would challenge us
29k with a lot of hills when so far we had only managed 15k. OK the weather hadn't helped but that wasn't showing any signs of getting better.
The plan was to get as far as Bar Julie 10k from bruma and then maybe get a taxi
The bar stands at the foot of a large and long hill and traditionally you stop at the bar drink a glass of "Johnnie Walker" and go for it.
We left Betanzos in high spirits just before light
and the day just kept getting better, my prawn
toe inducing boots had been replaced by walking trainers and with a lighter step we crossed a small bridge and headed uphill and just kept going,it seemed the heavy rain was being polite that day, waiting until we took sheltered breaks ( breakfast dinner etc) before pouring down
the dark rain clouds circled us without ever intruding just acting as a backdrop to the amazing views.
we checked our progress on wayside maps eager
to see how far the "you are here" had moved down the board towards Bruma.

We finally made it to the small village which housed the famous Bar Julia and from the outside it looked very unassuming but don't be fooled this is the king of bars and not to be missed
inside it appears to be small and cosy but steps up and down lead to various eating area's.
a young boy 12-14 was serving and doing very well, his grandmother was sat with what looked like a 5 piece drum machine between her legs making large plate fulls of crepes that were handed out to the fairly large crowd. the father was busy polishing glass panelled doors,the mother and two daughters busy in the kitchen.
the whole place had the look and feel of Ireland
about it only missing the smell of peat.
the young lad was an accomplished barman and keep the conversation flowing even including us
as he took the opportunity to improve his English.
By now the polite rain had started falling and kept us from leaving, but we were in no rush this was obviously the place to be as more and more people kept coming through the door,each one more resplendent than the last,this was either the shabby chic place to be on a Saturday or more likely some celebration,
It was time to leave,we called for the Johnnie Walker Red Label chaser,offers of lifts were politely refused we had a hill to climb!!
The sun even came out to wish us luck,as we set
off up the hill and looking back on the village the unassuming frontage of the bar was indeed just a front for the palatial house at the back,check out all the parked cars.
perhaps fuelled by the whisky The hill wasn't causing too many problems. we were even entertained on one corner by the most show off horse I've ever seen,my pic does not do him justice. The hill became a steep track that continued for some time till we crossed a bridge with a motorway far far below,so far below that I could only walk in the middle while Rosie leaned over the edge enthusing over the amazing view while I tried not to drop on all fours and crawl the

The sun was that bright that we were even able to get the obligatory shadow pictured.
It was here on one of the only downward sections, that Rosie knee gave out and was to give her concern for the
rest of the walk and contiues to do so.
We kept going and soon was at the 1K sign,what seem a long one K later we were outside the auberge our home for the night,one phone call and 15 minutes later the man was there wondering why we hadn't gone inside,as he showed us the unlocked door, an unknown phenomenon in England.
dropping our bags in the dorm he even drove us 2K to the nearest supermarket.
stocked up with good food that we feasted on that night
and toasting our success with the local wine Alberino.
a perfect end to a truly perfect day.

Friday, 13 February 2009


Our third morning dawned with more rain with some snow and hail thrown in for good measure,nothing else to do but wait it out while drying what wasn't dry from the night before and drinking more, tea for me and coffee for Rosie

while breakfasting on last night's leftovers, I was feeling quite Dutch the amount of cheese and ham we were eating.

given time to reflect on the night before I can fully recommend Pontedeuma as a place to visit-great spot very social people and a laid back nightlife that would have graced a more so called sophisticated larger town.

As a retired publican the one thing I know about is bars and what makes a good one, its taken years of extensive research but anyone wanting a short cut just spend some time in Pontedeuma. For anyone just wanting the Internet cafe its in a little square just to the right of the villa real.

As we had been told some of the water meadows were

flooded and due to the late start we caught the 10-50am

bus to mino cutting 10k off the days walk. as the bus climbed the very steep very long hill out of town we knew the right decision had been made.

Mino looks a nice town and is also by a river, the auberge is right on the front and deserves a visit, if we were to do the walk again we would definitely take longer in order to see more of the area.

the plan for the day was to stay dry rely more on our eyes and less on the guide which we managed to do with great success and a little help from a friend.

Prior to Meryl streep and "mamma mia" ( she's watched it 5 times since Christmas and cries every time) Rosie's favorite Hollywood star was Judy garland and her favorite film the "Wizard of Oz" so every time the showers started this wicked witch of the west would run for shelter screaming
"I'm melting I'm melting" this we had to do quite a lot
on one occasion while huddled under a large bush we were hailed from the house opposite and invited in to shelter,our saint was a young woman named Albie who made us coffee while we dripped over her kitchen floor,she spoke very good English and made me smile with the warmth of her hospitality which was not diminished even when her father turned up to find strangers in his house. what a nice family.
a little later taking advantage of a burst of sunshine we lunched on bread and cheese and the remains of the wine from the night before -Bliss.
ever constant on our walk apart from the showers were trees
and barking dogs, in sunnier times the smell of eucalyptus must be glorious. mostly the dogs were either chained up or behind gates and high walls only once were we in fear of bites when a pack of 5 loose dog came for us as we passed their abode waving our sticks about we managed to evade them till we passed some invisible territorial line at which point they stopped the attack and went quietly back home. leaving us quite shaken.
just round the corner from this farmhouse was a high bank with a line of trees that looked with a light breeze would cause
us far more harm than the dogs ever would.
by now we were in a grove and enjoying the day and the views from high above Betanzos,from outside a beautifully positioned church we looked down the road still to be walked
with a spring in our step we descended and made our way into town held up for a while by a huge
building site that we had to detour round we crossed the bridge and entered the old town through an arch, a triumphal end to a good day and dry to boot.
the tourist office was shut so we called at the library to ask for directions to the chocolatier apartments our choice of accommodation for the night,the women there not only took charge and personally escorted us but promised to stamp our credencial later.
It was just as well we managed to stay dry as the room was not that well heated,
having stocked up with more ham cheese sausage and wine we went for a stroll round the old town
but with thoughts of the long day to come we couldn't explore as much as we would have liked and returned to our cold rooms too soon.
this was the last day I would use my hiking boots the prawn toe was not healing as quickly as it should due to constant rubbing and I would have a disturbed nights sleep due to the painful throbbing.
tomorrow 29k to Bruma

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Slept well and all thoughts of a early start faded once we saw the weather (still raining)and the fact its still dark at 9am in Spain at this time of year,great!! a chance to be miserable and walk into trees at the same time.
but our spirits rose as it grew lighter and the rain stopped enough for us to start the days walk,

having really enjoyed our first experience of an auberge we were keen to try and make the next one at Mino about 24k down the road.
Apart from being a bit stiff and sore from yesterday didn't feel too bad,daily walks in Norfolk may not help you cope with the ups and downs of Galicia but they sure help your recovery rate apart from my elastoplastered prawn of a toe all was well, as it was with Rosie who's £2 Van trainers from the car boot held up realy well and would continue to do so for the rest of the walk
whereas my fancy boots days were numbered.
The walk started from behind the Abuberge facing the double loop bridge from the last posting
and followed the river round on a pleasant no traffic path used by late morning workers joggers and people just out for the air all happy to wish us good day,even the occasional shower couldn't dampen our spirit, we had planned and trained for this and now we were there.

the path gradually rises up past the town and we experienced great views of the ria and ferrol below us, we settled into a rhythm of just walking and following way marks,once up amongst the trees you could see the havoc the winter had done with trees fallen down all over the place some blocking the way which meant either detours or brushing up on our climbing and limbo dancing skills.
the day started to take its toll as the showers became more frequent and spirits dampened even further after one heavy burst caught us in an open field soaking us in seconds, we managed to dry off a bit as we made our decent back to the river and the bridge to Pontedeuma but the damage was done,once again it looked like we would not make our intended destination and a short break in a warm bar in the villa real where to cries of perigrinos sausages were placed in front of us made up our mind we needed warmth food drink and a bed in that order,so we set off in search, the Bar Louis provided the warmth and the bed the local supermarket provided the rest,with wet clothes drying on the warm radiators of the bar louis and Rosie propped up in front of galician tv I went in search of an Internet cafe.
I found out 2 things that night Pontedeuma is a great town with great bars and I'm still a very good pool player.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

CAMINO INGLES-ferrol-neda

As Bridget says 24k was far to much for us after such an early start,but we were so charged up with making up for lost time and every thing went to plan -plane-bus-credencial del peregrino and early start in ferrol-3pm.
5 mornings a week we walked 10k with packs before breakfast-taking a steady 2 hours so we thought 5 hours for 24k even with an extra hour-should get us to pontedeuma before 9pm right?
wrong-so many things were against us-A-the heavens opened-even though we were well prep aired we still got soaked-B-Ferrol is quite a large city and we had to find the start from the bus station (more than one starting place)-C-we had to get our Credencial (passport) stamped in a town that was closed,we finally found the harbour steps used the bar opposite for the stamp eat the first of many free tapas and downed the first of many beers.
D- Galicia is not flat!! (doh) and leaving unknown large cities on foot in the rain at rush hour blind to the way marks and painted arrows that would become so familiar in the next few days.E-Rosie has a instruction book fetish/ocd and has to consult them at every junction while I stand impatiently in the rain smiling at every passing car that drenches me even more *******
The walk and indeed our marriage was nearly over before we had even reached the city limits 5-7k down the road-as a freak-flag flying bed roll carrying herbal smoking hitching child that new so little and thought he new it all I had walked out of many cities seeking the outer-limits (in more ways than one ) and somehow managed to survive, but this balding 61 year old with his child bride of 52 had serious doubts about the sanity of what we were attempting to do.the edge of the town is marked by a large Lidl where we stopped mainly for shelter but also for provisions-corkscrew-knife important things like that-no corkscrews so got the only wine in the place with a screw top-one litre and it cost all of one euro twenty-the day was looking up.

The road became a walk and then a track the rain made no difference we could not get any wetter our boots and socks were soaked my feet hurt-later I would find that the small toe of my right foot resembled a peeled tiger prawn.
the track took us under a motorway a constant feature of the early parts of the walk so much so that I began to feel like some subterranean creature inhabiting a foul wet place beneath the shiny car people,then laying on the floor as if they had been waiting just for us were two staffs a perfect his and hers we carried them and sometimes they carried us for the next 5 days.
It was now getting dark and as well as still raining getting a lot colder-Rosie does not do colder and it was becoming very clear we wouldn't make pontedeuma so we decided on plan B the auberge at Neda the guide and other sources made it sound like an isolated vandalised graffiti place not really recommended for single females or people of a nervous disposition.
so we strode on not knowing if the place would even be open-me praying it would be having promised Rosie taxis four star hotels and bubble baths if it wasn't.
It looked a lonely place sat at the side of the river but no vandalism or graffiti but allso no lights just 2 telephone numbers stuck to the glass door,being a man I find that women like doing these sort of jobs so I kindly let Rosie do the phoning-on answering she spoke the two words perigrinos and auberge the man said something in Spanish and our mobile phone went dead
presuming that the man had had enough of nuisance calls (as would happen in England) we started to think about a taxi-when he turned up less than 5 mins after the call-even if we had made the 4 star hotel we could not have been more welcomed we were treated like stars poor Rosie could hardly sign the register she was shaking so much from the cold and rain.
heaters were switched on 8 in total he handed us the keys told us to put them through the letter box in the morning and left us too it what a star!!
clothes were stripped off quicker than a swingers party placed on the various radiators showers were abused ( why are European showers always better than English) and we sat down to a glorious meal topped off with the best tasting one euro bottle of wine I have ever had.
We had arrived the walk had begun let battle commence!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

"All revved up and no-where to go"

Made it as far as Stansted Airport to find the flight cancelled.
I have often watched scenes of closed down Airports on TV with 100's of stranded passengers,yesterday Rosie and I were part of the huddled masses wondering what to do next.
I was all for heading for the French ferry crossing and driving to Spain through France but Rosie rightly persuaded me to drive home and live to fight another day.
good old Ryanair transferred us on to the 8am flight on Wednesday which reduces our 7 day stroll to a 5 day route march - up at 2am drive to stansted arrive Spain 11 am bus to ferrol get passport from tourism office 4pm then walk 24k to Pontedeuma find a bed for the night and repeat daily till Sunday.
Strangely this has galvanised us and looking forward to the challenge even more,even emptied the rucksack a little bit,but still kept the traveling kettle-I do like my morning cuppa and Rosie is not fit company in a morning without her caffeine rush.
So once more into the breach dear friends.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Leaving on a jet plane?

Just 24 hours before we catch the plane to Santiago and it
starts to snow!!-slightly nervous with a bit of stage fright
also feeling a bit of a fraud the Camino Inglis is just over 100k its not like we will be gone for months, a week and we should be back home licking wounds and planning the next walk.
having said that despite training daily I have not set off for a weeks walk since 1972
having been asked to house sit a place in Clare on the west coast of Ireland my Hobbit reading friend Standish O'Grady and I set off to walk from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, "Stan the man" dressed as Gandalf staff in hand and me with my hobo bed roll and boots of Spanish leather.
We lasted 2 days before succumbing to one of the many offers of a lift from passing cars-happy days.
These days I'm packing Ibuprofen Gel - Paracetamol and Steradent tablets, hope this walk lasts a bit longer.