Every Wednesday, I publish a long premium post for paid members. At the moment, each week, they are reading a tale of my camino, which started in 2016, and still hasn’t finished. Some of them are giving me notes, which I will take on board for the final version, which will come out in book-form. Paid Members get a copy as part of their membership. I’ll even brandish my Apple Pencil and provide signed digital copies. (An idea shamelessly copied from Matt Gemmell.)
The Camino francés
There are many caminos, but I am talking about the most popular, The French Way, from St Jean Pied de Port (SJPDP) to Santiago de Compostela. That’s 776km or 482 miles. The technical term is “a bloody long walk”.
Most people do it in about five weeks.
I got the distinct impression that Mrs L was not overly enamoured with the concept of me going away for a five-week stroll with a couple of drinking buddies. A week a year, then. If committed, then most Europe-based people can find a week a year.
I was appointed head of logistics. Lucky me. Laurent lives in Bayonne. Stu, in Dublin, and I was in Hampshire, and now Cyprus. For trip one, Laurent was going to get a train. SJPDP is an hour by train from Bayonne. Southern England has multiple airports and options. Dublin has less. So, Aer Lingus determined our start and finish dates. We would arrive on a Saturday, and leave on the next. In and out of Bilbao, which incidentally, is a cracking place to visit.
Fitness & Training
Our first week was 135 km over 6 days. So 22.5 km a day, which is 14 miles or so. If you are not a regular hiker, you will find that taxing. It’s only fair to warn you here, - that on day 1, you are crossing the Pyrenees. As in, the mountain range. For the avoidance of doubt, that’s a lot of “up”. I trained. Not enough, but I did. I’m heavy, and I cursed every pound of excess weight, every hour of that first day.
Like most people, I did training at weekends. Two tough days walking. I was ready.
Perhaps that’s why day 3 is a killer. I’ve walked 4 individual weeks on camino. Day 3 is always the worst. I’m sore and grumpy. On day 4, I have “my legs” and feel great.
By the time camino-three came around, I was commuting on foot, doing 9 miles a day, five times a week. I was lighter and faster. One day of the third trip, Stu and I covered 26 miles.
If you’re walking the whole thing at once, you’ll get fitter as you go. Probably the harder way is to do it as we’re doing it. Just as we’re into the rhythm, we stop and go home.
Be sensible. If time constraints mean you need to cover specific distances, train for those distances. In-country, be adaptable. Take a shorter day if you need to, or jump on a bus. It’s not a race.
Is it worth it? Absolutely it is. I love it. Join up, and read about my experiences, and give me notes in the Slack.