Santiago the Slow Way

Sue and Andy at the End of the World – Finisterre (Andy in Rohan Polo and Bags shorts)

A 1300 mile walk across France and Spain

Andy has completed a walk from his Church in Southern England to Santiago de Compostela and then on to the ‘End of the World’ at Finisterre in Galicia. The route went to Portsmouth and then from Le Havre via Paris and Orleans to cross the Pyrenees. He then turned east into Spain and across the mountains and table lands of Northern Spain via Pamplona, Burgos and Leon. It was a walk of 1,309 miles (or 2,100 kilometres – which, of course, sounds further!).

The Way is an amazing pilgrim’s path which reached the height of its popularity in mediaeval times with over half a million people travelling the Way each year. It was tackled by great Knights, prisoners in chains, slaves walking it for their masters and normal people with enough belief to tackle the bandits and fantastically tough conditions to obtain salvation on reaching Santiago (St. James).

However as he had a wonderful young family at home, each year was only allowed time off for good behaviour and completed the mileage over nine years in shorter stretches of 150 miles or so. The last year was truly special when his long-suffering wife Suzy joined him to see what I kept on rabbitting on about and they walked the last 60 miles together to the true end of the World at Finisterre.

He met madmen and truly superb people; saw churches from little stone ‘blockhouses’ to some of the grandest Cathedrals in Europe; slept in dormitories with anything from 3 to over 200 other smelly pilgrims; walked with giant blisters but also with a soaring spirit which made him feel that one could surely fly; trudged through pouring rain, wind cold enough to freeze the knees and pretty fierce heat; wandered through superb country from the banks of the River Seine to high mountains {plus a fair share of mundane corridors in maize fields}; had felt real doubt and yet experienced those true moments of sublime ‘mobile meditation’ when absolutely all is well with the world. He encountered nutty tramps, a mobile French brothel {from afar, honest}, stayed in a Vietnamese opium den of a hotel, places with lumpy beds and superb food, the Pilgrim’s refuges with double or triple bunk beds and fellow travellers sleeping on the floor

Andy is a confirmed fan of Rohan gear and was pretty much fully clad in it for each year’s walk. “After nine years of trekking you know what works and what is light enough to take with you. My Rohan clothing was washed and wrung out to dry each night and yet it continued to function and stay comfortable. The only problem is that it is almost indestructible, I wore the Polo shirts for all nine years and they are still presentable!”

See Andy’s Santiago de Compostela – Kit List

Santiago the Slow WayAndy has written a book about his experiences called “Santiago the Slow Way” or “The Ramblings of an Idiot” – “Come with me on my Way. Of course I cannot be sure you will enjoy the read but I can guarantee you cannot get blistered feet by reading this trudger’s tale. It does come with a health warning though – the Way is a fantastic and truly life-changing experience and once bitten it may be difficult not to get your boots on and have a go!”

Start reading Santiago the Slow Way, available on the Amazon Kindle or Ipad.

 

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