and preconceived ideas about the Camino. You may even be wondering whether you could ever do it. But what would it be like if it was broken down into bite-sized chunks? Four intrepid ladies found out as they ventured onto the Camino for three days in April with me. Picture the scenes.
Our first sight of pilgrims occurs in the legendary Camino town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Up ahead, they sit relaxing, chatting and basking in the April sun taking full advantage of the local produce: La Rioja wine – the reward for a good day’s work. With our feet now firmly planted on the most famous of Camino paths – the Camino Francés, for the first time too we begin to head west, with the glowing sun basking brightly in our faces. But our footsteps don’t carry us far along the Camino Francés; only for a mere one hundred metres to the comfortable accommodation of the Hotel El Corregidor sitting alongside the path. It is 6pm; today’s work of walking seven miles/11km along the ‘Camino Interior’ from Haro, Spain’s wine capital, is complete. Tomorrow, new steps will bring us closer to the Gothic spires of Burgos cathedral as we enjoy the three days’ walking.
Over the next two days, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm come and go. A discovery awaits the new pilgrim: time distorts on the Camino. One day merges into another allowing even the day of the week to vanish from your consciousness. With no demands other than to eat, sleep and walk, you find yourself naturally slowing down; a new rhythm, far removed from the hectic daily routine of deadlines and schedules, reveals itself as you connect with the surrounding sights and sounds of an ever present beauty which can forever remain hidden behind the noise of a busy life. A connection that allows you to recognise, in all its shapes and forms, beauty: the beauty that lies within, the beauty of people around and the beauty of the natural world that surrounds.
Not every pilgrim connects or wants to connect. Each pilgrim’s Camino is unique and they take from it whatever they wish the experience to be. There is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ Camino. What’s ‘right’ today can be ‘wrong’ tomorrow and what’s ‘wrong’ tomorrow can be ‘right’ the following day. The learning is to stay open to each moment and to enjoy and appreciate the wisdom the moment brings.
Our reward after three days and 31 miles/50km is the glorious sight of Burgos cathedral. We climb up the stone steps that stand in front of the western façade; the Gothic spires strike high into the brilliant blue sky. The walking weekend is complete. With insights gleaned, new distances covered, self-imposed limitations exceeded and fresh connections made, a sense of fulfilment abounds.