After the sudden death of their 24 year old son James in a car accident this summer, Catherine Hill and Warren Ballantyne from Hungerford Newtown decided to walk the Camino de Santiago or The Way of St James – a medieval pilgrim route to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Catherine and James had walked part of the Camino earlier this year so it seemed fitting to finish the journey. They were also partly inspired by the Michael Sheen film The Way about a father who walks the route after the death of his own son.
They are following the Camino Frances which starts in St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and finishes about 780km later in Santiago. Catherine has been posting updates from their travels as peregrinos (wandering pilgrims) on facebook and has agreed for us to share them here.
Thursday 17 September
Walked into Spain this afternoon from St Jean Pied de Port. Very hard going 25 km climbing from 165 m to over 1400 through alpine meadows with crocus, devils bit scabious, 4 heather species and gorse flowering then down through beech woods.
My hips hurt and Warren’s knees but feet holding up well.
Friday 18 September
Peregrino Warren on the camino. Those mountains behind are what we climbed yesterday then descended into Roncesvalles and stayed in the monestary. Dormitory lights out 10 pm. Lights back on at 6am with our hosts parading through singing so no sleeping in.. Walked in the dark to the next village for breakfast then a beautiful sunny day walking down through woods to Zubiri.
Monday 21 September
Those far off mountains we walked over three days ago. Pamplona is down on the plain.
Tuesday 22 September
Warren striding down towards Los Arcos.
Here is an example of the pilgrims dormitories along the way. This is the municipal one in lovely old monestry in Pamplona sleeping with 400 others all ages all nations. Earplugs essential!
Thursday 24 September
Big festival in logrona last night to celebrate the start of wine harvest in Rioja. Passed lots of pickers and tractor loads of grapes going to be pressed today.
For Week Two of Catherine & Warren’s journey click here.