Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Simple Pilgrim's Progress!

Thank you to everyone who has been following this blog. It was encouraging for us to know that those of you at home, could make a "virtual" pilgrimage with us on the Camino. It also helped compensate for some of the pain of the blisters, and the aching joints! The pics from the Camino have now been loaded onto our Gallery. Just click on the Gallery button on the top right hand side of any page of the website, or at and enjoy!

I am hoping that the pics might encourage more of you to join those who have already booked, on the footpaths of Britain, when we walk "In Search of the Somerset Saints". Although the places that we are visiting are practicably on my doorstep, I have already learnt much about the Celtic Saints that inhabited the Avalon Marshes. Liz Rees, who will be speaking to us on the pilgrimage, has made the study of these Saints her life's work. I can't wait to hear her talk, as I know that I will learn even more about these mysterious figures.

We will also have a personal encounter with the relics of St. Oliver Plunket, the last Martyr of the Reformation. His Shrine is located within Downside Abbey, and the monastic library, that will be made available to us, contains the actual letters that he wrote from his prison cell. It will be a rare treat for the group to experience life in an active Benedictine Monastery, and I am grateful to the Prior, Dom Leo Maidlow Davis, for giving me special permission to offer this opportunity to you.

We will be doing much more on this Pilgrimage, and full details can be found in the British Pilgrimages part of the website at top left of any page or at

I only have a limited period to confirm our accommodation, so if you would like to join us, please reserve your place. All the information that you need to do so, can be found in the "Booking" Section of the website. Please just press the button on the top right of any page or at

The Somerset Saints Pilgrimage will be the first in our British Saints Series, and, believe me, there is much more to come! As soon as I have finalised the details of these other pilgrimages, I will let you know. 

Don't forget, that if you are interested in a pilgrimage to one of the pilgrimage sites abroad, I can also help with this. The website details the places where I have already taken pilgrims, and gives you an idea of what can be done there. My hope is that more people will make a pilgrimage, and my intention is to keep prices down for you in the hope that more people can afford to go.

Well, that's all the news for the moment, and I hope to hear from many of you soon confirming that you too will be joining me "In Search of the Somerset Saints"!



Sunday, 16 October 2016

I am sad to say that this will be my last post from here in Santiago de Compostela. We are taking a coach back to Porto Airport tomorrow, and it will be quite a change getting up in the morning, and not having the pressure of training for the Camino upon me! I have, however, already resolved to keep up the training in preparation for the Simple Pilgrim Walking Pilgrimages that are being planned. Keep in touch with the blog, or contact me, as I think we are in for some very exciting times!

As promised, below are some 'photos out and about in Santiago. There seems to be a problem uploading 'photos at the moment as the broadband is weak, so there are not as many here as I would have liked. I will put all of the 'photos that I have taken during the pilgrimage on the Gallery when we return, so you will be able to look at them then.

The front facade of Santiago Cathedral, sadly covered in scaffolding

The square in front of the Cathedral

 Pilgrims outside the Pilgrim Hostel of the Catholic Kings and Queens, now a Parador
As you can see, it is quite busy here, much busier than when I last visited a couple of August's ago. The appearance of the market stalls in front of the Cathedral itself, does impact on your sense of arrival as a pilgrim. Also unfortunate is all the scaffolding on the front of the building, and over the altar, but this is essential maintenance, and to be expected, I suppose.

We have not yet "hugged" the statue of St. James above the altar, or visited his relics, as the queues have been enormous. We are waiting for a quiet period, as it would be lovely to say a quiet prayer or two there.

The Pilgrim's Mass Sunday morning attracted a huge congregation, and we were standing at the back of the Cathedral. There are monitors to the side, so you can see what is going on. Despite warnings about people taking 'photos during Mass, this was not too much of a problem, as people were asked before Mass not to do this. The very large incense burner was only used at the end of Mass for a short time, so it was not too much of a distraction.

For me, it was the preparation and journey, rather than the arrival here in Santiago that was more important. I have been surprised at the sheer number of people undertaking the pilgrimage. It was difficult to be silent, as other pilgrims were continually overtaking, and wishing me "Bon Camino!". I suppose the answer to this is that I just need to speed up!

Strangely enough, a good proportion of the pilgrims in my group thought that our experience in Padron where St. James preached, was the highlight of the trip. We were the only ones there, and, somehow, we felt more in touch with St. James in that lonely, and mystical place. How unfortunate that so many pilgrims miss this experience as they are focused more on reaching their destination, than exploring along the way.

Thank you for following us here on the Camino Portugueses, and keep following the Simple Pilgrim blog, to keep up with all the latest news. We have lots of exciting plans!



Saturday, 15 October 2016

Greetings from Santiago de Compostela!

Yes, at last I am here!

It was not a pleasant walk here in the pouring rain, and took much longer than expected. It is extremely busy in Santiago, so we were not able to "hug" the statue of St. James, or visit his relics. We did however manage to claim our Compostelas from the Pilgrim Office, and celebrate afterwards with a glass of champagne.

I will, hopefully, manage to take some 'photos for you when it is quiet in the morning, and we will be attending the Pilgrim's Mass at 12 noon. For now, however, good night, and I will do my final post tomorrow!



Friday, 14 October 2016

Padron - An Encounter with St. James!

Monte Santiaguino, the place where St. James preached the Gospel to the people of Padron.
The presence of thick fog made the visit quite mysterious!
As our walk was only about 7 miles yesterday, we had a chance to explore Padron in the cold fog, and we were very surprised to learn of it's close connections with St. James. The stories are, of course, only legends, but it was interesting anyway, and it would be lovely to think that they were true!

The Convento do Carme, built on the Monte, with the River Sar in the foreground.

At the top of a hill, and after climbing a great many steps, we found the place where St. James originally preached the gospel to the local people. He delivered such a powerful message the the local queen, Lupa, converted to Christianity.

A painting in the Igrexa de Santiago showing the body of St.James being brought back to Padron.

The original stone, O Pedron, to which the boat with the body of St. James was moored
When he was killed, his body was brought back to Padron. The boat was moored to a stone pillar, O Pedron (from which the town derives it's name) on the quayside, and this pillar is under the altar in the Igrexa de Santiago.

Taken from in front of the tabernacle on the Sanctuary, Our Lady looking down towards O Pedron
The attendant allowed us to go right up to the stone under the original altar, behind the present altar, so we were right underneath the tabernacle, and a wonderful image of Our Lady looking down upon us!

Off to breakfast, and Santiago!



Thursday, 13 October 2016

Ponchos again, but a beautiful ending to the day

Yesterday was our longest day yet, at 12.5 miles which included a few climbs. For the most part, we were off road on forest trails through mixed woodland of oak, pine, and eucalyptus. The smell of the damp forest was quite exhilarating, and, to some degree, compensated for the lack of long distance views of the mountains to our west.

A lovely stream beside which we had lunch

I was aching so much last night, that I hardly slept. Some painkillers after breakfast will definitely be a must, before we embark on the next stage. It is about 15 miles from here in Padron to Santiago, but we are splitting the distance in half, so that we arrive fresh at our destination on Saturday. There is a railway station that goes to Santiago right across the road from our hotel, so there must be a great temptation for some pilgrims just to "train" it in!

The churchyard at St. Miguel was lined with crosses, and you can see how gloomy it is.
Hopefully you can make out the mountains in the distance.

We found the churchyard interesting as the graves were stacked on top of one another. I have never seen so many fresh flowers! One young lady with a toddler, had to use a ladder to place flowers on a top grave.

It was a bit of a miserable day for the most part yesterday, and the ponchos came out again. I really hate wearing them, as I can't see where I am going as the hood keeps slipping down! Thankfully after our first break for coffee at a local cafe, it stopped raining, but was cloudy and damp for most of the day.

Whilst I remember, I must mention how hospitable the proprietors of the cafes are here in Spain. When you order a drink, they inevitably also give you a little cake, or a savoury snack, depending on the time of day. Yesterday afternoon, we were given a bowl of paella, a meal in itself. I am pleased we are using up so much energy, as otherwise, I should put on weight.

Meeting children at a local school

A couple of members of our group had some gifts for a school in the area, so we made a detour to visit them. You can see from the 'photos that they were very welcoming!

River Ulla

River Ulla in the other direction. We saw some very large fish jumping out of the water to catch flies.

We took another detour off the Camino to visit the Monasterio Franciscano de Herbon. This is a longer route but avoids the tediousness of miles of city streets to reach the centre of Padron. The path was quite interesting, as again we were in forests or rural communities, but also crossed the beautiful River Ulla.

The monastery was very peaceful, and we all wished that we were staying there, rather than opposite the railway station! In fact the guest master did try to sign us up, but we already had our accommodation organised. The church was very beautiful, and we spent a little time there in prayer, and quiet contemplation

The monastery at Herbon

Inside the Church of the Monastery.

We are exploring Padron this morning, before departing for Teo. There are some legendary connections with St. James here, so I should have some interesting news in my next post!



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Out and About in Caldas de Reis - in pictures!

River Umia at Caldas de Reis
Caldas de Reis is a Spa town, and the pool in our hotel is beautifully heated by the thermal springs. The water comes out of the ground at a constant 40C, and it was lovely to put my foot into a wayside Fuente Termal. Anyway, here are some 'photos, so you can see what the town looks like for yourself!

Taking the hot waters at the Fuente Termal

This is an outside place for washing clothes, and the water was steaming.
We have seen a lot of these on our journey, but only one person using them.

The River Umia. Our hotel is the white building on the right.

The Camino crosses the Barmana River, which also flows through the town, on the Puente Romano.
We are still following Roman Road XIX.

Camino Real or the Royal Camino, which is the route that we are following, from the Puente Romano.

The Camino Real

The Parish Church of St. Thomas which, like so many churches and chapels on our route, was disappointingly closed.

The Church, which was surrounded by an avenue of palm trees.



...and then came the rain!

The reality of walking the Camino - it rains, and sometimes you have to walk along busy roads!
In case you didn't recognise me, I am the "strawberry"!
There is not too much news to share with you from yesterday, as I was not able to take many photographs. The evening before we left Pontevedra, we did try to get into the Convent where Sister Lucia saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, but without success. We took a photograph of the direction sign, as the closest that we were going to get!

We left our hotel in the dark yesterday morning, as we understood that there was to be some rain in the afternoon. It was quite eerie negotiating the quiet streets of Pontevedra at that time in the morning.

The Lerez River at Pontevedra

The Camino crosses the Lerez River at Pontevedra. This was taken the evening before we departed.

What astonished me, was just how many pilgrims were out, and about in the early morning! Haven't they heard of the joys of having a good breakfast! In actual fact, I think that the reason for the early risers is that those staying in the pilgrim hostels need to arrive for about noon, otherwise there is the danger of the hostel being full or, even closed, as some found in Valenca. Being a largish group, we are in hotels, so our places are reserved.

For the first couple of hours of the walk, it was quite gloomy, and just as things seemed to be brightening up at lunch time, the rain started to fall! The last four miles were therefore a sweaty experience in our ponchos. We all felt quite drained on arrival at Caldas de Reis, after 12 miles on the road. We were therefore grateful for a rest day today, and a chance to explore the town, as we have another long day ahead of us tomorrow.

I will do a separate page about Caldas de Reis, as it has now stopped raining.