Shetland and Orkney preparing for the Camino

In Orkney I stayed with my friend in an eco pod on an organic farm. We travelled there in her car on the small ferry from Gills in Caithness to St Margaret Hope, from where it was a short drive.

Our oyster catcher eco pod

Tonight, in Shetland, I’m staying in a hostel called in Uyeasound. I got here on three busses and two ferries (altogether over 3 hours of travelling with 4 hours exploring on foot in Lerwick)

The two accommodations couldn’t be more different, but both are really good preparation for the Camino.

The set up on the organic farm was very basic, with very fluid rules. As one visitor said “the antithesis of a structured camp site” … and I liked it a lot.

The other visitors were lovely, friendly, but the pod gave us a lot of privacy and space. As accommodation goes it was good. The pod was spacious (though with a double mattress rather than the two singles we’d expected) and warm (I’d expected it to be chilly) and they provided bedlinen towels as well as pillows and a duvet. What was hard was the sleeping. The mattress was thin and I found it very hard to get comfortable …and each morning my ribs or hipbones ached! The showers were surprisingly good, but there was no water in the kitchen area (which was more like a lean-to, with a good fridge, toaster and kettle but a funny old hot plate!) so washing up was done in the wash house! I really liked that the farm were heavily into recycling and there was a pail for food waste scraps for the hens!

The hostel up in Unst, Shetland is quite different. I’m in a bottom bunk and the bed seems to have quite a good mattress. The hostel provided bedlinen, duvet and pillow but I had to bring my own towel. The room I’m in sleeps ten In this room (five bunk beds), but actually I have the whole room to myself tonight as the other guests are in tents, caravans or private rooms. The coin operated showers and toilets are opposite my room, but it’s very quiet.

The kitchen here is huge, with good fridges, cookers/hot plates and small cupboards to store your food. Tonight some guests made quite elaborate meals and it felt a bit too busy, and with one exception people weren’t nearly as friendly as earlier.

This has got me thinking about the Camino

  • How will it be on the Way?
  • Will the beds be comfortable or not? Will I sleep or suffer from insomnia?
  • How will I keep my stuff together in a busy room?
  • How will I pack up quietly in the morning if others are still sleeping?
  • Will fellow pilgrims be friendly? overly chatty? Needy? Indifferent? And, How will I react?

Having these two two-night stays as part of a longer holiday (staying with different friends) has been a really good experience for me, and great preparation for the Camino. I’ve done loads of walking and exploring … and Tomorrow I will do a long solo hike to the top of Unst (and back) with a back pack … all good training, physically and mentally!

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