Peregrina preparatio 10 1/2

This wasn’t really a pilgrimage … but was definitely preparation for my Camino.

Two days

13km + 3 km of walking with Tinka

2 ferries

1 long bus journey (and a car journey on the way there)

Overnight at my friends’ summer place – in a comfy bed!

Tinka and I set out on the latest adventure yesterday on a short free ferry ride from Kustavi … crouching in the only shade on the vessel .. we then began walking … it wasn’t a difficult walk, not particularly hilly, but it was hot and we searched for the shade as much as we can … stopping every now and then for water!

The archipelago region is really lovely …

My friend walked to meet us …about a kilometre from our destination. A very welcome sight!

We had a lovely 24 hour’s with our friend … nice food, long chats, time to read our books, swim in the warm Baltic Sea and relax in the sauna … and although the weather is hot, hot, hot …sitting in the shade was pleasant and electric fans and open windows (with mosquito netting) kept the summer cabin cool enough to sleep well.

Then we were on the road home … the same walk in reverse, ferry, then onto unfamiliar ground … the road from the ferry to the small archepelagic fishing village of Kustavi. I was in search of an ice cream and a coffee shop …and found both, the cafe offering water to Tinka and a nice place to wait for the bus home.

Before that we’d stopped off at the church … and also visited the tiny local museum.

Tinka wasn’t keen on the bus … where I’m writing this … and we have a further 3km to walk before we are in tonight’s accommodation : home!

As I said already this didn’t feel like a pilgrimage … but it was definitely great preparation, particularly carrying quite a full backpack in hot conditions. I’m learning that sunscreen and a cap are a must … my backpack is great as it has an air vent system which means my back doesn’t get sweaty (it works!) sadly the dog belt isn’t good in that respect but I prefer it to holding a lead on long walks!

Tinka is a great companion … but on reflection I’m glad to be doing the Camino solo!

Posted in Finland, out and about, preparation, rural | 2 Comments

Santiago / St James

A friend sent an email earlier today saying that today was St James’ Day and she had prayed for me and my Camino, and for all pilgrims on the Way!


The James in question (in whose honour the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela was built) is James, the apostle, son of Zebedee and brother of John. He was a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, and called by Jesus to become a fisher of men (and women)

James’ death, by beheading at the behest of Herod (Agrippa) is the only apostolic martyrdom recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament) and tradition (or legend) has it that James’ remains were taken to what we now know as Santiago de Compostela. James may also have spread the Good News of Jesus in Spain.

As most of you know, I think, the Camino is known in English as the Way of St James, and while there is a myriad of routes starting in very different locations, what they all have in common is that they all lead to the shrine of St James in Santiago Cathedral! It will be magnificent to step into that sacred space …

I will be one in a long long line of pilgrims making my way to Santiago.

The route I’ve chosen is probably the most famous one (known in English as the French Way (Camino Frances) as it starts in the French Pyrenees). The Camino was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in the Middle Ages .. but has been walked by pilgrims from the time of the discovery of St. James’s remains in 812 AD, that’s a whole lot of footsteps to follow, but also a whole host or gaggle (or whatever would be collective noun be) of saints cheering me -and my felllow peregrines- on!

If you are a Pray-er do please continue praying for me and my Camino … the preparations for the next month and a half – and also for those walking those paths today, tomorrow whenever you read this.

More information on St James here

Posted in Camino (Spain), peregrina, preparation, this & that

Sweaty backs, maps and social media.

For the Camino I have a small booklet showing the route (and the profile of the walk) the watering spots and albergues (hostels) and alternative accommodation.

I feel reassured that I have a printed version (even though there are apps etc and I might well have to go online to book ahead at times, because I would like to travel light in terms of not using the WiFi or phone much, or engaging much on social media.

My plan is to contact hubby (most likely daily) saying where I am, how I am and sending a photo when I can.

That leaves the question of writing. I have two clear alternatives (though it’s not quite an either /or) … I want to write, I will need to write, but how best? Do I take notebook(s) and pen(s). I’m not sure. One pilgrim friend suggested notebooks and posting them home when full. It’s an option I hadn’t thought of … or do I write notes on my mini iPad? Mmm.

I will blog as and when I’m inspired to, and possibly link that to Facebook … but will work hard on resisting the temptation of being lured back into Facebookland, checking the lives of others or engaging there as I usually do. I’m choosing to do this not because there’s any inherent blessing in fasting from fb because I feel travelling alone is part of the spiritual discipline of the Camino for me at this time. That might be hard.

I know I won’t be alone – there will be fellow pilgrims – plenty of them – but I am anticipating that at times I’ll be homesick, lonely and pilgrimage weary. And I know I’ll be physically tired, but I can’t anticipate how I’ll be feeling mentally or emotionally. I guess that’s part of the pilgrimage …planning but not micromanaging!

In Finland right now it’s been hot, very hot, and dry.

It’s made me recognise how hard it is for me to cover any distances in the heat. This was always the reason I knew that when I walked the Camino it would either be May or September-October.

I love the heat but walking in it depletes me of energy very quickly, and I need to drink constantly to avoid dehydration, headaches and migraines. What’s more, I really dislike the sweaty back syndrome associated with carrying any back pack in the heat. Yesterday I only had a dog belt on (so I can walk the dog hands free) and when I got home my lower back was soaked. Yuck.

The backpack I’m using on the Camino (only 28l because of my height and to prevent me carrying too much!) supposedly is designed to eliminate (or reduce) this problem … and on Thursday I’ll get to test that … I’m doing an overnight pilgrimage preparation walk (with Tinka the bonus dog) …only about 10 km each way but in hot sunny conditions.

Better not forget the sunscreen and water! Oh and a map, as this walk won’t be signposted like the Camino …nor will there be other pilgrims!

Posted in Finland, out and about, peregrina, preparation, questions on the way

Shot on the sly

Taken by my friend Sally (without me noticing)

Posted in England, out and about, portrait | 2 Comments

Peregrina Preparatio 10

8km (5miles) Longshaw Estate, Peak District

Perfect walking weather: Cloudy but warm, some light drizzle… and hot sunshine

Clothing : Zipoff trouser-shorts, t shirt, raincoat (part way)

Terrain: hilly footpaths, paths through woods

My friend and I set off out after several hours of drizzle this morning. It was still quite cloudy and the coolness (after the very hot weather) a bit of relief.

Earlier this week I’d walked on the other side of this ridge (Curbar, Froggart Edge) so it was lovely to experience White Edge from a new-to-me perspective.

The walk itself wasn’t too strenuous (the terrain quite easy) … about 3miles to the pub (across the moorland) for lunch and 2 – 21/2 miles looping back a different (more wooded) route.

On reflection having a glass of wine -even a small one- at lunchtime is something best avoided on the Camino. I was so sleepy and when we stopped at a Burbage Brook (my friend went for a paddle) I took a nap for at least 20 minutes in the glorious sunshine.

We resisted the ice cream van (as the lunch we’d had had been very substantial)

For me the parts of the walk that were most pilgrimage like were: sharing as we walked, and then sitting contemplating on the way (on a wood stack, at the duck pond and especially at the babbling brook!)

I didn’t carry much today … walking in the heat with a heavy bag is going to be a challenge as are the hills. But I must say I am enjoying these preparatory walks!

Posted in England, out and about, peregrina, preparation, rural, signs, water

Peregrina Preparatio 9

Today’s long walk was a pilgrimage of sorts.

Weather: hot and sunny, with some cloud. About 25C

Clothing: shorts and tshirt, walking boots

Distance: 17 km (more or less)

It was also really good preparation for the Camino in terms of walking, carrying a heavy-ish rucksack in warm temperatures … and there were moments of connecting with God in a profound way en route!

Cliff College in the Hope Valley has long been a sort of thin-place for me, a place where heaven and earth meet in a special way. I started and finished my walk there today.

Baslow Edge is one of my favourite places to walk in Derbyshire, and after the stiff climb up Cliff Lane and through Curbar Gap I was on the Edge … facing this sign!

Gulp … gulp … gulp … the cattle in this neck of the woods (on the high grounds) are usually either long horns or highland cattle, and I really have no desire to meet with them, and a bull – well that’s on the outside edge of my comfort zone – but I so wanted to walk, that I said a quick ‘help me God’ prayer and went anyway!

I’m glad I did!

You get splendid views of Chatsworth (home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire) … which is where I had my second breakfast … (from the view point, not in their breakfast parlour!) then I looked back to Curbar Gap and walked the length of Curbar Edge and through the lovely wooded area which is Froggart Edge.

Then up to White Edge and down into the lush Derwent Valley through Froggart Village.

It was at the end of the ‘nature trail’ that I saw a sign warning of cows (and their calfs) that might be aggressive. This sign post helped a bit

Love wins!

The pilgrimage continued (after a very welcome coffee in Curbar Craft Cafe) with a visit to All Saints, Curbar.

And then a walk round the grounds of Cliff College, stopping at the cross, where I discovered this

It’s a ‘Poustini’ … a hut for fasting, prayer and meditation … a lovely find, and a wonderful end to this particular preparatory walk.

Posted in England, out and about, peregrina, preparation, rural

Peregrina Preparatio 8 : Milldale – Ashbourne (Derbyshire)

Today’s walk (in beautiful rural Derbyshire)took me by surprise by turning into a pilgrimage. There’s a heatwave in the UK at the moment, so I travelled light, with a tiny backback (for the water and map), and it was definitely shorts (and walking boots) weather!

Weather: hot and sunny, 24C (cooled down a bit later)

Distance : 18 km /11 miles

Duration 4 1/2 hours

There are no photos (of mine) as I forgot my phone, but this map at least shows the route I took.

I got a lift to Milldale and walked down the popular trail along the river Dove (which is the deciding river between Derbyshire and Staffordshire) to Dovedale. There was almost no one around and that’s when the walk morphed into a pilgrimage. I found myself walking along, caught up in the vibrant, lush colours of the riverbank (the rest of the countryside is very dry and brown because there’s been no rain) listening to the rushing water and then noticing the silence when the waters stilled after rapids. It was such a blessing to be caught up like that!

Then the number of people increased, (walking from Dovedale) and the mood changed and I slipped into a litter picking role for a mile or so. (It’s really hard to understand why people go to such wonderful beauty spots and not take their cider bottles or juice containers home, or throw cigarette packets in the bushes or on the riverbank – grrr!)

I decided against climbing over Thorpe Cloud (too hot!) and instead took a footpath around it towards the village of Thorpe!

English footpaths are signed very differently to the trails in Finland, and I had to recalibrate my thinking.

The way the signs work is that when you come to a stile or gate you must look at the sign before you move on, and then you have to trust it! So on the path to Thorpe, for example, one of the signs pointed straight on, and after the tiny gate I had to walk across an immense field trusting the ‘exit’ was going to be ahead of me, without there being any defined path and without my being able to see it! (Only once did this fail me, and either I missed the gate, stile or hole in the hedge or I’d misread it)

I loved this part of the walk. It was unfamiliar territory, and there was a real sense of freedom. I ended up on the little rural road that I assumed lead to the village of Thorpe (and it did) and from there I also discovered (with the aid of a map) a backroad that was lovely and quiet. I wished I’d had my camera as both ends of the road had a sign warning lorry drivers not to trust their satnavs … and for good reason this was a lovely single highway lane with no obvious passing places, and I loved it because again it was so quiet (and virtually litter free) that the feeling was more inclined towards pilgrimage again!

I was heading towards a village called Fenny Bentley to visit the church there …and that entailed more rural footpaths across fields and over tiny bridges across tiny streams …across the Tissington Trail and into the village itself.

St Edmunds is a medieval church with an amazing tree in the churchyard, but even more amazing was that the church holds the tomb of Thomas Beresford (Battle of Agincourt under Henry V).

Then it was back across fields to the Tissington Trail and back ‘home’ to Ashbourne.

All in all a good day out and about, and the hills in particular were great preparation for the Camino. It was hot and I was glad not to have a backpack (a luxury I won’t have in September /October) and today I wore my boots with a single layer of socks with no adverse effects (phew) … but I’m also noticing a new found confidence in both my walking but also my navigating skills.

A rest day tomorrow, but on Wednesday I’ll be tackling those hills again. God willing!

Posted in churches, England, England, flowers trees etc, out and about, peregrina, preparation, rural