My dad’s alarm clock sounds like a military trumpet, and it’s rather remarkable how someone can maintain a good mood after being scared out of bed by such horror. However we had a full Scottish breakfast, an early start and plenty of good things waiting, as we drove West to Isle of Skye.
The trail starts at beautiful Loch Morlich: an impressive lake, surrounded by snow caped mountains and pine forests. The track makes a great starter route because it is easy to follow throughout, not too hard on the legs and yet rewardingly beautiful.
Oh that glorious walk between Monesterio and Fuente de Cantos… No words or pictures would do it justice. It was without a doubt the most beautiful stretch of walking I encountered on my mini-camino (that is, the part between Sevilla and Cáceres) and it lifted my heart beyond expectation.
The weather was overcast and clouded, however fast winds made for an ever changing scenery and shadows travelled over the endless planes in a matter of minutes. The fields were glowing with colour, mainly the bright yellow of tiny flowers and the deep green of moist grass.
The road soon let me into a sea of infinity. This is the Spain I love so much: a landscape that seems endless, with nothing surrounding you but waving hills and heavy skies. A landscape in which one could easily drown.
Aah, the Caminos de Santiago: those addictive, live changing, beautiful pilgrim roads through Spain (and Europe) towards the said grave of James the Elder in Santiago de Compostela…. How have I come to love them. How have they come to comfort me always at the right time.
In 2011, I walked the Camino Francès – probably the classic first timer route – in one go from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to the ocean in Finestere. Now, in 2017, I didn’t have the time to walk another 1000km, so I set out on a shorter mission: the first 280km of the Via de la Plata, from Sevilla to Cáceres.
I expected the walk to be duller than the Camino Francès. More barren, more lonely, more flat. I hadn’t come for the scenery this time, nor for the great encounters (as I really didn’t know how many other walkers to expect on this much less frequented road). I came because my guts told me I needed to. And yet once again the Camino would very much surprise me. The scenery turned out to be stunning, the people no less than inspiring and the road deeply encouraging.
As you could read in my previous post, I started my Camino2017 with a one night stay in the Andalusian village of El Chorro. The main goal was to walk the Caminito del Rey, but I’m glad I decided to stay a little longer as the region is gorgeous (no pun intended) and there are several nice hikes to be done, apart from the Caminito.
I ended up staying at The Olive Branch, a basic but homely accommodation 30 minutes walk uphill from the train station. It’s a calm and nice stroll to get there, and I loved being based out of town (El Chorro itself is tiny – there’s only one bar, one hotel/restaurant and one little shop for food supplies – but can feel really over-run by tourist day trippers at lunch hours). Once you’re on the b&b grounds, it feels like you’ve ended up in the middle of nowhere – and I mean that in a good way.
My take on the world and the things I love. Prominently among them: travel, art and the ordinary. I share my discovery of our beautiful world, my self and the arts I'm trying to develop (photography, sketching and writing) in a way that is both honest and poetic. Please join my journey.