Category Archives: walking holidays

Peregrina !​

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Peregrina !​

Rucksack scrupulously packed and re-packed countless times, weighed 7kg, walking boots on, passport in hand, the time had come for my pilgrimage, even though I feel as if I’ve been on my personal journey come pilgrimage since January, when I started making many changes in my life.  But this journey I was about to embark on, would be one I will never forget.

The ‘Camino de Santiago’ or St James Way, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain. Legend has it that the remains of the apostle, Saint James the Great, are buried there. As pilgrims traditionally started their journey from their own home, different Camino ways have emerged over hundreds of the years.  Having walked many miles, 1000 to be exact,in Andalucia since January, I had booked a ‘Finale’ of one week, walking the last part of the ‘Camino Frances‘ from just outside Sarria to Santiago.

There are many rumors or negative vibes often felt, when reading the numerous blogs and forums of ‘The Camino Pilgrimage‘, for those only doing the ‘Last leg’ and not starting further afield, but I feel everybody’s journey, situation, reasons, and thoughts are different and who are we to judge ?  Time restraints, responsibilities, money and many other factors all add to each walkers choices and planned routes.  Unfortunately my limitations were time and family but fortunately, I never experienced any such negativities. Each Peregrino I met had their own story, were happy and welcoming to hear mine, share experiences, encouragement, pain, and joys.  In fact, pilgrims with these righteous views, in my opinion, should look a little deeper into the true spirit of the journey.  On first arriving I got the sense of happiness from many, to see ‘Fresh legs and faces’ to continue along with on the way.

A direct short flight from Malaga to Santiago de Compostela, and then a short, packed bus ride into the city, eye-spying others laden with backpacks and sporting big boots, added to my excitement and butterflies. Santiago was bustling and vibrant, full of pilgrims, tourists and locals.  I had booked a night in the old town so I could sample the delights, once a foodie always a foodie, of course that was all part of the journey too.  Many pilgrims choose to use Albergues and hostals that require no-booking and run on a first come, first served basis, but as this was my first time backpacking, EVER !! I allowed myself some comfort in knowing after a long days walking I had a bed at the end of it.

After a day and night, exploring, feasting and quaffing, I took a train journey to Sarria, my start point.  Dramatic scenery lined the route, through forests of green, gorges and lakes so blue, deserted villages and landscape rich with wildlife.  In the train, I was very pleasantly surprised by the furnishings, and comfort, little did I know I’d plonked myself in First Class, 😉 the Inspector was most charming, and allowed me to stay, me I was thinking ‘Soak it up, the last of the luxuries for a while’.

My choice to do Sarria to Santiago would enable me to receive the

Compostela“, the accreditation of the pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. James. 

To receive this, Pilgrims have to walk at least 100km, Cycle or Horse-ride 200km.  Along the journey, you have to collect stamps in the ‘Pilgrims Credencial’ to prove your distance and consecutive days walked.

So my route: Sarria-Portomarin-Palas de Rei-Arzua-Amenal-Santiago 116km + a few finding accommodations 😉

Each day I rose before dawn, for a quick Cafe con leche, caffeine shot.  I made the mistake the first day to fill up at breakfast, only to find walking a struggle after.  So quick coffee, head torch on, find my route, off I went.

The route is symbolised by a shell motif, belief is that the lines on the shell, represent the routes from across Europe to Santiago.  I would hear the click-clack of walking sticks and the hushed early morning, sleepy chatter of fellow pilgrims, this gave a sense of warmth and unitedness.  Some moments tested my nerve and personal thoughts, walking through forests in the dark, with not a soul in sight, firstly I was jumping at every sound, rustle or movement, I had a chat to myself, deep breath and then learned to soak up the moment of solitude and nature in its purest form.

Daybreak, was the feel-good moment of each day, taking in the new surroundings, views, some days with a glorious sunrise, others with a thick mist, slowly letting light through. Familiar faces, and the welcoming sound of ‘Buen Camino‘ all added to the experience.  I was known for a quick pace and even got nicknamed ‘BOLT‘ or ‘Lynsey LongLegs‘ so passed many people each day, but stop-offs for water breaks, sock realigning, rucksack adjusting and general ‘I need a rest‘ moments, saw them catch-up, over-take or even join me.

And that’s how it rolled!

5 Days walking, through ever-changing landscapes and weather.  Difficult moments, euphoric moments, lightbulb moments, hymn singing, praying, cursing and even crying, tears of joy and pain.

Each day as I arrived at my next location, I celebrated with a cold local ‘Cerveza’, boots off, tapa eaten.  Found my bed for the night, hauled my rucksack off, stood in the shower, face up to the steaming water, – Tiger balmed my feet, took my ibuprofen & closed my eyes for siesta.

Towns and hamlets on the route offer wonderful menus for pilgrims, comfort, substantial food to fuel our bodies, about 9€ for 3 courses with bread, coffee and a bottle of wine.  My favourite soup for the soul ‘ Caldo Gallego’ soothed my brain and body and almost felt like it gave me a warm hug.  Bedtime was never late, 9-10pm, sleeping was often difficult, mind wandering and noisy neighbours ( some people are just not considerate of others 😉 ) and a different bed every night often had me muddled when I woke mid-sleep.  Small sacrifice though and forgotten quickly the next day.

Favourite town on my route: PortomarinIMG_3007

Favourite quirky find: A little old man in the middle of no-where selling freshly made Bunuelos! IMG_3001

Favourite sign: Free hugs!

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Favourite meal: Pulpo IMG_2978

My last morning and my last walk into Santiago just 18 km to go !! My pace was quick, I was on a mission, completely absorbed by the end in sight.  The last few Km’s seemed to take an age, through built-up areas and suburbia of the city, many pilgrims were behind me, but few upfront, on occasions I felt lost, symbols seemed more spaced out.  Finally, I spotted a sign ‘Catedral 800 m ‘ I had an overwhelming, emotional moment, hidden behind dark glasses, my tears flowed. Turning the corner the Piper, piped the pilgrim’s welcome.  As I entered the Plaza, pilgrims who had arrived the day before, welcomed me with open arms, hugs and cheers.  Tourists asked for my photo, as a ‘real-life‘ pilgrim ;). I just collapsed on my rucksack, head in hands and thought

Yes this girl can, this girl DID

Not an end to my journey, part of it, part of my quest to walk more, breath and stop and stare.  Part of my learnings to enjoy the wanderings of my own mind, except the solitude, be just me.

After getting over my arrival and up off the floor, the realisation my legs and feet were not invincible became apparent.  The officialdom stage had to take place, obtaining my Compostela.  The pilgrim’s office, receives approx 600-900 Pilgrims a day, the day I arrived it seemed double.  A long wait, in a long queue, was one of the hardest parts of the experience, but everybody was in the same boat, others had obviously walked for weeks.  7.28pm I GOT IT – I had two minutes to get to the Cathedral for the Pilgrims service, there was only one thing for it I had to RUN !! Ouch !!!!

A full cathedral, candlelight, incense burning, finalised my pilgrimage and to my delight the Botafumiera swang……

Until next time – Buen Camino!

 

 

 

 

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Hot footing !

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I smashed it !

Woohoo, 1000 miles in the bag, muchas gracias 😉

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Some of you may remember my #Walk1000miles challenge I started on Janaury 9th this year when then it seemed a very far off, most inconceivable goal for me.  Many of you have been following my progress, with my regular shout outs of my distance, places walked and mountains climbed, on social media, FB & IG, even though I know it’s not the done thing, according to the Huffpost UK FB rules 😉 :

Realise no one cares how far thou hast run (unless it was from a tiger or bear)

Well, I’m pretty chuffed and amazed, I’ve just plodded on, walking further and further.  The summer temperatures gave me a serious battering, I don’t think I’ve actually ever been this brown, I’m certainly wethered that’s for sure.  Walking at dawn, was the only answer, but with the fierce heat this year, even then temperatures were in the high 20’s.

There were only a few moments when I thought, ‘Lynsey, this is just too far’ and yes talking to myself has helped, keep me sane ? Not sure about that, but it’s got me up the hills at point of collapse.

Things I’ve learned along the way :

  1.  You always need more water than you think.
  2. Don’t look up when going up a big hill.
  3. Stretch.
  4. Don’t get your hopes up when you think the end is in sight – It’s further away than it looks.
  5. Stop and look at the view.
  6. Remeber your € for your café con leche.
  7. Look for ants nest before taking a peepee.
  8. As Baz Luhrmann says ‘Remember the sunscreen’
  9. Exhaustive, hysteria is a thing.
  10. This girl CAN !

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Thanks for all those who have supported me, my amigas and family that have whiled away a fair few miles with me. Those who have tooted as driven passed, offered a lift when I look lost or done in, or just slowed down and shouted ‘Nearly there’ or ‘Surely you haven’t walked from there’ I thank-you. I will be plodding on, I best do, as I have more walking boots and trainers than killer heels now, not quite, but how times change.

Living in the mountains has often made me crave of flat roads and no hills to climb.  Coastal walks have been included in my total and country lanes with time spent in the U.K, but the bonus I get is that I can proudly say I have climbed equivalent to 5 Everests – 45,011 meters of elevation. The local ‘Cabras’ have nothing on me 😉

#wheresyoureverest

Next stop, a week on the Camino de Santiago, back-pack loaded, pilgrim here I come.

Oh BTW – lost 18kg in total, never had a summer before without gaining, thumbs up for calorie burning walking.

 

Buen Camino !

 

 

 

 

Mountain high !

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For 13 years, I’ve looked in awe at the mighty ‘Maroma‘ standing majestically above the lake. The highest mountain in the Axarquía in Southern Spain at an altitude of 2069m. La Maroma meaning rope was named after the rope used to descend to an ancient ice house located near the summit.  I always hoped one day I’d be fit enough and brave enough to climb to the summit, well yesterday was that day!

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I felt fit enough, after my last few months of non-stop hiking, but the bravery part was a more challenging aspect.  You see I suffer from a crazy level of acrophobia, heights, and edges, push me over the edge literally ;).

Over the years I have been paralysed to the spot, clinging to any solid object, building, tree or person trying to escape the magnetism & pull of the edge.   During my career as an overseas tour guide, I would create little white lies to tell clients when we arrived at monuments, towers, and bridges, that as their guide I must stay at the bottom for safety and their security, so they always knew where I was.    One time we visited the Gran dune de pilat in France, the family and I and hundreds of other tourists, started the trek up the dune, and half way up I knew I was just not going to make it, the single file line as far as the eye could see, had to stop, reverse and trek back down, with a sobbing me, erratically bumping down on my bottom, until  I could reach the solitary oak tree to hug and hang on to.  On occasions, I have this sudden bout of Tourette’s style shouting at strangers who are near edges too, all very embarrassing for anyone with me and totally debilitating to me.

So I think you get the picture, this climb wasn’t to be taken likely, I had researched, I knew there were parts that would push my buttons.  No way did I want to trek for upward miles, only to not get to the summit.

So yesterday arrived, our rucksacks were packed, heavy with litres of water and high energy snacks.  I was already awake and had been most of the night, when the alarm went off, going over every situation in my mind, and trying to inject a PMA, along with positive affirmations, “cool wet moss’ that I used for my Tony Robbins ‘Fire Walk‘, years ago, wasn’t going to cut it, but ‘Onwards and upwards’ might help.

We had decided on taking the route from Robledal, not the shortest but most picturesque. The weather was perfect, not too hot, clear skies and the season too, springtime in the mountains is stunning, wild flowers, butterflies, grasses and lush vegetation, make the long journey so pleasurable.  Once parked, we started the trek, firstly winding away up through the oak and pine forest to the first vistas looking to Sierra Nevada and the lowlands of Granada.  The track then steeply ascends, on rocky paths some very narrow with steep downsides.  Watching our footing constantly, it was best to stop often for quick breathers and a moment to take in the views.  The path is easy to follow, and when the signposts fade out, piles of stones have been made to show the way.

The journey was as hard physically as I’d expected but doable, especially for regular walkers.  Walking poles were a godsend, especially on our descent.

So the mental part….there were many moments when I thought OMG, and couldn’t bare look and when my pace and stride were slightly comical as I shuffled over various rocky crags.  I knew THE challenge was near the summit , a 10 meter long very narrow precipice with a sheer drop to below a 1000 + meters below !!!!  I’d asked my group not to mention it, and when they saw it before me not to comment, but I was constantly saying “Is this it ? are we there yet ? do you think that was the worse part ?” . Then there it was no mistaking THE EDGE OF DOOM.  Palpatations, heart in mouth, hot sweating, I focused, clinged on to the Other Half, ‘C’mon Lynsey it’s only 10 large steps’ I said to myself.  Slowly, slowly I edged across, I’m not sure where I looked, not up, not down, I may have even had my eyes closed, not recommended. The other issue that now dawned on me, half way across, and why I hadn’t thought about it before, I was going to have to do it again on the return journey.  Get across I did, did I enjoy it ? NO, but the relief was enormous and once I’d regained some sort of composure and fought back my tears, I realised of joy.  I was bloomin’ well proud of me !

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The summit was breathtaking, views of snow laden Sierras, the lake below, boats at sea, Malaga port in the distance, white washed villages and our hamlet over yonder.  The temperature had dropped and the air was crisp,  we snuggled together in a low huddle for our picnic, reveling too with other climbers of all nationalities and ages.  We enjoyed a celebratory tipple, which helped calm my nerves and give me a little dutch courage for the descent.  Photo opportunities were taken and Maroma captivated me.

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Making our way down was as hard if not harder, muscles and feet took the brunt, but our minds were jubilant and our conversations were cheery.

6 hours 45 minutes it took us, including pit stops, the last part seemed to take forever, us all thinking we must be nearly there, but then sure enough the car came into view and we knew the bar was only a short drive away 😉

Have I conquered my fear, definitely not totally, but I felt the fear and did it anyway.

Toot, Toot as I blow my trumpet, and while I’m at it another big red tick as during my hike I hit my 500 miles of my ‘Walk 1000 miles in 2017’ challenge.  Go me, who’d have thought.

 

 

Best foot forward.

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I daren’t look when my last blog post was, they’re all in my head you see, I never seem to have the time, here we go again …

“All or nothing” that’s me. I don’t often do things by halves. Rockbottom or flying high, up or down, no wine or the whole bottle, couch potato or?

Well, that leads me to this blog post …

January saw me at another chubby, yo-yo, clothes going up in size stage. I had been recognising the signs, but ignoring them, as I do, for the past 12 months, then that dreaded Christmas photo !! I looked well, frumpy. No-no good. I also was in constant pain, with diagnosed degenerative disc disease, a pinched nerve and a spine very badly out of shape. To add insult to injury, my Hashimoto’s (Autoimmune under active thyroid) was muddling my brain, disturbing my sleep and adding pounds to my person.

Rollercoaster life rock-bottom once again kicked me into touch. So I flung myself wholeheartedly, I ‘WAS’ in the zone, to sort it out. Weight, fitness, diet, and lifestyle. I decided to take on a few personal challenges that I could focus on throughout the year. Poco a poco, little by little. Goals that I could put a big red tick by as I conquered them.

They’re work in progress and they are as follows:

  • Dry January

To refrain from Alcohol for 31 days.

COMPLETED – SAVING …17,000..CALORIES & …403….€ ( hides in shame !)

Miracles do happen, who’d have thought 😉 coming from a bottle of vino a night girl, plus a few!

THE FOLLOWING STARTED 9TH JANUARY 2017

  • Loose 15 kgs

Following the 5:2 Fast plan. Restricted food intake calories 2 days a week, and eating well 5 days a week, including indulging when called for at weekends.

PROGRESS TO DATE: DOWN 13 KGS 🙂

  • ‘Where’s you Everest’ Challenge

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To climb the height of Everest 8823m wherever, whenever you’re in the world. Set by Trail Magazine.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 6 weeks to climb my first Everest, onto my 2nd …15,424…m Elevation in total.

  • Walk 1000 miles in 12 months

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Challenge set by Country Walking Magazine, with an online FB group and following of ……people. A positive and inspiring group of people, from, excuse the pun all walks of life, all over the world. Some folks counting every step they take, some counting ‘Boots on’ miles.

PROGRESS TO DATE: 350 ‘Boots on’ MILES, On target and banking a few!

  • Walk as many stages of the ‘Gran Sendero de Malaga’

A circular walking route around the province of Malaga 650 KM

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PROGRESS TO DATE :

Stage 1 & 2 complete, Malaga to Rincon de la Victoria to Velez Malaga.

Stage 3 & 4 complete, Velez-Malaga to Torrox pueblo to Nerja.

Stage 5 complete, Nerja through the Sierras to Frigiliana.

  • Climb Maroma

For 12 years since we moved to our house on the side of a mountain, with looked with awe at the mighty Maroma. La Maroma, also known as Tejeda, stands at an altitude of 2069 m, is the highest peak of the Sierra de Tejeda,  Spain. The summit is located in the region of Axarquía on the border between the provinces of Granada and Málaga.

PROGRESS – Date booked 7th May, praying for good weather and not too hot.

  • Camino de Santiago

To start my Pilgrimage on the famous St James way.

PROGRESS TO DATE: Pilgrim passport ready, flights booked, depart 28th September, 1 week.

EXCITED !

Well, that’s the diet and fitness sorted 😉 should give me something to go on, now to fit in the lifestyle, not sure there are enough hours in the day. Maybe as I walk I can virtually write my cookbook, keep my website updated and plan recipes and menus. Perhaps I need a personal assistant, note to self must work harder, money helps 😉

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Once somebody showed me the ‘Wheel of life’ to balance all aspects of your life, work, rest and play, I even set diary notes for it to pop up to remind me to evaluate my ‘Wheel’ each month. Maybe just a tad unrealistic, or too perfectly formed for ‘real life’ and I know, I often would look at my ‘apple’ Pie Chart and think “ooh b********s”, I’m not that domestic, mantra chanting, chakra aligned, clean eating, goddess. But I’m ME work in progress, ‘watch this space Lynsey’ back on the waggon of self-fulfilment, having a little me time, slipping up as and when life bats me a curve ball, just trying to recognise the moment before it side swipes me to depths again.

So as I put my best foot forward I’m praying for no blisters, hoping my back will hold up and my pill popping will be less. I’m enjoying every moment, breathing in the views, stopping to stand and stare at the top of steep climb or mountain, learning to cope with the wandering of my own mind, ( yes I still think I’m crazy ), and I’m truly thankful that I live, where I live.

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Buen Camino todos!