The ‘French Way’ 16 Days from Leon to Santiago de Compostela escorted by Glenyce Johnson
One of the world’s great historical trails, El Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Camino trail” or the “Way of St James”, is an epic 800km walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.
It began as a religious pilgrimage to the relics of the Apostle James, interred in the grand old Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and since the ninth century hundreds of thousands have made the life-changing journey. It can take between 30 and 40 days if you choose to do it all in one go, however many also do a portion at a time, and some only walk the last 100km’s as this entitles the pilgrim the Compostela recognition.
There are many varied reasons that people walk the Camino, which is renowned as one of the most religious, inspirational and rewarding experiences. Some people do it simply for health and wellbeing, whilst many refer to it as a religious or spiritual journey. There is an enormous depth of history and everyday learning’s, as people of all ages from all over the world come together to walk the paths that so many have done before them. The small villages along the way would not exist if it wasn’t for the Camino, and the Camino wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the villages. The local people who are proud of their country and their culture, readily offer their hospitality and their generosity is overwhelming.
The countryside is extremely picturesque. The rolling hills are often dotted with a church steeple on the horizon, which may look close, but quite likely may be two or more kilometres away. The daily walk provides plenty of thinking and reflection time and the challenge of walking distances of 20 to 30 kilometres per day becomes easier as fitness increases with each step. Engaging with the locals is most rewarding and at times quite emotional, with many elderly ladies in the local churches keen to stamp your pilgrim’s passbook in recognition of your visit.
Walking the Camino is a time for reflection and recognition and a time to shake your worries for another time and place. It provides thinking time to crystallise the ‘where to from here’, or if you prefer, don’t bother thinking at all.
Leon is a great place to start the Camino if you don’t have the time to complete the entire pilgrimage, and even if you don’t walk the 300 kilometres from Leon to Santiago, Leon is perfect for introducing Spain, Tapas and the impressive architecture.