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Camino

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Camino

Postby Graeme » Wed 14 Mar 2018 16:33 GMT

Camino is Spanish for walk but in this case it's more like a long trek. I'm going to walk the Camino from France (St Jean Pied de Port) to Santiago in Spain about 875 km although with the detours I plan maybe closer to 1000km; just a little jaunt. It will be hot when I go and so I am trying to plan a route, what to take in terms of clothing, bedding, medications, footwear etc and how to get some practice in beforehand. I expect to cover about 30 km a day so I'm looking at a 32-35 day expedition although some days will be more and some considerably less. Has anyone here had any experience with the Camino? I know it is for pilgrims (peregrinos) but I'm doing it for the walk, the scenery and the experience not for any secular reason. To start my practice I have been walking a higher speed trying to get the fast twitch muscle fibers active, then I will progress to slower but longer gradually adding weight as I go. It will either be a great time or blister heaven, hopefully the former.
If anyone has any advice I'm eager to listen. :)
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Fri 16 Mar 2018 15:27 GMT

Hi Graeme,

This sounds like a fantastic expedition. Thanks for sharing it with us. I've never done anything like it - not as long, anyway - although I was a keen walker/climber a few decades ago.

I don't know how much use my advice might be but here goes anyway. You must have good footwear, not just boots but also socks. You'll need sturdy boots - make sure they're well broken in before you start. Also try to get proper walking socks. I don't remember the technical details but any good sports shop should be able to advise you if you don't already know.

Another important item will be your pack. It must fit well and you must travel as light as you can. An extra kilo or so can make a heck of a difference after a few dozen miles. Keep everything to a minimum. Or you'll regret it! Even if you might have to smell sometimes due to lack of clothes changes. You can always find somewhere to sit half-naked while you wash and dry your clothes, especially in a warm environment. Always have enough water, though and some kind of energy bar for 'emergencies'. Dehydrated food could be handy.

I like your idea of training with weights because even a few kilos can take their toll if you're not used to it.

This trip sounds like a huge amount of fun. Good luck with it!!!
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Re: Camino

Postby Dave » Sun 18 Mar 2018 16:02 GMT

By chance, we've just heard that BBC2 are currently doing a series about the Camino, involving seven celeb "pilgrims" - not all of them doing it for religious reasons. Ed Byrne is a humanist, Neil Morrissey was a Catholic but is now an atheist, and apparently Raphael Rowe refuses even to set foot in a church. On the other hand, Kate Bottley is a clergywoman (as she kept reminding everyone ad nauseam when she was on Celebrity MasterChef last year). Something else for us to watch - we like travel programmes. Especially when they've got some intelligent commentary (which Ed Byrne can certainly provide).

I like the idea of a trek of that kind of distance, but I'd take a bit of persuading to do it on an established pilgrimage route. Some cultural theme might be more to my taste. Like breweries or vineyards. :-)

Looking forward to hearing how you get on, Graeme. Good luck with it! When are you planning to go?
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Re: Camino

Postby Graeme » Mon 19 Mar 2018 01:30 GMT

I'm going in July for 5 weeks, it should be about hot enough. I aim to keep the pack weight down but there are a few things I will have to take. I have thought about the boots and I think I'll take two pairs of runners instead, the path is mainly graveled except for a couple of miserable downhill bits so ankle stability shouldn't be a huge issue. The weight will make a difference as well I hope. There should be good wineries along the route, not sure about any breweries, a cerveza is usually just a cerveza.
I had heard that BBC 2 was doing a story, hopefully that doesn't flood the tail with copy-cats. If it gets too silly I can always peel off and walk elsewhere, I'm not too invested in the pilgrimage idea. I'd love to do the Cheviots again or maybe the Black Forest.
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Mon 19 Mar 2018 11:32 GMT

We watched the first episode last night. They stayed in hostels each night so the only bedding they needed was a sleeping bag. Presumably their bed spaces were booked ahead so you might want to look into that especially as you're going at a busy time. (Unless you're going to carry a tent.) The accommodation looked fairly good, albeit dormitory-style. Also, there was food and drink available at the hostels. Therefore, you could probably manage without any cooking equipment.

Ed Byrne (the experienced walker) looked as though he just had a day pack whereas some of the others had packs big enough for a normal two week holiday. Yeah, I know their trip is for two weeks, even so it's as though they'd not thought about the implication of having to carry all that kit all the time on the entire journey. I expect you'd find at least one change of clothes necessary. In which case, check out lightweight stuff - available in any good climbing shop.

Each to their own, especially with footwear, but some of the track looked quite rough to me. If I were fit enough to be doing it, I'd not dream of not wearing boots. Plus I would take a very light pair of flip flops for indoor use and to air my feet when not walking. By "runners" I think you mean what we call "trainers". They're bulky and maybe not so light. I'd not give them house-room in my little pack.

BTW, the priest gave us a laugh at her stupidity - she seemed amazed that they were going to walk the whole way. She seemed to expect they'd do a couple of yards for the camera and then get taken by van to the next destination. :roll: :crackup:
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Re: Camino

Postby Dave » Thu 5 Apr 2018 05:06 GMT

We've watched all three episodes now. The priest kept on moaning about the walking. :roll:

On weight, the top tip from several of the celebs was that you should send your pack ahead each day - so you only have to take a day-pack with you.
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Thu 5 Apr 2018 11:46 GMT

I missed that bit about sending your pack ahead. Didn't realise the service was available. That's a no-brainer unless it's too expensive. Or if you want to suffer to the max on the journey. :D

Having insisted on boots - if I were doing it - I watched carefully to see what footwear various walkers were wearing. I'd say it was about 50-50 between boots and sturdy trainers.
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Re: Camino

Postby Graeme » Thu 5 Apr 2018 14:39 GMT

The Camino sites say boots for the winter and sneakers/runners for the summer. I have a sturdy pair of runners which are essentially a cut down hiker or rambling shoe, they're lightweight and strong. For the pack as I'm not sure how much we will do each day I will probably carry it. I aim to keep the weight down to about 10% of my body weight which is the recommended amount, we'll see if I can do that. I have a 55 liter pack so I could take a huge amount if I wanted but I'm already trying to trim back what I consider essentials. I'm sure it will be better than the horrible webbing and back packs I used in the army.
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Sun 8 Apr 2018 22:38 GMT

Interested to know you're ex-army too, Graeme. Like me. :D

Anyway, you've started something. Dave and I are planning a pilgrimage too now! Rochester to Canterbury. A lot less than your proposed journey! It's about 25 miles along a main road or we could go the "Pilgrims' Way" along the North Downs, which is quite a few more miles but is much more off-road. We think it would be better to be on a recognised walking route, maybe meet other people, and stay in places where they're geared up for "pilgrims".

My reason for doing it is that a nurse told me that the best thing for my back and hip (after various injuries) would be weight-bearing exercises such as walking and I've been pretty much housebound (unless taken out by Dave) for too long now. If I could do this journey it would give me a whole new lease of life. We were thinking along the lines of walking maybe 10 miles a day, stopping at a B&B, then 10 miles the next day... and so on. Then we could get the train home at the end.

I don't know if 10 miles a day might be a bit ambitious. I used to be able to do 40 miles over rough terrain without even thinking about it, but now it's a struggle just to walk around a shopping centre without a trolley to lean on. My legs and hip are fine it's the back pain that's the problem.

Anyway, I tried on my old (maybe 25 years old?) boots - three season boots - and it seemed obvious to me that they're too heavy and rigid for this venture, even though I used to wear them all day every day sometimes. They're also rather tight now. So I now have a brand new pair of "light hiking boots".

Goodness know what training I'll have to do for this because I don't think I can just set off and hope to achieve the 30+ mile walk without doing something beforehand. Maybe a couple of miles here and there first. That in itself would be a benefit.

I'm not sure why Dave wants to do it - probably just for the sake of doing something different.

Oh well, we'll keep you informed of our progress or otherwise. The main thing for me is that it's something to look forward to.
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Re: Camino

Postby Dave » Mon 9 Apr 2018 04:33 GMT

Kay wrote:I'm not sure why Dave wants to do it - probably just for the sake of doing something different.

:lol: Two main reasons. One is:

Kay wrote:I've been pretty much housebound (unless taken out by Dave) for too long now.

Kay spends far more time staying cooped up in this house than is good for her.

The other reason is that I spend far too much of my free time cooped up here too! I always used to like walking when I was younger but didn't really do it very seriously. I think the time's come to change that. And since it's relatively easy to do it from here (compared with London, anyway) it struck me that a walk somewhere in northern Kent would be a good place to start.

We were talking about this yesterday and thought that we might possibly find a different route and end up in Whitstable instead. It would be possible to do that on a recognised walking trail (the Saxon Coast Way). But the Pilgrims' Way would probably be busier.

I think we need to check out the terrain and come up with a plan. I had thought we could "just do it" and maybe go next month, but Kay's probably right - we ought to build up to it with at least a bit of training. :-)
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Re: Camino

Postby Graeme » Mon 9 Apr 2018 05:26 GMT

Best to start with a bit of training Kay, bones don't always respond kindly to new stresses or strains and you certainly don't want to end up with stress fractures in the feet (metatarsals usually) or tibia. Weight bearing exercise is the best way to build bone density and strength but Rome wasn't built in a day so start light especially if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis/poikilosis. Maybe walk a mile or so and see how it feels, keep the pace slow and steady as the old ticker doesn't like a whole bunch of new activity either.
Northern Kent is a nice place to walk, I did a short walk from where the RAF tested the bouncing bomb at Reculver to Birchington and on to Margate along the seafront walk, bracing and delightful (although that might have been the frequent pub stops) back in 82. I did Hadrian's Hike along the Hadrian's wall with the army still using the old post second world war webbing (58 pack) and hated the way the pack digs into the shoulders, so now I use a Teton 65 liter pack with wide straps and the weight falls mainly on the hips and less on the shoulders. I'm guessing you'd just use a day pack otherwise that's a whole new issue for training.
There are so many wonderful walks and rambles in the UK, when I lived in Catterick the North York moors were wonderful to explore along with the many dales and Yorkshire coastal paths (especially around Staithes-one of my favorites). If you get some training in and plan your walk to fit with your abilities you'll have a great time. :D
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Mon 9 Apr 2018 14:54 GMT

Great advice, Graeme. Thanks. I'd kinda thought it would be a case of mind over matter - just get through the pain barrier, etc. But now I see how wrong I was. It would be very foolish to cause even more damage to an already fragile body. As you say, there's lots of ways I could start off with something a bit easier, or even just a section of a route.

I'm a wee bit worried about my new boots, though, because there's a little bit of slippage on the right heel. But these were the most comfortable boots of all I tried on in the shop. Also, I was aware that my feet are likely to swell a bit during the day, especially if walking so I didn't want a tight fit. I've been wearing them around the house (still with the label attached so I can return them if necessary). Have you any advice on selecting or breaking in footwear?

I also got a couple of pairs of warm weather hiking socks. I love them! They're Bridgedale, Light Hiker, suitable for warm weather walking. But my feet felt so cosseted when I put them on in the shop (to try the boots) I didn't want to take them off!

Your guess about me just using a day pack is absolutely right. I know I wouldn't be able to cope with anything but the very lightest of packs. I'm thinking along the lines of one set of spare underwear, a small towel and bar of soap, flip flops, and maybe a small first aid kit for my feet. Dave says he'll carry my camera for me. It's not as though we'll be far from home via the train.
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Re: Camino

Postby Graeme » Tue 10 Apr 2018 03:30 GMT

If you were in the military and recall some of the advice you would have been given during boot camp...don't do it! Urine doesn't have much of a softening effect on the boots and not many are leather nowadays anyhow, and then the smell...but that's a whole different story.
Just use them there's no way to 'make' them fit your foot, just wearing them and sweating in them getting them hot and allowing them to mold to you is the best. If they are a little sloppy around the heel use an extra pair of thin socks under your wool based walking socks (I think Bridgedales use merino wool which is the best) the extra padding helps and the double layer stops you rubbing on the boot so much. You can always stop and remove the thin pair should you need to. Little but often is the way to go, short walks but frequent walks, monitor your feet and lower legs for changes. Treat sore spots right away...you can't walk through it. I use volteren emulgel which is diclofenac sodium in a gel base and puts the anti-inflammatory cream right on the site of the problem rather than going systemically.
The main thing is do it, don't put it off; no-one ever got stronger by sitting around doing not much.
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Re: Camino

Postby Dave » Tue 10 Apr 2018 05:00 GMT

:drink: Thanks, Graeme. Great to be able to get advice from someone who knows what he's talking about!

It certainly shouldn't be hard to find somewhere we can have an enjoyable walk that gives us a bit of a stretch without overdoing it. And with a pub at the end. :drink:
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Re: Camino

Postby Kay » Tue 10 Apr 2018 07:27 GMT

Thanks again from me too.

The boots are already soft and light compared to other boots I tried on. And they're a completely different animal to the boots I already have. Here's a link to them:
http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/scarpa-cyru ... ts-p350228

We could start with just doing a little round trip from home, maybe a mile or so. Then build it up gradually. Given your advice, I don't think we'll be doing the entire Rochester to Canterbury route this year. Maybe next!

I'm a bit wary of diclofenac, after it caused some serious stomach problems, including internal bleeding. I had to have my stomach pumped which was unpleasant but quite interesting. If I put it on my feet will that be ingested into the blood and possibly cause internal problems? Please excuse my complete ignorance of all things medical.
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