The Camino de Santiago (The Camino, The Way) is a series of pilgrim routes all leading to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain where St James, the apostle, is buried - a destination for countless pilgrims since the 9th century. The Camino has recently been made famous by films and documentaries mostly located on the Camino Frances, the French Way, often started at St Jean Pied de Port, just on the French side of the Pyrenees, and ending , 800 kilometres later, at Santiago.
Many who now walk the Camino would not describe themselves as religious but they do walk for something beyond merely the recreational or, perhaps, discover something beyond the recreational en route. It is not just a personal challenge, and it is certainly that, but it is also about us all and how we relate and support each other to reach that shared destination. It is a chance to connect with ourselves, all that is and with our fellow human beings in a way rarely experienced nowadays.
It’s not about fitness, profession or nationality – it is about my humanity and yours. I may walk alone for a whole day and so may you. I may meet you en route, chat a while and move on, or we may bond and stay together for the whole journey. We may eat together and sleep in neighbouring bunks. We share. We depend on ourselves and we depend each other - we become both community and truly ourselves, learning to listen to our bodies, take our own authority and see things with a simpler clearer perspective that promotes both resourcefulness and compassion. The Camino teaches us what we need to know and gives us all we need.
There are many dedicated people around the world whose work supports the Camino and us peregrinos and peregrinas - whether intending, walking or returned. From the Hospitaleros in every albergue on the route , to Ivar's online community. In England, the Confraternity of St James, based in London but with branches nationwide run by volunteers, offers information, support and fellowship.
I have only recently walked the Camino Ingles and the Camino Frances from Burgos but have a decades long interest in pilgrimage both literal and internal which the Camino both fulfilled and provoked in spades. I am looking forward to the time I may do it again. In the meantime there is Gramarye and the chance to reflect on pilgrimage and offer that chance to others. Melanie
For all those who yearn for the Camino again, or who are considering a pilgrimage, you may like to come on a pilgrimage retreat weekend here to meet other pilgrims, reflect, question and walk.
For Confraternity of St James members, these are offered at a discount price of £120 per person per weekend (Friday tea til after lunch on Sunday) inclusive of all meals, guided walks and periods of reflection together. Price for non members is £155 per weekend sharing with one or two others.
Ensuite accommodation in twin, double or triple rooms (no literas!) Minimum number 7, maximum 10.
Feb 21, May 15, Sept 4, Nov 27.
To keep costs low, each person is asked to help for half an hour a day with either washing up, clearing, laying the table or helping prepare food.