The Camino de Santiago is a series of pilgrim routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain where St James, the apostle, is buried; a destination for pilgrims since the 9th century. It 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, in Santiago. I have become a great fan having wanted to walk it for twenty years and having finally had the opportunity in Oct 2018 (Camino Ingles) and again in Mar/Apr 2019 (Camino Frances from Burgos).
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 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.
Melanie, May 2019
There are many dedicated people around the world whose work supports the Camino. In England, the Confraternity of St James, based in London but with branches nationwide run by volunteers, offers information, support and fellowship.