In 2021 I entered a writing competition and was lucky to win a walking holiday with TD ACTIVE which I shared with my friend Sally.
We have recently returned from a wonderful 7 night guided walking holiday through the Basque country of northen Spain. Our tour comprised travelling in a small group from Bilbao through to Santiago de Compostela. This route is known as the Camino and has been walked by thousands of devout pilgrims throughout the centuries .
The route from Bilbao covers over 500 miles, our trip combined coach travel and short series of walks which were tailored to suite everyone abilities, stopping off at historical towns and villages along the way
Our fist two days were spent in the very plush Ercilla hotel central Bilbao where we enjoyed guided city walk and Guggenhiem tour.
Moving out into the Rioja region we began our first walk from San Juan de Ortiga to Atapuerca. which included a guided tour of the Montecillo winery. The place was heavy with the aroma of fermenting grapes. The winery stores over five million of bottles and ten thousand barrels of wine. After five years, the barrels are bottled ansd the barrels recycled for sherry production in Jerez. A further extention to their life is export to Scotland for whisky distillation. Fabulous tour culminating in lots of lovley wines sampling. Glad we had already done the days walk. The Antapuerca area is currently being excavated as a paleontological site has recently been discovered there. At this point I had a disaster with one of my walking boot soles which began to disintegrate, an emergency team meeting ensued in which I was issued with multiple elastic bands and a re inforced gusset! It worked.
Walking the Castillian wheat plains in the October sun was a dreamy experience, such a sense of the past .
Arriving in the delightful and prehistoric village of Castrojerez, the weary walkers languished under a leafy canopy in the little square and ordered lunch. Tuna sandwich on rustic crunchy bread with cold beer… 7 euros…ahh we could have sat there all day!
Next stop, the beautiful historic town of Leon with its stunning cathedral. Gothic spires and gargoyles which seem to leer and dominate the square.
We commenced our afternoon walk of 8km to Molinesca. The mist and clouds below us created a surreal landscape as our little group walked in silence.
A wonderful and welcoming meal at the end of a busy day was waiting for us at the village hostel, where wine flowed freely as did the singing and instrumentals.
Id like to give a mention to the food here…
…homemade soup with rustic bread, grilled trout, meat and salad platter, spicey warm potatoes and as much wine as you like. A slow stagger in the moonlight back to our beds.
Our final stretch of the Camino, a 10 km walk from Banderia into the city and cathedral at Santiago.
There was a huge Catholic and pilgrim contigent in the city as the cathedral celebrated its patron saint and also Spain National Day. We were fortunate to have entry to the special mass to view impressive pomp and ceremony of the Catholic faith. The air was filled with sweet latin chanting, the mammoth incense burner swinging dangerously close to the rafters spewed clouds of vapour into the congregation. Nuns, pilgrims and the rest united in the chorus and sang our hearts out.
I hope you enjoyed reading my diary, thank you TD Active for giving me ( and Sally) this opportunity. We had a wonderful experience, the quality of our hotels and I must mention the outstanding Carolina from Galicia who was our guide from start to finish. Muchas Gracias.