Mick Byrne

Joined April 2016
  • Day29

    Camino Del Norte - Day 28

    O Pedrouzo to Santiago De Compostela
    Distance 20km (4.5 hours)

    Claudia and I set off from O Pedrouzo at 5am this morning. As usual, it was pitch black and cool. There were a few other hardy peregrinos already on the Camino but it felt quiet and calm. We walked the lanes between rural villages and had a few long hills before we arrived at Mont Gozo. The mountain overlooks the city but it was shroud in mist. There were huge groups of kids preparing to enter the city. We carried on.
    We stopped for breakfast on the outskirts of the city and then wound our way through the city until we arrived in front of the cathedral. I felt elated after having walking 860km and ascended 12,235m in 28 days of walking. My feet are in their best ever condition. The same cannot be said for my shoes.
    I collected my Compostela and we met Bepe, one of the pilgrims we walked with. We waited for the remainder of our little group to arrive. It was a wonderful finale to our epic journey. Real bonds of friendship have been formed on this Camino.

    I now have a few days R&R before I fly home to my beloved.
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  • Day28

    Camino Del Norte - Day 27

    July 6, 2017 in Spain

    Camno Del Norte - Day 27

    Biomorto to O Pedrouzo
    Distance 25km (6.0 hours)
    Ascent 120m

    Our night in Biomorto Albergue was fantastic. While we were waiting for the hospilardo to arrive, Brock was busy putting his healing hands to work. He worked magic on my back at a personal cost to his back.
    Once registered, everyone settled down for the night at 9pm. We were all up for 5.15am to set off on our 25km to join the Camino France's.
    It was a pleasant morning. We found that the new route would take us directly into Santiago. This wasn't our plan as we wanted to stop in an Albergue and walk into Santiago tomorrow morning.
    We stopped and waited for our little group of peregrinos from Canada and France to catch up with us. We then went cross country to join the Camino Frances.
    It was a shock joining the Frances. It was crowded with tourists and cyclists. I could feel my tension rising. After the solitude of the Camino Del Norte, I found the number of pilgrims overwhelming. We saw a newspaper clipping saying that more than 1,000 compostela son are issued each day.
    My tension was relieved by a peregrinos racing past with a sign saying 'unless you started in JPdP you are a tourist.' I said to him 'what about those who started in Irun? To which he agreed. I told him that I could feel the love. Each person walk their Camino based on their ability and time, it is a little harsh yo judge them by saying you've not walked from X or Y. That is not the Camino spirit.
    We walked along chatting amongst our little group and enjoying each other's company. We arrived in O Pedrouzo around 12.30pm and checked into a lovely private Albergue.
    I plan to get up very early with the others and walk the last 20kms into Santiago. It will be lovely to finish with this little international band.
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  • Day27

    Camino Del Norte - Day 26

    July 5, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 26
    Distance 25km (6.5 hours)
    Ascent 250m

    Last night, I stayed in Albergue Casa Roxica. It was a tiny Albergue was on a small farm. There were just 11 peregrinos. We had a three course communal dinner with wine for 8 euros. It was a lovely evening. Everyone was relaxed. The temperature got up to 38C so we either slept or chatted in the shade.
    I set out at 5.45am this morning with Claudia and a Russian girl who tagged onto us. She didn't have a torch and relied on us to lead the way. At one stage, we came across 10 dogs across our path. The usual barking went off. Our Russian friend was terrified. She clung onto Claudia as we made our way past the. This happened Gain a few hour later when we came across more dogs.
    As we approached the town of Sobrado, we were joined by two French ladies I have walked with for several days. We walked into the town together and visited the fantastic Monasterio de Santa Marin de Sobrado. It was founded in 952. The monastery features an impressive Baroque facade, built in the 17th century. It is also an Albergue. All the peregrinos had already left. We wandered around the monastery and cloisters. It was wonderful. Photos attached.
    We stopped for breakfast before starting our last 10 kilometers to Biomorto where I am this evening. En route, we saw a huge school party ahead and were afraid that they were heading the same way. We ended up racing past them to the Albergue but they simply passed by.
    The Albergue is wonderful. It is ultra modern, sleeps 34 with every facility. All for 6 euros. It is easily the best one I have stayed in. So far there are only 8 of us here.

    Tomorrow is our last day on the Camino Del Norte as we will join the Camino Frances on our way to Santiago. We have only 50kms to go.
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  • Day26

    Camino Del Norte - Day 25

    July 4, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 25

    Baamonde to A Roxica
    Distance 25km (6 hours)
    Ascent 150m

    Baamonde was a very small village that depends heavily on the Camino. The Albergue was modern and spacious as it is on the 100km mark to Santiago. This is the minimum distance, a pilgrim must walk to receive a compostela.
    Thankfully, the nearby restaurant served early dinner so I was in bed before 8.30pm.
    I set off alone this morning at 5.45am. Claudia was already ahead of me by 30 mins. It was still very dark but cool. It was easy to follow the Camino markers. After walking on the road for 45 mins, I found myself in very dark woods. I feel really strong and my feet are in good condition.
    After 14km, I caught up with Claudia and we stopped for breakfast. I had bought bread, cheese and a tomato the night before. Breakfast was quickly devoured and we were on our way. As we set off, I realised that I had dropped my guide book somewhere on the Camino this morning.
    Claudia and I stopped a short time for coffee in Miraz. We were joined by our French peregrinos who FOUND my guidebook. There was much celebrations.
    The scenery was stunning and the walking was a pleasure. We were joined by a Russian pilgrim and chatted as we walked along. The heat slowly built up to 30C.
    By noon, we arrived at our tiny Albergue in A Roxica. It is a small farmstead with a population of three. Thankfully, I rang ahead and booked us beds for the night as it was full. The Albergue is fantastic, very modern and perfectly suited to pilgrims.
    Admin done, it is a case of staying out of the fierce heat, avoiding the flies and relaxing before a communal dinner.

    Tomorrow is another easy 25km. I have booked a hotel in Santiago for three days with a private bathroom......bliss 😎

    I have included some pictures of the Baamonde Albergue, wildlife encountered and general pictures on the Camino....enjoy.
    Thank you all again for amazing support and donations to B.I.R.D
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  • Day25

    Camino Del Norte - Day 24

    July 3, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 24

    Gontan to Baamonde
    Distance 41km (9 hours)
    Total ascent 320m

    Andrea, my Italian friend, was suffering from tendinitis and initially planned to take a day off. Claudia, my German peregrino, set off early this morning.
    I set off from the Albergue at 5.45am alone. It was pitch black. It was easy to follow the Camino signs and very quickly I was into the countryside and sunken lanes. I had to use my head torch a few times in woods but otherwise just relied on my night vision.
    Dawn came a few hours later. It was cool and very pleasant walking. I eventually switched on my iPod and rocked away the kilometers. I walked 2km with a Spanish guy who was out for a short walk. We conversed in Spanish. I was delighted that he spoke slowly so I could understand him and I could reply. He was puffing by the time I left him. I passed Claudia and carried on alone. At 9.30am, I stopped for some breakfast of bread and chorizo.
    The day was warming up quickly. I got to the city of Vilalba at 10am and stopped for breakfast. I waited for Claudia to catch up so we could walk the next 20kms together.
    Vilalba was not a particularly inspiring city so we passed through it quickly.
    Walking in Galicia is wonderful. The Camino winds its way through quiet roads/lanes and paths. They are very well marked and maintained. The only problem is the lack of water sources so you have to carry a lot of water.
    We stopped several times for breaks. One of the highlights was seeing huge storks flying over our heads.
    The heat built up so that the road was red hot. The Tarmac was bubbling up. We arrived at our Albergue exhausted but delighted that we had walked 41kms.

    I am 100kms from Santiago!

    Thank you for your amazing support and very kind donations to B.I.R.D
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  • Day24

    Camino Del Norte - Day 23

    July 2, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 23

    Lourenza to Gontan
    Distance 24km (7 hours)
    Total ascent 740m

    Last night, we settled down to a light supper but got talking to other peregrinos. One was the lovely GG from France. She was 69 and was two months on the Camino starting from Le Puy. She was an incredible lady. This was her fifth Camino after completing Via De La Plata, Caminos Frances and Portuguses. She has walked over 2,000km in two years. She walked at an incredible speed.
    We set off at 6am this morning with head torches. We met another Australiam guy almost immediately on top of a hill coming out of Lourenza. He had no head torch and there were dogs I a nearby field unchained. Once, we got past him, we went on our merry way. The day seemed to be one long climb ALL day to 740m.
    After 8.5km, all the usual peregrinos , i have got to know, seemed to gather in a city called Mondonedo. We found a cafe open next to it's 13th century cathedral and filled it to bursting. The cafe owner was run for his feet. It made a welcome break to the continual uphill climb.
    Andreas was suffering with tendinitis and was limping. GG gave him a short leg massage in the cafe. This is the true spirit of the peregrinos on the Camino. We share food, water, wine and chocolate.you can easily identify the peregrino in cafes/restaurant and invite/be invited to join a table to eat.
    We eventually walked to the end of a long valley and had another long ascent upwards. We finally arrived at an ultra modern Albergue in a small town called Gotan.
    We have carried out daily admin out and are resting before we have a long day tomorrow. We will walk to Baamonde (40km) away.
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  • Day23

    Camino Del Norte - Day 22

    July 1, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 22

    Ribadeo to Lourenza
    Distance 27.5km (7.5 hours)
    Total ascent 710m

    My stay at the Ribadeo Albergue was excellent. I decided to go on another short walk, without a rucksack, to the nearby headland. I am so pleased that I did. The views were fantastic. The bad weather had finally broken and the coast was bathe in sunshine.
    Evening meal was shared with my German and Italian peregrinos. We had break, cheese, red wine with gazoela (similar to Sprite).
    An early night as we were up for 5.30am and on the Camino for 6am. The sky was very black and threatening to rain again. Thankfully, it stayed away. The first few hours, we were climbing constantly through small hamlets and eucalyptus forests. The views were stunning. We had our last few of the Bay of Biscay.
    After 5 hours of walking, we finally found an open cafe in Villamartin Grande. We were starving.
    After large coffees and some food, we were ready to carry on. As we climbed another hill, a deer burst out through the undergrowth six feet in front of us. It looked at us and straight across the path to disappear again.
    We arrived at the Albergue in Lourenza at 1.30pm. We had our pick of beds and use of showers etc before the rest of the hoards arrive.
    Lourenza is a small sleepy town. It's highlight is the 10th century Benedictine Monasterio De San Salavador. It's facade is by the same architect who was also responsible for the Cathedral of Santiago's facade.

    Tomorrow means more hills and a slightly shorter way to Gontin.

    Buen Camino
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  • Day22

    Camino Del Norte - Day 21

    June 30, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 21

    La Caridad to Ribadeo
    Distance 23 km (5 hours)
    Total ascent 70m

    Last it 16 peregrinos settled down in our little Albergue located at the edge of the village. Nine of us went to a local restaurant for an evening meal. The Albergue hospilardo also worked in the restaurant. Before I even sat down, he handed me a bottle of Guiness! Hooray....
    We had a pleasant meal but found out that the Albergue in Vilela is shut. This was 5km past Ribadeo. There are only twelve beds in a tiny Albergue in Ribadeo. We decided to get up at 5am and set off at 5.30am.
    Overnight, the weather was shocking. You could hear torrents of water running off the roof. I woke before 5am and checked my guidebook. I made the decision to walk the road to Ribadeo as the Camino would be treacherous in terms of mud, flooding and the general awful terrain. The rest were in agreement.
    We set off but only got 100m before we found a cafe open which is really unusual. We all piled into the cafe for coffee.
    We set off a short time later in the downpour and set off at a pace. Three hours later, we were 7 kilometers from Ribadeo after I set a cracking pace for our group.
    By now, we needed breakfast and luckily found a truck stop where we took a short break.
    The rain continued lashing down. We just wanted to get to the Albergue and hope that the hospilardo would let us in early. We crossed the Ria de Ribadeo and saw the town ahead. We are in Galicia. We couldn't believe we had covered the distance so quickly.
    The Albergue was open. No one was there. We quickly showered and changed. Bepe, one of the Italians, had to leave us to catch a bus further along the Camino in order to catch a flight later next week. Our little band is now three, Claudia (German), Andreas (Italian) and l.

    Tomorrow, we leave the coast to walk to Santiago. It is a week away. ........

    Thank you all for your support.
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  • Day21

    Camino Del Norte - Day 20

    June 29, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 20
    Luarca to La Caridad
    Distance 31km (7 hours)
    Total ascent 340m

    As usual, our little intrepid gang set off at 6.30am from the Albergue. Luarca was a pretty town with a history for whaling and for caching a 30m octopus.
    The morning threatened rain again as dark clouds raced in from the Bay of Biscay. We walked through narrow country lanes and meandered our way through small woods. It was lovely to see swallows/swifts using the buffeting winds to feed off insects in the fields. As usual, black kites hunted above us.
    We stopped late morning for a Pergrinos breakfast. This consists of cafe con leche (coffee with milk), orange juice and a ham bocadillo. All for 3.50 euros. The place was busy with peregrinos.
    Around midday, we passed through Navia. There was a lovely market taking place. I found an old vagrant who looked like a peregrino. I ended up emptying all my change into his cockle shell.
    We crossed a long bridge and into more rural countryside. We only had 10km to go. It was simply a case of head down and keep going. The weather changed all the time from sunshine, a chilly wind or downpours. I lost count of the number of times my waterproofs came out.
    Around 1.30pm, we arrived at our little Albergue in La Caridad. It is a new Albergue with just 18 beds. It only costs 5 euros.

    Tomorrow, I will walk through the city of Ribaedo to a town called Vilela. It will be the last time I will follow the coast before entering Galicia and beginning the walk towards Santiago. To date, I have walked over 600km.

    Thank you all again for your fantastic donations.
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  • Day20

    Camino Del Norte - Day 19

    June 28, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day 19

    Soto De Luna to Luarca
    Distance 35.5km (10 hours)
    Total ascent 370m

    Our little band of peregrinos set off from the Albergue at 6.30am. My international band consisted three Italians, one Northern Ireland , a German and me.
    The kind hospilardo gave us a complex briefing the night before on the confusing fechas (yellow arrows) and the best route to take. Unfortunately, some people didn't listen and then got angry because the hospilardo got peeved off repeating himself.
    We quickly set off up into the hills and onto the coastal route. Although, it has rained overnight and there were very dark clouds on the horizon, our first few hours were stunning on the Camino. We chatted away as we made our way up and down ancient sunken lanes, through eucalyptus forests and along lane ways. Locals greeted us with waves, beeping car horns and waving insanely at us.
    We stopped briefly for breakfast around 9.30am. We had already been walking for 3 hours. The weather took a turn. It was either absolutely glorious or lashing with rain.
    En route, we stopped near a cliff top view point called Novellana. It was stunning. Everyone's spirit just lifted. It was incredible. Here we were, a small group of peregrinos who threw themselves into this adventure and we sharing this wonderful experience. Little did we know that this was change......
    We eventually arrived in a town called Cadavedo around midday after walking 20km but descending/ascending into numerous stunning bays and back up to the minor roads. We practically raided a little grocery store for food and drink while we waited for Nicol (Generalismo) to arrive. Unfortunately, he developed a hip pain and could no longer carry on. Gerry from Northern Ireland also decided to call it a day. We said our farewells in the Albergue and carried on. Our little intrepid group now down to four.
    The weather took a real turn for the worse. It was now pocho time as rain storms rushed in from the Bay of Biscay. We had to shelter behind trees because of the driving rain.
    We eventually arrived in a small fishing town called Luarca. It is a stunning location. We were lucky enough to get the few remaining bed in the Albergue. Admin completed, we were out immediately for tea and cake (no medals) and to buy food for the trail tomorrow.

    I hope you enjoy today's pictures. It was probably my best day on the Camino in some many ways. I am only sorry to say goodbye to some great people.
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