Mick Byrne

Joined April 2016
  • Day4

    Day 3 Altadena de la Plata to El Real de la Jara
    14km 3.5 hours.
    I set off from the wonderful municipal Albergue at 6.45am. There were only 6 peregrinos in the dorm Most were walking to Monestrio 34km. After the last few brutal days, I opted for 14kms particularly as it will be much hotter today.
    The first few hours were spent walking alone in darkness through rural farms.
    Thankfully the dogs, I encountered in the farmsteads, were curious and not aggressive.
    I meet a few of the peregrinos on the path. They had stopped for breakfast.
    I passed through vast areas of goats and black pigs feeding on acorns. The whole area is called the North Sierra National Park. The area is vast.
    After a few big hills, I finally arrived in El Real de la Jara at 10.15am. My day walk was complete. I stopped at the municipal Albergue at the entrance to the village. It was empty. The routine is grab a bed, do your admin and the hospilardo calls at sometime to register you and take the 10euro payment. The Albergue looked very dark, unclean and uninviting.
    There was a private Albergue a few doors down that had good reports and more importantly WiFi for the same price.
    As it’s Saturday, most places are closed. I did manage a sandwich in a bar and to get some fruit. This weight loss program should achieve some results.
    Tomorrow will be 20km (around 5 hours) to Monesterio. As it will be Sunday, I will start early to be in time before the restaurants and shops close.
    Hasty luego.
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  • Day3

    Day2 Castiliblanco to Altadena de la Plata
    It was an early start from the Albergue to the next pueblo 30kms away.
    The only problem was walking 16kms along a road before turning into a national park.
    The first few hours were in the dark but after dawn the temperature quickly rose in the 30C again.
    The trail passed through cork plantations. I had to carry 3 litres of water as there were no facilities.
    There were few peregrines on the trail. As the heat of the day became worse, I got slower and slower. I had to take many water breaks.
    The real sting in the tail came in the last kilometre when I had to climb 300ft over a hill to drop down to the pueblo. I really struggled to get to the top but my roar, when I did get there, must have been heard in Seville.
    I literally staggered into the village 7.5 hours after setting out. Although, I must have stunk to high heaven, I went into a restaurant and ordered the menu of the day.
    The waitress was lovely. I drank 3 litres of water with my meal which really restored my energy.
    I am now settled in the municipal Albergue in this pueblo.
    Tomorrow’s distance will be 14kms to El Real de la Jara. I could walk another 20kms to Monesterio but I am not going to push my luck.
    Hasty luego.
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  • Day2

    I left Seville this morning at 7am in total darkness. I had a great nights sleep. Finding my way out of the city was difficult.
    I eventually got to the marked Camino path and walked along a river. I walked with a lovely Swedish lady who was also starting her Camino.
    Sunrise brought us out into open countryside. It was one long straight gravel track that went on for miles. To be honest, It was pretty boring.
    My new companion got slower and slower as the temperature quickly rose to the mid 30C. We passed through Santipoce, the birthplace of Emperor Hadrian.
    We eventually arrived in a small town called Guilena. My companion was exhausted and booked into an albergue.
    I was feeling strong and made the BAD decision to carry on another 18km. It is described in the guidebook as a ‘stage from hell.’ I thought that I could knock the distance out in no time. Boy, was I wrong! I got a real kicking. The heat was unbearable. I stooped and had a short siesta under a tree. The heat sucked all my energy. I eventually arrived in Castiliblancos 43km after 11 hours walking.
    The hostel staff were wonderful. I have completed my admin, purchased some energy food for tomorrow and will have an early night.
    I won’t be walking stupid distances like this again....I hope 😬
    Buenas noches.
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  • Day1

    Arrived in Seville

    September 19 in Spain

    A very early start this morning to join the chaos at Terminal 3 Manchester Airport. A big thank you to my great wife for getting me there.
    Arrived in Seville on time. While paying the bus conductor my fare, he was delighted to show me all his Camino tattoos. He was definitely a seasoned peregrino. We spoke for about 10 minutes and I got to use my poor Spanish. We left shaking hands.
    I got to the cathedral and found the small, very well hidden, office. I got my first Via de la Plata stamp.
    I wandered around the city and finally located my pension. My room is smaller than a cell but clean. It will be an early night and an early start to beat the 30C heat tomorrow.
    Hasty luego.
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  • Day0

    Preparations

    September 18 in the United Kingdom

    Tomorrow, I will fly to Seville in preparation to begin trekking the Via de la Plata to Santiago de Compostela. At present, the average temperature is around 32C. Rucksack is packed and weighs 10kgs. I hoped to have it weigh less and have been brutal in terms of minimalism.

    After an early morning flight, I will spend an easy day in Seville by visiting the Cathedral and collecting my first Camino pilgrim stamp. I have booked a room in a small pension near to the Cathedral.

    I will begin my trek on Thursday morning.

    "Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls". Jeremiah 6:16
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  • 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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