Catherine O’Day recently walked a challenging 186,415 steps over 6 days and achieved the Portuguese Camino certificate! She discussed with us her journey through Spanish vineyards, country lanes and little Spanish villages…

What made you decide to take part in the Portuguese Camino?

A good friend sadly lost her husband just before covid and had to spend initial lockdown on her own grieving which was a very difficult time for her.  She decided she wanted to do The Camino to take time to reflect on last 2 years and to think about where her life goes now. I decided to keep her company.

Did you do anything to prepare?

We were both avid walkers and regularly walked 5km to 7km 3 to 4 times a week. In preparation we increased the length of our walks to 10k to 12km and increased how often we walked.

How many kilometres did you walk and how long did it take?

We walked a total of 124.33km over 6 days (186,415 steps!) You need to complete 100k to get official Camino certificate.

Which route did you take?

We walked the final part of the Portuguese Way starting in Tui which is a small town in Spain at the Portuguese/Spanish border.  Our route was Tui, Porrino, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis, Padron, Santiago de Compostela.

What were the highlights for you?

Highlight has to be arriving in main square in Santiago de Compostela, seeing the magnificent Cathedral with hundreds of other pilgrims arriving from all directions.

Walking through beautiful Spanish countryside and through little Spanish villages with locals calling out ‘Bon Camino’.

Also loved getting up every morning knowing that all we had to do that day was walk! No other distractions, no chores, just 6 whole days all to ourselves.

How many hours of walking did you do each day?

We started at 8.30am every morning, walked about 6 hours each day averaging about 20/21km per day with a few coffee stops along the way, usually arriving at our destination around 2/2.30pm. This gave us time to see a little bit of each of the towns we stayed in.

How did you feel when you finished?

We felt exhilarated and a great sense of achievement. A bit emotional too!

Would you recommend the experience and why?

Absolutely. The whole experience was amazing. The route was so clearly marked and there were so many other pilgims or to give then the Spanish title ‘pellegrinos’ sharing the route with us, we just couldn’t get lost. Over the 6 days we met people from all round the world walking the Way with us, all going the same way to the same destination but taking different periods of time to get there. We were also very fortunate with the weather.

Do you have anything similar you would like to do next?

Yes, we plan to The West Highland Way next year and maybe someday do part of the Spanish or French Way.

What sights did you see along the way?

As above mainly lovely Spanish countryside, through vineyards and along country lanes and pathways, and through quant little Spanish villages. Very little of the route was along side of busy roads which was great.

Catherine O’Day

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