The Camino de Santiago is more than a long-distance walk. It is an ancient pilgrimage, and for most who walk it, a life changing experience. Many people don’t realise that there are many ‘Caminos’ or ‘paths’ to Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino Frances (or French Way ) is the one most referred to as the Camino de Santiago. Beginning at the border of France and Spain, it traverses the northern regions of Spain , from the Pyrenees in the east to Santiago in the west. For 780 or so kilometres it passes through cities, towns and villages, as well as mountains, tablelands, farm country and wilderness.
Lots of people talk about a ‘Camino Calling’ – an irrational or difficult to explain urge to walk across a country that they know little or nothing about. Sometimes this voice from afar has been calling for years, and has finally become too insistent to shrug off. For others, the idea of a pilgrimage has arrived only recently but its promise refuses to budge.
Many who walk the Camino today do so for spiritual and personal reasons that are not necessarily religious. Modern walkers are often motivated by the whole experience that the Camino offers – time out to reflect, the physical and mental challenge of walking such a distance, and the chance to experience the history and culture of Northern Spain.
Yet all who have walked the Camino, from medieval times until today, have set out to undertake a significant and meaningful journey – a journey that demands hardship but more than compensates with personal and spiritual enrichment.