Wednesday 16th August
In exactly 31 days - one month - I'll be another year older (plus 2 days). On that day, 16th September, Janet and I will stand at the front of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the Seville Cathedral, and take our first steps on our 1,000 kilometre, 55 day path north to Santiago de Compostela Archcathedral Basilica. As many of you know, I'm not a religious person, but there is still something special about following a great religious pilgrimage. Walking a path which has been followed by devout believers (and others) over the last millennium is not something which one does every day.
The map below shows our path. The walk is generally known as the Via de la Plata, although to be precise it is two Caminos, the Via de la Plata itself (the purple markers) and the Camino Sanabrés (the blue markers). Orange markers signify double/rest days.
If you click on the link above it will take you to Google Maps, and you can see each day labelled, hopefully to correspond with the daily blog posts. In the table in Google Maps, on the left, click on the town name and it will take you to that place.
For those interested in some more detail, here's a detailed place/distance itinerary.
The Via de la Plata roughly follows an ancient Roman road (or perhaps road network). History appears to have distorted the original purpose of the path. "Via de la Plata" means Silver Road in Spanish, and the mythology surrounding the path is that it was a Roman trading route from silver mines to the north. This would seem to not be true; the naming seeming to be a distortion of the Arabic word al-balat. See here for a bit of background.
But let's not get too precise about such matters. However it was first named, it'll be a helluva walk. Sitting here in the comfort of my home office in Yallingup I recognise feelings of both excitement and apprehension. The excitement is hopefully obvious. Apprehensive? Not so much from an overall "can we do it?" perspective, because we've walked two other Caminos, plus I've wandered around the Himalaya on quite a few occasions, and that can be quite demanding. No, the apprehension comes from knowing that there'll be some sections which which will be particularly tough. Day 3 of the walk from Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almadén de la Plata, a 28klm stretch with no towns, food or water in between, stands out as the first of the challenges, especially since at day 3, we'll hardly be "match fit" at that point. And perhaps moreso if the current high temperatures continue (it was was 38-degrees in Seville yesterday, rising to 43-degrees on Sunday!). In early October the 33-kilometre stretch from Casar de Cáceres to Cañaveral, again with no towns, food or water in between, will repeat that challenge. And there'll be others. Still, a challenge is a challenge ...
I'm proposing to write a daily blog, as I did for One Million Steps, which of course turned into An Impossible Dream. Whether this turns into another book or not only time will tell. Hopefully though the story of each day's walk will be interesting for you out there in blog-land - the walk itself, a bit of history about the towns and region, the food and wine, the people. If you've not done so already, please pop your email address into the "join my mailing list" box above (I'll not be regularly putting links onto social media; maybe just every now and again, so being on the mailing list is the best way to receive updates). The walk, and the blog, also allows me a wonderful opportunity to continue to immerse myself in the culture and history of the Iberian peninsula, both of which form further foundations for my second book (my first novel). That book, which presently has the working title The Knight, has been a work-in-progress for a couple of years now, and I hope to finish it by early next year.
The bags aren't exactly "packed", but a lot of the gear is sorted, and importantly, the weigh-ins have commenced. Mine is presently 9.3kgs, ex food and water. Not much opportunity for culling, but I'll see what can be done. Knocking one or two kgs off that would be good, but that's probably not doable.
I may do a pre-departure birthday blog from Seville on the 14th, or maybe a recovery post on the 15th after the previous night's dinner at the Michelin starred Cañabota (which I booked yesterday), otherwise the next planned post will be from the town of Guillena 22klms north of Sevilla at the end of Day 1.
Hasta entonces ...