It’s taken me a long long time to get around to writing this post (although not as long as my still incomplete posts about Scotland and Germany from earlier this summer). I’ve finally decided that there’s far too much to try and fit into one long post so I’m going to break it into manageable bitesize sections. Later I’ll post a blog entry about the wildlife I encountered but in this first one, I hope to introduce you to the area and tell you a little about the walks I took in Cantabria.
My dad, my stepmother Maria and Tino the dog have lived in Galizano for 5+ years now and I have visited pretty much twice a year since then. It’s a really beautiful, peaceful village out of season but in the summer a lot of Spanish citizens from Madrid and the South come to the area to escape the heat so it can get pretty busy. I love visiting my family out there – it’s a great break from city life. The landscape around Galizano is an interesting mix which includes the Cantabrian Mountains; the fantastic Bay of Biscay coastline; and agricultural farmland. I love walking through the fields and along the cliff paths around my dad’s house. There is so much to explore!
My dad is trying hard to get fitter (in his old age). He does enjoy walking but he doesn’t really like to go out by himself so we make the most of my trips over there and take lots of walks/bike rides around the area together.
I mapped my walk on a website (fittingly called mapmywalk.com) which was really satisfying! Below are a few of my routes. I mostly followed the Camino de Santiago in both directions along the coast from the village. Although the routes I took were similar each day, there is always something different to see when it comes to the wildlife on the cliff path. Such biodiversity!
The sun was shining. The sea was blue. The heather was green and purple and the landscape dotted with wild flowers. Butterflies fluttered by. Goats noisily trotted about on the rocks. I really felt free and as if I could walk for miles and miles! Unfortunately, my little fatty dog isn’t used to walking for long periods of time especially on the up & down cliff paths, and in the heat of the day. He is easily tired and occasionally he was a bit sick so I had to cut a few walks short and phone dad to come and pick us up at the nearest car accessible point.
I have a couple of friends who are interested in joining me next year to try and walk the whole Camino de Santiago. There are a lot of different routes, starting in various countries but I would love to complete the Northern Spanish Coast walk. The number of people walking these annual pilgrimage routes has increased tremendously over the 20 years, with travellers from all over the world following the tracks and they do it for all sorts of reasons: from religious beliefs to fitness tests to personal challenges. I’d like to do it for the wildlife!
Even though there are so many different Camino paths and routes, it is supposedly very easy to find your way. The paths are well trodden and a yellow scallop shell or yellow arrow marks the way, as seen in the photograph below. The few kilometres I walked from Galizano had numerous signs and markers showing the way so I was never particularly worried about getting lost.
The path takes you past every church, hermitage and Christian place of worship on the route and according to an American couple I met while I was walking; it’s often a lot easier and quicker to follow your map to the nearest town and find your albergue (pilgrim hostel). The Camino route will possibly take you up a hill just to come back down again after looking at some old ruins! I still think I’d prefer to follow the path all the way though, the Camino de Santiago seems like a once in a lifetime thing that’s worth doing properly.
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