It has not been a year of hikes on big trails, but in the background, I have been covering the miles on days out walking on the South Downs. The Downs have grown on me slowly, but as a I look back on 9 months of walking there, I realise that they have become an important place of escape and an unexpected adventure.
Blessed with two glorious spring days, I set out with a trusty Jack Russell to walk the 39 mile New Lipchis Way from north to south through West Sussex. It was a stunning and diverse journey that took us deep into ancient rural landscapes and through the heart of the South Downs National Park, before descending to the Cathedral city of Chichester and finally the sea at East Head.
The calm before the storm. A walk with Oscar on the beach at sunset, the last calm day before storm Barbara rolled in from the west and a week of gales set-in. Its certainly been while since I last blogged and not surprising really as the last couple of months have not exactly inspired me…
It’s been over 2 months since we returned from walking the GR1 and we’ve had time to review our thoughts on the trail. This post covers issues such as how we found wild-camping, food re-supply, the weather, route highlights and any problems and dislikes. The GR1 has so much to offer hikers looking to get off the beaten track and into the lonely heart of Spain.
With some time on our hands before leaving Spain, we returned to Santiago in the hope of liking it a little better! We were not disappointed, it was the build-up to the Fiesta of St James and the city was bursting with pilgrims. We spent hours enjoying the buzz of the new arrivals and finished on a high with a magnificant firework display. En-route home we visited the start point of our 2015 GR11 hike at Cape de Higuer and enjoyed an unexpected coincidence.
After 11 weeks on the trail we finally reached the ‘End of the World’ at Cape Finisterre. Our final few days on the Camino Finisterre had their challenges but arrival on the cool, glittering Atlantic coast was worth it. Cape Finisterre was the ‘proper’ ending we had been hoping for and we initally enjoyed the luxury of not having to hike- although soon enough we started to feel the loss of our simple and satisfying trail life.
At the beginning of Week 10 we set out from the buzzing city of Oviedo to hike 350km on the Camino Primitivo. The Primitivo is pretty tough, but it was made tougher by the heat and humidity. It took a while to learn to share the trail with others again and also to like the Primitivo as a trail, but it had redeemed itself by the time we arrived in the great pilgrim city of Santiago.
The week got off to a difficult start with the shadow of Brexit looming over our thoughts and sapping our motivation. After a wild swim broke the spell, we focussed again and the GR1 treated us to a glorious traverse of the Picos Regional Park before ascending to it’s finale at the pass of Puerto de Tarna.
One of our favourite weeks on the GR1 so far, across stunning limestone landscapes awash with wildflowers. There was a palpable relief to be back on the trail again and far from the world in Spain’s rural depths. The trail and weather were trying at times, but we have returned with a renewed appreciation for the journey and freedom.
After a short, unplanned break from the trail, we have arrived back in Spain to complete our GR1 adventure. 400 miles remain on our journey to Santiago and mythical Finisterre, and we return refreshed and looking forward to our ascent into the mountains of Cantabria.