So I’m walking the Camino with two friends – the last bit from Sarria to Compostela. It’s clear from the comments on Twitter and Facebook that this is something which people think about doing.

Practicalities first – my feet are sore and so are my knees. I’ve walked over 20k on each of the last two days and will do more tomorrow. And it’s hot.

But the other bit of pilgrimage is the people. There are dozens if of it hundreds doing the same thing. And you can talk to anyone and everyone. It took me a while to work out why they all seemed to be Irish – then somebody told me that the Aer Lingus flight arrives on Thursday. So we are moving down the Camino with that plane-load of Irish people.

Which of course is completely fascinating for any student of secularisation in Ireland and Scotland. The stories are often of people with deep spirituality who have parted company with institutional religion. That’s why pilgrimage is important – the journey is more important than the destination; relationships are more important than dogma. I’m learning a lot!


  1. Unless you’re middle/upper middle class, this is pretty much impossible. This long hike is basically “Guardianista” spirituality. Middle-class, middle-aged, and middle-brow.

  2. The name Clare Balding probably brings to mind a Beeb sports presenter & if you’re going to name 1 sport, it would be racing ( Clare was Champion Lady Rider in 1990 ). However, in next weeks RT ( 20-26 Sept ) , there’s a very good wee extract from Clare’s new book, Walking Home. In a few paras , she nails what this walking is about ………

  3. I walked from Roncevalles to Santiago de Compostela in 2009 – it was the journey…all about the journey. I leearned so many life lessons on those 40 days as a pilgrim. Buen Camno, fellow pilgrim. – Ginn, In Sunny South Carolina

  4. I have a friend in church who works so hard doing all the practical tasks nobody else can tackle but he never receives HC so I asked him why. He didn’t answer but shook his head slowly, negatively. Then he was missing for a few few weeks but returned looking tanned. He told me he and a pal had walked the pilgrim route to Santiago Compestela in Spain, to the cathedral. He said the cathedral was ok but enthused about the pilgrim journey at length. He said that the meaning for him could not be easily described with mere words.

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