Did anyone really believe I was done with the Camino de Santiago?
There are several ancient pilgrim routes to Santiago, millions if you count the original starting points for pilgrims over the centuries which were simply started from their front doors, so I may be done (for now) with the Frances, but the call of camino continues to ring out in my soul and there are still many experiences to be had and lessons to be learned on the Way of St James… And wines to be tried. And friends to be made. And church walls to run my hands along.
The Via de la Plata follows the ancient roman road from Seville to Astorga and every kilometer you would have found a meter high (of course) Roman milario, a few remain, and I’ll enjoy rubbing my sweaty DNA all over them as I pass too.
So, to heed the fresh call of the camino, I’ve decided to walk the Via de la Plata in January 2018 which runs from Seville to Santiago de Compostella and at 1000kms, is the longest of the traditional pilgrim routes in Spain and the road travelled by Christians from North Africa making their way to the remains of St James for thousands of years.
This is a less travelled road than the Camino Frances, and as such has fewer facilities, less albergues and long distances between rest stops, it’s a lonelier road with less than 10,000 pilgrims completing it per year and likely a handful on the road while I walk in January. I will need to prepare for long days of 30-35km in changeable weather.
With only 19 days in which to walk the route, I’ll be lucky to make the 500kms from Seville to Salamanca to get to the half way point. From there I’ll RENFE it to Madrid and EASYJET it back to London. I plan to return and complete the Via de la Plata later in the year and possibly with a French woman in tow if I can convince her.
With only one month until I fly to Seville I am super excited, not only to be walking again and in new surroundings, but also to be visiting some places in Spain I’ve wanted to experience for a long time including Seville, Zafra, Caceres and Salamanca. This walk will take me through the heart of Andalucia with its olive trees and almond groves, through Extremadura with its mouth-watering Iberico and Bellota jamons and into familiar territory, Castille y Leon, where much of the Frances is walked, arriving finally in Salamanca, home to Spain’s oldest university and some of her best restaurants. Does anyone else notice a theme? As far as food goes, I would be surprised if the Via de la Plata does not beat the Frances into a poor second gastronomically.
I’ve no idea what to expect from this journey, there’s not really a recommended guidebook like the Brierley guides, so this will be a true adventure – if true adventure means getting lost, attacked by dogs, shoo-ed off property and sleeping outdoors as forum comments suggest for this route!
A la paz de Diós!