Way back in September 1998 whilst touring through France with my mum Patricia and friends I came across some little shell shaped bronze plaques embedded in the footpath outside of a cathedral. Not thinking too much about it I continued on with my touring....a few days later our little group decided to drive down to view a grotto near Vezelay. Once again I noticed the little scallop shell insignia. My mum thought they had something to do with pilgrim walking paths. Thinking she was mad, I thought who would walk all the way out here and beyond?
Some years later whilst reading a weekend travel section in the newspaper I saw this little shell again, and a story about the ancient pilgrim trails that all diverged on Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Incredulous as I was of the idea of people walking so far I became intrigued and began my own research.
The Way of St James is today, as it has been for hundreds of years, a path across the Castilian plain to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela in NW Spain.
Now, I am not going to delve into and bang on about the historic importance of these pilgrim paths as my belief is you should research this for yourself. The reason for my blog is I have a commercial business, a little boutique B&B in Rutherglen, Victoria (Australia) and for some time now between running my business, greeting guests and hosting their stays, I have been out and about training for my Camino Frances (The Way of St James) which will see me walk no less than 800kms across the northern reaches of Spain and onwards to the End of the World! Also known as Finisterre. My extended camino will take me all the way to the Atlantic Coast of Spain, then along the coastal camino route to Muxia. By the end of my camino I will have walked about 900? Maybe a little more! Exhausted just thinking about it!
Some guests of the B&B have consulted me about where do I walk to do this training? How long do I walk for? How do we get to where you go to train? So, I got thinking....hey why not take the guests with me? Then thinking further ahead, I should invite past, present and future pilgrims to come to the B&B and join me for a few days of hiking, walking and exploring all the natural beauty of our area.
So this blog will, for the next 10 months, document my Camino training, my equipment purchases, findings on socks, yes socks! They play a most crucial role in the prevention of blisters apparently.....as does vaseline, paw paw ointment and moleskin blister pads...whaaaaaaa! Where will it end? Headlamps, walking poles, water bladders, trail shoes, toe socks....Injinji what!?
All new, strange sounding but incredibly exciting....enjoy my pics, my blog posts and please feel free to comment...I hope you find it of interest and help, and that it will inspire you to plan your own Camino!
My blog recollections and posts will eventually include my very personal, spiritual journey in the European autumn of 2018.
The Callitris hike was my first roughy! On what was to be a hot day, and albeit I headed off earlier than usual, there was a lesson learned? Go even earlier! The total distance of 16kms belied the rugged tracks with many ruts, loose stone and steep incline/declines.
Overall it was quiet with just bird song and calls to accompany me through the Ironbark forest of the Chiltern-Mt Pilot NP in NE Victoria. The Spring wild flowers were prolific and colourful, and added a welcome distraction from my new heel blister!
Mining of the Magenta Reef commenced in 1860. Earth, rock and quartz were excavated and carted out by horse and dray. The open cut was worked to a depth of 15 metres and later partially filled with mullock. Two shafts were sunk to access gold bearing ore. Today, you can view one of these from the eastern side of the open cut. The other shaft has since been filled in for safety. Further along the track there is a viewing platform to view the enlarged tunnel or drive, which was worked to a depth of 30 metres. The quartz was crushed at the nearby stamper batteries and the timber foundations can still be seen today.
The mine closed around 1910, but was revived during the 1930s Depression. Published figures report a total of 21,665 tons of material was crushed, yielding 9900 ounces of gold. It is thought 13,000 ounces of gold is more accurate. In its heyday, Magenta was a significant residential area. Now the tall Ironbark trees with their black, deeply furrowed bark, are a spectacular backdrop to the red soils of the area.
This gentle undulating track walk is 15 kms and also takes in the original Goldfields Cemetery. Albeit I was not quick enough to photograph them, I did see many Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots. Once again the wildflowers did not disappoint.
Rutherglen is blessed with relatively flat roads, and a gorgeous section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail which winds itself throughout our famous wine region. Now, as we know trains don't often travel uphill so these rail trails are great for endurance riding, and training. Today I did a 25km return training ride, as fast as I can there and back with a 20 minute rest and stretch at Cornishtown.
Well its official, I have a way out of the country next year..Ive booked my frequent flyer seat to Paris!
So what does the girl do? Go for a bike ride and enjoy a terrine and rose lunch of course!
The Yeddonba Aboriginal Cultural Site is situated at the foot of Mt Pilot in the Chiltern-Mt Pilot NP (NE Vic.). This heritage area provides an insight into local Aboriginal culture as well as provides a great training ground for the Camino Frances. A rock scramble from the car park leads you up to a raised platform area where rock paintings can be viewed. The return walk down to the car park affords many fine views, and once again proves technical to negotiate the path without hiking poles, note to self...get a pair soon!
Always a gorgeous, undulating and easy walk in from the Chiltern-Beechworth Rd, Mt Pilot Lookout never fails to take my breath away for all the best reasons. Enjoy the pics. Its an easy 5.8km round trip.
Walking through Box Ironbark Forest the first thing you notice is the prolific spread of Ironbark forest which apparently has changed considerably since gold was discovered in 1858 accordingly to my guide map. For 50 years until the early 1900’s the box and ironbark trees were cut to supply timber for the mine and firewood for local people. Since then, timber has been taken for poles and fence posts. Early records show that the original forest consisted of large, well-spaced trees, and a grassy floor. Today the trees are mostly young and straight, and close together and there is plenty of them.
Admission time now! We got lost! The map was terrible, the signposting weird and of course, each wrong turn we were faced with an enormous hill to climb! At one stage we heard overhead a helicopter and wondered if the other halves might have called in the troops to look for us!
Our walk overlapped a few of the local trails but predominantly we were on the Chiltern Valley Trail. Kerfuffled by the repeat of the Donchi Hill Rd signage it became clear later reviewing the Mr. Google satellite map the road is a circuit and we kept crossing over it along other small tracks. All ended up okay, and I was excited to see an Indigoferis Australis, our local Indigo Pea.
Lesson learned from this exercise, from now on double check maps with Mr. Google satellite maps, the satellite mapping is rarely wrong. Still the steep incline walk (whilst lost but not panicking) was a great workout.
What a gorgeous late winter, early spring walk. The flowers were beginning to bloom, the native sarsaparilla (Happy Wanderer as most of us know it) was gorgeous, so vibrant. Whilst admiring our natural beauty my mind wanders with excitement to my scenic Camino next year. I am beginning my walk late European summer and will end mid-fall (autumn). From my understanding the weather will be lovely, maybe a day or two rain, and the scenery stunning!
This walk starts at the Honeyeater Picnic area. Its a 8.5km walk which took around 2 hours, and it afforded plenty of natural beauty and historical features of the NP, and even offered a little 'quiet area' of upturned cut logs to sit and contemplate the surroundings.