The route continued to Palas De Rei. After leaving Portomarin, crossing the River Mino we continued uphill steadily through woodland, the rain continued and got heavier and heavier. Continuing through small hamlets, passing the Hospital de la Cruz. Arriving at Vendas de Naron to get a ‘pilgrim stamp’ the old Romanesque Chapel, then continuing along the paved path, arriving at Sierra de Ligonde which offered fantastic views over the valleys. Particular parts of the route were isolated and quiet, apart from a rather large dog. The fog was dense and we were soaked through.
Approaching A Calzada the weather was so bad, we took shelter under a tree. There were other walkers, one an Australian man, we had met further back in other towns. After discussing the weather, our blisters, stories of one walker getting frostbite back in the Pyrenees, our conversation compared the weather to life and the Camino, there are good and bad times, but we must press forwards.
The Camino de Santiago builds resilience, both emotionally and physically, it enables us to develop a positive mind and can-do-attitude. We can integrate resilience into our lives on a daily basis, by being more active, getting more sleep and eating well, forgiving ourselves and resolving conflict. These small steps can help us improve our mental health and to face everyday challenges.
Camino de Santiago is an excellent reason to take time out and integrate some walking mindfulness into your Camino. Be aware of the sounds of nature, the wind, sun, rain and other people. How can we become mindful of our experience of walking? Start with a natural relaxed walking rhythm, keep your attention in the soles of your feet, being aware of the alternating patterns of contact with your foot as it makes contact with the ground, then focus on sensations in your muscles and joints, expanding that awareness into your posture and breathing.
Adventure education is a type of experiential education, it is based on theories that individuals learn through direct experience rather than classroom based activities. Having walked with my daughter on the Camino de Santiago, it was apparent to see the many rewards of learning outdoors. The Camino also develops skills of resilience as participants have to walk day after day, some carrying 8kg backpacks in all types of weather. Adventure education focuses on self-esteem development, problem solving and effective communication skills. Furthermore, learning to undertake risk management skills, making decisions, planning a daily route of walking and navigating offers increased participation, interaction, a sense of achievement and learning which is relevant and meaningful.
Having just completed the Camino de Santiago, 112 km last leg, embarking on a long walk can reap many benefits. The Camino gives many qualities such as physical fitness and wellness, mental stamina, mindfulness, social health of interacting with like-minded pilgrims also on the same journey. Equally important is being surrounded by nature and taking care of the environment. The physical and social environment in which we live is very different from the one in which humans evolved, there have been dramatic changes in our diet, a decrease in our physical activity levels, increased stimulation from social media which has been associated with poor health. Walking the Camino enables us to get back to the basics, regular physical activity, less processed food, travelling light and taken time out for reflection.
Walking the Camino de Santiago is going to challenge all muscles and joints, particularly as the accumulation of mileage increases over the forthcoming days. Today’s exercise focus is on the pelvis, hips, hamstrings, quads and gluteals. Muscles undergo some form of conditioning during everyday activities such as stair climbing, getting up out of a chair and walking. However, when walking for a series of consecutive days it is important to ensure there is sufficient control of the pelvis when walking. There should be a balance of the hip musculature, so that the extensors do not overpower the flexors. A simple conditioning exercise to do is the ‘squat’, ensuring good joint alignment and positioning is undertaken when performing the exercise.