A Pilgrim’s Progress.

This old Viking is ‘on the beach’!

As previously mentioned, I have decided to begin a journey that has been a goal of mine for many years, ever since reading ‘Pilgrimage’ by Paulo Coelho. I intend to continue the  blog, which I suppose, remains true to its name. After all I’m sure there were many Vikings who put their adventuring aside and travelled towards whichever shrine they had in their hearts at the time… Be it Christian or Pagan. If one studies the header of my blog, the smaller print alludes to ‘a sailors journey of the heart’; thus I believe it is relevant to record my pilgrimage as an interlude to my gradual northerly migration in the Gulf of Bothnia, for surely this is very much an experience to push through the physical and into the realms of the soul.


‘These boots are made for walking’! Here I am at my beloved ‘Pret A Manger’ in Central London, having just walked thirteen miles in training for the Camino.

If this iPad allows it, I intend to record some of the trials and tribulations of this pilgrimage which is known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Compostela has a lovely meaning, quite literally, ‘Field of stars’.

Reputedly, the pilgrims would follow the Milky Way, which pointed to Santiago. I can just imagine the romance of this even though the way has become somewhat commercialised of late. However, I am reliably informed that it is still a life changing experienced and has been walked by thousands of pilgrims going back centuries, as the bones of St James are thought to have been interred in the Cathedral.

As you all know I tend to highlight the emotional and spiritual aspects to my journeys rather than a geographical and factual account of the places visited. My good friend Google can more than adequately provide the reader with this information.


I  have no expectations as to what I shall find on the Camino and pray for the strength and humility to follow the thousands who have gone before me. I am due to head south on the seventeenth of September, via Paris, Dax, Biarritz and Bayonne until reaching the tiny town of St Jean Pied de Port, in the Pyrenees. This is where the Camino begins.

I hope that all of you will accompany me in spirit and walk by my side as I cross the North of Spain; from the Foothills of the Pyrenees, through the long dusty plains of the Castille, until the rainswept verdant hills of Galicia, roughly five hundred miles.

blessings from a Viking Pilgrim…


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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32 Responses to A Pilgrim’s Progress.

  1. Michael Murphy says:

    17th of September.

    Dear Poppy, where are you starting from in France : are you taking the Eurostar to start with (in which case you could visit …… Lille !) ?

    Yours, Mike

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hello Mike,

      I am using the overnight Megabus to Paris and then connecting to a train for Biarritz from Montparnasse. I never thought of that as it is midweek and you are working.

      Perhaps I could visit on the return? Any ideas?

      • Viking Queen says:

        I have booked a hostel in Biarritz for the night of the 18th. This means I have two nights of shelter before St Jean.

  2. I will be with you, at least in the blogosphere! The pyrenees sounds exiciting. I remember a poem from year 6 at school, many years ago, talking about the Pyrenees, ” and the fleas that tease in the high pyrenees and the wine that tasted of the tar, Do you remember an inn, Miranda? Do you remember an inn?!!!” but know little else of it. I am sure you will tell me more.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Possibly… although I will only be in that region for a few days… Looks like it will be cold. The trick is to find a balance between warm and cold equipment without bringing the kitchen sink!
      It will be lovely to know that you are with me in on the web!

      • What a dilemma, choosing what to take.When I pack my suitcase, I put everything and then take out almost half. Seems to work.

      • Viking Queen says:

        True in most situations, but I’ll be travelling through autumnal mountains and long flat plains. There’ll be a big range of temperatures… and it’s a rucksack. I’ve walked hundreds of hiking miles in my life and even now all these years later, it’s still a challenge to pack!

  3. steviepreater says:

    Good luck and buen camino!

  4. Judith Brenchley says:

    I shall certainly be with you all the way. I lived in Galicia (Bayona, south of Vigo) in my student days when I was learning Spanish and of course I visited Santiago. It has been one of my ambitions to walk the way, but I shall read your blog (you are using this word now Poppy!) and be with you all the way. Good luck, buen viaje, and I shall read future missives with pleasure.
    PS, Poppy. I really feel my CFS/ME is retreating at last.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Oh Judith what great news! You have suffered so much and yet like a true adventurer come through it with philosophy… You’ve no idea how much respect I have for you.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Guilty as charged!!!! The word is insidious, creeping into my ever increasing American vocabulary along with countless nouns that have been converted into verbs! Aaaaargggghhhh! No disrespect to my American friends but I do love the English language in its more traditional form. ( I nearly said ‘format'”!)

  5. Lynda Hulme says:

    Off she goes again. Into the Spanish sunset (eventually!) May St. Christopher be with you on your travels Poppy. All our love – Tony and Lynda xx

  6. Mikael van ewijk says:

    Good luck Poppy!
    Free your mind.

  7. rollinwithcarro says:

    hi. i saw your mail and replied. you can come any time. as you wrote between 28 dec-2 jan. danne said” why can`t she stay longer” ? 🙂 love to see you soon, please feel free to stay at us as long as you want and can. 🙂 we miss you

  8. When you finalise your rucksack, can you share your packing tips with all of us in the blogosphere?

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hello Amanda,

      This is an valuable and interesting request. It is also quite difficult because, over the years I have been walking, trekking and generally in motion, I have failed to settle into a standard method. In short I am rather bad at this!
      As I am quite tall and strong, I probably tend to carry more than most… well, if the various Camino forums (fora?) are anything to go by. I have already had a message from someone saying that I don’t need a tent or a survival bag…

      I refuse to stumble into arguments with folk because what I take normally works for me, and I tend to view my walks from possible negative scenario, a defensive strategy, if you will. As a teenager, and attending a Northern Grammar school near rugged mountains, I spent most of my time outside with the outward bound group, canoeing, and mountaineering. I have therefore seen enough to never leave home without a survival bag, unless there there is a guaranteed lack of cold weather (I am crossing the Pyrenees in Autumn). A tent is also a must (mine is apparently the lightest single person tent in the world, A Canadian ‘Big Agnes’). Even in warm weather it is useful; I remember waking up once with a snake coiled up on the bottom of my sleeping bag in Israel. Never again, I can tell you!

      I don’t like walking in long trousers so I tend towards shorts or maybe a hybrid that comes just below the knee. Heat rises upwards so I prefer more warmth on top, e.g. fleeces, scarf/hats. Wet trousers are a nightmare. It is easier to clean mud off your legs than washing and drying long trousers, although I understand there are long trousers that can be converted quickly into shorts (I haven’t decided whether to buy a pair of these yet). I also find shorts more hygienically compatible, the perfect antidote to thrush (Candida)! So I am taking three pairs of shorts, three bra/vests, a fleece and a Berghaus, Gortex cagoule. I have found some wonderful 100% waterproof socks and have five pairs altogether (two more than most folk recommend). I believe keeping your feet healthy and cared for is absolutely vital. If there is continuous rain it may not be possible to wash and dry your socks so I err, once again, on the side of caution!

      On the subject of foot-care: I make sure to keep them supple with vaseline and every night I use a deep heat cream for deep relaxation. This is also vital for your shins too, especially when you are coming down from altitude. Tendonitis is a curse so I carry ibobrufen or something similar. The most important thing is not to over reach yourself. Most folk ruin their trek by over exertion on the first few days. Here is where the tent comes in handy. You can stop and rest early if needs be. You don’t have to reach that refugio or auberge. I have a wonderful pair of Kathmandu walking boots, well worn in, and a pair of trekking sandals for evenings or the occasional very hot weather.

      I’ll stop there, and maybe you can ask me some more salient points as it is a vast subject. I hope I’ve given enough of my own particular method, which has served me over the years. I fully respect folk who want to travel lighter with smaller rucksacks; but I also know it’ll be me that has to help them when they are freezing cold and lost, crossing the Pyrenees in October! Hypothermia is a nasty, insidious condition that can catch you unawares. A survival bag can save you from this, and one day it may be me who is providing one for someone else!

      • My goodness, this is a goldmine of information. Thanks so much. You really need to put this and any other points, on a whole blog post, and perhaps I can also share it on mine? Very, very useful information to the inexperienced trekker, (such as myself). Gortex is widely known, and the shorts/pants conversions maybe also, but perhaps your survival bag and footcare and the need thereof, is something that may be easily dismissed by the hiker, and no doubt regretted later. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Poppy! I have learnt much from this and filed it away in my head for future reference. October seems a perfect time to hike, even in the unpredictable late autumn, at least to me, who can’t contemplate vigorous exercise in the heat of summer. Would happily walk in rain, instead of high humidity and heat. 🙂

      • Viking Queen says:

        Kind words Amanda,

        But please… I’m no expert and it’s been a while since I’ve done this! I’ll probably end up having to stop the walk early after spouting forth! Don’t forget, this is just my view, and open to all sorts of disagreements. In the end it all comes down to what works for you. Like anything else, one has to make mistakes to learn… Hopefully they do not end up with any serious situations. If you just go with caution and a ‘gently does it’ approach, you should be fine.

      • Absolutely. Needs are as individual as people, I guess. I am probably similar to you in that I would rather err on the side of caution, in preparing for contingencies! 🙂

      • Viking Queen says:

        Very wise, Amanda!

        Walking can have it’s own share of problems; however it tends to be more forgiving than sailing, which tolerates fools in a less forgiving manner!

  9. Haha, of course. But sailing might be faster than walking!!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Not always! If you get the tides wrong you can end up going backwards!

      • Ok, that would be a big problem, but I imagine an experienced sailor like yourself, does not have that problem. I saw a place in England featured on Tv the other night, can’t think of the name of the place, where the tidal change caused one long wave that went for 15 miles. People were surfing it! Then if they ‘missed’ it, they would have to wait til the next day to try again. Amazing and funny when you have waves must bigger than that constantly. The world is an amazing place!

      • Viking Queen says:

        That would be the on the River Severn near Bristol and Gloucester. The tidal range here is second in the whole world with only the Bay of Fundy in Newfoundland larger. It is about 13 metres between high and low water! That is incredible. Also the stretch of water between Orkney and the North coast of Scotland, the Pentland Firth, has a maximum tidal strength of fourteen knots!!! Can you imagine getting that wrong?

        You are correct… the world is an amazing place. What a wonderful gift to share it and be aware…

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