The weather man had said to expect lots of rain today so we took a break from the coastal path and instead decided to visit a famous little town on the banks of the river Shannon. I’ll give you a clue to its name :

There was a young woman from Manzac
Who travelled a lot with a rucksack
She often went far
Without need of a car
dadadadadada (I’m leaving the last line for you all to complete… answers below please)

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Under Benbulbin | Wild Atlantic Way

A year ago we watched a TV program hosted by Adrian Dunbar (of AC12 and Line of Duty fame). He travelled around Ireland’s coast, visiting well known and lesser well known places. One such place was Benbulbin and Drumcliffe and of course I added it to my ever growing list of places that I wanted to visit.

This post has moved and you can read about our glorious hike in Ireland here :

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Cliffs of Moher | Wild Atlantic Way

A few years ago I read a blog of someone hiking the Wild Atlantic Way and the photos were enough to make me dream of following in their footsteps. As well as our hiking trips we also home swap and this year we had the chance to swap houses with two families in Ireland and of course this meant that we could walk sections of this glorious trail. I didn’t have any particular sections or places in mind, I just love the idea of coastal walking through a land steeped in legend and history.

The Wild Atlantic Way begins on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal and continues along Ireland’s west coast through the counties Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry, finishing in Kinsale, County Cork. The entire route is over 2600 kms long… which is a tad too much for us on this trip as we only have 14 days but we hope to make the very most of those days.

Our first home was near the little town of Ennis in County Clare. It’s a sweet little town, with lots of shops and bars and restaurants, a pretty old town centre full of brightly painted shops and plenty of history too. It’s been called the friendliest town in Ireland and it certainly lived up to that!

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Burgos to Santiago 2022 | Then We Walked

I had a day alone in Burgos before meeting my second group and had plans to go exploring but… Gerry hasn’t spent a lot of time in the city and so we agreed I should wait until he can come with me. Instead I relaxed, ensured all was in order for the group and I met up with a camino buddy Carol from Camino Confidence.

My group arrived at different times. Some arrived on the night bus from Bordeaux and the others had driven down but we were all safely checked in to the hotel in time for dinner! We met, we ate, we explored the main cathedral square at night and we made plans to eat for breakfast the next morning… and the start of our 500 kilometre walk to Santiago.

The last time I walked this section was with my walking buddy Jaqui, indeed we walked at the same time of year so things looked very familiar. I thought about her a lot over the coming days. I miss her a great deal; she died aged 51 and she is constant reminder to me that life should be lived. We had so many laughs on that camino and it was nice to remember the laughs that we shared. And my new group certainly liked to laugh!

We walked out of Burgos in bright sunshine. We stopped for tapas and cold drinks and took many many photos of the nesting storks, who would become quite a feature of our walk to Santiago. Again we stayed in a mix of alburgues (in our own rooms) and private twin and triple rooms. We managed to share a coffee with Rebekah in Moratinos and lunch with Carol again from Camino Confidence.

When I first walked the Camino Frances I hated to walk from Rabanal to Molinaseco. On subesquent walks I enjoyed it more but last time with Jaqui she fell and it dropped down my list of favourite sections. However, this time, I LOVED it! We had glorious weather and it was just the most perfect of two days. We stayed overnight in the large pilgrim hotel outside of El Acebo and watched the most spectacular of sunsets.

The other thing I did differently this time was the walk to O Cebriero. I took the horse! Oh my it was fabulous! Half of my group walked… they were determined to walk every step. Three of us took the horse and gosh I loved it. And just like the last two mountain stages, we had perfect weather! Glorious! Also, for the first time, I celebrated my birthday whilst walking a camino; I was definitely walking with the right group as they can sniff our a good bar or a good restaurant no matter where we were… and for the another first on any camino was that I drank coffee liquor for breakfast!

Indeed we had been so lucky with sunny days, right up until the last. It rained and it rained and it rained on the last day into Santiago. But the weather couldn’t dampen our spirits, we made it! My fabulous little second group had stuck together through sunburn, blisters, sore tendons, sore throats and sore feet. I think the last day was perhaps one of the wettest days I’ve walked but just as with everything else, the group took it in their stride!

The new system at the Pilgrim’s office worked a treat, everyone collected their Compostela, we celebrated our achievements, enjoyed a great meal and spent a day exploring the city. We even hired a car and managed one more sunset at Fisterra before saying goodbye and heading back to France.

What a glorious 700km I had – I am so lucky to walk with such amazing people!

Exploring Aqaba

A taxi was waiting for us in Wadi Rum village when we arrived on our camels, ready to drive us onwards to our final destination in Jordan, the seaside town of Aqaba. It was a balmy 23c when we arrive and although we were very early for check-in our room was ready. Oh my I had the longest hottest of hot shower and oh my it was heaven. We even had a kettle in the room and we were on our third tea before we’d even started showering! Our balcony looked out to sea but for a few hours all we did was lay on the bed and rest our tired bones.

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Wadi Rum | Our Days in the Desert

Let me start by saying two things… one) WOW! We had the most amazing few days in the desert…two) I’ve never felt so cold!

We left Petra at first light, sharing a taxi with Lotte from Denmark who was going to be our travelling companion for the next few days. There had been a change in weather at Petra and our third day of adventures was lost to the weather. Sadly we never got to hike to Little Petra, nor the Monastery nor Aaron’s tomb; I guess it will have to wait for our next visit! The bright sunshine of the previous day had been replaced with ice, high winds and snow! All night the wind howled and we wondered if the roof of the hotel may actually blow off! As we left on the second morning of the storm we really hoped that the wind would be gone by the time we reached Wadi Rum.

En route in our taxi we swapped stories with Lottie of our adventures so far. We told her about our ‘speed bump’ incident on the Dead Sea highway and our taxi driver was laughing out loud as we explained what happened. He said he hears this so many times, everyone who drives in Jordan gets caught out at some point… at least it’s not just us!

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The High Place of Sacrifice

O. M. G. What a day we had. We had been told there was a nice easy hike to The High Place of Sacrifice. We were told it was only about 5km long and quite easy. We were told that we’d get back to the Visitors Centre easily in time for lunch. And we were told it would be a gentle 18c today and perfect hiking weather. Well… that never happened!

It was our second day at Petra and we had already decided that we would hike. I’d read a few blogs about the hike to the High Place of Sacrifice and it seems perfect for us. We wandered down to the entrance and back through the gauntlet of donkeys, camels and horses. The Bedouins desperately tried to sell us their services but we’d been told in advance to say no. No thank you, we don’t want a guide… no thank you, we don’t want a donkey ride… no thank you, we don’t want postcards. Jolanda in the hotel had told us to never say maybe or later… because they will remember 😁 So on we walked with many many firm but polite no thank yous. I want to stress though that this is never high pressured, it’s more of a game and very light hearted. But we made it to the start of the trail.

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Exploring Petra

We’d pre-arranged for transport from Feynan to Petra. After breakfast we said farewell to our amazing Bedouin hosts and were directed towards our transport, 4 x 4 truck which would take us out of Feynan and back onto the main highway. It was an interesting journey that took us out of the valley and way up into the mountains and we learned why so many folks drive these great big vehicles; It was a bit of a bone shaking journey!

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