I've been trying to assess the significance of this latest Camino and the effect it's had on me. But I can't. As usual, no doubt, these things will reveal themselves slowly over time. But I'm certain of one thing: it was hard.
Which is interesting. Because, in some ways, you might at first think my other two Caminos were more testing - with a heavier backpack, ill-fitting boots, and steeper, more numerous ascents and descents. This time my pack was lighter, my boots were comfortable and problem-free (though they did let in water and started to come apart towards the end), and the terrain was relatively flat.
I think the difficulty lay in the time of year at which I walked. (I had no choice but to go in January and February, by the way.) My first two Caminos were done in the autumn/early wintertime. There was very little rain, and the days were bright and sunny - perhaps cold to start with, but often warming up late morning, particularly in the French sections.
On this Camino I walked through a Spain that was undergoing one of its worst winters for years. Rain had drenched the land, making some tracks waterlogged and some streams impassable. It's tiring to concentrate hour after hour just on where to put your feet. And, apart from a few mild days in Andalusia at the beginning of the trail, it was cold. It grew colder and colder the further north I travelled. There were days of blue skies, as my videos show - but it gradually got colder, and wetter, and foggier, and windier, the nearer I approached Galicia.
What finally did it for me was overnight snow at Padornelo - which meant 20 miles of road walking to the next hostal, as the path was blocked. And even the road was no easy option. I was slipping and sliding in the slush. At one point a Guardia Civil police car stopped and asked if I was OK. And did I want a lift? Naturally, I refused!
Right, they're the negative bits out of the way. Let's get on to the positive bits. I think you're going to be surprised, for I had some truly heart-warming experiences...