A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 2 January 2010

O'Cebreiro Revisited

There's snow in northern Spain and deep snowdrifts in O'Cebreiro, the gateway to Galicia - according to Johnnie Walker who's just walked through. I remember stopping an hour or two at O'Cebreiro in December 2007 on my own pilgrimage along the Camino Francés. The weather then was frosty and piercingly cold - but a brave sun shone in blue skies, burning off the valley mists by midday. O'Cebreiro (1293 m, 4242 ft) was for me not only a physical but also a spiritual high point of the journey. Although there were more hills to climb as I walked across Galicia, I seemed to coast effortlessly from here all the way to Santiago. I saw this statuette of Saint James in the Church of Santa Maria Real in O'Cebreiro:

In a bar in O'Cebreiro I met by chance an American lady from The Confraternity of Saint James who was interested in my journey. She was doing some research on the route for the Confraternity. When she heard I lived not far from Nottingham, she urged me to go to one of the Confraternity's local pilgrim reunion meetings when I got home. But I never went. I'm sure she said the Nottingham group was run by Alison Raju, who's written various Camino guides. In fact I'll be using Raju's guide to the Vía de la Plata in a couple of weeks' time.


Mister Roy said...

Yo Solitary

All this week on Radio 3 at 23.00, Andrew Motion talking about poets, paths and walking

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Roy - looking forward to it!

am said...

Have you heard about this?


This morning I was watching a film from 1985 called "The Fourth Wise Man," and began searching on Google for information about Martin Sheen and his family and came across the news that a film, directed by his son, Emilio, will be released in 2010. The film takes place where I believe you will soon be walking. It will be called "The Way."

"The Fourth Wise Man" is a story I've read before. Still, the film moved me. Among the cast are sons are Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin and his son.

Kind wishes for the new year and for your journey.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for this, am. I didn't know 'The Fouth Wise Man', and have just checked out the story, which sounds intriguing.

Neither had I heard about the coming movie. The film looks as if it's set along the Camino Francés from Roncesvalles to Santiago, the most well trodden and well known (by far) of the pilgrim routes, the one I walked in late 2007. This route is so popular now that it's become a bit of a pilgrim motorway in the summer months. It's also the route that tends to be covered in films and books (from Paulo Coelho to Shirley MacLaine).

However there other routes in Spain destined for Santiago which are less well known and less frequented (though some of these have become more popular over recent years, and it's one of these routes I'll be travelling soon - The Via de la Plata. I could join up with the Camino Francés at Astorga, where both paths interlink - but actually I want to turn west after Zamora through Puebla de Sanabria and Ourense, and not touch the Camino Francés at all this time. I'm prepared for the route to be a very lonely route at this time of year, but I don't mind that, and it'll give me time and space for lots of reflection and meditation.

Thanks so much for your kind wishes. All the best to you too for a wonderful year.