The one with the monks, bagpipes and a very special cathedral.

📌 Location: Sigüeiro to Santiago.

🥾 Miles: 14 miles

⛑ Health: Really good. Sam has a huge, painless blister called Rafael. Others have sore feet but happy souls.

🌞 Weather: Perfect weather today. It was chilly to start with but the sun kept peeping through keeping us warm. It never got as hot as it didn’t in the last few days.


4.30 am – I’m wide awake, writing my blog under the duvet on the top bunk. Gentle snores are coming from Sabrina the German lady below. “Ping”… message from Kelly… kettle is on, I’m in the lounge”. So at 4.45 am, Kelly and I are sitting in the lounge drinking coffee in our Jim jams.
Shower, breakfast, lots of “Buen Camino’s” as we wish people well on their last day.

⏰ 7.45 am – And we are off! There is a sense of pride as everyone wears their new AG Camino t-shirts. They look great!

🐦 9.21 am – The walk is a bit nondescript as we traipse through the town and then turn onto open road. Dogs are barking, we see weird scarecrows and hear the cuckoos. Chat is low and people are walking and contemplating their journey.

😃 9.38  am – I’m walking and replying to emails (not good!). I suddenly hear a few voices behind me “Julia, it’s this way!”. Oops, my first squiggle of the week!

🎵 9.56 am – What’s that noise? We can hear the sound of bagpipes and we are miles away from Santiago! Just like the pied piper, we are lured into a big cafe where I indulge in Churros and warm, thick hot chocolate. There are cutouts here of pilgrims, so we take some funny photos. We are still all together which is lovely.

🧙‍♀️ 10.08 am – Not long after the cafe we enter the enchanted forest. This place has some special memories for me and it’s one of my favourite sections of the Ingles trail. The nobbly trees, the bright green moss-covered rocks and the meandering stream. Every now and then we have a pocket of lush, green water meadows to walk through that are filled with white and pink daisies, then it’s back into the forest. I love it.

⚰️ 10.48 am – We are getting closer to Santiago as we walk through the suburbs and industrial sections. We pop in to look at the posh family graveyard. Its gates are open so we tentatively go inside. A family of four are sitting on a bench outside one of the little family gravehouse (they look like stone beach huts). The doors are open to the hut thing (I’m not sure what they call them?) and inside is a shrine with lots of flowers. The family are all dressed in black and have obviously only just recently lost someone. We give them space and retract our steps quietly.

⛪️ 11.10 am – Some of the group didn’t stop at the graveyard so I pushed ahead to catch them up but I couldn’t find them. I prayed that they hadn’t gone wrong as I stopped at the small church on the outskirts of Santiago. I took off my pack went inside for my last stamp (or so I thought) and said a little prayer. I then waited about 30 minutes in the lovely sunshine outside and chatted to other pilgrims. Ping… my phone went with a message to say that they had stopped for a coffee and wouldn’t be long. Phew.  I must have walked right by them.

🔔 11.50 am – We are walking towards the cathedral now and it is literally just around the corner. We keep catching a glimpse of its spires and there are mixed emotions. A wonderful old monastery is to our right and a monk is sitting outside. He catches Julie’s eye and waves something in his hand. Julie shouts “stamp!”, like little lemmings, we all make our way to the monastery with the exceptionally good-looking monk on the door. I’m so glad we did as this place was amazing. We grabbed a stamp (now it’s our final stamp!) and made our way inside where you can listen to the music and singing. One monk then taps me on my shoulder and shows me his phone. Google Translate says “There is a box over there where you can write a note to St James, perhaps tell him why you are thankful for the Camino”. I thanked him and spread the word amongst our little tribe. Each and every one of us took a few minutes to write a personal note and put it in the box.

😢 As we continued our short journey to the Cathedral it was very emotional and the monk experience was a highlight of the trip for me. Needless to say, there were a few tears from the group. but good, therapeutic tears.

12.40 pm – The sombre mood didn’t last long as we walked the last street towards the arch of the main plaza. We had to stop and let bagpipes and drums parade pass us by. Well, that was a welcome that I wasn’t expecting!!

👋 12.45 pm – Hello cathedral! We did it! The place is buzzing and the little noddy choo choo is there. Groups of people are celebrating their success as some have completed the Portuguese Camino, the French Way and many others. It’s rammed and if I’m honest, it’s a bit overwhelming and I miss the peace of the trail.
Obligatory photos are taken. Hugs and high-fives all around. They did it and I feel so proud. Not one person bailed at any point and we’ve had some very bad feet issues! Well done guys.

🍲 1.05 pm – Before we collect our Compestellas of achievement we have a celebratory pilgrim 3-course lunch for €15. The food was fabulous.
We queue at the pilgrim office for our Compestella. It’s a bit different nowadays and reminds me of TK Max … “Cashiere number five please”. Our numbers are called, we collect our certificates and then head to the hotel feeling accomplished. We did it!

🧑‍🍳 19:00hrs – We all met up outside the Tapas Bar for our evening meal. We completed our round robin of Roses and Thorns (no thorns I’m glad to report). Then after the best meal of the trip, we opened our little presents. Throughout the week we buy a present for each other (a bit like a Secret Santa). It’s become a bit of an AG tradition and it’s such a lovely thing to do. We had all sorts of gifts from bottles of oil to key rings, bracelets and Camino milestones.

💤 There is a party going in the square so a few of the guys are heading up to have a fun time. For me, it’s way past my bedtime and I can’t keep my eyes open. The emotion of the last few months has caught up with me and I’m exhausted.

Thank you to Jo, Sam, Caroline, Cheryl, Julie, Kelly and Emma for joining me on the Camino Ingles. It’s been a memorable one for sure.

And thanks again to those who have taken the time to read the blogs.

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