Five and a half days walking across a rather uninspiring part of northwest Spain, better walks in the Brecon Beacons.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
- Nothing really.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Our group leader was Spanish, excellent and spoke very good English. The advantage of having a native speaker leading the trail is obvious, he was able to advise on places to eat, menus and places to visit (not that there were many) and communicated well with locals and the various restauranteurs and hoteliers that we dealt with. He was always friendly and willing to please. Highly recommended.
Jose (our leader) had to leave us on the Friday evening in order to lead another party (of cyclists) along "The Way", this left all day Saturday and Sunday until 1200 hours without a representative. Now, this wasn't really a problem but had anything gone astray, someone had an accident or one of the party had problems with, perhaps, the police, for example, then it could have been. I thought that we had paid for the whole package and that we should have received it!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
The walk is along farm lanes, forestry type tracks and pavements which are hard surfaces and are hard on the feet. One day was just over 20 miles and the next about 20 miles. All the walkers were experienced and most had trouble with feet, joints or muscles.
One person had such trouble with his feet that he had to take a taxi 20 miles to see a doctor who, because of the state of his feet, banned him from continuing.
I think that the week should be "stretched" by one day to reduce these distances to a more acceptable level and one which would be more comfortable and enjoyable. Whilst "The Way" is a pilgrimage of sorts it should still be enjoyable and fairly relaxed.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have used Exodus on a number of occasions and they have been very good, the response from staff has always been quick and informative and honest. Any problems were easily sorted out, my impression of the Exodus represenatives has been very positive and I wouldn't hesitate to use the company in the future. All the arrangements such as flights and transfers have worked well and I would be happy to leave all this to them again. The cost of trips appears to me to be reasonable considering that I am generally paying for a "different" holiday with a dedicated leader and prearranged transport.
In my mind the trouble with this "holiday" is that it was understated (or should it be overstated?), the terrain was neither intesting nor inspiring in the same way as the Inca Trail or South Africa. Before leaving I plonked the "The Way" onto Google Earth and reallised that I had made a mistake! I think that I contributed to my own demise!
But finally, I have the highest regard for the many pilgrims that I met who had walked all the way from France, some young, some elderly, some with injuries, some hobbling, some being helped - but all cheerful.
Would I do it again - definitely NOT!