Page 55

FLOREAT 2018

A long walk to Santiago de Compostela By Orlando Janes (BH, 2015)

I’d left College a couple of years earlier and had completed a BTEC in Information Technology at our local college. Various friends had gone off travelling (the usual; Thailand, Australia, etc). I wanted to do something different, and I definitely didn’t want to ‘find myself’. The previous summer I’d been with my family in Northern Spain and had seen people walking the pilgrim

So, I started. I walked towards Poole, camping in woods and fields. I stopped occasionally in pubs to wash and dry clothes, eat properly and give my blisters a rest. I began to enjoy the rhythm of walking, and the time to think and appreciate the beautiful English countryside. From Poole, I caught a ferry to the Channel Islands and nearly missed the onward boat to Le Havre, where I met my next challenge; I don’t speak a word of French. Everyone I met was exceptionally kind and generous to me, from a woman in a bar giving me food just because they thought I was doing something wonderful, to a driver who gave me a lift over a bridge for cars only, who then spent two hours describing the naval action that took place at Saint-Nazaire. France was beautiful, at times quite lonely, but I also relished the freedom and was beginning to get fit! I would sometimes take a couple of days off to recover in a pretty town, but mostly it was long days of walking down the west coast (there’s less map reading to be done if you just keep the sea on your right!). A wonderful group Soon enough I reached the Pyrenees, and the whole character of the walk changed. I found the first of many auberges set up specifically to cater for the needs of

FEATURES

In May 2016 I walked out of our home in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and headed for Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. It felt as though it might be a bit of a challenge, and I’d delayed my start for a couple of weeks while I plucked up courage to begin. For the next two days, it rained pretty much solidly, and my newish boots ripped my feet to shreds. I very nearly gave up there and then. I also realised that I was carrying far too much weight and started jettisoning kit; the expensive spirit stove, cooking equipment and dry food.

route to Santiago de Compostela, called the Camino de Santiago and felt that I wanted to give it a try – not through any religious conviction, but just because it was there. And rather than just walking the last 100 kilometres, I wanted to walk the whole way from home.

Orlando Janes, then and now

Orlando enjoying a well-earned beer pilgrims, and in the first few days on the official route I fell in with a wonderful group of people; Spaniards, French, Italians, Argentinians. As we walked together, ate together and slept in beautiful churches and hostels we became close friends – sharing music and songs, political and religious views. I learned a smattering of Spanish, but they all wanted to practise their English! Walking across the plains of Northern Spain was a high point for me; Pamplona, Burgos, Leon. These are incredibly wonderful towns, steeped in history, but seeing them as a pilgrim, staying in the local auberges some of which are freely provided by the townsfolk, was a magical experience. Finally, I made it to Santiago de Compostela – a beautiful and ancient city – where the whole place is filled with Pilgrims. Even there, though, no one could quite believe that I had walked all the way from Cirencester – 2,000 kilometres in roughly 100 days. ■ 53

Profile for Cheltenham College

Floreat 2018  

The Cheltonian Society Magazine with articles from the full range of Society members, from pupils to parents, OCs and staff.

Floreat 2018  

The Cheltonian Society Magazine with articles from the full range of Society members, from pupils to parents, OCs and staff.