‘I’ve never been more in the moment’: The life-changing effects of tackling Spain’s oldest pilgrimage – a 200-mile walk through the Cantabrian Mountains

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He immediately set out to investigate, and I am now following in his footsteps.

The pilgrimage has been the subject of a three-part BBC TV programme, which ended last night.

The lifestyle is Spartan: huge, €5-a-night dormitories that sleep anything up to 40 people; a 10pm lock-up at most of the hostels and check-out by 8.30am; rubberised pillows and mattresses with a disposable sheet if you’re lucky.

I’m on foot with a 10 kg rucksack, so there’s plenty of time to revel in the history and lush beauty of North-West Spain. It has a slight feel of Switzerland: verdant green, cow bells, men in clogs and rickety store rooms perched on staddle stones.

There are a lot of hills and lots of mud and the rain is like nothing I have experienced.

I walk through Storm Hugo and everything from my Scottish-seasoned waterproofs to the entire contents of my rucksack are saturated.

I flew to Oviedo a week ago, direct from Heathrow. In the cathedral, I picked up my Credencial (pilgrim’s passport) plus the icon of the camino, the scallop shell, all of its ridges leading to the same place, just like the routes to Santiago de Compostela.

Within an hour, I am in rolling countryside, now following larger scallop shells, as well as supplementary yellow arrows.

2bcd9f64cbeacf6c50057beb669fb564 'I've never been more in the moment': The life-changing effects of tackling Spain's oldest pilgrimage - a 200-mile walk through the Cantabrian Mountains

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