There are lots of different routes to Santiago de Compostela. I’ve been on the way of the Plantagenets, the way of Tours, the way of Vezelay, and through Spain on the Camino Frances. But now at Pontferrada there’s a
There are lots of different routes to Santiago de Compostela. I’ve been on the way of the Plantagenets, the way of Tours, way of Vezelay, and through Spain, the Camino Frances. But now at Ponferrada there’s a choice. The
It’s 1500 metres up to the iron cross in the mountains of Leon. Higher than Ben Nevis. I cycled up it on my lovely Giant E-Bike. You pass by spiritual tributes in the fence and climb and climb. At
This route passes through lots of rural Europe so you can expect to see animals along the way. I’ve seen pilgrim donkeys, but this was a first. Sheep sharing the road with me. Lots of sheep! Unbelievable!
Every person you pass calls out: “Buen Camino!” Which translates as ‘good trip.’ It’s a really encouraging greeting and makes you feel like you are doing something special and worthwhile. “Buen Camino,” we all call to each other. I’m
I needed a cuppa and a piece of tortilla. I stopped at the bar and sat down to refresh. And standing at the bar were a group of friends putting the world to rights. It was such an easy
Today I met a pilgrim with four hooves, ‘Salome’ the donkey. She woke me up this morning braying and I just assumed it was a local donkey. A few hours later, she was with two French men walking the
It’s half way along the Camino, but only if you start at Roncesvalles in Spain. As I started at home in England I’ve already cycled 2000 kilometres…. Sahagun is an ancient Roman city and its gateway is truly astounding.
There’s a lot of pleasure in having your hair cut somewhere new. How about a different country where we don’t speak the same language? This barber is next to my accommodation and he’s just won the lottery! 50,000 euros.
The plains of Spain… That should be a song… Oh it is. And the rain in Spain falls mainly on where? So show me how plain the plains are and if they ever get wet…….
I came across a famous St Martin’s church in a place called Fromista. Looks just the place for a Martin Mallett moment. Let’s take a look…
I stopped and painted when I saw the distance church. It was a relief to know I was about to see civilisation again.
This is my favourite story along the way of St James. In Santa Domingo Cathedral is an ornate hen house with two live roosters in it! Why? It’s a story of sex, miracles, and incredulity. Santa Domingo was a
I am constantly thrilled to see the changing landscapes each day and over each hill. How could the world vary so much? But it does. As Navarre gives way to Castile the big ring of mountains surround an enormous
I was cycling the Camino track and enjoying the constantly changing landscape. One of the highlights is the Van Gogh yellow oil seed rape and it’s overpowering perfume. In the south of France I saw acres of it, here
Just out of Estella is a famous monastery with vineyard attached. I was reminded of the first miracle at the fountain… Water or wine?! Yes please!
This is a city famous for a mad week every July when the foolhardy take on the famous bulls to run the streets and try and escape death… Or worse! The great way to arrive in Pamplona is by
High up on the mountain is a string of wind turbines. You know you are in a windy spot when you see these graceful turning in the breeze. Or whirring like demons in the freezing rain and gale force
Every village has a church and on an adventure like this I find I can’t go past without taking a look. Is it the history? The special story? The architecture? It can be anything. Take today. I was just
It began with rain which lasted all day…. The Alberge team in St Jean Pied De Port gave me an encouraging send off through the gate and up the mountains. Kings and Princes and simple pilgrims have passed this way
I always ask the nice people at the tourist office what their favourite view of their city might be. In this case they did along the city walls… So that’s where I headed. I set up paints, brushes and
It is, as I keep telling people, not a jolly….There is always weather you contend with, to begin with snow and Arctic cold. Last week biblical rain that Noah would have loved. This week sunshine and wind.Full on in
The undulating rolling foothills of one of Europe’s great mountain ranges…. It’s a joy….. Until it rains biblical rain. This is a winter which doesn’t want to end and the weather has it in for the cycling artist.
The tiny old town of St Jean at the foot of the pass over the Pyrenees is small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s basically a steep cobbled street or two between three ancient stone gateways. It feels
It was a fun day fuming for Saturday night takeaway… I’m the armour plated Knight!
I caught a glimpse as I cycled past… Blue shutters, wisteria in full bloom. As I took a photo, the owners of the home fell into conversation. Their English was perfect and the conversation flowed easily. I was invited
It’s a city that dates back to Roman times when they discovered the healing power of the thermal waters. Today it’s the thermal capital of France. The cathedral had undergone some changes over the centuries. It’s a baroque wonder
Along the chemin de St Jacques there are Alberge for pilgrims. Inside is a kitchen, bathroom, great shower, and a beam lined dorm with sheets pillows blankets. They cost a few token euros a night, I arrived late into
The ride through the uniform lines of trees is extraordinary. All the pine trees in all the world appear to be grown in South West France. Black trunks, grey green pine needles, the smell of pine, it’s amazing… And
Thanks to the French press for their support of my Chemin De St Jacques. I see the Bishop of Winchester has suddenly become an Archbishop. And why not?! Billy asks what league is he playing in now? Click here
She’s my favourite heroine of history, Eleanor of Aquitaine. She married twice, to two kings! First the King of France at the age of 15, then at the age of 30 when he was more interested in being monk
All around France are ancient fortresses like this. Citadels they call them and they all have a similar look. Designed by the great military engineer Vauban they are a legacy of that French king who excites derision and admiration
Lorraine Kelly surprises fellow TV star Timmy Mallett on charity cycle challenge, as reported by Scotland’s Sunday Post. Click here to read the full article.
Great bridges inspire us. Down on the Dordogne at the entrance to Bordeaux there at four great bridges in less than a mile. I stood in awe of them. Majestic, everlasting, imposing. They are meant to be impressive and
The Bordeaux region is wine country. The best red wines in the world come from here and every field is given over to vines. I cycled asking looking at how the tired of vines were interspersed with yellow oil
Pons is a good place to stop and ponder. Fabulous castle. I could paint that! On the way out of town the usual little Chemin De St Jacques clues… The sign by the door. The circle on the ground.
Saintes is a dream city on the Charente half way between Poitiers and Bordeaux. The Romans liked it and built the usual, an arc de triumphe, and amphitheatre and a temple or two. Later the locals used the stone
They were ahead of me on the muddy track. Plenty of rain in recent weeks… I knew they were pilgrims immediately. The rucksacks, goretex gear, the scallops shells: “Bon Camino!” They jumped in surprise. As well they might. Pascal
In the village of St Leger I came across an extraordinary piece of new infrastructure. A pilgrim resting place, a shelter, made out of stone and huge timber Beams with maps and sculpture and a visitor’s book. On the