My friend Terry joined me at Reading. We met at St James church where father John stamped my pilgrim passport and we discussed the connection between Santiago Reading and Marlow and the hand of St James. Next stop
Titanic was my Downs Syndrome brother Martin’s favourite film (along with the Sound of Music and Crocodile Dundee.) Every Christmas when we played charades Martin would pick one of the ladies to stand with him arms outstretched, and we
You don’t always need the local language. I know it helps but….. I met the local herdsman and his herd of cattle. Wet have a great chat going moo! A music festival was on in town. Music is universal
Coast lines always deliver secrets. I was following the narrow gauge railway line and it went alongside the beach. There was a wonderful booming noise and spray everywhere. Of course such things are tide and weather dependant. And there I
It’s been in my mind for some time. I’ve been pondering it for a number of years. It was only once I said it loud that I wanted to attempt this that things really started. There were comments. You
Half way along Spain’s North coast is the port of Santander. Famous for its beaches and it’s bank, it’s an important spot along the Camino del Norte. I cycled into town as my Brittany ferries flagship arrived. Just time to
Cows and pilgrims. The herd were unhappy to be moved. But understood the cow hands command. Off they went with the calves dashing along behind. I enjoyed our interaction without a common tongue. There are lots of German pilgrims
The general rule of thumb is take less. Whatever you think is essential cut it in half. You are going to be carrying it and everything is heavy after a while. Everything. Even tissues! So with that in
The track led through the village. There was a stile and a footpath. I followed it carefully over rocks and around the corner. Where I came face to face with huge long horned cows and their guardian bull. They
There’s nothing like it for realising the distance travelled. Weeks ago coming out of Burgos I stood and stared at the snow capped mountains away to the north. Today those same snow capped mountains were away to the south.
It was an odd sort of place and I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d made a wise choice. But I arrived late, hot and bothered, with little energy left in me, my bike or my phone. Okay make the most
I enjoy people watching. Especially in other countries where they do weird stuff. Like scything the grass. What’s wrong with a lawn mower or a goat? At least this chap wasn’t in his slippers like most of the other
We all love a field of cows, munching, mooing, pooing, and grinding those teeth on the grass. I stopped at a Camino sign and the sound of the cow bells prompted me to recite my favourite maytime cow poem.
I can hear brother Martin saying: “nice church!” as we stare at the altarpiece. Indeed it’s one of the gems of medieval European art. I like the idea of a Martin Mallett name tag finding it’s way behind such
In the middle ages every church or monastery of any importance had a relic. A fragment of the true cross. A bone of a saint. And people would travel far and wide to see them, and of course pay
I got a puncture. No surprise there. Bikes are always getting punctures. Except this bike. In seven weeks of cycling across Europe, I have had no tyre issues at all. Not even needed to pump them up. Today, up
Most pilgrims first glimpse of Santiago is from Mont Gosso where the status of two grateful pilgrims point to the spires of the cathedral. For me it was my final view of Santiago on a wild and wet afternoon
I was on a quiet winding road through the hills. No traffic. Around every corner and hair pin bend there was a babbling brook, a bank of ferns, and trees coming into leaf. How do you paint such a
I want to do a message in a bottle. Send a Martin Mallett name tag out into the sea. I found the perfect blue bottle in a recycling bin. To the name tag I added: A photo of Martin
In the middle ages something like a quart of a million people walked the Camino from their homes. They would cross Europe and head for Santiago De Compostela and then turn around and walk home again. It was a
Visited Lugo FC stadium #forzaLugo Very welcoming club in league two. The pitch and stadium look terrific and the interview area by the main reception is great! I’m in. A signed on Lugo fan. Plus I’ve got 2 new
It’s the other end of the earth. They are 20 miles apart. And pilgrims tend to have a favourite. Finisterre for the Lighthouse and cape. Muxia for the Chapel and the waves. It is relentless, with the sea smashing
The Romans called it finis Terra the end of the earth. To them it was clear there was nothing out there except sea and death. Many pilgrims since the earliest days of this pilgrimage have continued the extra 100
It’s the bit at the top end of Spain that is utterly different from the rest of the country. It has its own language, its own customs, and definitely its own weather. It also had its own topography and
I’ve cycled 2430 kilometres (1500 miles) from home to Santiago de Compostela. The target is the Great Baroque Cathedral where the cousin of Christ, St James the apostle is said to be buried. Everyday they say a pilgrim mass
He was sharpening a blade. A massive blade. Done sort of machete. And he was sitting there in his slippers! I was absolutely fascinated by his absorption in his job with no thought of health and safety. So I
A great monument deserves a great story. The longest bridge on the Camino is at Hospital D’Orbigo and the story involves a Knight in Armour, a fair damsel and a scrap for love! Back in the middle ages some
Along the way pilgrims are supposed to get their pilgrim passport stamped to prove they’ve actually done what they claim to have done. I’ve filled up three passports cycling through England, France and Spain. I went along to the
“Make sure you follow the road right down to the bottom…..” Said my hostel host. Bellasar is worth a visit. I was enjoying a pleasant descent which became a 10 kilometre free wheel whizz down through the trees and
I stopped because of the carved figures in this glorious memorial. With clasped hands in prayer I am reminded of brother Martin….
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
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
I was having a cuppa in Saintes in a rare moment of sunshine when who should come up and tap me on the shoulder. Steve my Wacaday cameraman and wonderful cycling pal and lovely Lorraine Kelly. Such moments seem
It seemed fitting to find myself at Fenioux – the lantern of the dead. This is a huge church with spire and a matching stone lantern nearby. The church has fabulous carvings around the door and nicely weirdly a spare
It’s a strange thing to wear at any time but cycling? Are you nuts Timmy? Of course I am. When I went to Christchurch Oxford to meet the bishop for his blessing for this trip, the Porters in the
It sounds like a military figure – the vicar general – turns out he’s the Archbishop’s fixer. It was a pleasure to spend an hour with Jean Paul Russeil at the Archbishop’s palace in Poitiers. We talked of St Hillary,
My friends Joan and John are getting married at the church of St James in Dorney. I am delighted to send them greetings from the way of St James.
The gendarme volunteered his own life for the hostage. In last week’s terrorist attack in the south of France this man was courage we exemplified. “You can die in your struggle against France. Well I can die for my
I came across this impressive building in a tiny village. It looks like one of those scary horror homes in the movies. It’s open briefly for a few hours a week. Today it just happened to be open hours.
“We have a friend who owns a castle, do you want to visit it?” “Of course I do!” Avantan Castle on the north of Poitiers was bought as a run down ruin. The owner had spent loads doing it up
There are four reasons for my Camino de Santiago: Historical. This pilgrimage route to the tomb of St James the Apostle has been around for a thousand years. And in another thousand years someone else will be doing this. Pilgrims
Each day I look for somewhere special to leave a Martin Mallett name tag. Actually that’s not strictly true. Each day my dear downs syndrome brother Martin comes into my thoughts and it becomes easy to spot the place
Daniel came to interview me for the regional paper. He arrived bringing macaroons and when asked what he’d like to drink said ‘Pernod please’. Crikey! The interview naturally went swimmingly….
It’s only another 45 mins away. But it’s in the wrong direction. Of course I went! I’m standing across the river in awe at one of the great fortress / palace of history. The yellow stone glistens in the
Theresa May came to my home to hear about the Camino and reasons for cycling and painting it. In my twin town St Benoit, my good friend the mayor, Dominique Clement, shared my story with former French Prime Minister
Navigation is always an issue in a strange place. I like maps. There’s a logic to them and browsing over them you can plan and dream and wonder… What would it be like going that way? Now with GPS, you can
How would you feel if didn’t go and see your hero 20km away? Never have regrets in life. Always pursue your dream. So I went out of my way to Fontevraud Abbey to the resting places of the giants of
It’s the mightiest river in France and flows through a valley of chateaux after chateaux. At Angers it meets the river Maine and they come together in an enormous sheet of water. I got to stay on an island
“Where will you stay?” That is a question I’ve been asked a lot and I ask myself each day…. I have a list of suggested accommodations from the Pilgrim Organisation in France. However it’s early in the season and things
What a welcome! 800Kms from home I rode into my twin town of St Benoit to be met by Dominique Clement the mayor. Thank you for a fabulous welcome and a spectacular banner! Are you sure it doesn’t mean
That’s all most know about the Cardinal. Except he was also a town planner! He also knew how to get other people to pay for it. He got the nobles of Louis XIV to buy a house each in
Coming over the brow of the hill into a new region – Haute Poitou – I noticed the big skies, tree less landscapes. Have a look and tell me what you think…..
We lose an hour as the clocks spring forward. No time to lose. Up with the dawn and get out the brushes. Inspired by my visit to Great castle of Chinon. The painter paints.
It’s been open a matter of days and it’s a dream come true. Investment in leisure is the mark of a courageous country. This old railway line had been converted to a voice verte, a green way, with wide smooth finished
I found a Good place for Martin, my brother, today. Next to King Henry 11 and Richard the Lionheart and alongside Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Like them, Martin more than reached his potential and that’s all we have to do
I’ve been through parts of France before, never on a bike, or like this… Last time I was in Angers was a football tour and we arrived by train to be greeted by a particularly spectacular fountain. The stunning
In the middle ages you need the blessing of your lord of the manor before setting of across Europe on pilgrimage. So I wrote to my lord of the manor, Prince William to tell him of me adventure. I’m delighted to
The Loire valley is famous for its ornate Louis XIV style chateaux. I am surprised to round every corner and come across another one. So many of these are slightly shabby and have seen better days but it doesn’t
Well these are Street entertainers from another era, another century…. I saw them standing at the organ grinding machine that had definitely seen better days. Eric started to turn the wheel, there was nobody else around. Jumper the dog looked
It was a young sapling when Henry VIII met Francis of France in the field of the cloth of gold. 500 years later this ancient oak tree toppled over a victim of the Capricorn beetle. I came across George
Geoffrey of Anjou was a colourful character in the early 12th century. He was married to Matilda the empress, grand daughter of William the conqueror. It wasn’t the happiest of marriages but it did produce Henry 11. Geoffrey preferred
It was brilliant cycling into the ancient medieval city of Vitre in Brittany. The streets look like something out of the 15th century. I expected to come across Baldrick and Blackadder at any moment…. Instead I came into the