Saturday, 15 August 2009

Final decisions

Today is packing day. The socks are washed and the gear is laid out. It is like the photograph in the last blog: Thanks to those who posted comments and e mailed me. The point I was making is that we all find our own things which are light and comfortable and through trial and error we know what quanities of toiletries etc to take.

For those who asked for specific information. For the bigger items I use:

Osprey Atmos 50 rucksack - light and comfortable

Rab Top bag - lightweight sleeping bag - fantastic even in deep winter conditions. Use with a bed or mat.

Patagonia R1 Jacket - doubles as a fleece or worn on its own for early mornings. Multi purpose.

Patagonia rain shadow jacket - excellent with full armput zips.

North Face waterproof trousers - full leg zips.

I experimented with boots and shoes and three years ago settled on Salamon Mid ankle shoes - from the Sensifit range. They have a gortex lining and are very comfortable. I was considering changing them recently but the shop had the same pair in my size at half price. I didn't resist.

But today I have made a decision.

I've worn these boots over a couple of thousand kilometres but I know they aren't the best in the hottest weather. I've looked at the 10 day forecast. There is no rain predicted. It is sun all the way.

Therefore I have decided to take a new pair of Merrell Ventilator shoes instead of boots. They are the lightest I have ever worn and with lots of mesh they should be cooler.

Teva sandles will be my backup/evening wear.

I've taken a huge decision to leave the rain gear behind too. It isn't going to rain! Being Scottish this goes against the grain. It rains in Scotland. Particularly in Summer! You know what they say, "How can you tell it is summer in Scotland?" answer "the people wear sunglasses and carry umbrellas."

But I feel quite strongly that kit should be taken appropriate to the route. The weather looks good for the 10 - 11 days walking from Madrid. I'll take the risk.

The sleeping bag is replaced with a silk liner. I'm going to use hostals mostly and if I'm cold I'll use the merino wool base layer which I always carry.

Whilst this trip is purely to scout out the route as the basus for a new guide in English the notebook etc has been replaced with a digital recorder which is featherlight and records 1000 hours of dictation. That's what I use to record the route as I go along.

I've discovered through experimentation that one charge of my camera battery let's me take 300 photographs - I'm sure time would be an issue but I already know the charge will last for two weeks. I'm not taking the battery charger.

Also because I am only en route for 10 or 11 days I'll only take 1 razor which should satisfy the more observant commentators.

All of this plus 2 pairs of socks and liners and 2 pairs of underpants instead of the traditional three. Two quick drying tops, one to walk in the other sleep in plus hat and sundries make up the list.

So there it is. I'll soon be off. I got an e mail from a pilgrim the other days saying, "this is the lovliest route I have ever walked." We'll soon see...


  1. Buen camino - buen suerte Johnnie! Thanks for all your 'scouting' efforts on the shorter camino routes.
    My friend 'Little John' (the perpetual pilgrim) will be following in your footsteps from the end of August - all the way to Leon and on to Oviedo.

  2. Many thanks for the pack info.
    Buen camino.

  3. Johnnie...... Will be thinking of you as you walk through all these vast landscapes. All the best.

  4. Thank you for this report.
    Gunnar W.

  5. Thank you for this - and for Max Long's guide:) I have just walked this route from Madrid to Leon on my own - as a 55 year old woman - I finished it in Mid September (2014) and found it unbelievably tough - largely because I walked alone for the whole 12 days I took to get to Sahugun - and the heat and the fact that lots of shops and banks pharmacies etc etc just no longer exist.
    That being said - this is an extraordinary route and I loved the emptiness - and the locals I met were without exception friendly and so kind. I have sent my updates to Max who will kindly update his guide when he can - but all I will say here is - take advantage of every opportunity to buy food and eat when you can - even if it means waiting for a shop to open!
    Also - in Segovia - I can highly recommend staying at a wonderful hostel - Hostel Duermo Vela run by Blanca - near the roman acquaduct - so that you can have a day in Segovia to recover - the first four days are hard going - and then stay in Zamarramarala the next night.
    Any questions you may have - do ask - it is wonderful - very very different to the Camino Frances.
    Buen Camino