To Stick Or Not To Stick

That is the question.

This is my third Camino and on both previous walks, I had comfortably managed the distance without the aid of walking sticks.

Clanking away on the path, creating a tedious cacophony, I had always thought they were just another thing that I might leave behind, or another thing to trip over.

But as I left Pontedeume on an extraordinarily steep section of the Way, I began to wonder if that was a Luddite position.

My day had begun in less ascetic style than yesterday with a wake-me-up coffee and a churro, while I looked up anxiously at low clouds that seemed ready to burst with rain.

The steep streets of Pontedeume soon had my full attention though, as I slowly wound my way up to a splendid viewpoint overlooking the town.

Then I noticed two other pilgrims, apparently more advanced in years, but certainly advancing up this hill more swiftly than me.

They both had sticks.

Set to the soundtrack of chainsaws from the wood mill across the valley, I began the process of finally accepting the logic of getting some sticks too.

I was continuously bargaining with myself.

When I was labouring on an uphill stretch, I was going to stop at Miño, a mere 12km into the stage.

When I was on a downhill stretch, I was definitely going to make it to Betanzos, a full 21km away from Pontedeume.

The Advanced Years Guys passed me again with ease on the next uphill stretch.

They had sticks and I still hadn’t got one. More fool me.

The die was cast, and I am now the temporary owner of a wooden stick, bought here along with a boiled egg, an orange juice and coffee for Felipe, one of the Advanced Guys. How he got that coffee con leche put on my bill is still a mystery to me.

Right Shoulder was not happy about my decision, as it was going to be doing a bit more work now, but Right and Left Hip seemed quite pleased that I’d finally caved in.

Currently, my walking gait is uneven at best, veering towards shambolic at worst, thanks to a temporarily misaligned peroneal nerve.

The Stick made a lot of difference. More than I might have hoped.

The uphill sections still saw me matching the pace of this snail at times.

But I made it to Betanzos in pretty good time, meeting Alexandra from Germany much later in the day than expected, along with Birgitta and Anne from Denmark, Natalie and Regina from Germany and Maeve from Scotland, and Keith from Canada too.

A refreshing following wind helped, but I think The Stick made my day.

Let’s see how long it takes for me to leave it behind somewhere…

Pontedeume to Betanzos:

Stage distance: 21km

Actual distance walked: 21km. With two guidebooks and three apps on the phone, it would be a bit sad if I had taken a wrong turn.

Slips, trips and falls: 0 (2) The Stick, you know.

Unexpected Horse Road Block: 1

Runny Omelettes consumed, as recommended by Jonay: 1, actually a tortilla, ordered by Raul and Alberto as they educated me on Galician food and 34% café liqueur at Casa Miranda this evening.

Number of times Buen Camino was said: More than 30, although I do encourage it with a lot of Buenas Dias greetings.

Unexpected Song Played In My Head All Day: Photosynthesis by Frank Turner and Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. Yeah, I don’t know why either.

Accommodation Report

Hotel Garelos, Betanzos

I didn’t even try to stay at an albergue tonight. Instead, I’ve got a double bed and four pillows. So there.

Health Report:

Still a shambling slow-moving wreck, but with no specific problems to report. Tomorrow will be a test – 26km, and the endpoint is called Hospital de Bruma.

One way or another, that’s where I’ll end up.

13 thoughts on “To Stick Or Not To Stick

  1. lois lloyd

    Hi dear, glad you got a stick, remember to change hands or you will get a stiff shoulder and hand, ive used one for years and my tall Gandalf stick is best as it’s a better balance, also keeps cyclists away when held out to the side about a foot!

    Those café liqueurs look good, as the irish say, may the road rise up to greet you, and I seem to recall a hospital was where dying people went and a hospice was a recovery and where the monks fed you?!

    Love and hugs, have a great walk today, mum xxx


    1. Mark Healey

      Hi John….just catching up with you. Might be harder now you have a stick. You’re actually inspiring me to do this for myself one day…and Frank Turner mentioned two days in a row. Better start listening to him!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Miller

    Researching this Camino (also planned for April) and came across your YouTube video – nice – saw the link in the comments. This Blog in particular is really good, talk about laugh 😂. I really appreciate your style! Peter

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Peter Miller

        Regrettably not, this’ll be my first – I really want to do the Portuguese, but it’ll have to wait another year or two until my son is a little older. His cousin is taking him to Lofoten for the week- bless her! Family ❤️


      2. Ah, that’s on my list to visit too. The Inglés is a great way to sample a Camino. Less busy than the Sarria-Santiago route, and very pretty in general. A fair bit of road walking, but not overly so. I did the Portuguese route from Porto for my second Camino, which was very nice too. But nothing compares to the Francés from St Jean. Whenever you can set aside 5/6 weeks, that’s the one to walk! Are you in the U.K. or elsewhere?


      3. Peter Miller

        Yes, Lofoten is beautiful – at least it was, 25 years ago! Understand it’s much busier now – isn’t everywhere?
        Germany, not far from Berlin.
        I want to do the Portuguese from Lisbon – I love it there – and follow the coast. I’m a Kiwi, living here I really miss the sea!


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