For those of you who follow my adventures or have read my book The Adventures of a Wild Woman on the Camino de Santiago, you’ll know that I have a furry partner-in-life, Camino Willy.
I adopted William in 2012 from a rescue centre in Andalucia, Spain. Despite having little legs, William was born to roam. He can scale the side of a mountain like a goat. Swim across rivers, if needed. Ain’t no mountain high enough for him and he always likes to lead. He was my constant companion on my walking expeditions throughout the Sierras of Andalucia.
When I walked my first Camino in 2016, I was so disappointed to leave him behind in Andalucia. I made a promise that I would one day walk the Camino with him so he could earn his own Compostela.
We moved to Porto after I walked the Portuguese Coastal route in 2018 and then onto the Portuguese Camino de Santiago in 2019, just before the Covid crisis hit and the world went into lockdown. Like many other people waiting to walk the way, William’s Camino dream ended up being put hold on the 1st May when the land border finally opened between Spain and Portugal.
I’d already decided that we would walk the Variante Espiritual Camino de Santiago first, setting off from our front door in Sexias, our base on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago.
Usually, I wander the way without a set plan, staying in Albergues rather than guestrooms and take each day as it comes. This time, I needed to plan our Camino in advance to ensure that William had a place to sleep every evening. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of guesthouses that offered pet-friendly accommodation. I decided to buy his food as we went along. All he really needed was his own pilgrim passport.
So, it was with great pleasure and delight that we finally set off our Camino adventure on the 1st of May this year when the land border opened between Portugal and Spain. We made the short journey over the Rio Minho to A Guarda on the Spanish side of the Camino. Here’s William at the first Camino de Santiago sign.
Over the next three days, we walked along the northwestern coast of Galicia, stopping at the stunning towns of Oia, Baiona and Vigo before turning inland and heading north to Santiago on the traditional Portuguese central route.
One of the biggest question marks was how far William would be able to walk each day and I was prepared to carry him, if needed. Yet he soon showed his true colours as a pilgrim dog, easily managing up to 25 kilometres a day.
Each and every guesthouse welcomed him, providing bowls when needed. He slept like a log every night!
So the day finally arrived to walk our final steps into Santiago de Compostela to finish our journey at the Cathedral. We set off from just before Padron so the day was a long one, 28 kilometres in the end. Even though I was exhausted, William pushed us both through, charging ahead until our mission was completed.
I cannot tell how happy I was to reach Santiago with him. While the square was relatively quiet with so few pilgrims on the Camino at that stage, my elation at arriving yet again in Santiago was all the apparent for having walked William all the way to Santiago.
Do I recommend walking a Camino with a furry pilgrim! Yes! After walking the Camino with William, I now offer Camino Itinerary Planning for pilgrims who want to bring along their canine companions.
If you would like to read about our adventures, William has a whole chapter to himself in my book The Adventures of a Wild Woman in the Camino de Santiago: Life Rewards The Brave. Download your copy and share the magical in the mundane on our adventures.
If you intend to walk the Camino de Santiago, I provide extensive guidance and how to prepare in my guidebook A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino De Santiago, available to download as an e-book.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2021. All Rights Reserved.