Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Big Walker! And At The Same Time!

July 23rd 2010 was my 70th birthday. On that day I terminated my own long-distance walk, 70 days, almost 2,000 kilometres, at the house of my birth in Northern England, having walked, most of the way alone, from my home in the South of France.

On that same day, unknown to me of course, Bill Walker arrived at Santiago de Compostela, having walked for 5 weeks along the famous Camino. He did not enter the city until the following day, the holy day for this city in a holy year.

As soon as I knew of Bill's book I just had to read it and compare his experiences with mine, as well, of course, as comparing my book with his.

There were huge differences in the two walks. I walked mainly alone, at the age of 70. Bill walked in company with an apparently endless stream of people, for about half of my distance. His hike obviously had religious overtones and consequent musings. Much of his writing is about other pilgrims while my own is about people I met on the walk or musings and memories from my life.

An amusing difference for me is that, although, because my project was called Vic's Big Walk, I am known to many people as Big Walker, despite being, at a push, 5 feet 7 inches tall. Bill really is a Big Walker, at over 6 feet 11 inches, obviously the cause of much attention on the Camino.

There are some glaring errors which I hope he will correct, such as Christopher Columbus setting off for the Americas from the Galapagos Islands, the Basques being in North East Spain and the Inquisition having been invented in the late 15th century to deal with Spanish Jewry (it was actually started in 12th century France, in the area where I now live, to wipe out, in conjunction with a long and bloody crusade, the Cathars, who were Christian.

I enjoyed Bill's book, its descriptions of the people, friends and otherwise, along the way - its depiction of the daily struggle to get a bed for the night - and his obvious falling in love with Spain and especially Galicia.

But I think I will continue to walk alone.

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