A golden wedding anniversary in Santiago
by Hugh and Barbara Emsley

2018 was a special year for us, so to celebrate, we decided to walk the 500-mile pilgrim route known as the Camino de Santiago, from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in Spain. 

We were determined to walk every step of the way and to carry our own baggage, so lightweight gear was important. Being experienced backpackers, we already had good packs and boots and a supply of suitable clothing, much of it bearing the Rohan label and to be honest, mostly fairly old (does this stuff ever wear out?).  However, we treated ourselves to a few new items such as Convertible Trailblazer trousers and an Equator Shirt for Hugh, and Pacer Capris and a Sanctuary Shirt for me. 

Walking the Camino was a wonderful experience. We stayed in backpacking hostels, where accommodation varied from basic, with up to 30 or more bunk beds in a room, to comfortable private double rooms. The hostels usually served an excellent communal evening meal and provided clothes washing facilities. There were never enough pegs provided to hang clothes on the drying lines and our fellow pilgrims were very impressed by the hanging tabs on our Rohan shirts.

Unfortunately, on very wet days it was necessary to use dryers and usually this was done by the wardens who gathered all the washing together and dried it, often I suspect, on a hot setting. Despite such rough treatment our Rohan clothing was admirably robust and survived intact. My Pacer Capris were definitely the star of my wardrobe. They were so comfortable that I wore them almost every day, washed them at night and they were dry again next morning.

We encountered temperatures which varied from well below freezing in the mountains, to more than 30 degrees on the Meseta, so clothes layering was the way to go. Going over the Pyrenees my pack was very light because I was wearing every single garment I had brought with me, including my rain gear, just to keep warm. The only item I did not bring which I would have liked, was a pair of leggings. These would have been good to wear under trousers on cold days and to sleep in on chilly nights.

We walked through spectacular scenery and pretty medieval villages, and visited magnificent cathedrals. We dined and shared experiences with interesting people from all over the world who had come to make the same journey, and were often treated with great kindness. On one occasion a young man insisted on giving me his lower bunk bed because he thought that the upper bunk was too difficult for me to access and later, when we went to visit a village church, an elderly nun gave each of us a small pendant to protect us on our journey. 

The highlight of our journey was arriving in Santiago on the 8th June, our Golden Wedding anniversary. The walk was wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

By Hugh and Barbara Emsley

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