Heavy rain woke us up but rain drops guided us out into the shadows of a high rocky hill, the top of which was clothed in wisps of soft cloud that filtered through into a cloud filled cover for our 20ks walk to Los Arcos. Some Wisteria type bushes, yellow bracken and a handful of Poppies gathered intermittently on what was otherwise a narrow curling path through lush wheat fields bordered by high distant hills. The track was dotted with moving, colourful packs and rainjackets as we more quietly nordic-walked past this mostly silent moving column until greeted by the American couple whose company we enjoyed in Lorca.

Nearly all pilgrims I have seen, use ‘poles‘ to reach out in front with arms bent, (a way you would not normally swing your arms if the poles weren’t there), more to keep themselves steady (especially when walking downhill) and with some level of propulsion,. With Nordic walking however you swing your arms naturally planting the pole behind you near your back foot as you drag it, not lift it. You then push into your pole using your shoulder to strongly propel yourself forward. This is especially good for people with Parkinsons. It keeps your body upright (we tend to bend forward); it strengthens your shoulders and keeps your arms moving naturally (we tend to use our muscles less because the muscle movement deteriorates); the firm push gives you balance and control (we tend to lose this over time). I believe they are also good for people like me with back problems as they relieve the pressure on my spine. There are specially designed boot shaped rubbers to use on hard surfaces.

On reaching our Albergue (refugio) in Los Arcos we were greeted with an Easter street parade. We went into the local Romanesque church with its Gothic, Baroque and Classical elements and witnessed an architectural and visual delight. I have never really understood the church’s methods, and never accepted the behaviour of many of its representatives, but to see the intricate detailed work that I witnessed speaks of the love and passion that was once there, and which I imagine remains in many pockets of the church world of today.