Mark H.O’Sullivan Second edition 2018, 83 pages
‘The best way to get Camino ready is to learn from those who have walked it’
So asserts the author of this book, Mark O’Sullivan, an Australian currently living in the UK and who had considerable long distance walking experience before walking the Camino Francés in 2013 at the age of 69.
His motivation for writing the book was the largely avoidable travails of pilgrims he encountered on that first and subsequent Caminos. The outcome is 83 pages packed with information and ideas derived ‘from my own experiences and mistakes, from research looking for answers, and, importantly, talking to many pilgrims who have walked one or many Caminos’.
Nine very practical chapters cover Camino preparation and fitness, footwear, walking as a system, clothing, blisters, injuries, water, backpacks, and the importance of weight minimisation and of using walking poles. Its last chapter has useful tips about technology and security. This new edition also has two appendices suggested by Camino pilgrims, one ‘Albergues: what to expect and how to manage’, and the other ‘Dealing with bedbugs’.
There are a number of mostly relevant photographs of varying quality, several copy editing lapses, no index although the table of contents is detailed, and three blank pages at the end – good for notes. The book is a manageable A5 size, and weighs just 186gms – light enough to carry on a Camino for reference. The print version is expensive, but put that down to Amazon, not the author, who has done the Camino community a valuable service for likely little personal financial benefit. Find out more at his website at www.caminowalkingguide.com.
The proliferation of online and printed accounts of walking the Camino are replete with cautionary tales and sometimes contradictory advice and information for would be pilgrims. In a time consuming and haphazard exercise this reviewer consulted many of them before commencing his first Camino from Seville just seven years ago, at the age of 69. Yet he still made mistakes on that first Camino and subsequently – mistakes which access to Camino Ready would have largely avoided or minimized.
So, if you are hesitating about the practical and other aspects of walking a camino, investing in Camino Ready will both inform and encourage you to venture forth on what so many have found is a unique and life changing experience.
Camino Ready is published through Amazon’s self publishing platform and may be ordered from Amazon or from the author’s website www.caminowalkingguide.com. The cost is about $38 plus postage. The e-book version is about $7.