Biking Camino de Santiago Journeying Spain

Burnt Offerings: Marking Endings

Family celebrating on beach
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Burnt Offerings: Marking Endings

Kirstie Profile SmallIt’s pilgrim tradition going back through the years that people burn their boots and articles of clothing when they get to Finisterre. There’s even a grate built into the mountainside to accommodate this.

“I’m burning Daddy’s grots,” says Matthew, peering into a pannier and pulling out a pair of well worn cycling undershorts.

“No, lets burn his cheesy socks,” says Cameron fishing out a couple of grey socks while we park up the bikes next to the lighthouse at the end of the world.

But although we always seem to end our trips at a lighthouse, this one doesn’t have the eerie atmosphere of New Zealand’s Cape Reinga, or the unkempt beauty of John O’ Groats.

Pilgrim heading to Finisterre

Pilgrim heading to Finisterre

Not the best place for a celebration

From the car park to the edge of the ocean it’s packed full of tourist buses, motorbikes, cars, people and cyclists, all snapping themselves against the sea. The end of the world is overrated – unless you want to buy a statue of an octopus eating witch, a blue and white striped china lighthouse or some end of the camino memorabilia. It seems to have long ago lost any awe inspiring significance it might once have held. Even the monument of the pilgrim boots sculpted in metal isn’t what it promised to be. “Someone’s nicked one of the boots!” Cameron cries.

Finisterre End of Camino de Santiago

It’s something of a tradition to burn your boots at Finisterre

We decide upon a ceremony of our own

So we decide to have our ceremony on the deserted beach, back towards town. After a freezing dip in the Atlantic, we gather together some of our most well worn possessions and make a hole in the sand. Then we find shells to place around the edge. The motley collection of shorts and socks are put into the homemade grate, and Stuart adds some of the meths from our stove.

Family dancing around fire on beach

Family dancing around fire on beach

As they go alight we cheer. In the distance the sun sets and the sky turns pink. Seagulls make a dash for the cliffs and the beach is empty. Just a puff of smoke indicates the end of the cheesy socks and smelly undies. We stir up the ashes and bury them with sand, smoothing out the beach. It’s like we were never here.

Burn grots burn

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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