I’m happy to report that today I found my Camino stone!
The route I’ll be walking on the Camino de Santiago is the Camino Frances, starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. About 500 km into the walk, on top of a hill is the Cruz de Ferro, Iron Cross. This is a wooden pole that looks like a phone pole with an iron cross on top.
Traditionally pilgrims walking the Camino leave a stone at the base of the Cruz de Ferro. There’s a growing mound of rocks that have been left there over the centuries.
There are some pretty big rocks at the base of the cross, small boulder size. I don’t know if some penance-seeking pilgrim carried these big ones from afar to leave at the cross. The Cruz de Ferro is near the highway, so maybe they’ve been driven to the cross and hauled the final distance. I don’t know!
Why bring a Camino stone?
Packing a rock in a suitcase for a transatlantic flight and then stuffing it into a backpack for a long walk seems like extra weight.
It’s a tradition. I’m returning to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago for the full pilgrim experience, so the stone is a must.
Leaving a stone at the Cruz de Ferro is about leaving the burdens of your past behind. Or at least that’s the legend that resounds the best with me. That’s my reason. I hope to unload my burden stone and the burdens of my past behind in Spain.
Bring a rock from home
Most pilgrims bring a rock from home to leave at the cross. But pilgrims can bring a stone from wherever they want or pick up a stone anywhere along the way and carry it with them to the Cruz de Ferro.
Some pilgrims write their name or messages on the stone they leave at the cross. Other pilgrims carry a rock for someone else who is unable to make the journey.
And some pilgrims don’t bother bringing a rock at all.
When I started planning to go to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, I was pretty sure I knew where I would get my rock.
At the house where I grew up in Cloverdale, BC.
The house was a different color when I was a kid – brown with an orange trim. By the way, my old bedroom is the window on the left. The window on the right is the living room. When I hit my teens I moved into the bedroom in the basement, right below my first bedroom. Just a teen who wanted privacy.
My father bought the lot and had the house built in 1962 and my parents sold it in 1985.
When I was little, the front yard was lawn, and a garden area on the little slope going down to the street. But sometime in the seventies my parents turned it into a rock garden. Little rock paths of different colors and types of stones, flower beds, flower boxes, and flower tubs. Very ornamental.
Unfortunately my mother made me pull all the weeds that found their way through the stone paths. Mowing the previous lawn would have been quicker.
I knew this house would be the place to find my burden stone. Even though it’s been turned back to lawn, some of those old rocks must still be kicking around.
My Camino stone
Today I drove into Cloverdale and parked in front of my old house. My plan was to try to spot an appropriate stone close to the street. Failing that, I planned to knock on the door, introduce myself as the first kid who lived in the house, and ask if I could walk around the yard looking for the right rock.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to knock. No more burdens for me at this house!
I made a short video of looking for my Camino stone. Unfortunately some bozo across the street had decided this would be the perfect time to power wash the fence, so there was a lot of noise.
Cruz de Ferro
In addition to stones, some pilgrims leave other items at the cross. Photos, prayers, and little gifts are left here, too. I guess I’ll see for myself when I get there.
For more information on the Cruz de Ferro from a woman’s point of view, see Camino de Santiago: A Stone & a Prayer at Cruz de Ferro.
Another good post is A Stone of Burdens which brought a tear to my eye when she talked about being heartbroken after her best friend’s dog passed away.
One of the reasons I’ll be walking the Camino is in memory of my beautiful Shadow who passed away earlier this year. She loved traveling with me.
Too many stones?
There are no rules that a pilgrim must bring a stone to leave at the Cruz de Ferro, nor how many stones a pilgrim can bring on the Camino de Santiago.
That might only be limited by how heavy you want your backpack to be!
The day after Shadow passed, I went to White Rock beach and picked up a few small stones. I thought one of them might be appropriate to leave at the Cruz de Ferro in Shadow’s memory.
On my latest Oregon road trip, I picked up a few interesting agates on the beach at Lincoln City plus a couple of shells. I wasn’t really planning to leave any of the agates or shells at the Cruz de Ferro, but there are other memorials along the Camino that might be appropriate places to leave them.
Don’t you like how that shell on the left has a little pebble stuck inside it?
Isn’t it interesting how plans change when I haven’t even set foot in Europe yet!
I have a housesit in England until the end of January. When the homeowners return I plan to go up to Scotland for a few days.
My granny (cremated) is buried in a cemetery in Tarbert, Scotland, the place she was from. She lived in White Rock. My plan is to visit the grave and leave the stones from White Rock there for her.
I’ve heard of a memorial in England where I will leave some of the Lincoln City beach collection. Maybe even all.
My camino stone
I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the little rock I’m taking to Spain. It’s a nice little stone, with some color to it, and it’s very smooth.
No sharp edges.
Stay tuned. Later this year will be a post about me leaving the Cloverdale stone at the Spanish Cruz de Ferro!
Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on June 15, 2023.