‘Deeply poetic.’ CAROLINE LUCAS MP‘A masterpiece of storytelling.’ NICK MAYHEW-SMITH‘Mary Colwell is a candle of open-minded curiosity.’ PATRICK LAURIE‘An unforgettable story.’ MICHAEL MCCARTHY‘Inspiring.’ JEREMY MYNOTT–Mary Colwell makes a 500-mile solo pilgrimage along the Camino FrancÃ©s, winding through forests, mountains, farmland, industrial sprawls and places of worship, weaving her experiences of the Camino with natural history, spirituality and modern environmentalism.Pilgrims have always walked in times of upheaval, pitching themselves against weather, hunger, thirst and sometimes pain as they tread the paths their ancestors followed before them. In The Gathering Place, author, nature campaigner and veteran solo walker Mary Colwell undertakes a 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino FrancÃ©s in northern Spain at a unique moment in history – a time of pandemic, profound political change, and a climate and biodiversity emergency. In a typical year, more than 300,000 people walk this route or part of it, but in between lockdowns in 2020, Mary was virtually alone. The modern world weaves in and out of the Camino’s worn trackway, providing a focus for contemplation and a place where memories and experiences can gather. There are times of intense spirituality, meetings with a demon slayer, strange goings-on and magical tales, and the constant backdrop of nature with all its complexity and wonder. In this delightful book, Mary’s winter pilgrimage weaves a personal tale with a walk that millions have undertaken over the centuries. The Gathering Place is a beautiful, thoughtful and, at times, humorous journey of both body and soul.