Spain is far away. This is a known fact. But no so far away, and modeling itself off similar walking excursions and natural wonderment appreciation, is the fantastic Berkshire Camino guided walking tours around the South Berkshires.
For those that may already be hip to all things Berkshire Camino, here’s a quick, run down of what’s new for 2021 right from their website:
New Half-Day* Routes – Five locally curated, graciously guided Half-day hiking routes are currently available to book. More routes will be announced soon for Summer 2021!
Weekends and Weekdays – Half-day guided hikes are always offered on Saturdays and Sundays from May 1-October 17, 2021, as well as on select weekdays. There are more than 70 half-day hikes on the schedule.
Three-day Holiday Weekends – On Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Indigenous Peoples/Columbus Day we offer a Monday guided half-day hike. Consider joining us for multiple half-day hikes over these weekends to create a multi-day adventure – just add your own lodging.
Walkabouts – Take an easy 2 mile stroll around one of four idyllic town centers with your guide and new friend in the Berkshires. Learn some history, gain a bit of cultural context and ask your questions to make sure you know what to see and do in the Berkshires. Open to all ages.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO RECREATE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN SPAIN HERE?
The walk on the Camino de Santiago is life changing for many people. It challenges us to get out of our comfort zone, to have space for self-reflection and revelation. So many people desire this kind of experience where we can ‘drop out of daily life’ for a bit, reconnect to ourselves and seek some clarity about where we are in our life journey. The experience of disruption that came from the pandemic gave people a version of this kind of pause and reset. I think it opens peoples’ awareness of what it could be like for them to take intentional pauses at various stages of their lives. That’s why I think we are drawn to pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago and elsewhere.
WHY THE BERKSHIRES?
Not everyone has the time or money to travel to Europe to go on a pilgrimage. Why not do it here in the U.S. and specifically in the Berkshires. This area has long been a magnet for spiritual and nature seekers. We have hundreds of miles of beautiful woodland trail infrastructure, ways to navigate walking routes using lightly trafficked country roads and charming town centers with dining, lodging, shopping and entertainment infrastructure. In a lot of ways it feels like being in the European countryside.
COVID MADE PEOPLE WANT TO BE BOTH OUTSIDE AND AMONG PEOPLE AGAIN (SAFELY). HOW HAS RESPONSE BEEN TO BERKSHIRE CAMINO SO FAR?
Response has been very positive to the Berkshire Camino experience. Our guides create a deeply connected 100% outdoor, nature immersed experience that can be had while also being socially distanced. As restrictions on face coverings, distancing and gathering lift, Berkshire Camino continues to carry on, perhaps with even more relaxation. We offer a facilitated experience that is like a mindfulness retreat on foot. Guests set an intention, walk with curiosity; noticing what is around them and what is happening. Toward the end of the walk we have a ritual that invites us to let something go that we are carrying mentally or emotionally. We look for a token, like a pinecone or a stone to toss into a stream to represent what we are leaving behind. It is also a moment to share gratitude for our connection and to ask for whatever we need more of in our lives to fulfill our intention. It is simple and yet powerful. Guests are learning a method that they can use on either own for solo hikes or even with friends and family.
We’ve had a few tears of joy and release shed on these walks and I consider that one metric of our success at delivering a meaningful experience.
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR IDEAL GUIDED WALK IN LEE.
The ideal Berkshire Camino route includes a variety of woodland trails, country roads and town centers. Guests are invited to set an intention and to share it with the others in the group if they wish. We ‘walk at the speed of curiosity’ meaning that we are hyper aware of what we are sensing internally and externally. Attention to memories that may be triggered on a sacred walk like this are coming up for a reason. Some of the routes weave through places of historic and cultural significance like the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy and Chesterwood in Stockbridge, The Mount and Shakespeare & Co in Lenox and High Lawn Farm, a 100 year old Jersey cow, family owned dairy farm where you can meet our cow mascot, Baby Camino and sample their amazing cheeses, ice cream and other products.
WHAT IS A SURPRISING THING CUSTOMERS TELL YOU?
Berkshire Camino’s value proposition is to make it easy, safe and engaging to take a long distance walk in the Berkshires. We have been attracting solo female travelers in particular who are making a weekend out of coming to the Berkshires to walk with us and enjoy many other amenities of the area. There is so much to explore with the vibrant culture, cuisine and cannabis scene.
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