Allison, Christine and Heather take on the Camino Spring 100 challenge!

Setting off each morning from our hotel was like the start of a brand new adventure

Christine’s story:

Back in September 2019, I received an email from Walk the Walk, asking if I would be interested in signing up for the Spring Camino 100 due to take place in Easter 2020. Having completed my second Over The Moon (52.4 miles) in 2018, WTW obviously reckoned I might need another challenge!

At first, I dismissed it and then my friend Allison mentioned she’d received an email too. We talked about it between ourselves and before we knew it we had signed up and paid our money! Allison's mum is a breast cancer survivor and we know how vital the work WTW does, is for so many families up and down the country. 

That night after signing up for the Camino, I could barely sleep thinking about how I could fundraise the £650 required, but after a few days I had several ideas lined up in my head, it was just a question of getting them to fruition.

As it was coming up to the festive season, it was a good chance to get in on the Christmas themed fundraising ideas. I held a bake sale at my work, I baked a Christmas cake and for a £1 asked friends and colleagues to guess the weight and the closest guess won the cake. I find fundraising easier if it involves items your sponsors can win or get in return for their donation. Guess the number of sweets in a jar and the name of the dog also went down well, and it was a soft toy dog, not a real one, which the winner received!

Roll on to spring 2020 and everything changed with Covid 19. WTW took the difficult but right decision to postpone our Camino trip. We waited until late 2020 to book new flights for 2021, when sadly the trip was cancelled again. Allison and I both decided we still wanted to go ahead and aim for 2022, making it third time lucky and we are so glad we did. Who would have thought we would complete a walk in April 2022 which we signed up for in September 2019!

Having our trip cancelled not once but twice, I found it difficult to get really excited about it. However, that changed the closer it got and when we arrived at our starting point and gazed down over the valley on Easter Sunday after a full day travelling, it was most definitely worth the wait.

When the pandemic hit, Alison and I continued to walk when we could but restrictions meant we couldn't walk together for what seemed like a very long time. But when we could, we walked up hills, down hills and everywhere in between around Edinburgh and South Queensferry. We were advised to include hills in our training, which living in Edinburgh is easy enough to do. We have Arthur's Seat and other hills which we duly trained on, however once we got to the start of the Camino we realised the hills were certainly bigger and more frequent than we had ever anticipated. Every night at dinner we would ask our guide Alfonso if there were any hills on our route the following day and he would reply "only tables are flat!!" The training plan provided by WTW is there to prepare you for this mighty walk and it does, you just have to work it around your daily life. Hill training needs to play a big part in your Camino training otherwise it does make it a much harder challenge.

Allison and I would always try and get a decent long walk every Saturday morning while putting the world to rights and then added in shorter walks through the week, I walked to and from work each day which added another 20 miles every week, I would go to Zumba classes and fit in a few runs each week.

Training in the socks and shoes I would use on the trip was also vital to ensure my feet would last the distance. I found a pair of running trainers and a pair of trail trainers were the best combo for the terrain at home and in Spain. I think I walked in trail trainers four days out of the five, making sure I had taped my hot spots (blister areas in the past). Doing this meant I was able to finish my trek blister free.

My top tip for the trip is to have your clothes laid out the night before - that way you are more organised each morning, with your case packed and ready to be taken to the next hotel. The early mornings in April can be cold, so a hat, gloves and a few warm base layers are essential. 

Setting off each morning from our hotel was like the start of a brand new adventure, walking and talking with each other, listening to how courageous, strong and determined we all were and talking about the adventures we had already completed prior to taking on the Camino. We certainly couldn't have done it without all the planning by Walk the Walk. WTW’s Polla and our brilliant guide Alfonso not only covered the miles with us, but encouraged and kept us going when we needed that extra push.

Each day we would experience the most amazing scenery, villages, country smells and of course the essential stop off, not just for coffee and cake to help us on our way, but the all-important passport stamp to prove we were walking the route. The odd bit of singing may have played a part in helping the miles go by. We were always looked after so well in the hotels, especially at meal times, where we received the best of Galician hospitality.

All in all, it was the most challenging and enjoyable trip, rolled into one fabulous week. I think back to how emotional I felt walking along those last few streets until we finally walked into the square in front of the Cathedral under the famous WTW arch. I had the most amazing hug from Polla (who officially does give out the best hugs). Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Heather’s story:

I signed up for the Spring Camino 2020 in 2019 after watching the movie ‘The Way’ the film with Martin Sheen. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do, for a good laugh and cry in equal measure. The scenery looked magical and the camaraderie looked unforgettable. My husband thought I had taken leave of my senses, but I’d completed loads of events with Walk the Walk and I knew that it would be well organised and we would be well looked after.

I started fundraising by selling cakes, bingo and football cards and started a tuck shop at work and have to say that my friends, family and colleagues were very generous. In terms of my training, I tried to stick to the training plan as best I could and I managed it for the most part. I made a promise with myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up too much if during the week I took a night off, as long as my long walks at the weekend were never missed. I took to the hills, the glens and then just as the excitement had peaked (no pun intended) COVID hit and our Camino trip had to be postponed. I continued to walk through the lockdowns and even bought a treadmill so that I was maintaining a level of fitness until we got a new date. In 2021, after lockdown, I took to the hills and glens with my friends (who I think I may have exhausted) and then the rescheduled date of April 2022 finally came!!

Although I started by myself, I had the best time and made friends for life. To be honest on the days when it was harder – Thursday which was the longest day which was tiring – my fellow Camino Walk the Walkers kept me going with singing, games (special shout out to Ally and Christine) and hugs. The stories as we all got to know each other were pretty special!!

I highly recommend this adventure and these are my tips if you are thinking about it: Train on all types of terrain and don’t forget the hills, I know that this really helped me. Another tip is that I lived in my trail shoes for the week of the Camino and changed my socks mid-way through the day, to keep my feet fresh and bouncy. I had no blisters! Also - don’t go too fast and enjoy the people you are with - they all have their challenges and determination which will help and inspire you as you walk. Finally - SING lots!

So how did it compare to ‘The Way’? What I hoped I’d get was the camaraderie and good scenery and that’s exactly what I got. It was a challenge and at times the elevation made it hard, but I am already looking to the next adventure. Buen Camino!

Thank you for sharing your stories! Register your interest here for the Camino Spring 2023!


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