Julia’s incredible 100-mile journey along the Camino for Walk the Walk

Everyone needs to experience the Camino journey, which I will always carry in my heart.

Julia describes how she completed our Camino 100 challenge, walking 100 miles from O' Cebriero to Santiago de Compostela, just months after being given the all clear from breast cancer.

“As I sit here outside this beautiful café, on a cobbled street in this incredible city of Santiago, the sun is shining. A Spanish guy is sat in the street playing his guitar and I order a large coffee. What did I just achieve? Along with a team of incredible people, we walked along the idyllic Camino trail in Spain, completing 100 MILES IN FIVE DAYS!!!

Only five months ago, I sat in the breast cancer unit – I looked around and every seat was taken. The room was full of people like me, someone’s friend, relative, neighbour or loved one. Tears slowly rolled down my cheeks, as I had just been given the all clear, after discovering a lump and undergoing surgery. Not only did I now want to take time for ME to be ME again, I wanted to do something new. I wanted to find a challenge and if I could raise money and awareness of breast cancer too, it would be a huge bonus.

I discovered Walk the Walk 20 years ago, when I lost my mum to breast cancer. I remember someone suggested that I decorated a bra and joined a power walking event through the capital (The MoonWalk London). I noticed that Walk the Walk organised other wonderful challenges and there it was, the “Camino 100”, so I signed up!

I joined the Camino team later than the others and was hit with a daunting training plan and overwhelming fear of not reaching the fundraising target.

I am the person who struggles with social media, adding pictures upside down and posting unfinished write ups, so my beautiful niece took control. She posted weekly about my journey, my walks, little videos, the highs and lows. This gave my fundraising a huge start and the pennies rolled in. Alongside this, a close friend offered to hold a cake sale - she set a date and contacted local cake businesses, asking them to donate. She then put up posters with information about Walk the Walk. The cake sale raised nearly £500 and I quickly realised that having one big event such as this (coffee morning, walk and talk afternoon, music gig, dress down day in work or PINK event) quickly gets you closer to reaching the fundraising target.

Adding training miles while working full time and having a busy life was a challenge too. I drew up a plan for myself, alongside the suggested miles from Walk the Walk. At times I was getting up early to walk before work and weekends would be full of catching up with friends and family while out walking!!! I even had a friend happy to hike up mountains, which ended with a drink at the pub.

The day arrived to fly out to Santiago de Compostela. Arriving in the airport we gathered our things to jump on a bus to the first village, O' Cebriero, the starting point of our challenge, high up in the mountains.

That evening we joined a local mass with pilgrims from all over the world all receiving a blessing of a safe and healthy journey. A small pebble with a little arrow painted on it was placed in the palm of my hand and the words Buen Camino whispered to me. I felt a huge sense of mixed emotions and tears welled up. I knew what was ahead and that I would need to dig deep.

I could never have imagined what the next five days would bring …

They were full of laughter (real belly laughs), more tears, blisters (yep a BIG one arrived on the first day), scorching heat, wild wees, ice foot baths, early starts, tasting local cheese, trying to stay cool (cool towels were a game changer), hills and more hills! I remember the happy cows, the ice cream, salty crisps and sharing inspiring stories with my fellow team members and other pilgrims along the route.

Not to mention trying out my rusty Spanish, tasting delicious Santiago cake, the breath-taking views, a washing line full of bra t shirts and the incredible sunrises. There were swollen ankles, lsabella opening up her barn for our morning coffee stop, carrying my Camino shell tied to my rucksack and of course, taping and re-taping my feet (yep I am now a pro)! 

I recall seeing all the little chapels along the way, just standing and taking a breath, the Tetley tea shed stops, muscle rubs and singing Christmas songs along the trail (yes I think the sun truly got to us)!

I loved the morning group hugs, following the Camino arrows, counting down the kilometre markers, sharing the words “Buen Camino with other pilgrims and collecting stamps in my pilgrim’s passport. I remember the lemon Fanta tasting soooo refreshing and arriving in Santiago to the sound of bagpipes….

I completed my challenge wrapped up with the love, strength and courage from all my family and friends at home believing in me, and with Walk the Walk and my team sharing each step.

The money we raised will help so many people and has helped change my story. Everyone needs to experience the Camino journey which I will always carry in my heart”.

Thank you for sharing your story Julia! Sign up now for The Camino 100 2024.


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