Sally walks 100 miles in five days on our Camino 100 challenge

It was the most wonderful walking experience of my life and will remain with me forever


2023 was the year I hit 60 and I was looking for some life challenges to mark this milestone birthday. I began the year by joining a running group to enable me to run 5k. I am still a member of this group and have recently done a 10k race.

Then in June, as my big birthday approached, I received an email from Walk the Walk, telling me about their two Autumn challenges “Camino Journey to the Edge” and the “Camino 100”. Having done the The MoonWalk London many years previously, I was already interested.

I contacted my good friend Jan to see if she’d be interested in joining me on one of these challenges. As she was already away in September, the only one which we could both do was the Camino 100, walking 100 miles in five days along the ancient pilgrim route in Galicia, Northern Spain. On 12th June we signed up for this challenge!

Straight away, the support from all the Walk the Walk team was brilliant, with welcome emails, training plans, and fundraising ideas. For me, fundraising was a worry, but once I started sharing my story, people were so supportive, especially as the funds raised are for such an important cause. I hosted a coffee morning and raffle for my keep fit group and that got me off to a good start. Donations quickly followed.

The next step was the training!  It appeared daunting, but I drew up my 14-week training programme onto an A3 chart and stuck it up in the kitchen. I planned everything, so that I could fit my walks in around everyday life. Soon I was ticking of the miles and enjoying the countryside around me, as I explored new walking paths. I stuck to the plan, going out in both the rain and doing my 20 mile walks in 30-degree heat (little did I realise at the time, how helpful this would be!)

Suddenly October was here and I was packing for the trip to Spain. I felt ready with all the training miles I’d covered, but still a little daunted by the challenge ahead. Last minute packing included the ordering of cooling towels, as hot temperatures were forecast (they proved to be invaluable during the hot afternoons).                             

I arrived in Santiago de Compostela, having met most of my fellow walkers at the airport and we took our private transfer to Mount O’Cebreiro, a truly magical village with wonderful scenery, breathtaking views and an amazing Celtic settlement (such wonderful history). That evening, we had our welcome meal, met Alfonso our guide, attended a Pilgrims Mass (such an emotional experience for me) and prepared ourselves for what lay ahead. Little did I realise, how rewarding the next five days would be.  

On Friday 6th October we began our walking challenge, to cover our 100 miles in 5 days. The weather was forecast to be hot, so we started early with our head torches on, rucksacks packed and walking poles in hand. Walk the Walk leader Sam offered expert advice on taping our feet to hopefully protect us from blisters (I learnt how to do it myself after day one).

It was the most wonderful walking experience of my life, as we walked along the ancient Camino trail, through deserted farmyards, beautiful villages, wooded paths and along quiet country roads. The scenery was beautiful - rolling hills, the mist in the valleys below, the sun rising behind us as we walked westward, the air clean and fresh and my fellow pilgrims so kind and supportive.

The days were long and hot, the terrain tricky at times and the undulations (hills) sometimes seemed never-ending, but the highs definitely outweighed the lows. We witnessed ladies in a farmyard stringing together the maize crop ready to make bread and feed the animals, we tasted freshly made cheese, we had breakfast in Grandma Isabelle’s barn, tasting her just- baked Santiago cake and we were accompanied along the path by cows, dogs and donkeys braying in the field as we passed by. All the time, we followed the Camino kilometre posts with their iconic blue background and yellow shell emblem, which marked our way.

We went “fishing” with our cooling towels tied to our walking poles to re-wet them in a little stream during the hot afternoons. On day four we sang the “12 days of Christmas” (with actions) to get us up another undulation (it could have only happened on the Camino!). We shared stories and wished a ‘Buen Camino’ to pilgrims from all nationalities as they passed by. 

Before I knew it, day five beckoned and we were on our last day walking into Santiago de Compostela.  We walked into the city as a group of 16 pilgrims, and were accompanied by the sound of bagpipes, as we walked down the steps into the cathedral square. What an emotional ending to the most incredible journey. Emotions ran high!

To anyone thinking about taking on this adventure I would say do it. Your fellow walkers will become your Camino family during the week and you will share life stories - I was so inspired by my fellow walkers. You are walking for such an amazing cause and the support you receive from all of the Walk the Walk team is brilliant.

My Camino 100 journey will remain with me forever – it was such a wonderful week with the most amazing memories.  Thank you to my Camino 100 family and to all the Walk the Walk Team”.  

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


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