My name is Peter Booth, and I plan to walk 600 miles across Spain, following the “Camino de Santiago” pilgrimage route, in memory of my friend Tony Embrey. In doing so, I hope to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and Severn Hospice.
The Camino de Santiago, or Way of Saint James, describes any of the many routes across Europe to the city of Santiago de Compostela, in north-west Spain. The city’s name translates, according to various sources, to “St James and the field of stars” or “the burial ground of St James”. People have been walking to Santiago for 1000 years, to visit the alledged burial site of the bones of the Apostle James. His emblem was the scallop shell, which is still carried by many of the up to 100,000 pilgrims who walk the Camino each year.
I first became interested in the Camino during a holiday to north-west Spain several years ago, and decided to undertake the journey on my retirement. I set out in August 2007, to walk the most popular route, the Camino Frances, but unfortunately fell ill and returned home after walking for just a week. I was diagnosed as having had a heart attack, and underwent quadruple cardiac bypass surgery in December 2007. The information and support my family and I received from the British Heart Foundation during this time was invaluable. Having fully recovered from my surgery, I set out again the following year and completed a 500 mile Camino in September 2008.
I had been friends with Tony Embrey for many years, having been recommended to him by friends when I was looking to buy a car in 1984. Unfortunately, in 2009 Tony was diagnosed with lung cancer. Chemotherapy provided some relief but in December 2009 Tony’s condition worsened; he spent the last weeks of his life in Severn Hospice and passed away in March 2010. During his illness, I promised him that I would walk the Camino again, to raise money for charity.
I will set out from Shropshire on 23rd March, with my friend Paul Reeves-Morris who will be walking with me for the first 10 days of the journey. We plan to start walking on 25th March, starting further away from Santiago than on my previous visit. I hope to cover a distance of around 600 miles, arriving in Santiago 6 weeks later. I will travel light, as the pilgrimage passes through towns and villages, and stay in Refugios, or hostels. For the latter part of my journey I won’t have a travelling companion, but I won’t be alone, as many other pilgrims will be following the same route. I am still in contact with some of the friends I made on my last Camino.
My daughter Rachel has set up this blog to allow any one who is interested to follow my preparations and progress on the Camino, so please check back for updates.
I have two JustGiving sites, where you can make a donation to these worthy causes. Anything you can give would be very much appreciated.
JustGiving Severn Hospice & JustGiving British Heart Foundation