On Wednesday 29 th January our after dinner speaker was Peter Charles. He spoke to a rapt audience of his walk from Little Missenden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, which was a journey of more than 1,500 miles. Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. It’s known as the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and the alleged burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James. His remains reputedly lie within the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, consecrated in 1211, whose elaborately carved stone facades open onto grand plazas within the medieval walls of the old town.
This journey was all the more remarkable as Peter had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. On his 70th birthday Peter announced his intention to complete this incredible feat to his family and friends. 30% thought he was drunk, 30% thought he was mad and the remaining 30% thought he was both!
Peter’s pilgrimage started on 14 February 2016 from St John the Baptist, Little Missenden, Bucks after the 10.30am morning service. Peter walked an average 10 miles a day and took a rest day after every 6 walking days as well as taking a few days off when the weather was really bad. Peter was accompanied by a friend for some of the journey and strangers on other days. His route took 260 miles across the south of England to Cornwall.
He crossed the channel taking the ferry to Roscoff, then walked more than 700 miles down the westside of France to the Pyrenees. In Spain, Peter then took the Camino del Norte coastal route, 500 miles to his destination at Santiago de Compostela.
Peter regaled us with amusing anecdotes of his journey especially life in the various albergues and pensions he stayed in along the way. He walked all that way and never had a blister. Backpacking has its difficulties, especially in trying to keep clean clothes but he always managed to find a woman who did his washing for him.
The journey, through England, France and then Northern Spain took just over 6 months and finished 20 October 2016.
To date Peter has rised about £70,000 for Parkinson’s research.