By Helen Hyland, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.
On Tuesday 29th August, Sophie Breese embarked on the journey of a lifetime. A pilgrimage no less. Walking the Camino de Santiago from her home in south west France and hoping to end 1340 km and 65 days later in Santiago in north west Spain.
Her route will follow an ancient pilgrim route travelled since the first millennium called the St James Way and ends at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela where the apostle James is believed to be buried.
Her reasons for doing this are several:
- To have a period of reflection;
- To consider her place within the natural world;
- To challenge herself physically and mentally;
- To live with few material possessions and no social media
- To celebrate the fact that she no longer has ME/CFS.
In her latest blog, she writes:
“Today we are having a rest day in the rather chic town of Logroño in northern Spain. We have walked 635 km (400 miles) and done a fair amount of climbing and going down in this dry almost desert-like landscape.
“Our highlights in the last week:
- Crossing the Pyrenees with its stunning views and staying that night in the Abbey of Roncesvalles in bed numbers 324 and 325. The abbey – the main stopping place for pilgrims after a 27km walk with a 1400 metre ascent – was restored a few years ago and the dormitories were stunning.
- Arriving in the middle of the town festival in Puenta de Reina, drinking whiskey and coke with 15 French teenagers, watching the running of the bulls and dancing until late (8.30pm) to live Basque music.
- Passing through beautiful medieval villages emerging out of barren land, all graced with huge churches built in the twelfth century when the Camino first became so important.
- Eating the most delicious meal in our aubergue in Zubiri (quinoa salad amongst other dishes!) sharing our table with 8 Mexicans, a German woman and a woman from Catalonia. We spent most of the evening laughing.
- Drinking wine from a wine fountain at 8 am (no joke) after leaving Estella – a small town with 10 enormous churches – and adding some to a water bottle for lunch. Shortly after we were shown a tree loaded with ripe almonds by two Korean girls. That day we had almonds, sweet grapes, figs and wine for lunch.
- Bumping into pilgrims we had met in France and thought we had lost; it feels as if we have known them for years. Making new friends. So far I have exchanged contact details with French, German, Polish, Mexican and British pilgrims.
“Yesterday during our 30 km walk with some unexpected climbs in 30 degree heat, we heard some music. In the vines, under an olive grove, a man was playing Cohen's ‘Hallelujah' on a guitar. It was one of those moments – and we have had many on this walk – that we will never forget.
“The Spanish Camino is entirely different to the French Chemin. Hundreds of people, tens of languages, warm greetings from everyone. It is a celebration of life.
“I am quite astonished that few people outside the UK have even heard of M.E. No one in France seems to have heard of it even though it is indeed here. I think it is not talked about. So if I can also spread the word in Europe, then good.
“Please consider donating if you haven't done so already. I have to say that I am pretty proud of myself for doing what I have done so far and 14 years ago, when I was first ill with M.E., I was dreaming of being able to walk to the bathroom unaided not walking 635 km.
“I am getting tired but curiously this week has been mainly tiredness from chatting so much to the many pilgrims we have met.”
We are so very grateful to Sophie for all her fundraising for The ME Association and to everyone who has supported her efforts.
Fancy raising funds yourself?
If you are interested in raising funds for the ME Association, then why not give Helen Hyland a call on: 01280 838964, or contact her via email: Helen.Hyland@meassociation.org.uk You might also like to visit the fundraising section of our website.
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