Arduous Pyrenees trek ‘experience of a lifetime’

A Whitby Rambler has completed an arduous 500-mile trek across the Pyrenees, in what he hailed “an experience of a lifetime”.

Phil Barrowcliff took on the Camino Francés – the French Way – walk from the east to west of Spain. A typical walk on the route takes around four weeks.

The adventure started at St Jean Pied de Port, where Phil up with hundreds of like-minded people initially crossing the Pyrenees into Spain and then following a path well marked with scallop shells or yellow arrows for the next 780km or so.

The lines on the scallop shell are said to represent the different routes pilgrims travel with all walking trails leading to one point, the tomb of Saint James in Santiago.

The walk was certainly a challenge compared to the normal 12 miles or so the Ramblers do on a Saturday, but Phil got over his initial reservations.

He explained: “Last year a friend tried to get me interested in doing it.

“My initial response was ‘I don’t think so’. However, on reading about someone many years older than me completing it in a month, I thought that maybe I could do it.

“Then after watching The Way, a DVD starring Martin Sheen, I was determined to give it a whirl.

“This was for me the experience of a lifetime and one I will never forget, but whether it will change my life, only time will tell.”

Phil and his partner Jan Sherlock are already thinking about doing another Camino in a year or two.

“As they say, you can very easily get the bug,” he added.