Eighty Year Old Sets Off On 450-Mile Pilgrimage To Santiago - Spain
An eighty year old man is proving it's never too late for an adventure by walking a 450-mile pilgrimage in Spain to celebrate his long and healthy life.
AN EIGHTY year old artist is walking a 450-mile pilgramage in Spain to celebrate his long and healthy life.
Don Whalley left his home town of Prestatyn on Monday (30 April 2012)and will begin his marathon trek on Thursday starting on the French side of the Pyrenees.
The route is known as the Camino De Santiago de Compostela or the Way of St James and starts near Biarritz in southern France and ends in north west Spain at the cathedral of Santiago.
Volunteers provide accomodation for pilgrims who pay a few Euros per night for bed and breakfast and have a certificate stamped to prove they were there.
The path was declared the first European cultural route by the Council of Europe and is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
"My friend asked me to do the walk and I've always wanted to do it but didn't realise that it was going to be 450 miles."
"We'll be walking for six weeks and if it's not too hilly it's no big deal.
"It will be a good experience. You're following some kind of spiritual path and something spiritual will come out of it."
Since retiring as a signwriter Don, who has four children and nine grandchildren, took up landscape painting and gained an art degree from Wrexham University two years ago.
He insists on painting in the open and his other expeditions include many visits to Australia and a 3-month camping and painting trip in Alaska.
Don's wife Lilian said he had been training for months and was very excited about the expedition which he hopes to complete in forty days.
"His eyes were sparkling when he got on the train on Monday and he's one of those people who never says no to a challenge," said Lilian who has been married to Don for 55 years.
"I don't think he realises that he's eighty years old. He's up at 5.30 every day and won't miss his yoga and does a full routine before breakfast.
"He sits in the full lotus position to meditate for up to an hour and has a cold shower, winter or summer.
"He's a character and the grass doesn't grow under his feet he just gets on with life really.
"I think he'll finish the walk as long as he gets the right food.
"He only weighs eight stone and there's nothing of him at all but he's got amazing walking legs that look like they shouldn't be part of the same body.
"He was going to walk from Pamplona to Santiago but he's decided to go over the Pyrenees as well as if it's not a long enough challenge as it is."