British resident Lynne Myers from Newcastle has lived on the island for 43 years and during that time has faced some very challenging moments in her life, no less than looking after her late mother, Mary, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and sadly passed away in the middle of August six years ago.
Lynne admits that caring for her mother was hugely demanding and trying at times and that it has taken the best part of the past six years for her to recover from her ordeal and find her true self again. As a mark of gratitude for still being fit and healthy, she will be 65 in October, Lynne is about to walk the full length of the Camino de Santiago to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
"I’m ready, it’s my time. I have always been a ‘fairweather’ hiker. I’ve always done the walk up to Lluc and I’ve also done the dry stone walk across the Tramuntana Mountains. That was good training for the north of Spain because I had to endure all kinds of weather. If it hadn’t been for my rucksack I think I would have been blown in the Gorg Blau reservoir at one point."
Lynne has also completed an annual four-day hike in Marbella and although she is a little apprehensive, she just wants to get going now.
"I’ve got all my gear ready. The experts recommend that you carry a kilo per ten kilos of body weight, so I will be only carrying six kilos in my rucksack. I’ve really had to limit what I take to the minimum and although six kilos may not sound a lot, when it’s been on your back for anything up to six hours per day, it gets heavy."
As a true Geordie, she says that "if anything is doing, it’s worth doing properly" and Lynne will be walking the official entire route starting in St Jean Pied de Port in the French Basque Country which takes pilgrims across the Pyrenees, into the city of Pamplona and finally to the picturesque mediaeval town of Estella Lizarra. This is one of the most challenging stretches of the Camino de Santiago but also one of the most spectacular ones, particularly if you take the ‘Napoleon Route’ over the Roncesvalles Pass (1450m).
"I shall be flying to Pamplona and then take a bus to my starting point the following day at the end of the month. I shall be travelling and walking alone, no support team or anything and I prefer it that way. I’ve planned it to take 33 days and walk an average of 20 to 25 kilometres per day, although some stretches are slightly longer.
"I shall be starting at 8am and expect to be walking around four to five hours per day and then try and stay in the municipal refuges overnight, providing there is room. If not, there’s always a friendly neighbour or hotel in case of emergencies. I am not so worried about the physical challenge, although the first walk down the Pyrenees is very steep and where everyone has to be careful not to twist an ankle or take a fall, it is going to be very mentally demanding. Being on my own, there are going to be times I will need a lot of self motivation to get up and get walking every morning, but everyone I know, in particular my son, have all the faith in the world that I can do it and I intend to. For me and of course my late mother and to raise as much money for my cause.
"Looking after Alzheimer’s patients is extremely hard, especially once they get bedridden and need to be hoisted out of bed, washed, dressed and fed. I want to help fund research, help find something which will help all sufferers of Alzheimer’s. There is a treatment which can stop its advance, but it’s not a cure, it’s a terrible, horrible disease."
The biggest threat to hikers are blisters, but Lynne has invested in a sturdy pair of hiking boots, she will have walking poles, they will help ease the weight of her backpack, and some comfortable walking sandals for the easier stints.
"I’ve already had a great response from my friends here on the island, many have donated to the cause and at last week’s service at the Anglican Church, 350 euros of the donations from the congregation were set aside for my charity. Many people may know me as the ‘guess the weight of the cake woman’. I bake the cake for the Christmas fair at the Anglican Church every year and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the congregation. It’s strange, I grew up in the Twiggy area and I hated my legs. Being a hairdresser I was always involved with helping improve everyone’s exterior and appearance, but as I’ve got older I’ve become so proud of my legs and that they both still work and that I’m going to be able to embark on this challenge. We’ve become so superficial when it’s the interior, what’s inside us that really matters.
"We should appreciate and respect the body for what it does, not what it looks like and I fear that so many people my age don’t do enough to try and stay fit and healthy. But as I once learnt from a meditation teacher, ‘what will be, will be’, so let’s see what happens on my adventure."
To sponsor visit uk.virginmoney.com/LynneMyers or follow her on Facebook.