Warwick woman celebrates her 60th birthday by walking from France to Spain

A 60th birthday was the spur for Isobel Rowley to walk 560 miles on an ancient pilgrimage route from France to Spain.

Despite the aching muscles and sore feet, Isobel felt it was all worth it – she helped raise £770 for Macmillan cancer care.

And the bonus was that her employer, Warwick-based National Grid, part-matched her efforts to make it £1,170 raised.

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Isobel walked the 900-kilometre route called Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compestella in north-west Spain.

Isobel, who was with a group including her partner Roger, said: “Walking the Camino was a long-held ambition for me, but I never imagined I would have the time.

“But my 60th birthday proved to be the inspiration and I asked for a sabbatical two-month break and National Grid kindly agreed,” said the corporate press officer.

“Despite the difficult walk and the pain in our feet, we have some wonderful memories. The scenery, the people we met and the physical and emotional journey - it all came together to make it one of the best experiences of my life.

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“We were both keen to raise money for Macmillan as my partner Roger lost his wife to cancer. I have heard so many wonderful stories about the practical an emotional support they offer to people with cancer and their families.

“It’s National Grid’s chosen charity, so lots of colleagues are doing their bit to raise funds and I was happy to be among them.”

The origins of the Camino go back to the Middle Ages. Pilgrims undertaking it sought absolution for their sins from St James, whose remains are said to be buried in Santiago cathedral.

Today, not only does it attract the religious, but many see it as a chance for reflection, to get away from the bustle of modern life, and complete a challenge as well.