Week 25: Mi Vuelta a España

13/02/23 – 14/02/23 58 km

Two days left! The first of which would be a monster, as I attempted to walk fifty five kilometres to spend my penultimate in Barcelona before ambling down to the Sagrada Familia on the final day. With that in mind I was up at the crack of dawn on Day 166. I left the Albergue armed with my last bar of Kendal Mint Cake and tried to find a place to grab a coffee. Everything was closed. Of course it was, it was far too early for the tourists. It didn’t matter though as the sunrise was unbelievable. Perhaps the best of the whole trip. I spent the first thirty minutes of the day taking photos. I was also waiting for the first signs as daybreak as I knew the trail would be technical and I did not want to risk it in the dark.

I left the Monastery via the GR 6. At first the trail followed a concrete path that had been constructed to aid tourists as they made their way to Santa Cova, a tiny chapel located in the depths of the mountain. Unfortunately it stopped there and spat me out onto a tiny path that had been carved into the side of the mountain. It was no more than half a metre wide and there was a vertical drop of over two hundred metres to my left. It was a ledge on a precipice and the terrain was largely loose gravel. I was starting to wonder if it would have been better in the dark, at least that way I would not have been able to see how far the fall was. 

After an excruciating half an hour I finally made it off the ledge and onto a vertical path that zigzagged down into a narrow valley. It was even worse! The sun was nearing full strength by this point and as I reached to take a sip from my bottle I realised that I had forgotten to fill it up. At least I had the Mint Cake! The path eventually levelled out as it meandered around the mountain before I reached a small road which I followed all the way to Olesa de Montserrat where I could finally buy some food and take on liquids. It had taken me nearly three hours to walk eleven kilometres. It was going to be a long day.

When I had stocked up for the day I made my way down to the bank of the River Llobregat which I would follow for the next thirty five kilometres before reaching the edge of Barcelona. It was a long tedious walk but at least it was relatively flat and easy to navigate, especially after Castellbisbal. Around 4pm I turned away from the river and crossed a motorway over a disused road bridge. I was entering Barcelona. It was at this exact point that I broke down. I had left the city five months earlier and I could not comprehend that in that time I had managed to walk the whole of Spain. What a feeling. What a moment!  After allowing myself a brief period to let it all sink in, I composed myself and completed the final eleven kilometres to the Airbnb where I would spend my final night on the road in a flat with my mum and her partner. 

The next day, after a lovely evening, we walked the final three kilometres to the Sagrada Familia together. I must confess the end was rather underwhelming. For me the outpour of emotion had come when I entered the city. The walk to the Cathedral was a formality, I was doing it for the photo and to ‘complete the loop’. And then it was over, as quickly as it had begun. In many respects it had been easier than I dared hope. At times it had been harder than I could have imagined. 4,937 kilometres in 167 days. A lap around Spain. Five months of my life dedicated to an endeavour that will remain with me forever. I didn’t manage to meet my fundraising total but I hope the money that has been raised will make a difference to the lives of many young people in need. In the meantime I will continue to complete feats of endurance in the hope of raising more. Starting with half marathons in Elche and Sheffield in March, before walking the northern coast of Mallorca with Cristina in Easter.

So have I learnt anything? Has this experience changed me in a profound way? In many respects the answer to those questions is a rather disappointing no. I still worry about the same things as before, I continue to make the same mistakes I always have and – for those who know me this wont come as a shock – I still can’t suffer fools! But I suspect that as time passes and I begin to reflect on what I have achieved over the past five months or so, the answer to these types of questions will differ dramatically. One thing is for certain though, there are not many feelings that come close to the absolute belief that despite how much pain I am feeling, or how broken my body is, I have a mental fortitude, a resilience even, that is unbreakable.

So I leave you with a quote from my great friend Tim, which I have since learnt was also a favourite of my late dad: “It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken” and I certainly didn’t!

5 thoughts on “Week 25: Mi Vuelta a España”

  1. Having climbed a few hills with you before, it’s been a privilege to follow your journey. To achieve a goal like this in your life is something not many people get to do. Me being one of those. Through your blog it feels like I’ve been with you every step. Truth is it feel like you’ve dragged me all the way around with you. Nothing new there then. A life experience.


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