Cornwall

Re-tracing the footsteps of the St James pilgrims

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Image caption Euan McPhee 1000 mile pilgrimage ended at the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

A man from Redruth has re-traced the footsteps of one of the most important Christian pilgrimages made during medieval times.

Euan McPhee from Redruth cycled The Way of St James which has existed for over a thousand years.

He spent three weeks cycling from Paris to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to support Merryn's Trust.

The fund was set up to help Cornish student Merryn Thomas, who became paralysed just over a year ago.

Mr McPhee said: "The highlights included staying at monasteries for five euros a night.

"There's a wonderful sense of camaraderie as everyone is committed to walking or cycling this great route.

"I met lots of people who were doing this due to a life changing experience. One lady from Norway had almost died from an illness five years ago. She was walking as her way of saying thank you for surviving.

Image caption Euan McPhee stayed in monasteries along the route

For Mr McPhee it was not only a chance to fundraise but also an opportunity to reflect on life.

He said: "One of the things that struck me was that during the trip I had a bike and two bags of belongings and that's all my possessions on the journey.

"I thought if I can survive with that little material, why can't I survive with that little all the time."

Reaching the end of his mammoth trip, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, was also an inspirational moment for Euan McPhee.

"It was amazing, it seemed almost like a fantasy to see the great cathedral there and the square just full of pilgrims. It was a beautiful moment."

Mr McPhee had originally planned to do the huge trip for personal reasons, but he soon realised he wanted to do the pilgrimage as a fundraiser.

"I thought if I am going all that way why don't I do something useful for someone else at the same time. Seeking sponsorship for Merryn was a good idea. I got over £1200 so people have been amazingly generous and it made the trip all that more worthwhile."

"At times when it got really tough I thought I can't give up because I am doing this for Merryn and there were all these other people believing in me. That helped me to keep going."

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