Heat, hills, rain and blisters. This is snapshot of the daily reality for Revd Robert Mansfield, Priest at St Andrew’s Church in Stewton and his daughter Victoria who are walking the 500 miles of the Camino de Compostela from St. Jean Pied De Port in France across northern Spain – in one go. 

They left the UK on the 17th September and started their epic journey on the 20th September.  They are now on the last 110km (76 miles) of their pilgrimage and will complete their impressive journey next Wednesday (27th October). The Camino de Santiago has been walked by Christian pilgrims for over 1,000 years but many modern-day pilgrims only walk a section at a time.

Robert and Victoria's aim is to raise £5,000 to build a new classroom for children with learning disabilities at Mathenya Primary School in Kenya. Without the school many children are kept hidden away at home or are abandoned by their families and communities as there is a stigma attached to having a learning disability in Kenya. The classroom will enable the children to experience learning, fun and stimulation.

The congregation at St. Andrew's has been raising money for humanitarian projects in Kenya and other places around the world for around 30 years. Their financial support has helped to build a church in the Wiyumiririe District of Kenya. Two years ago, Robert and Victoria walked the last 110km of the Camino de Santiago and raised enough money to build another classroom for children with learning disabilities at another school in Kenya.

They enjoyed their pilgrimage so much last time and were so overwhelmed by the support that they thought they would undertake the mammoth tasks of completing all of the Camino. They have reached just over half way of their fundraising target for the new project.

This particular route of the Camino de Santiago winds its way through part of the Pyrenees, Pamplona, the wine making region of Rioja, the UNESCO site at Atapuerca, Burgos, Leon, Sarria and many other places. The terrain rises to over 5,000 feet above sea level in places and Robert has reported that Lincolnshire was not the best training ground for some of the height challenges! But the thought of helping the children has kept Robert and Victoria’s spirits up as they have encountered these difficult climbs and conditions. 

Robert must be proving to be an inspiration to many as he is completing this gruelling journey at the mature age of 74 and was training for several months to get fit for the journey.

Robert said: “The pilgrimage has been both exhilarating and difficult at times and some days are a slog but the needs of the children in Kenya and the well wishes from our followers really spur us on. The messages show that people care which is the best feeling of all. 

“We are into the home straight now so that really focuses the mind. We want to thank everyone who has donated to our project so far. We hope that the classroom will give these very vulnerable children a safe and secure place in which they can flourish and be treated with the care and compassion they deserve.”  

If you would like to sponsor Robert please go to the Charities Trust website here.