This newsletter is a follow-on from my August newsletter which was about a man who astonished and humbled me: Stan.

I wrapped up that newsletter by announcing that I would be walking one of the Caminos of Santiago – a spiritual pilgrimage that draws people from all around the world and all walks of life – if you’ll pardon the pun!

My goal was to walk 500 miles in just 20 days, aiming to simply “be”, one step at a time.

*I appreciate not everyone will be interested in this, so please there’s need to read further.

November’s newsletter will be back to my normal LinkedIn and beyond insights. There has been lots going on with LinkedIn and I’d like to share with you my take on all the action.

*The videos in this newsletter are from my personal WhatsApp group I created for my friends, so they could be part of the experience. I hope they give you a sense of what this incredible journey was like. There are a few so by no means do you need watch them all :)

Camino, translated from the Spanish, means “path”. The Camino I had set my sights on was called Camino Frances. It begins in France for one day, ascend the magnificent Pyrenees – and then it’s a 500-mile walk to Santiago de Compostela in the north-western corner of Spain. You quite literally walk across the whole of northern Spain, from east to west (and yes, the views were incredible!).

I set out on the Camino Frances on the 13th of September. 500 miles and 20 days later, I walked into Santiago de Compostela, on Tuesday 2nd October.

This is what happened during those 20 days.

Beginning at the Beginning

Flying into Biarritz, I took a little minibus over to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. The morning of the 13th, I stood at the bottom of the Pyrenees on the French side, ready to go. Solo.

Why walk the Camino? Well, I had two reasons. Firstly – and perhaps obviously – the physical challenge. Could I really walk 500 miles in 20 days, when most folks are recommended to do so over five to six weeks?

But – in the immortal words of Bob Proctor (if you don’t know this gem of a man, you need to look him up pronto!) – a challenge is not a challenge unless it scares you.

And this? This scared me. Before I left, I was waking up in the wee hours pretty stressed by the thought of doing this. If I’m being really honest, deep down I wanted to cancel my trip and stay in my comfort zone. With hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t.

The other reason was spiritual. For the last few years, I’ve been trying to find a way to be completely present, just to be. I was seeking the nirvana of a free mind.

For some time, I understood the theory of a still mind – but I just couldn’t seem to find a way to be present. This physical challenge was my plan to hopefully drive me to a point where I’d either break down, or break through.

It carried a lot of risk both physically and mentally. But I was ready, and I needed to do this. I’d run out of ideas, and this was a risk I was willing to take.

Six Days of Torture

The first six days were brutal. Torturous, even. But I managed to walk 150 miles in those six days, bagging 25 miles a day.

My body was exhausted, stressed, and perhaps a little in shock from the compounding miles. Emotionally, these first days also really took their toll.

The mental and physical discomfort was keen – the terrain underfoot was tricky, the bunkbeds were rickety, the heat was oppressive, my backpack a reminder of extra weight, I had to ensure I had enough water and food on the go, and was constantly navigating my route – perhaps it was little wonder I was stressed!

On the sixth day, I thought I’d hit breaking point. I was ready to throw the towel in.

I was beginning to feel broken: physically and mentally exhausted. It was not going well. It was a whole new level of fatigue I’d never experienced. In modern terms – the struggle was real.

Disappointment at the idea that I might have to go home, give up, or not meet my ambition of 20 days – it settled on me like a wet blanket.

Neither of these options were acceptable. Would I suffer the disappointment of going home having failed? It would make for pretty poor baggage on the flight back!

Or did I give in to the frustration of taking days off to recover and extend my trip, when I had a lot of clients at home, expecting me to be back at a certain time, who very kindly allowed me to rearrange their training around my personal challenge?

Disappointment and anxiousness were like grey clouds hanging over me. What was I going to do? I felt a bit lost.

I turned in for night with these gloomy thoughts in my mind, not really knowing what the solution was. But I did know beyond physical fitness, this Camino would demand much more from me if I was going to reach my destination.

Walking into the Darkness

I went to bed despairing. And as the sun rose the next day – I rose too, and became a new person.

I woke up feeling completely recharged: ready to go, no pain, and a bullet-proof positive mindset. My mind was clear as a bell. I was totally present.

It still makes me laugh to think back on this – there was no lightning bolt from heaven, no grand epiphany, or visits from angels on high. But I woke up, conscious of my thoughts and my goal, and I felt good. It’s a mystery I am very grateful for.

If you’ve been to Spain during this time of year, you will know that it doesn’t get light till about 8am. It’s pretty dark – and I was up by 5am and out the door by 5.30am.

Walking out in the hills of Spain was no problem in the dark on my own. It was an exhilarating experience. In fact, in my new state, I didn’t even think about it. I just walked into the darkness.

I found I could cover a large amount of ground in these early morning hours with my little head torch guiding my steps.

After that sixth day, my body had completely rebooted – and that’s still a mystery to me, too. It was like a new operating system had been installed. I felt strong and I felt profoundly present.

The Present of Presence

There was no artificial music in my ears. I didn’t fill the silence by chatting with others.

I found peace in the sound of being connected to nature, my feet touching the ground, the rhythm of each step.

As one of my friends remarked on WhatsApp: “Why would you listen to music when music is all around you?”

Instead of actively managing my walking pace and taking breaks on a “rational” basis, I started to listen to my body – following its instructions, not my brain’s. My body was running the physical side of things – and doing a great job. By tuning in, I discovered that I could walk for three to four hours with no break. If it wanted to stop, I stopped. Simple.

This is pretty much how it went on for the rest of the 500 miles. The body took over and I let it. It was almost like it was whispering to me: “If we’re going to do this, you need to trust me that I know how to do this”. There was one day I walked for 11 hours and covered over 30 miles.

Strangely, when I did stop, I craved coffee! I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but it’s what my body wanted and it really fired me up. Rather than analysing everything, I just let it go.

It was beautiful to be so present. Every moment, every step.

Off-Road Socialising

I became so used to being present that I found walking with other pilgrims or holding conversations a little discombobulating. I definitely preferred the silence of my own thoughts on the road, but off the road, it was non-stop chat.

When you stop for coffee on the Camino everyone (and I mean everyone) just chats to you. It’s lovely.

Everyone is there for different reasons. Some people walked with people, some did what I did, and went solo. One of the nicest things is that there’s a huge amount of respect for people’s privacy.

The Camino truly brings out the beauty in people – peace, tolerance, understanding, and respect are the norm. There are so many different ways to find your path, and no one will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. One of my favourite phrases I heard was that “the world walks the Camino”. Folks of all ages, from all countries, all share one common goal: eventually get to Santiago.

And if you needed photographic proof of the melting pot of people… I’m having dinner with some fellow Pilgrims :)

An evening meal in an Alberque

The weather was beautiful most days: temperature in the high 20s, tipping up into the 30s sometimes. Even on a wet day, it was easy to be present and positive. Nothing was going to stop me.


Lots of people took cover on a particularly wet and windy day – I just carried on as if it was sunny! With each day, I was getting stronger. My mind felt rested and relaxed. It had stopped anticipating the future and had shut off from past experiences. It seemed to just serve me by keeping me totally present.

Despite finding utter peace, stillness, and clarity within myself, including my friends in my pilgrimage became a hugely powerful motivator.

Setting up a WhatsApp group, I was able to share videos, Google location pins, and a little bit of my journey. It felt like they were with me, and we were doing it together.

Even though I walked the 500 miles alone, I did not feel lonely. I carried my tight-knit circle of friends with me, walking for them, too.

For the most authentic Camino experience, I stayed in Albergue’s (hostels, in English). Whilst staying with a bunch of people in a dorm wouldn’t be my first choice of accommodation, I felt it was a necessary part of the journey, tapping into the spirit, soul, and culture of a Camino.

I can now add ‘top bunk specialist’ to my CV! The nature of beds, bunks, pods, and dorms varied enormously, but no matter how tired I was, I’d always jump in the shower, or take advantage of the simple laundry services on offer.

I’d get ready for the next day, set up my backpack, get my water and bananas ready. Dinner would be had with some people, or better yet – we’d do a full-blown group dinner which I loved – and about 8pm I headed to bed (pretty much with everyone else!).

Forgoing pyjamas, I’d sleep in what I was going to go walking in the next day, waking up to the vibration of my watch when it was time to get up at 5am.

Teeth brushed, contacts in, and off I went: head torch on and into the darkness. This was my routine and ritual for 20 consecutive days.


The scenery was outstanding. I walked through over 120 villages, towns, and cities, each with their own distinct, beautiful character. How would I have seen this side of Spain if I hadn’t walked this Camino?

Just some snaps along the way

24 hours after this video was snapped, I walked into Santiago de Compostela having completed 500 miles in 20 days. I was bang on schedule and felt more energised than I started. No injuries, no blisters – perhaps a little tired, but no trace of exhaustion anywhere.

I had fuel in the tank – not what you expect from someone who has quite literally walked hundreds of miles in less than three weeks!

It was brilliant to be welcomed at the famous endpoint in the Plaza do Obradoiro by my friend Alex. Alex began his Camino two weeks before me, and we’ve known each other since we were 13 years old. It was a fabulous way to cross the finish line.

Once arriving in Santiago (and despite this being my 21st different bed) I treated myself to a nice hotel, where there weren’t 20 people in my room, or 6 people in my bathroom! Bliss.

I also attended a service in the Cathedral de Santiago to witness the smoking botafumeiro first-hand.

The Journey, not the Destination

The Camino has been one of the best experiences of my life, rewarding me richly in the realms of my mind, body, and spirit.


To experience being present was just sublime. I now have a first-hand experience of what that feels like. The Camino is a unique type of environment I had hoped would allow me to just be, and it more than delivered.

Now back in the UK, I am so familiar with my own being that I know what to search for when I am looking to bring myself back to the present moment.


I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for my body being capable of walking 500 miles in 20 days. The biggest lesson and learning was discovering that just being physically fit wasn’t going to cut it. I had to do something I’d never done: to let go and listen to my body.

But if you’re interested in the numbers, the walk reduced my body weight by 5kgs to 72kgs and my body fat to 6.5%! These were the metrics I left school with a million years ago, and I’m going to keep them where they are. My body feels refreshed, rebooted – ready for anything.


How do you put a feeling like this into words? My soul is relaxed. Calm. Unaffected. I feel like I have taken a veil off of my senses. Things like white noise, negativity and darkness are much more noticeable to me now, and I find it easier to avoid things that drag me down. I’m struggling to watch TV! It just seems so pointless.

I have more space and energy to focus on what is good for me, what’s truly in alignment with my goals and purpose. If you’d told me I’d walk 500 miles in 20 days, and finish my journey with energy, being injury-free and return to the UK feeling very relaxed – I’m not sure I’d believe you. But I prevailed through my dark night of the soul on the sixth day, and I will never be the same.

In Conclusion

If I learned anything on my pilgrimage, it’s this:

In a world that seems to want to measure you by what you have (or don’t have), I’d much rather be measured by how I make you feel – whether you’re a friend or a stranger.

Making other people feel welcome, seen and included is something that is within all our gift – and you can be sure I intend to use mine for good.