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Coincidence set Totnes couple off on a Pyrenean pilgrimage

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

On the right track:   Austin & Sally Burn-Jones at the border of Navarra, Spain on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela trail

On the right track: Austin & Sally Burn-Jones at the border of Navarra, Spain on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela trail

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AN INTREPID husband and wife team from Totnes have returned home after a 500-mile adventure on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Sally and Austin Burn-Jones set off on the ancient pilgrimage route, also known as the Way of St James, in June.

The walk took them from the border of France in the Northern Pyrenees, heading directly west across mountains and vast open plains and vineyards for 500 miles, ending in the medieval city of Santiago on the north west coast of Spain.

Austin said: "We have brought home such tales of curious laughing Frenchmen touched by the sun and the Englishman that was dyed blue by his sleeping bag.

"These, coupled with daily episodes of blistered and bandaged feet, multilingual misunderstandings and occasional gastronomic mishaps, made this an adventure to remember.

"One of the deciding factors to undertake this rather unusual journey was the coincidence of St James himself. We had seen the film 'The Way' which is a film about a man who decides to walk the Way of St. James starring Martin Sheen. At the same time Sally, 39, had left her previous job and was considering setting up her own business in partnership with the well known wealth management company St. James's Place."

Sally, a chartered financial planner who is one of only 219 women in the country to be a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, said: "It might sound a little odd, but the coincidence seemed like the extra stamp of approval we needed for us to be brave enough to make the commitment. I am so glad we did it."

In addition, they also used their month-long expedition to raise funds for charity. So far the couple, who have lived in the South Hams for the last 16 years, have managed to raise nearly £1100 for local Torquay-based charity Rowcroft Hospice.

Austin, 41, added: "Even now we still have aches and pains from our trip. We were walking an average of 17 miles a day, every day for a month, which was quite a challenge.

We are not avid walkers, and we have never done anything like this before, but it was worth it. We met so many interesting people from all walks of life and from so many different countries, surprisingly, most of whom were retired. We met two couples from Brittany and Holland, in their late 60s and in both cases they had begun their walk from their own front door. Our 500-mile trek seemed feeble in comparison."

If anyone is planning their own trek or would like to find out more they can contact Sally and Austin on 07727 622151 or make a donation via www.virginmoneygiving.com/sallyandaustin.

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