A HOLMFIRTH man is planning to walk almost 500 miles to help a children’s charity.
And Ken Hodgson, 63, will be following in the footsteps of historic Spanish pilgrims as he bids to raise more than £1,000 for Huddersfield’s Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.
Mr Hodgson sets off next month to tackle the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. It runs from St Jean de Pied Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.
The distance is about 790 km (490 miles) and Ken expects it should take him about five weeks to complete.
The former university lecturer retired in 2006 but now works two days a week for Bradford Council and as a volunteer with West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major inquiry team.
He is married to Elizabeth and has three grown-up children but is travelling alone.
“I expect to make new friends along the way, especially as I’ll be staying in pilgrim hostels.
“This route is the most popular of several routes and I’ve chosen to do it in autumn as there will be fewer walkers at this time and therefore less difficulty in finding accommodation, and the weather should be good for walking.
“I used to be a cross-country and fell runner, and enjoyed doing challenge events such as the two-day KIMM mountain marathon and the London marathon, but I had to stop running because of a ligament injury.
“I decided to go back to long-distance walking instead, which is easier on the knees. I’ve completed several other long-distance walks, including the Pennine Way, the Wolds Way, Offa’s Dyke, the Southern Upland Way, and the GR20 across Corsica, so I know what to expect.
“But besides coping with blisters, sunburn, dehydration, bedbugs and savage dogs, my greatest challenge will be using my smattering of basic Spanish to make myself understood in a region where little English is spoken”.
He said the trek will provide a good opportunity to raise money for a local charity that does excellent work in supporting children with life-limiting conditions both in their homes and at a new purpose-designed hospice in Brackenhall.
“I first became aware of the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice charity when it opened a shop in Holmfirth.
“I learned a lot more from the charity’s website and then went to visit the hospice. I was really impressed by what the charity does with so few resources – it receives hardly any government funding even though there is huge demand for its services.
“Given that I will be 63 when I do this walk, it seems only right that I should help a few kids who are not going to make it through their teens, if I can”.
People can sponsor him by visiting www.justgiving.com/Ken-Hodgson.