Fuengirola resident and British retiree Michael Griffiths has recently completed one of the Camino de Santiago routes to raise money for the town's Lux Mundi ecumenical centre, which he attends regularly.
He raised almost 1,000 euros for the centre through donations from friends as well as students and teachers at the town's official language school (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas) where he helps out with conversation classes.
Griffiths, who is 74 and has lived in Fuengirola since 2005, admits that the idea to walk the Camino wasn't his, but he did come up with the plan to raise money for the centre, which he knows "is desperate for funding for much-needed structural work". It was his friend and fellow Fuengirola resident, Bernie Epson, who first suggested doing the trek and together with another British friend, Tony Ruiz, they set off on 11 May.
Griffiths is a keen walker and belongs to a number of walking groups, including the U3A one in his adopted town. He spent the weeks leading up to the trip training and practising carrying a rucksack.
The trio flew from Malaga to A Coruña, from where they took a train to Ferrol, which is where the English way (Camino Inglés) starts. "Someone suggested that we should do the English route as we're all English," said Griffiths.
They spent six days walking and Michael explains that they soon discovered they all had different walking speeds, so would set out together in the morning and then meet up later on.
"I actually enjoyed the solitude. Walking through forests and hearing nothing but water was a wonderful experience, it was so peaceful," Michael pointed out, adding that as the route they walked is much less popular than the famous Camino Francés, they only met a few other 'pilgrims' along the way.
The Camino Inglés is 120 kilometres in total and Michael and his fellow walkers split the journey fairly evenly, walking a minimum of 15 kilometres per day, although he explained that on one day they walked for 28 kilometres.
"It included some really steep bits and we knew it was going to be the hottest day of our trip," Michael said, adding, "But I like a challenge."
He admits that while for the rest of the journey they carried their own backpacks, on that particular day they had them sent on to the accommodation where they were going to spend that night.
The biggest problem, Michael pointed out, was the food. "We were arriving at our accommodation mid-afternoon and they didn't start cooking until around 8.30pm and we wanted to be in bed by 10pm, so we were often hungry. With limited luggage we couldn't carry much food with us."
Michael, Bernie and Tony reached Santiago de Compostela on 17 May and returned to Malaga by train.
"The train journey was part of the adventure," Michael said.
He now hopes that the 917.29 euros he raised will go towards much-needed reforms to the Lux Mundi Fuengirola building.