It’s not long to go until two of our support staff take on a huge 500-mile walking challenge through the Pyrenees mountain range – raising money for Autism Together on the way.

Activity Leader Claire Quinlan and Senior Support Worker Hannah Fulton both work at our Raby site and have been inspired to undertake a famous pilgrimage called Camino de Santiago. It is a huge trek from Southern France, through the Pyrenees mountains and ending in Northern Spain.

We caught up with Claire to find out more about the challenge and why they’re taking it on…

Claire with our alpacas at Raby Gardens

– What made you choose this pilgrimage in particular?

Caz Bennett who works at Raby Hall recommended a film called “The Way”. We watched it and it was so inspiring. We researched it and this was the recommended route for your first pilgrimage. We also wanted a challenge, and with this hike beginning at the Pyrenees mountains we thought this would be perfect for us.

– What preparations will you do to get ready for the hike?

Over the past year we have completed a number of mountain peaks, including Snowdon and Scafell. We now need to start training with weight to get used to constantly carrying our backpacks. 

We also plan a walk once a month with our walking group called “Raby Ramblers” which includes myself, Hannah, Gia Smith and Laura Goodwill. 

Claire and Hannah at the peaks of Snowdon (left) and Scafell Pike (right)

– I’m assuming the weather will be pretty warm at that time of year, how do you cope in the heat?

May was the recommended time to walk, due to less rainfall and it won’t be too hot.

How will you be sharing autism awareness and acceptance along the way?

Chloe [Jones] has said she will be giving us t-shirts to wear, therefore people will ask us about Autism Together. The Camino is all about meeting new people and sharing your life experience, Autism Together is a big positive part of our lives and this will be shared amongst other pilgrims.

We’ll be following their progress as they take on the 35-day hike this spring.

Meanwhile, please show your support over at their fundraising page – all money raised will go to help the people we support at Autism Together: