End of the road for Ann
AFTER two mountain ranges, three countries, four pairs of boots and 1,600 miles, an intrepid walker is putting her feet up. Ann Milner, from Swinburne Avenue in Hitchin, has returned home after an epic journey from Spain to Rome. Setting off from Santiago
AFTER two mountain ranges, three countries, four pairs of boots and 1,600 miles, an intrepid walker is putting her feet up.
Ann Milner, from Swinburne Avenue in Hitchin, has returned home after an epic journey from Spain to Rome.
Setting off from Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain in April this year and arriving in Rome in September, Ann walked every step of the way, apart from a 5km stretch in France when a tourist office worker insisted on driving her as the road was too dangerous.
IT worker Ann, who gave up her job to do the walk, felt she had been called to do it but until she met people en route, was not sure exactly why.
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She said: "As I walked I realised I'd been called to do this to meet other people. It was to give joy or hope or inspiration to other people."
Ann walked most days, generally taking a break every fortnight.
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"It was a very long time and it was lonely and it was hard work. Walking in the heat was hard.
"There were rewards of course but it was a challenge," she said.
There were two points, however, when the future of her task seemed in doubt.
The first was in July in France when a lack of sleep and blisters caused by the wrong sort of insoles nearly proved too much.
Against her better judgment, Ann took a four-day break to recuperate.
"I didn't want to stop but I decided to because otherwise I was going to give up," she said.
Ann managed to summon up the energy to get back on the road, but another low point came in the humidity and heat of Italy in August.
Sunburnt after dozing on the beach, Ann struggled the next day to carry her rucksack, and reached what she described as her "very, very lowest point".
It was only the kindness of a stranger which restored her spirits enough for her to continue.
"I met somebody who could help me find accommodation that night and it was just like that person had been sent to help me.
"It gave me enough to keep going for another couple of weeks," she said.
Ann used the walk to raise money for homeless charities North Herts Sanctuary and the Depaul Trust, and the final amount raised is still being counted.
Since she has been back in Hitchin, Ann has been dealing with a "mountain of mail" and looking for work again.
Although she said her feet are in "very good nick", she admitted she is not likely to rush into planning another epic walk.
She said: "Several people said to me 'are you going to walk to Jerusalem next?' and I said 'no, I'm hoping this is going to cure me!'
"It's taken quite a lot to have done that and I don't think I would want to disappear off for that length of time again."
Details of Ann's trip and ways to sponsor her can be found on www.walk2rome.me.uk