A PAIR of friends who met while working together in Rhyl walked 127km of a pilgrimage route in northern Spain, raising thousands for a St Asaph charity in doing so.

Jonathan Thomas and Mark Powell, who have known each other since their time at the Rhyl branch of Barclays Bank, set off on a stretch of the Camino Frances trek, one of the nine Camino de Santiago routes, on Sunday, October 24, and arrived at Santiago de Compostela six days and more than 180,000 steps later.

In total, the two of them have raised almost £3,000 for St Kentigern Hospice, a charity providing care and support for patients with any life-limiting condition and their families, with Barclays having pledged to match much of their proceeds.

Mark said: “After a five-hour train journey from Madrid, we had a good night’s sleep to set us up for our trek.

“On a damp and misty Monday morning, we took our first tentative steps along the well-signposted route towards Portomarin and by the end of the first day, we’d covered 21.13km.

“We saw a good number of Peregrinos (pilgrims) along the way - the youngest was a young French girl aged 10 walking with her parents, to a 70-year-old man from Slovakia who started in Biarritz on September 21 and expected to walk 830km by the time he finished!

“We stayed in motels, hotels and a farm house - the food was very good, as were the Galician wine and beers, and thanks to the very kind generosity of friends, family and colleagues, we are on target to raise £3000 in support of St Kentigern.

“Would we do it again? Never say never!”

Widely considered one of the three most significant pilgrimages in Christendom, roughly 250,000 people make all or part of the 800km-long Camino Frances each year, with the most popular starting point being Sarria, where Jonathan and Mark started.

The rest of their journey consisted of:

• Day Two - Portomarin to Palas del Rei (27.62km)

• Day Three - Palas del Rei to Melide (16.03km)

• Day Four - Melide to Arzua (15.13km)

• Day Five - Arzua to A Rua (22.2km)

• Day Six - A Rua to Santiago de Compostela (25.28km)

Personal highlights of their walk included visiting Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at the end, which Mark described as ‘absolutely stunning and made all the hard miles worthwhile’ and Portomarin, a small town they walked through on the second day.

Jonathan added: “It (Portomarin) is such a pretty, well cared-for little town, and I suppose a little unusual given some of the other areas we stayed in, in that it’s very picturesque and clearly some sense of pride there, which was great to see. For me, that was the nicest place.

“It was brilliant; I loved it. It was a good opportunity to reflect on things generally, because you don’t often get the time to spend all day, for the best part of nearly a week, just not being tuned in to things like work, so it was nice.

“Neither Mark nor I suffered any lasting aches or pains, so I think we got off quite lightly!”

It is the latest in a series of daring challenges Jonathan and Mark have taking on for various charities causes, following their 276-mile ‘A to Z’ trip of North Wales, their walk from Wrexham to Llandudno, and their 110-mile bike ride across Anglesey.

You can still donate to either of their JustGiving pages by visiting: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jonathan-thomas21 and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-powell30.