An islander who lost his canine companion of eight years in May will hike the 500-mile Camino Frances to raise money for the charity that first brought them together.
Dave Evans will set off on 25 September on a journey from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela that will take him more than a month to complete. He is undertaking the pilgrimage, which has a very special significance, in aid of Spanish Stray Dogs UK.
“Mine and Flora's paths continuously crossed those of the various Caminos throughout our wonderful eight years exploring our beloved Northwest Spain together, and whilst I'll be doing it alone physically, spiritually Flora will be with me every step/paw of the way as she always was and is - it'll be our Camino,” he explained.
Mr Evans admits that “he really struggled” when Flora died but the thought of going back to Spain to follow one of the Camino routes provided a much-needed tonic. Although not himself religious, he admits that the route - which is punctuated by historic churches - has a meditative quality suitable for such a journey.
His relationship with Flora began on the internet when he was looking for a rescue dog from Spain, a country with which he has a long association. Flora was rescued from the streets of dusty Southern Spain in about 2013 when she was about a year old, and then spent the next two years at the Los Barrios Municipal dog pound where the charity makes the lives of the dogs as bearable as possible in difficult circumstances.
Pictured: Dave Evans with Flora
Mr Evans is full of admiration for the charity’s work and donates 50% of the proceeds from his work as a photographer to the organisation. He has a target for the hike of £3,500 and with less than ten days to go before setting out, he is two-thirds of the way there.
“It’s more than a charity that looks after rescued dogs. These dogs that they rescue go on to enrich the lives of so many people throughout the world. From the harsh Spanish council pound, they send out these little bundles of furry magic that help change people's lives and those of people around them creating a ripple effect everywhere,’ he explained.
How is he looking forward to his 500-mile hike? “It’s a long one but it’s not difficult and it’s got very good infrastructure. I’m quite fit and I’m quite used to doing hikes in Northwest Spain, so the planning is the bit that’s most difficult. They say it will take at least 30 days – it’s not a case of x amount of miles every day. Sometimes it might be a ten mile stage and then 30 the next. Of course, it also depends on the weather, or if you get blisters," he said.
Of course what will keep him going is the memory of the dog that blessed his life and who once accompanied him.
“I could not imagine a lifetime that didn't have a Flora in it, and I have Spanish Stray Dogs to thank for this. When you donate to charities like SSD, you are doing more than just feeding a homeless dog, you are helping create hundreds of stories which would never have otherwise been written," he said.
Mr Evans has set up a JustGiving page for those who would like to support the hike.
You can do so by clicking HERE.
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