Tony on the towpath Tony on the towpath

Tony, Compton Bridge

Somehow worries or anxieties just go when you're out in fresh air. I'm walking canal towpaths and working out at the gym because I'm in training to do the Camino, the 500-mile ancient pilgrims’ walk to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. I set off tomorrow so today I've already walked twelve and a half miles to Compton in Wolverhampton from Purton where I live. I stopped for a bacon sarnie though!

"Why are you doing it?" is the big and frankly difficult question you get asked when you decide to do the Camino. My reason is that it's a challenge. I'm not religious but I think I'll get emotional. I retired last June after 14 years in a stressful job working with people with difficult behaviour. I loved my job and it was very rewarding, but that difficult environment left a stain in my mind. Walking canals and training for the Camino is my way of cleansing the mind and ridding myself of that stain, and being outside in the fresh air is definitely good for the spirit. 

Tony on the towpath walking

I like to walk mid-week so it's quiet, and because I don't like walking on roads, I always try to loop onto canals as much as I can. I often stop at Bratch Locks for lunch and then decide how much further and where I will walk. I've probably walked the canals to death in this area, and I still discover things I didn't know were around! 

I was just talking to someone a minute ago who comes down here to the canal every day. He says he chats to the fishermen and boaters, and helps out at the locks because he loves the community here. I think the enjoyment of the atmosphere along canals is good for everyone, and it definitely cleanses the mind!

Tony, Compton Bridge, Compton, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal