Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Boss’s 160-mile French trek.. to get out of the office

A BUSINESSMAN trekked more than 160 miles across southern France because it was a change from sitting in his office

A BUSINESSMAN trekked more than 160 miles across southern France because it was a change from sitting in his office, writes Jamie Presland.

Barry Tindall, 52, who owns an IT recruitment company in Henley, was joined by two friends he has known since they were pupils together at Icknield School in Watlington.Andrew Walker, from Ewelme, is now a manager with Buckinghamshire Fire Service and Pete Simmons is a university lecturer in Australia.

The trio spent two weeks last month backpacking from Le Puy en Velay to Figeac along the Saint Jacques de Compostelle, walking up to 16 miles a day. They hadn’t booked any accommodation so had to spend each night at whatever hotel, bed and breakfast or campsite they came across.

Mr Tindall said: “It was brilliant fun. The scenery and countryside were stunning and there were steep climbs and descents, beautiful villages and friendly people from many different countries. We also enjoyed some fabulous food and great wine. The best bit was an amazing medieval festival in the village of Estaing, where the family of former French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing comes from. There were two funky bands playing an interesting fusion of folk and country music on instruments from medieval times.

“The worst, or rather most embarrassing, bit was having to recite The Lord’s Prayer by candlelight in a church full of people and not being able to remember it! We had to invent a new line in order for it to flow.

“I also fell over and sprained my ankle, which was pretty painful for 24 hours, Pete had monster blisters that wouldn’t heal and Andrew pulled a muscle in his thigh towards the end of the walk.

“One hot day after 20km walking, we arrived at the town of Conques to find all accommodation was booked, so had to walk another 5km up a lung-bursting mountainside to a vacant gîte. The good thing was we had the whole place to ourselves when we got there.”

The trio first had the idea for the walk six months ago. Mr Simmons, who moved to Oxfordshire as a child before returning to Australia in 1982, flew to London and took the train to France to join his friends.

Mr Tindall said: “I’d never walked that far and all of us did very little training — I walked to Ewelme once and once to the Five Horseshoes in Maidensgrove as prep. Pete walked down the coast at Wollongong in New South Wales for 20 miles and Andrew runs and cycles regularly so it was no problem for him.

“The motivation for me was the challenge — I spend too much time sitting in my office. We’d definitely like to do another one.”

l The Saint Jacques de Compostelle is an historic Catholic pilgrimage route which stretches from southern France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the apostle Saint James is reputedly buried.

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