Neil Morrissey, Debbie McGee, Ed Byrne, Heather Small, Kate Bottley, Raphael Rowe and JJ Chalmers arrive in Biarritz and make their way to the start of their pilgrimage.
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For centuries, people have walked the Camino de Santiago
to the shrine of Saint James the apostle in north-west Spain.
Now, this 800-kilometre pilgrimage is as popular as ever.
And seven people living in the public eye
are going to be giving up their hectic modern lives to join it.
We walk in the same footsteps that the Saints have walked in
and that's a real privilege and an honour.
Each has their own reason to be here,
as they seek answers to life's big questions.
From a comedian who firmly believes God doesn't exist...
The moment of realisation was when I saw them installing a lightning
conductor on my local church.
If YOU'RE not showing any faith, why should I?
..to an Anglican priest.
The mistakes we make about priests,
we expect them to be better than other people,
but actually, we're not Jesus. We're the disciples.
-I've been there, I know.
You can't be sad, because there's somebody
much worse off than you are.
And a former prisoner.
What existed was my belief in finding
the evidence that was going to prove my innocence.
There was no God involved.
Over the next 15 days, they'll live together as modern pilgrims.
Cell Block H springs to mind!
Are we having fun? Are we having fun?
I don't feel closer to God,
but I definitely feel closer to death.
It's a journey that will test them physically.
Some to the point of exhaustion.
This is sweat. It's hard work.
It's almost like a panic attack.
That's got to be one of the most horrible kilometres
anyone can ever do in their life.
But will be experience change the way they look at faith?
I wanted to feel fellowship and community,
and this has been fellowship and community.
And how they see themselves?
I would like to find out whether I still believe in anything.
We're not the same people as we were when we put our first foot down.
We've become pilgrims.
The seven pilgrims have landed in Biarritz, France,
where they'll say goodbye to many of the comforts of modern life.
Ahead lies an ancient pilgrim path which they'll share with some of the
176,000 people from around the world
who walk all or part of it each year.
They only have 15 days to cover nearly 800km.
So they'll walk some of the route in sections...
..before tackling all of the final 100km
to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Some are looking forward to it more than others.
Comedian Ed Byrne is a seasoned walker.
I am raring to go.
It's a beautiful day. Apparently, it was tipping it down here yesterday,
so...this bodes well.
Not so journalist Raphael Rowe.
-That's a heavy bag?
-It is heavy, yeah.
I don't think I'm looking forward to carrying this for two weeks.
Actor Neil Morrissey is well-prepared.
I think that's mine there.
That's the Cub Scout in me.
-Were you in the Scouts, then?
-Yeah, I got kicked out for stealing.
Studying to become a priest didn't prepare
Kate Bottley for such a physical test.
I'm feeling pretty terrified, if I'm honest.
This is so far out of my comfort zone.
Entertainer Debbie McGee has her worries, too.
I'm pretty nervous about the clothes aspect.
For 16 days I'd normally have about four suitcases.
Oh, goodness! It's you!
I can be relieved now.
-Can you, darling?
Joining them all is singer Heather Small.
You've got a pretty big sack there, if I may say so.
-Like hermit crab style.
Back home in London, a good walk for Neil often ends at his local.
Growing up and having Catholicism sort of instilled in you
kind of makes you doubt it later on.
I have faith in humanity and I have faith in the goodness of people.
But I don't believe in...
But I like the idea of a bit of quiet contemplation in order to
consider just how the world is.
The group, completed by Invictus Games presenter JJ Chalmers,
is soon on the move.
OK, I think we're heading up those steps.
They'll be climbing to an altitude of 800 metres,
from the town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
at the foot of the French Pyrenees.
First, they make a call on Camino historian, Jean-Louis.
He shows them a guidebook with a difference.
A medieval companion to the route called
the Codex Calixtinus.
The pilgrims will be following an ancient route
dedicated to the apostle Saint James.
He was beheaded in 44AD
According to legend,
his body was then taken to north-west Spain and buried.
His remains were discovered in the ninth century,
in what is now Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims flocked here from all over Europe.
Many taking the old trade route
through the mountains and hot, dusty plains of northern Spain,
almost as far as the Atlantic.
God, I'm out of breath already, we've only done the steps.
As a first thing.
Yeah, straight into it.
Oh, there you go, look.
That's the first sign.
That's our first arrow.
And it is pointing this way.
They'll follow the symbolic way markers all the way to Santiago.
We always use a seashell in baptism in church.
The grooves in the seashell are supposed to represent
all the different paths that everyone takes,
but they all end up at the same point.
Kate has left the role that made her famous,
reviewing TV programmes from the comfort of her living room.
I find myself at a crossroads as a priest at the moment.
I've just come out of full-time parish ministry.
I'm fascinated to find out what I'm going to learn about,
not only my identity as Kate, but my identity as priest,
my identity as a person of faith.
Do I absolutely, 100%,
I'm convinced of the existence of God?
Not every minute of every day, no, of course not.
Medieval pilgrims needed a document giving them permission
to walk the pilgrimage.
Bonjour. Have a seat.
OK, so the first thing we need to do
is to get you started with the passport for Compostela.
Here's your first stamp for your first day.
Today the stamps give pilgrims the right to cheap accommodation,
and are proof they've gone the distance.
This is the all-important passport.
Yes, it is. And we'll...
-And follow the signs that will tell you where to go.
-It's just straight up the mountain.
First down and then up.
-You say mountain?
-It's a pretty big hill!
Hills are my nemesis, I really don't like hills.
Apparently the elevation is "tres severe", as they say.
My friends and I require passports.
-Yes, you do.
-We understand you're someone
who can sort these things out.
Yes, I do. For a fee!
Oh, of course.
-Always for a fee!
-3 euros, please.
-Stamp one just happened.
Stamp two will happen.
So it's kind of a jolly route of stamping ahead of us.
As the group head out of town, the heavens open.
I'm going in. Are you going in?
You go in. I'm going to take this opportunity
to put the cover on my ruckie.
The chance to shelter from the rain
in a church dating from the 13th century splits the group into two.
There's quiet contemplation inside...
..polite refusal outside,
as three pilgrims opt to shelter
under the entrance gate instead.
So, Neil, Ed and Raph didn't come into the church, but for me,
it doesn't really matter.
I don't think God's any less with them than he is with me
because I came in, it's not like a good luck charm.
We don't think, "Oh, well, God's not going to
"make sure they do the walk."
It doesn't work like that, God's everywhere, and not just in church.
It's weird, isn't it?
Because I work in places like this.
This is like my office.
But it's not where God's to be found, necessarily.
I think we're much more likely to find a spiritual place
on that hillside than we are in a building.
I've never lit a candle in a church.
Do you not come from any kind of a religion?
No, I didn't.
Nobody in my family when I was growing up
was religious at all, you know, so I grew up in a nonreligious household.
Raphael Rowe, now an investigative journalist,
spent 12 years of his young adult life in jail
until his conviction was quashed.
It was inner strength, not faith, that got him through it.
What existed was my belief,
my determination in finding the evidence
that was going to prove my innocence.
There was no God involved.
So there was never a moment where
I'd get down on my hands and knees and look up
to the top of the cell ceiling,
and pray to somebody that was not there for me.
No, my conviction was overturned by three Appeal Court judges,
I'm going on a pilgrimage journey.
It's not religious salvation.
I've always seen religion as the root of all evil.
It divides people.
I don't know what I'm looking for,
but I know I will discover and find
something about myself every step of the way.
-Was that nice?
It was lovely. I said one for you.
Oh, did you? Thank you.
-That's nice of you.
Oh, it stopped raining while we were in there, so, it...
-Maybe there's something in it.
Maybe there's something in it after all, boys.
# I got rhythm, I got music. #
-You hate my singing.
-I don't hate it.
-I just don't LOVE it!
So, this must be the junction, then.
So I think we're probably here.
So we'll be going down or up there,
which must be that road up there.
Over the next two days,
the group will be crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain.
Starting with today's 7.5km hike up to 800 metres...
..where a refuge waits for them,
perched on the side of Pic d'Orisson.
This leg of the journey was notorious in medieval times.
Climbing so high, it was said pilgrims
could push the sky with their hands.
Wolves and bandits lay in wait for stragglers.
None of which is fazing Kate,
who's setting a pace she may come to regret.
I'm from Sheffield originally and we have a story about women of steel in
Sheffield. They kept the steelworks going through the Second World War,
so I'm channelling my inner woman of steel.
That's what we're doing.
Smashing the patriarchy with every step.
I'm going on this as a pilgrim, not a preacher.
I'm no better or worse than anybody else, and I think that's one of the
mistakes we make about priests.
We presume that they're better than other people,
and we expect them to be better than other people, but actually,
we're not Jesus, we're the disciples.
Part of the attraction of the Camino
is the chance to meet and talk to new companions.
Had a lot of stress in the last year,
so just getting away from it all,
and clearing my brain out, really, and...
I love meeting people and I love meeting people from other countries.
In 2016, Debbie lost the love of
her life, magician Paul Daniels.
They were married for 29 years.
I was brought up in the Catholic faith.
When I met Paul, he was a complete atheist.
That really was a changing point of what I felt about a God.
I think having lost Paul has had a bearing on me,
in the way I think, and in wanting to go on a pilgrimage.
I can talk about Paul a lot,
but I can't think about things that we did.
I go, completely.
I'm in a place in my life that I really don't know where I am.
I just hope that by the end of the pilgrimage,
there will be some sort of enlightenment.
I've got a funny feeling that this is a case of the tortoise and the
hare and that me being out in front means I'm going to be last.
Also, the Bible says, the Book of Revelation,
"The first shall be last and the last shall be first",
so I should heed my own call, shouldn't I, really, and slow up?
Get your head down, get on with it.
It's 2.00pm in the afternoon.
The group have only been on the road an hour.
Oh, it just looks all ruddy hills.
Oh, no, look at that one!
-No, don't, don't.
-That one there!
Slowly, but surely.
It's a nice place to live... if you're a goat.
This is shit, man.
-It's quite tough.
-It's tough going uphill, very tough,
on my poor old legs.
..with the pack, as well.
When you hit a flat bit,
it's like landing in heaven, isn't it?
You see, you're talking about Jesus, you're talking about heaven.
-We will convert you!
You've only gone 5K!
-This is your road to Damascus!
I'm practically on my knees!
I can't believe this just seems to get steeper and steeper.
-Is that who you're calling on?
Isn't it funny? Here I am, an absolute non-Christian,
first words I utter when I'm absolutely in trouble
are those of the fallen, crucified one.
-It's worth it.
I don't feel closer to God, but I definitely feel closer to death!
Parents are Catholics.
I suppose, growing up,
and at some points having to go to church,
and having to have ecumenical discussions, etc,
I came to the conclusion,
when I became of a thinking age, that,
how can there possibly be anything beyond
what we know as earthbound people?
I couldn't lay my hat in anyone's courtyard and say,
"This is what I believe and forget the rest."
If the great theological minds of all these various religions couldn't
make their minds up, how do they expect me to?
Unlike the others,
Ed is an experienced hiker,
and frequently climbs mountains in Scotland.
This a lot of moaning going on.
I normally am the moany one in any given group.
I enjoy a good whinge.
But I enjoy a good walk,
which nobody else on this,
what I think of as walking holiday, wants to walk.
So I'm just hearing complaints.
Our friendly neighbourhood priest is particularly against
the amount of undulations God put on the Earth.
-How are you doing?
-I'm not walking another step.
-Yeah, you are, come one.
-No, I'm not. Are we going up that bastard?
No, no. It's just before there.
We're going to cross a stream in a second.
Have you... Have you had anything to eat since we left town?
-Right, you should eat something.
-You haven't eaten anything in hours.
It's probably the reason you're not in a good mood,
because you've not eaten.
Comedian Ed was brought up in a Catholic family in Ireland.
A need to get away from everything and completely change your life,
even for just two weeks, it absolutely appeals to me.
You know? I am not a spiritual person.
I have no reason to believe in any form of God.
We want to go up here.
-No, I don't.
-That is where were going.
-No, it can't be.
-According to the book.
-We have to go off road?
2km to the refuge d'Orisson.
-Yeah, I know.
-Half an hour.
-You can go up by the road if you LIKE.
How long does it take by the road?
Oh, you don't want to go...
Because it says, "Don't go by the road, you arsehole." It says here.
It says go by the zigzag through rocks.
We have a choice. We can keep following the road,
or you can follow the path, the actual thing.
This here says 2km, half an hour to the refuge.
I hate you.
2km. Half an hour.
2km, half an hour.
Stop annoying Ed.
Half an hour and we are done for the day.
-And then the rest of the day is spent... # Drinking pina coladas
# And getting caught in the rain. #
# If you're not into yoga
# If you have half a brain
# If you like making love at midnight
# In the dunes of the cape
# I'm the love that you've looked for
# Write to me and escape. #
And at 4.30pm, just as Ed promised,
they make it to their first pilgrim hostel,
where they'll stay the night.
Much of the accommodation on the route is...basic.
According to the Codex guide,
hostels were a place where pilgrims could refresh...
I'm going to get a beer.
..the destitute relax...
..and the dead be prayed for.
And though all seven pilgrims have survived their first day,
they do need reviving.
I'm going to have some rehydration salts and some water,
one of my five-a-day,
which is Breton cider.
I think the only way you can train for this is to move to Wales
and walk up the hills of Wales every day, because it hurts.
Either that, or getting a cricket bat and just hitting yourself
continually over the head for three days.
Come on, cheer up, you're a bloody Christian!
Do you feel any better about yourself, now you've done it?
Really? Because you've got to walk up that tomorrow.
I know, but listen.
I just... Live in the moment!
Do you feel satisfied now, having done the first bit?
You sound like a verse in Matthew where Jesus says,
"Don't worry about tomorrow,
"for tomorrow's enough worries of its own."
You see? I have more Christian knowledge in me
-than I actually knew!
In true pilgrim tradition,
the group will be sleeping in a dormitory on bunk beds.
Cell Block H springs to mind!
There's nothing wrong with that.
-That is absolutely spot-on.
-Look at that, that's proper.
Well, the top tip I heard was pick a bed away from the loo.
-Oh, it's got a...
I was thinking it had no door, then.
I was going to panic like crazy.
This is very peculiar for me, sharing with all these people,
and I'm sure everyone else is the same, you know?
It's something you do when you're young.
I don't like the idea of sleeping in a single bad,
I don't want to sleep in a single bed.
That's my attitude right now.
I have not slept in a single bed for 17 years.
You haven't lived, mate!
Who do you think's a snorer?
Somebody did admit to snoring.
I reckon Neil Morrissey's a snorer.
I reckon Neil's a snorer.
-We made it.
-Day well done.
Wherever they come from in the world,
pilgrims are encouraged to reach out to others and create a sense of
community along the route.
It's our tradition, every night here we ask you to present yourself.
I start. After, you can stand up.
-I'm Neil and I'm from England,
and I'm enjoying this walk so far,
even though I'm absolutely shattered!
I don't feel at all imbued with godly pilgrimage.
I feel imbued with aching bones and sore shoulders.
I'm Michael from USA, California,
and I'm here with my family and thank you for having us.
You know, glad I've made it one day!
Only 14 more to go.
I'm JJ, I'm from Scotland, and I've had a lovely day, as well.
I wish you all welcome.
I'm also from Munich, Germany,
and I hope I will make it back in time for Oktoberfest!
I'm Debbie, I'm from England, and I survived today, so...
I really enjoyed walking with Raph.
I felt we were a really good team, it's quite good, the two of us.
There were a few nice people on the way and, just,
when I got here, I felt like we'd really achieved something.
My name's Heather.
My feet feel like they've been beaten by hot sticks,
but today has been an absolutely wonderful day,
and it's been topped by coming on this.
And I wanted to feel fellowship and community,
and this has been fellowship and community, so I thank you.
That's nicely put, nicely put.
Heather, who sang with M People,
hopes the Camino will help her work through issues that trouble her.
All my life I've searched for a place to be a spiritual home.
Though she considers herself a Christian,
she isn't always sure the church is the place for her.
It's quite hard to look into something when you know that certain
religions have been used to enslave and denigrate,
so my path to religion has been difficult.
But the belief in God has always been there.
I always think there's a higher being.
Thank you so much.
And that we are quite small,
and to find a bigger picture, we need each other.
At the end of the first day,
Kate's already discovered how much she needs her fellow pilgrims.
I was a horrible,
horrible person walking up that hillside,
and that's not good for a vicar, it's a very bad witness.
So I'm very grateful,
not only that the rest of the group pushed me and carried me,
but also that they put up with me.
It's a real credit to them and a real testament to them
that they tolerated me,
and I guess that teaches me something about fortitude and
patience and kindness,
because I didn't exercise much kindness today,
but they all did, so that's good.
So that's probably today's lesson learnt!
I hardly slept a wink.
It was so noisy and I'm a really light sleeper,
and I had earplugs in and everything,
so it wasn't the comfiest night for me.
I know you roll it from the hooded end.
Wish I'd gone camping when I was a kid.
I think this is going to defeat me.
It was a pretty comfortable bed and there was only one person snoring,
which is exactly the number of people I'm used to
hearing snore when I'm at home.
Not to diss my wife on national television
or anything like that, but I'm used to
sharing with someone who snores.
I had a dreadful night's sleep.
Neil Morrissey snoring and filling the dormitory
with sound that I've only heard when someone's
been in the throes of their last minutes of life.
Raph, who spent time in some of Britain's toughest prisons,
had other reasons to sleep uneasily on his first night.
Have a look at that. What do you see there?
That's the window, it actually looks like bars.
I was laid on top of this bunk last night,
and I looked in that direction, that's all I could see.
Not a comfortable night.
Raph was 19 when he was sentenced to life in prison,
something he hasn't yet told the others.
When I was released, I never slept in a single bed,
I wouldn't sleep in a single bed, so this is the first time,
17 years later,
the very first time that I've spent a night in a single bed.
Which was a reminder of what I didn't want to be reminded of.
Where are we trying to get to today?
What's the name of that place?
-Or something, yeah.
Look, this is all downhill.
That last little bit there.
-This is just a map.
-These lines mean...
This is... OK. This is all uphill to here,
and then this is all downhill to there.
So it's about half and half.
Come on, Kate. Let's go and attack this bit.
18.5km of walking, with a steady climb up to 1,400 metres,
will take our seven pilgrims out of France and into Spain.
This is a good old pace.
I don't think we need to go this quick.
My legs are already outrageously tired.
That's... I'm going to say that's moan number one.
Three minutes in.
Dentists' drills don't whine as much as these people do.
They are the moaniest.
It's like living with ghosts!
Everyone's just moaning!
Why do people do this?
They're moaning because they didn't realise
that pilgrimages involve walking.
So they're not just whiners, they're idiots!
I didn't think we'd be doing it for real.
So I thought we'd walk, like, 100 yards then put our stuff on the van.
I didn't actually think we'd be doing it.
It's only day two.
I cannot conceive that I've got to do this for another...
however long it is.
I can't... I can't even get me head around it.
What I find really fascinating is
the people that are doing this that have no faith,
because I don't know what they hope to gain from it, you know?
I don't think this is building my faith at all.
My faith's taking a knock, actually.
It certainly took a knock yesterday,
and this morning I haven't even done my prayers this morning,
because I just couldn't face it, don't want to talk to him.
Don't want to talk to anyone, let alone God!
You just need to get that initial burn out of the way, don't you?
Yeah. The thighs really feel like they don't belong to you.
-Yeah. And then you're kind of up and running, almost.
Then you just walk.
And walk. And walk.
I don't think the whole idea of doing this punishing walk
is mumbo jumbo.
That'd be disrespecting the people who really believe
they get something spiritual out of it.
But I don't think,
in this modern day, God would want you to punish yourself.
You know, to feel more spiritually fruitful.
I think it's...
It's just a hangover from the 12th century, before we had cars.
Call me optimistic, but I'm getting the sensation that you guys are
feeling a bit better today about this whole thing.
-It's still not my thing.
-And it hurts.
-I'm not asking it to be your thing.
-I'm just saying, are you feeling a little better about it?
I cried most of the way up there.
I had a big cry this morning.
There you go! That's proof that I'm really not as good
at reading people as I thought I was.
"You seem a lot more positive today."
"Well, I am doing a LOT of crying!"
The route is rich in history.
In the eighth century,
the warrior king Charlemagne came this way
as he fought to re-establish Christianity
as the dominant religion.
Though he suffered a rare defeat
at the hands of local forces in Roncesvalles,
where the group will sleep tonight.
The Codex guide warns of the local savagery,
saying they would not only rob pilgrims,
but mount them like donkeys and murder them.
I think now is the perfect time to get into a discussion
about Christianity versus atheism.
It's a great moment because I can't speak!
You're completely out of breath, you can't speak.
I'll do all the talking, Kate!
Well, the problem, you see...
When you apply a rigorous amount of logic to the situation...
That's the trouble about faith.
As a boy, I was an altar boy and took Catholicism very seriously.
I look back on the amount of energy and effort and time
that I put into something that, from the age of 18, 19, I realised was...
..was a charade and I just resent it.
You know, I could have been spending that time
learning a language or doing karate,
learning how to knit a yoghurt, as my mother would say.
Just doing something, anything that had more of
a real-world application.
That's not so good.
All I'll say is getting that lovely mountain breeze
between your tootsies is something else.
When did Mary ever wear a crown?
I seem to remember her not being quite so showy.
She's not as beautiful as I thought she would be, the Queen of Heaven.
She looks like I feel.
A bit worn around the edges, worse for wear.
JJ is the son of a Christian minister,
but isn't a regular churchgoer.
I can appreciate when I look at that that it's a point where people will
have definitely come to,
so if you want to sort of ground yourself
into the journey of everybody here today,
but also going back into the medieval times, you can imagine
that people stopped at that point.
The statues, as beautiful as they are, they don't embody faith to me.
It's the people that inhabit them,
it's the people that stand around looking at the Virgin Mary,
because faith and Christianity is a community as far as I'm concerned.
Down there, you've got a flock.
You just can't get away from the Christian symbolism, can you?
-Shall we crack on?
-Yeah, go on.
-This pilgrimage isn't going to walk itself.
-Which is a shame, really.
Ed is a patron of Humanists UK,
which promotes kindness and morality without religion.
But he was schooled by Catholics.
The same people who tell you that the capital of France is Paris,
the same people that tell you two and two is four,
are also telling you there was a woman called Mary,
and she was a virgin and she had a baby,
and he was called Jesus, and it's all being presented as fact.
And it's not.
It's three in the afternoon.
The pilgrims have been on the road six hours,
and the Camino is starting to work its magic on Raph,
who doesn't naturally turn to others for help.
For most of the walk, at least 10km, I was kind of on my own,
but I did find that that solitude that I really enjoy
was not getting me to where I needed to go.
So I did start talking to people and when I did start talking to people,
the walking became easier and I fear that that's something I will need to
do in order to complete this task.
Sharing a moment and a time in a way that I've never done before
gives me another tool to deal with my past.
18.5km done, eight hours after he set off,
Neil finally makes it to the hostel.
Today has been probably the most soul destroying,
gruelling day I've ever had in my life.
And of course I didn't prepare,
and I think walking up to Ally Pally three times,
you know, isn't really best preparation
for walking the Pyrenees.
Is that it? Do we think?
What, where we're aiming?
-Yeah, shall we go for it?
Last to arrive, two hours after everyone else...
-Dinner. I cannot wait.
-We made it.
-Debbie and JJ.
And you are from?
-From England. Welcome.
I am feeling elated.
Ten hours later, 30,613 steps I've taken today,
but I didn't give in, and here I am.
We started at nine o'clock, it's seven now, so ten hours.
-Ten hours we've been walking.
-Ten hours on the road,
-it's pretty good going.
JJ is a former Royal Marine,
who's been forced to make a new life for himself.
In 2011, I was injured by an improvised explosive device when I
was serving in Afghanistan.
He suffered life-changing injuries,
almost losing both arms in an explosion
which killed two close friends.
I think my beliefs are probably more hopes than anything else.
Like, the question is, do you believe in God?
I don't know, but I hope he exists.
I hope heaven exists.
Because there's people I know that I hope are there.
Some of them ultimately sacrificed their lives
for me to be here, you know,
I borrowed my time off them.
Many people walk the Camino after suffering personal crises.
This morning, Heather and Debbie meet a pilgrim
who's coping with the death of his father.
Liam lost his dad in 2016.
Me and my dad done the walk in 2014, but Dad ruptured a hernia,
so we had to get an emergency flight home.
So, we planned to come back in 2016 in September,
but we found out that he had cancer and...
I lost him a week before Christmas.
Oh, I'm so sorry.
And I nicked his boots,
so I'm walking in his boots and I've got his pilgrim passport from 2014.
I'm collecting his stamps and then I'm going to lay it
at his grave for him.
And put his boots there when I'm done.
I've got a stone here of dad, it's got a prayer on there,
that he wanted to drop off at Compostela.
I'm going to say the prayer,
and that's when I start rebuilding my life.
Show me your ways, oh, Lord.
Teach me your paths.
That's from Psalms.
And that will be a moving-on point.
I lost my husband just over a year ago.
-And the way I kind of dealt with it is
to keep really busy, and when I'm on my own is when it really hits me.
-Keeping active is...
-..the main thing.
You don't have to grieve and just curl up into a ball.
And also, when you know you're losing someone,
it's too hard to say the things you want to say,
because you don't want to cry in front of them.
Yeah, exactly. You've got to stay strong.
What do you think doing the pilgrimage, at the end of it,
how it will help you with your grief?
Some reason, it seems to make you a stronger person.
You've got time to think and you can open yourself up.
You know, I've found speaking to strangers,
you could speak to them today and they're gone tomorrow.
You know? And they don't judge you, as well.
It's just so lovely.
Yeah, I can understand that.
With your family,
sometimes you don't want to upset them,
because you're upset, but somebody
that doesn't know you and you're never going to see again,
you can bare your soul to.
Just exactly that.
So for you, is it spiritual, is it religious?
What, is it just in memory of your father?
Just trying to get a bit of comfort to fulfil what he wanted to do.
And you doing it fulfils it for him.
Yeah. It's the only way I can honour his respect is to do it for him.
I think it was quite a special moment to meet Liam.
What it made me think was that that's why everyone thinks
that the Camino Way is so special,
because I can't think of anywhere in the world where
someone would open up with such raw emotion so quickly.
-You're doing brilliantly.
I have to lock it away, you know?
I know. I've been there, I know.
He's only 27 and so I just...
I get sad, but I'm always able to then find something
that makes me think, "Well, you can't be sad because
"there's somebody much worse off than you are."
With only 15 days to complete their pilgrimage,
the group have got up early and taken a bus to Muruzabal,
in the province of Navarra.
King Sancho the Great ruled Navarra in the 11th century,
and created this 150-kilometre stretch of the Camino
to counter the Islamic influences in the rest of the country.
Its significance for our pilgrims is more straightforward.
But with the heat relentless,
they stop for a break.
Cafe on left.
And Raph is ready to share his life story about his time in prison.
I find it really difficult sleeping in single beds,
have done ever since I spent time in a prison cell on a single bad.
We didn't know you'd been in prison.
What were you in prison for?
Tell us your story!
-Did you not know?
-So from the age of 19 until I was 32...
-Oh, my gosh.
-...I was locked up for a murder
and a series of robberies that I didn't commit,
so I was wrongly convicted, sentenced to life,
never to be released.
Wow, what a story.
-Did you feel unsafe?
-No, not at all.
I was quite tough. I didn't make any friends,
I didn't associate with people, because
the majority of guys that I was doing my bird with were murderers.
They were serious offenders who were serving.
Because I was in high-security prisons,
so they were doing ridiculous sentences.
I'm talking 25, 30 years, life, never to be released,
and they were killers, they were all kinds.
I was 19 when I went in, so I became quite militant quite quickly and I
survived because I had that aura about me.
And they thought I was guilty.
12 years on, in 2000,
my conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal and I was released.
By then, Raph had become used to being on his own.
So you never had to share a cell.
I never shared a cell, no.
When I was in prison, I was in a single cell.
A lot of it in solitary confinement.
Solitude for me was what was important,
what got me through my time in jail.
Did you think to yourself you'd have rather the company?
No, I prefer solitude.
Or I thought I did, until we did that big walk yesterday.
Yesterday was quite challenging,
because I did at least 10km on my own,
but craved conversation to get me through the rest of it.
Does the solitude when you're walking by yourself,
is that kind of frightening to you?
-What does that...
-No, no, no.
It served its purpose and it still does,
but I just found this walk is tough, it was difficult,
and to help me get through it
I needed to be talking to someone so I could forget the pain
and the suffering and the hard, steep slopes,
so it was good just having somebody break that monotony.
What scares you, then? Because you've been somewhere that would scare me.
-What scares you?
-I would have said, when I first came out of prison, love.
People's motives. I struggled with that more than I do anything else.
Every one of you, I've judged your motives unfairly since I met you
because I'm a motive man.
Everybody I've met along the Camino so far, my first question,
"What are you doing?" I'm curious to know what their motive is and
then I'm kind of looking them up and down and thinking, "Is it real?"
That's the one thing I struggle with.
-Trust, justice, honesty are my big things.
To think that he'd been incarcerated for 12 years
for something that he did not do
It's a crazy, crazy story.
To have your entire 20s stolen from you over something you didn't do,
would be pretty rough.
There's a surprising lack of bitterness from him.
Although maybe he just hides it well.
It sounds like it's unfinished business.
It never would have occurred to me that the walk in the Camino would be
any form of therapy for any of us.
It's not impossible that that's going to happen
over the course of the next couple of weeks on this walk.
As the heat of the day becomes oppressive...
It's 31 degrees.
-I knew it was warm.
..they seek refuge in a 12th-century church.
Santa Maria de Eunate, which is thought to have once served
as a pilgrim funeral chapel,
stands in the middle of nowhere.
-Welcome to Santa Maria de Eunate.
-Thank you very much.
-Thanks for having us.
Curtis came here from the US to walk the Camino,
and stayed to guide pilgrims and care for the church.
There's people that come and they say,
"This is a centre of sort of cosmic energy",
and so they like to go in and stand underneath the dome in the
church, and they swear that they can feel the cosmic energy.
-Open them doors, then. Come on!
-It may very well be,
but I have never felt anything in there!
There is a tradition. You would walk around the church three times in
honour of the Blessed Trinity, say three our Fathers,
and then enter the church to greet the Blessed Virgin
-and pray the Salve in the church.
Some people say you have to do it barefoot.
-Barefoot's going to hurt.
-You are welcome to try it.
-I'm having some of that.
-Looks like these are smooth, though.
-Are you going to go barefoot?
-Of course I am! We're doing this,
we're doing it properly! I'd stand back, though, if I were you!
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done...
-It's not about superstition for me, it's about,
this is what people do when they come here,
and this is what other people have done for centuries,
and I love the idea that my footsteps have
followed in someone else's.
That's kind of the point of a pilgrimage for me,
is following in others' footsteps,
and then knowing that other people are going to
follow on behind, as well, so we're in that shared story.
It's a proper haunted house door, isn't it?
Once again, Raph stays outside.
My heart beats as I get closer to buildings like this
because I just feel uncomfortable going into a place
where I know people have been manipulated
and guided in a way to control them.
And I have an issue with people
controlling other people for the wrong reason.
And yet all it is is bricks and mortar.
You can imagine when it's quiet in here...
It is really quiet.
Well, we all came in,
for some reason you instantly just go quiet in a building like this.
Yeah, absolutely. Again, you see,
that's the power of religion, isn't it?
It makes you sort of kowtow to what you consider to be a greater force.
You're absolutely right in terms of that part of the reason these
buildings are like this is so that people would go, "Wow,
"look at the awesome power of God" kind of thing.
But also they were built as sanctuaries,
weren't they, and places of safety. So for me, that's what I see.
-Yes, but I see both of those
as meaning almost the same sort of thing, you know?
Because the power of the building gives sanctuary
-and also creates awe.
For Heather, the visit's a reminder
of her uneasy relationship with Christianity.
For me, walking into the church, there isn't me here.
There isn't anything that looks like me.
I look at the altar and it's an icon
that bears no significance to myself.
This makes me feel like an outsider,
and it reminds me of when people in my family
came over from the Caribbean, and they got to England,
and were told that that Christian Church wasn't for them,
and those same icons were used against them.
And I feel sometimes in my life,
when it comes to religion,
those same icons have been used against me,
and so I've have to find my Christian and my religious identity
through a lot of racism.
-You were in there a long time.
I'm so sorry. I had a lot to pray about.
I'm sure you did, thanks for doing that.
-I said one for you.
I kind of... Kind of can't do this, you know?
What is it about churches, if you don't mind me asking, what is it?
It's a long story. Let's have a drink and I'll tell you about it.
-Does that mean we've got a date?
It struck me that there's a fear about this whole faith...
-It always happens to me.
Whenever I approach a church, my heart starts to race,
I start to get this kind of tingle that makes me feel,
"I don't want to go in there."
And I know it's just a building,
and I know the building doesn't represent
the people that go in there,
but I do see it as a place where they manipulate
and controlled people, and have done and still do.
..generates this fear in me.
Religion is all the things you're talking about. Control, extremism.
Those rules. I will subjugate you.
Whereas faith is much more the angle I'm coming from,
about the conversation, about the question, about the journey.
-Are you religious?
-I wouldn't describe myself as religious.
But you're a priest!
You have to be religious!
Everything I know about the godly stuff is that priests are religious!
It's semantics. It's words.
You're destroying my faith!
You're destroying my faith in my belief in what you...
That's really interesting. I...
It's really interesting that you say you're not religious.
I would say I'm of the Christian faith,
not of the Christian religion.
That's why, for me, those buildings are beautiful, don't get me wrong,
but I don't feel particularly...
..holy when I go into that building.
It's a building. I feel holier now, talking to you,
because I see God reflected in you.
Because I'm sat here having this conversation.
-I'm godly, am I?
-Course you are!
-What do you mean by that?
-I see God reflected in you,
so when I talk to you...
That's a faith experience for me.
The way you describe it is beautiful,
but I just can't get over that hurdle
that you pick and choose what you want from your faith.
I think the issue for you is that you are about tangibility,
so you're about, this is a table,
this is a glass, this is a person.
And the idea that there would be something that isn't tangible,
the idea that you cannot go, "Here is God",
is so far out of your comfort zone.
So interesting, but what was the one thing
that got me through it in prison? Hope. Hope doesn't exist.
That's not something that's tangible, it's just a word.
-I could never grab hope.
-But I looked for it.
-And I would say...
I would say that where you say the word hope, I would say the word God.
That God is hope.
Kate's way of describing what got me through the many years that I was in
prison, I would say hope.
Hope was key to everything.
I hope that tomorrow would be the day I got the letter
that says something is going to happen.
"I hope the next day this, I hope the next day that."
The way Kate said it was God, I don't agree.
It's just not what got me through.
Do you know, I have to be really honest,
when we started on this journey, I didn't really like Raph.
I thought, "Oh, no, we've got one here."
"We've got one here who is just going to be grumpy about me being a
"Christian the whole way round."
But actually, I realise now, and I should have realised then,
that it comes from a deep fear.
I think the poor guy's just had a really bad experience of religion,
and I can totally get why he's angry about religion,
because I'm angry about religion, too.
When I hear people have done things in the name of God, I think,
"God wants nothing to do with that stuff."
God's not about control and manipulation and war and terror.
God's not about any of that.
God is as angry about all that stuff as Raph is.
As different as she is to other Christians
who would try to convert you,
there is something in me that says, "Hold on a minute,
"she is doing it in a cleverer way,"
so where she is now telling me my hope is a God,
I hear what she says, but it's a clever way
of trying to make me believe in something that I don't believe in.
-There's a tap with wine coming out of it.
-There is a God!
-You have given me a gift greater than the stick.
-You've given me the gift of humility.
-My father, son.
Neil opens up...
The social workers had their eye on us anyway.
We were the kind of kids who'd get out and just go feral.
..Kate is still physically struggling...
I can't communicate how scary it feels.
I just don't want to be here. Not that far!
You liar! It's a sin to lie.
..and Heather's faith is put to the test.
Somebody asks you where you come from,
you tell them where you come from and then they say,
"Oh, the people that I know from that country
"are blond and blue-eyed" and look at you with distaste.
What's he trying to say? "Where are you REALLY from?"
Seven people living in the public eye say goodbye to their hectic lives, don backpacks and walking boots, and set out on the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. They have only 15 days to tackle this ancient 780km path across northern Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the shrine of St James. But will this journey of a lifetime change the way they think about themselves and their faith, as well as exploring whether a medieval pilgrimage has any relevance in the modern day?
Actor Neil Morrissey, entertainer Debbie McGee, comedian Ed Byrne, singer Heather Small, priest Kate Bottley, journalist Raphael Rowe and TV presenter JJ Chalmers live as modern day pilgrims, staying in basic hostels and often sleeping in dormitories, on bunkbeds. Pilgrims who walk all of the Camino, take at least a month. But with just over two weeks on the road, the seven are travelling some of the route by minibus, until they reach the final 100km, when they will walk every step of the way.
In this first episode, the intrepid seven arrive in Biarritz and make their way to the start of their pilgrimage, a small town in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. They are shown a copy of the ancient Codex Calixtinus, a medieval guide to the route, before heading to the Pilgrims' Office where they register and collect their all-important pilgrim passports, which they'll get stamped where ever they stop along the way.