The trek of some 2,000 miles from Granada, in the southern province of Andalusia in Spain, to Penzance in Cornwall might in itself be considered to be epic. But for Stevenson O’Connor, it was also a feat of endurance and a leap of faith.
A short riding holiday in Granada sowed the seeds for the grand idea which came to fruition four years later but in between, Steve was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Many people thought that he was hardly a fit person to undertake such a journey with only a horse for company – but he did.
Steve and his horse, Murphy, set off from the meeting point for the Rocio Pilgrimage in May 2002, beginning a trek that took them through Spain into Portugal, back into Spain and across the Pyrenees into France. From there, the pair made their way to Brittany and across the Channel to England.
Their trek took them through towns and villages, along metaled roads, rough tracks and the famed Camino de Santiago. Sometimes they camped by the roadside, at other times by a lake, a river or in the lee of towering mountains and occasionally, more luxuriously but separately, stayed in stables and a bed and breakfast, respectively. There were people that helped and those who hindered, a few who were companions for short periods and many who were simply curious. But above all, Steve and Murphy formed a deep and interdependent relationship that was vital to them both.
Frequently funny, occasionally sad but invariably interesting, the tale of their trek cannot fail to be inspirational. Not only was the trek cathartic for Steve in the wake of all the trials and tribulations that had gone before, it helped him deal with his mental issues, embedding a firm belief that there is no problem that can’t be surmounted.
Not only did Steve dare to dream, he dared to take action and hopes that others may follow his example in their minds, hearts and, perhaps, even on the trail.