After the Event: The Intrepid Pilgrim

Her voice thickened, her eyes teared up and she paused… then Ailsa Piper continued to share with us poignant memories of her journey across Spain. The word ‘intrepid’ sprang to mind; one who is resolutely courageous. By the end of her presentation I was convinced that Ailsa is one of the bravest people I have met.

ailsa strip of 5



Pilgrim seeks sinners for mutually beneficial arrangement.

Proven track record.

Tireless. Result-oriented. Reliable.

Seven Deadlies a specialty.


What started as a fairly flippant offer, soon morphed into a seriously weighty undertaking. Ailsa had unwittingly opened a Pandora’s box of faith and fear, belief and friendship, connection and suffering. It was all inspired by a Mary Oliver poem, which Ailsa recited for us so beautifully. The poem’s challenge?

“Tell me what you plan to do with your one wild & precious life?”

Somehow this challenge was converted into a punishing 43 day walk covering an average of 36km per day. But by far the biggest challenges and revelations came from the sins and the sinners. Questions of belief, the mystery of faith and the power of confession; serious navel gazing in hiking boots!

If you are inspired by Ailsa’s journey, you would probably enjoy The Way; a movie about a father and son, loss, reunion, friends, family and the Camino. It was filmed on the Camino in 2010 with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Have a look at the trailer here:

And for more info on the Camino, perhaps to plan your own pilgrimage, check these sites:


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