Retired doctor with incurable cancer to walk the Camino (120km) in his driveway for charity

Martin McMullan
Why was I surprised when I heard that Martin McMullan is set to walk the famous Camino pilgrimage in his driveway before his birthday next week….

By Patricia McCrossan

Martin and I go back a long way, in fact, my hubby attended the Christian Brothers School in Omagh with him, his mum and dad were our family GP’s and I shared student accommodation with his then-girlfriend, now wife Therese, while we were at Art College.

Fast forward many great nights out, weddings, holidays with the children and trips to Galway, Martin has now taken the media world by storm with his crazy but inspirational idea.

The father-of-five and retired GP from Lisburn was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer, myeloma in 2012 just after his 50th birthday.

“If you had to get cancer then this is one you don’t want to get as it’s incurable and will eventually kill me. I am self-isolating from my own family. My wife and three of my five children are in the house and I’m living on my own in the annexe out the back. I joke I’m living in the shed, but it’s actually very comfortable. “

As well as being a member of the Belfast group, ‘The Rambling Retirees’, Martin set up his own walking group in Lisburn and has been part of a group which is walking the French Camino, with the next pilgrimage trip due to take place next year.

Plans to walk the so-called Irish Camino around the Boyne Valley this summer have been disrupted by coronavirus restrictions, but one night, while drinking a glass of Spanish Rioja wine he decided to complete the next stage of the Camino Francais in his driveway.

“It was joking during a Zoom call to my siblings, when I said `Instead of getting me a present for my birthday, I might do the next stage of the Camino on my driveway and you can sponsor me.’ Somehow the throwaway remark got me thinking and before I knew I was committed.” 

He had been walking laps of his driveway and garden for exercise and tried to work out how long it would take him and count back from his birthday on May 4 for a start date.

“I reckon I will have to do 75 return trips up and down from the garage to the gates per day.  I’m doing the stage from Logrono to Burgos and plan to do 30km a day.”

Martin plans on doing the walk just as he would if he was doing the real thing  – only stopping when he would have reached a village. He’s got his guide book to keep him on track of where he’s going and what churches he would be passing en route.

“I will be donating all proceeds to Trocaire, whose fundraising has been greatly affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic.”

He sets off from `Logrono’ on Thursday April 30 and will arrive at ‘Burgos’ the following Tuesday in time to celebrate his 58th Birthday – all without leaving his own driveway.

Martin, we’ll be there with you, albeit virtually cheering you on and sharing a glass or two of Rioja to help celebrate your achievement and birthday! 

Martin will be continuously updating his Just Giving page with updates – HERE

Walking schedule:

Thursday 30th April – sets off from ‘Logrono’ to ‘Najera’ (28.9km)

Friday 1st May – ‘Najera’ to ‘Santo Domingo de la Calzada’ (21.3km)

Saturday 2nd May –  Santo Domingo to Belorado (22.4km)

Sunday 3rd May – Belorado to San Juan de Ortega (24.2km)

Monday 4th May – San Juan de Ortega to Burgos. (26.1km)

Tuesday 5th May – arrive in ‘Burgos’