When biographer Susan Chitty and her novelist husband, Thomas Hinde, decided it was time to embark on a family adventure, they did it in style.
Arriving in Spain in time for the Ascension Day fair at Santiago, they bought two donkeys whom they named Hannibal and Hamilcar. Their two small daughters, Miranda (7) and Jessica (3) were to ride Hamilcar. Hannibal, meanwhile, carried the baggage. Travelling on foot were Thomas and Susan, son Andrew, and the family dog, Iago.
The walk they planned to undertake was nothing short of the breadth of southern Europe, and would take them along the mediaeval pilgrim trails to the shrines of northern Spain, the route of Sir John Moore to Corunna, of Roland in the Pyrenees, and of Hannibal and his elephants through the Alps. They would winter in Italy above Lake Trasimeno and set out again in the spring across the Adriatic to Greece where they would mingle tracks with Edward Lear before reaching Salonica.
Travelling with Susan Chitty and Thomas Hinde on "The Great Donkey Walk" is a leisurely and continuing pleasure, enriching for all lovers of southern Europe.