A CLONAKILTY woman, who walked to Rome with her harp ‘Sean’ on her back four years ago, is going one better next month with plans to walk all the way to Jerusalem.
Dutch/Canadian Anja Bakker, has even set up a Go FundMe page to fund her mammoth pilgrimage (between 6,000km and 8,000km) and it means she will have completed the holy trinity of pilgrimages, having previously walked from West Cork to Santiago de Compostela (2,500km) in 2010 and to Rome (3,500km) in 2018. She is undertaking the pilgrimage in the spirit of medieval bardic harpers who undertook the same journey and played their harp to people along the route.
The 52-year-old said she is eager to hit the road again after being curtailed by the pandemic for the past two years.
‘The more I wait, the older I get, so I’ve got to go now and I’ve made it to Santiago and Rome in the past so hopefully I can reach Jerusalem in a year,’ said Anja.
‘It’s going to be a longer and more difficult journey, crossing even more countries, including trekking across mainland Europe and into Turkey. So I decided to set up a GoFundMe page to make sure I’m safe and healthy and don’t run out of resources along the way. I may need €50 a day and also need to get insurance and it’s important that I look after myself.’
Anja expects that she and Sean (in all his 26-string glory) will be on the road for just over a year, and as well as playing to as many people along the route as she possibly can, she’ll also be posting live updates of her epic journey.
‘I’ll have Sean – who weighs 10kg – a hammock, a sleeping bag and a bivy bag on my backpack so I will be walking between 10 to 16 miles a day with 20kg on my back. The last time it took me five months and a week to get to Rome.’
And she was amazed with the generosity of people that she met along that pilgrimage.
‘People put me up and I did a lot of couch-surfing in France, Italy and Switzerland,’ she recalled.
‘I was interviewed on local BBC stations when crossing through the UK and I generally found that people wanted to help me. I even had a bunch of RAF women put me up when they heard what I was doing.’
Anja sets out on her pilgrimage with Sean from Clonakilty on Saturday April 2nd and will be taking in several West Cork places including Drimoleague, Dunmanway and Gougane Barra before leaving the country.
For daily updates see www.theflautingharper.com and see ‘From here to Jerusalem’ on GoFundMe to donate.