DR LYDIA Bowden, a neo-natal specialist at the Royal Oldham Hospital, will indirectly help her tiny charges when, on June 20, she will walk 500 miles along the pilgrimage route of Camino de Santiago in Spain.

A member of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, she has been campaigning to make the units more family friendly.

The funds raised will go to Bliss, the charity which assists the parents.

Lydia, from Altrincham, is also concerned about disaster areas overseas so will donate half of the sponsorship money to CAFOD.

The walk is her way of celebrating her 50th, a birthday she shares with two friends who attended Loreto Grammar School with her. They will, in turn, accompany her on the first two legs of the journey which will take six weeks.

“The first part is the worst when I climb the Pyrenees,” she said. “After that, the road is relatively flat.

“The biggest challenge will be walking alone in the hot sun although it will be good to chat to others with a shared goal.

“I worry about leaving behind my husband, Bill and four children. It will be over to Bill when I’m away.”

Lydia is looking forward to seeing castles formerly used by the Knights Templar to protect pilgrims.

“I will leave a stone symbolically offloading life’s burdens at Cruz de Ferro, a huge iron cross.”

Lydia thanks members of the Altrincham Film Club who recently showed a film about the route to help raise funds.

To sponsor Lydia, see justgiving.com/teams/lydia-bowden.