PILGRIMS walking the Camino de Santiago are being asked to do more than just purify their souls, but to take on another form of cleansing altogether.
Walkers are being asked to lend a hand in a bid to rid the most popular pilgrimage route in Europe of litter.
The detritus left behind by the thousands of walkers who undertake the routes to Santiago each month have taken their toll on the countryside, according to conservation groups.
Spanish NGOs SEO/Birdlife and Ecoembes put out a request for pilgrims along two parts of the route to join in the collection of litter discarded by thoughtless travellers.
Discarded food packaging, cigarette ends and, since the pandemic hit, abandoned facemasks, are the chief offenders polluting the countryside along the popular route.
“Our Spanish word basuraleza – littered nature – is one we made up to describe the way nature is increasingly becoming contaminated by rubbish,” explained Gustavo Ferreiro of SEO/Birdlife.
“The project is designed to make people more conscious of this problem. We have found that at this time of the year that there are lots of pilgrims and many are very keen to take part,” he added.