A Walk of a Lifetime
Usually you’ll find Rachel working in the shop at her daughter’s business, Louise Douglas Jewellery, but this year she has been missing in action while she took on the mammoth task of walking the entire length of the United Kingdom. At 71 years young, Rachel embraced facebook with her informative daily updates as she trekked between 15 to 38 kilometres daily.
Starting on on April 27th at Lands End in England, she walked continuously for 82 days. On the 17th of July Rachel reached her goal and finished the walk at John o’ Groats at the top of Scotland, walking a whopping total of 2000 kilometres all on her own.
Four years ago Rachel and her husband, Jim were training together for this UK walk when Jim was suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer and died seven months later. An absolutely devastating time for Rachel, but after much deliberation she decided to undertake the walk on her own as a personal challenge to herself in her husband’s honour.
We asked Rachel about the trials and tribulations of walking 2000km over 82 days.
Q: It sounds like a logistical nightmare. How did you plan it all?
A: I used a UK based, specialised walking company to organise the whole walk, from accommodation, route selections, of which there are many options (with a few provisos from me), bag transfers and the many maps required.
Q: What was the scenery like?
A:The walk includes many of England and Scotland’s great trails and dozens of connecting paths in between. Many, many steep hills,”chocolate box” countrysides, very isolated, atmospheric moors, exceptionally beautiful coastal views and quaint villages. The scenery was outstanding!
Q: What were the highlights?
A:I met some amazing fellow walkers, stayed in fantastic B&Bs, hostels, old pubs and guest houses. I was blessed with excellent walking weather, with only a handful of rainy days. I absolutely loved the outstandingly beautiful countryside and the being amongst nature everyday.
Q: What were the biggest challenges?
A: My husband had always been the map guy so I had to really apply myself to the navigation job. And yes, I did manage to get lost a few times, once in the moors, which was very scary. There were quite few times when the trails were unclear and I took a wrong turn but I always reached my accommodation before darkness.
Q: What got you through the hard days?
A: Even though I walked for hundreds of hours on my own, I never felt lonely. I was encouraged and supported by my amazing family and friends. I took loads of photos and posted updates on my facebook page everyday. Their wonderful comments was a big motivator for me.
Q:What advice would you give to people wanting to give this a go?
A:Train hard, get fit and do your research. Be prepared to challenge yourself physically and mentally everyday. Above all, you need to enjoy walking as it’s very demanding.
Q: Last thoughts?
A: I have to say, this was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I encourage others to get out there and give it a go.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
Well done Rachael, You’ve inspired us to possibly give this walk a go. May I ask what walking company you worked with? Cheers, Scott
My Mum used this company and was very happy with their service.
Pop by the shop next month if you would like to speak to her about her experience.