For the 40th time, Jane Dotchin has set out on a seven-week pilgrimage along rural byways from her home in Hexham, England to Inverness, Scotland.
How many 80-year-olds do you know who travel 1,000km overland each year? Age is just a number for Jane Dotchin from Hexham, England, who has done such a trek annually since 1972. This year, her 13-year-old pack pony, her disabled Jack Russell terrier, and a few personal items were all she needed for the trip.
Dotchin puts on her eyepatch and an orange safety vest, packs her kit and Jack Russell terrier Dinky onto her horse, and sends it. From her home in Northumberland, near the Scottish border, she’ll ride all the way north to Inverness. It’s a tradition that started decades ago for Dotchin, with a deferred animal care request and an inkling of freedom.
Millican Dalton, Jean Brown and Mabel Barker having a brew-up in 1935. Photo Mabel Barker Collection
Milican Dalton (Apr 20, 1867 – Feb 5, 1947) the British self-styled “Professor of Adventure”, was never motivated by adrenaline fuelled adventure, by speed, or by winning races. He lived in a cave in England’s Lake District and led camping and climbing trips up the local mountains.
He outfitted himself and his clients in lightweight gear he designed and sewed himself, specializing in tents made of tightly woven Egyptian cotton. In the rain the fibers would swell, tightening the weave and rendering the shelter water resistant, if not exactly dry. He sold handmade rucksacks, advertising them as “half the weight and one-third the cost” of the Norwegian packs in vogue at the time.
Millican did most of his sewing in the winter, when not climbing trees or, weather permitting, skimming across icy ponds on handmade wooden skates or sliding through the forest on skis—a skill he acquired in the Alps before the First World War. His handmade clothes were habitually left un-finished as frayed testimony that in Millican’s eyes, hemmed shorts should never stand in the way of a good ramble.
Millican didn’t see any reason why Barker or other women shouldn’t climb hard rock, or otherwise do as they pleased. That was only one of his unorthodox beliefs, all of which he espoused freely. He relished a good argument, and though he was sometimes called him the “Borrowdale Hermit” he was as sociable as he was opinionated. He welcomed visitors, occasionally leaving handwritten invitations to take tea with him at “Sinbad’s Cave.” Those who obliged would often be goaded into political discussions, which Millican pursued with gusto. He was a socialist and an outspoken pacifist who once wrote Winston Churchill during the height of the Blitz, demanding the Prime Minister make peace with the Germans. It seems the local air raid warden had climbed up to the cave to demand Millican douse his fire, infringing the Caveman’s liberty and provoking his ire.
Joni Sweet, at Forbes, ranked the top ten states for hiking in the US »
1. Alaska 2. Arkansas 3. Hawaii 4. Washington, D.C. 5. Iowa (tied for 5th place) 5. Arizona (tied for 5th place) 7. Utah (tied for 7th place) 7. West Virginia (tied for 7th place) 7. Nevada (tied for 7th place) 10. North Carolina
The article ranked Kentucky, followed by New Hampshire at the bottom of the list.
Filmed across two years in The Lake District National Park, Michael Lazenby‘s video takes you on a grand tour of the most breathtaking vistas and sights this stunning part of the world has to offer, including Derwentwater, Cat Bells, Blencathra, Buttermere, Ullswater, Helvellyn, Angle Tarn, Castlerigg Stone Circle, Grasmere, Windermere, Langdale, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Great Langdale, Striding Edge, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Wasdale, Scafell Pike, Loughrigg Tarn, Rydal Water, Whorneyside Force, Great Gable, Styhead Tarn, Swirral Edge, Catstycam, and The Scafells.
Back in 2010, in a controlled trial for the Journal of Physical and Activity, three academics asked one group of people to walk 10,000 steps a day for 12 weeks while another group was asked to maintain their usual activity. The results that came back for the group that had been walking showed a raft of physical improvements but also indications of personal growth and psychological wellbeing.
According to the mental health charity Mind, physical activity like walking can help to improve everything from your sleep to your mood, manage stress, anxiety and intrusive thoughts, better self-esteem, and reduce the risk of depression.
So walking is good, but what about walking long distances?
“A long-distance journey makes me calmer, more grounded and more mindful,” says Ursula Martin, a prolific wanderer who has chalked up thousands of miles over the last five years, most notably walking all the way from Kiev to her home in mid Wales.
Self-reliance is not about being able to crawl alone to safety with a broken leg like Joe Simpson, the climber of Touching the Void fame. It’s making sure you have the basic skills, equipment and plan to be able to paddle that river, or take on that hike without needing to bump into a friendly soul to ask for directions, or worse, call the cavalry in.
It’s knowing what to do when the weather changes. It’s being able to fix a collapsed tent when a pole snaps. It’s knowing where you are on a map. Being self-reliant means taking ownership of your safety and not assuming there will be someone to bail you out when things take a turn for the worse.
It’s not just farming out your safety to others that can be an issue, but also a reliance on technology. Online guidebooks and apps have caused problems on popular long-distance trails in the United States, with hikers depending on their phones for details on where to eat, sleep, and even walk – according to amusing cases of people walking five feet from the trail because their GPS said that’s where the path is. Less amusing are reports of walkers following Google Maps along potentially fatal terrain in Scotland.
Ursula Martin has recently returned to her home country of Wales after a three-year-long trek through Europe. Her walk was a personal mission and a quest to raise awareness for ovarian cancer, which she was diagnosed with ten years ago.
Ursula found out about her diagnosis on another backpacking trip. She was due to walk back to Wales after she had finished kayaking the length of the River Danube, which passes through Germany to Romania. She made it to Bulgaria and was about to begin her walk when she received the troubling news.
Forced to return home early, her plans just got bigger. Despite her diagnosis, Ursula persisted with her passion for hiking and completed a 3,500-mile walk around her very own stomping ground of Wales.
If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.
— Anthony Michael Bourdain (Jun 25, 1956 – Jun 8, 2018)
Please tread lightly, pack out your trash, and treat every person and location with respect.
Please do not bury waste or wipes – even those that are biodegradable. Always pack out bags, sanitary wipes, and feminine hygiene products to minimize impact on the environment and the spread of disease.
If you find any errors, have any tips, or see anything that might need improving, please let me know.