Why would anyone embark on a challenging hiking adventure? And why on earth would you want to hike almost 200 miles on your vacation, when you could sit back and relax instead? These are some of the questions Macs Adventure customers may get asked by friends and family when booking one of our hiking or biking tours. So what is the attraction of an active vacation? Why should you push yourself, get out of your comfort zone and take on an adventure?
There are hundreds of reasons why active, self-guided tours are among the best experiences in the world. We’ve written about it on our website – but why not hear it from a customer who has faced these questions, and has a resounding answer to them. Celeste Weaver is one of those enthusiastic, brave and active people who are the reason we do what we do at Macs Adventure. She’s a retired teacher who is determined to see more of the world around her, and who wants to follow her dream. We are so inspired by her attitude and her appetite for adventure, and she’s kindly allowed us to share her thoughts on her upcoming vacation.
Here is Celeste’s story about why she decided to take a hike – on the Coast to Coast across England.
I am a retired teacher, grandmother, and an avid, (although aging) hiker. I am no competitive athlete. I’d rather be reading good literature, writing, playing nice music, strolling down a country lane, or painting a picture than competing in a sporting event. So it is most unlikely that I would have on my bucket list something that requires a fairly high level of fitness to complete.
Here’s the situation: Two retired females hiking approximately 200 miles, on an unguided, fairly difficult trek, all the way across England!
Why in the world would you want to do that? When I first decided to take this rather unconventional hiking “vacation” in Europe, I never dreamed I’d have so much resistance from friends, family, and even perfect strangers! Don’t get me wrong – I have also had lots of support from friends and family. Thank goodness some people already “get” why I am going and they are excited for me. But I wrote this article to explain it to the doubters.
I have heard so many reasons not to go. My response to all the naysayers is…
Yes, we will be going anyway!
I decided a couple of years ago that it is time to quit talking about what I want to do one of these days and just book the flight and do it.
At the end of May, my friend Linda and I will be embarking on a journey of a lifetime – one we have only dreamed about. As her fortune cookie said, we will be going on a “bold and dashing adventure.” We have been training for months, and the time is getting near for departure.
Many years ago, I taught elementary school in England. It was a wonderful experience, and I treasure those memories of my youthful self, my friend Linda, and ‘jolly ole England’. Linda taught middle school over there at the same time I was teaching elementary. That started our lifelong friendship, as well as our mutual love for England. We explored every square inch of England that we could fit into the weekends and holidays. We just made sure we were back at school by Monday morning. But even as much traveling as we did throughout the country on weekends, it did nothing but whet our appetite for beautiful UK.
When we came back to America years ago and went our separate ways, we had no idea if we would ever get to go back across the big pond. Although in the back of our minds, tucked away safely, we had the hope to return one day, together. Fast-forward more than 30 years. We have been blessed with health of mind and body. We both have recently retired from long teaching careers. So now we have the time and opportunity to return to our beloved England.
And return we shall – in epic fashion.
We won’t be teaching this time. We won’t be focusing on the awesome architecture, culture, history, and magnificent, ancient structures. We won’t be among the buildings, concrete, glass, throngs of people and urban dwellers in the big cities like London as before. This time we are going to experience England in its purest, rawest, most natural form.
We are going outdoors to natural England, in the most remote places of the country to get to the heart of it. We are going to actually get in it – breathe it, feel it, walk it, see it, sweat it, and truly experience outdoor England. The trip will be a complete detox from the daily rat race. It will involve braving the elements like wind, rain, fog, cold, mountainous terrain, mud, and sun to get the full effect, but we are prepared and know what to expect.
The team at Macs Adventure have done the leg work for us. They will transport our luggage from village to town, and have arranged accommodations for us so that we have beds, showers, and food at the end of a hard day. We will carry a backpack on the walk that contains essential items, such as rain gear, maps, and lunch.
Since there are no hotels where we are going, we will be staying at guest houses, farm houses, and B&Bs along the way. I like it better this way because it is easier to talk to locals and make new friends. Macs Adventure has been awesome to work with.
Our trip will take almost a month from start to finish – we squeezed in a few days at the end of the journey so we could go to Vienna, Austria to decompress and get acclimatized back to “civilization.” (What a place to do it!)
We will hike (Lord willing) the Coast to Coast trail that was first made famous by Alfred Wainwright in the 1950s. He wrote books about it and opened the idea to the rest of the world. It is not a “trail”, as such, or a marked/maintained path from one place to the next, but rather each traveler makes his own way from one village to the next, crossing pastures, meadows, mountains, moorlands, national parks, woodlands, hills, dales, rivers – using a map and compass.
This will be our route:
We are bringing an older body and a lifetime of hard knocks to the trail. It will be interesting to see how we fare as we exert our old joints and muscles on the trek. This journey is no “walk in the park” so it will be a test of endurance.
I’ve been asked so many times…“Why in the world do you want to hike across England?” For the many people who do not understand, here are a few reasons why I will be going:
I don’t have time to put the bucket list off anymore. I feel time fleeting faster and faster and instead of saying “I’m going to do it one day”, I’m saying “I’m going to do it now!” This is the youngest I will ever be again, so if I have health, time and opportunity I’m going to do it – while I can. If I’m ever going to do it, the time is NOW!
I want to know what I am capable of. I want to achieve. I want to improve my self-confidence. I want to improve my self-reliance, map reading, problem-solving skills, adaptability, awareness of the conditions around me, using a compass and navigational skills. I want to be able to depend upon myself. I want to see if I can rise to the challenge by using my brains and physical body to execute the course and push myself to the limit. There will be no marked trails, just two girls, a map, and a compass. That’s my kind of excitement!
I can walk. I can think. I can plan. I can carry a backpack. I can read a map. I can live independently. I am healthy. But it won’t always be this way. One day I won’t be able to do any of those above-mentioned things. But that day is not today. I am better equipped right now to go on a long hike than I have ever been. I don’t even have an accursed monthly menstrual cycle anymore! – ok, maybe that’s TMI. I’m going because right now, I can.
I was born with “wanderlust.” But I put it on the back burner for about 30 years. Now, I would like nothing better than a bold and dashing adventure, and I have an insatiable desire to keep moving. I have never been able to sit still for any length of time. I want to know what is just around the corner, what’s on the other side, and to be happy I need to be in constant motion. That is why I hike. That’s why I run. That’s why I travel. I hope I get to move till I die. I’d rather “wear out” on an adventure than “rust out” sitting at home.
I want to do more than just exist. I want to experience life to the fullest, and it doesn’t happen sitting around in ease and comfort. Doing what I’ve always done or doing what I am good at would be a nice and safe way to live, but it is not very fun. I’m willing to step out on a limb and squeeze as much life as I can out of this moment. I love to learn new things.
Hopefully along the approx 200 mile trek I will meet interesting people who share some of my interests – such as hiking, love for the outdoors and England. In my travels I have discovered that there are good-hearted people all over the world, and I am eager to meet some more.
There is nothing like fresh air, sunshine, and outdoor elements to give you a sense of well being. It seems outdoor elements are a tonic, a medicine, and a preventive for sickness and depression. Its like detox for the whole body, mind, and spirit. I always get an endorphin rush after being outdoors for a length of time. We will be hiking outside every day for 18 days in a row. We will travel beside the sea, across mountains, moorlands, meadows, high cliffs, rolling farmland, limestone crags, open pasture, quiet country lanes, enchanting woodlands, and beside lakes. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.
We will be constantly moving on this hike across England at the rate of 10-17 miles a day. I would’ve been walking, running, or hiking everyday if I stayed home anyway because I can’t stand the thought of sitting still. Why not do it in a beautiful setting such as the Lake District, Pennines, and Yorkshire dales of north England? You get to see a new sight with every step while keeping your muscles toned!
What better way to experience England than to get out in it. I want as full an experience as I can create. I want to soak it up by truly being there – feeling it, smelling it, tasting it, hearing it, touching and seeing it. I fell in love with England more than 30 years ago and I am thrilled to get to go back again, in a way that requires the use of all my senses.
I’ve been the over-achiever, the loyal and devoted wife and mother, the responsible school teacher, and good, safe, predictable girl all my life. I’ve been the dedicated worker, daughter, sister, and Granna. I have always been dependable, reliable, and performing my duties as consistently as I knew how. Whether I felt like it or not, I showed up and did my various jobs the very best I could. I fulfilled all my duties. Now I am retired from teaching. I have raised both my kids. My husband can stand to be without me for a while. My health is still good. It is about time I got to do something a little crazy, don’t you think? This is something I would love to do and I am doing it just for me. For the first time ever, I am doing something for me! Just me. Why am I going?
If something should happen to me while I am hiking the C2C, then everyone should know I was doing just what I wanted to do and was happy when it happened.
Do you have a dream that you would love to do one day? Do it now. Don’t listen to the naysayers. They can give you a thousand reasons why you should not do it. You only need one reason to do it: that you want to do it.
If you didn’t get anything else out of this article, I hope you gained this: You are not too old, and it is never too late! Live while you can, don’t just exist. Stop wasting precious time. Find the thing you want most to do, get out there, and do it.
When we near the end of life, they say we regret most the things we did not do, not the things we did. At least I won’t regret not doing this part of my bucket list – the C2C…
I feel like a Hobbit going on an adventure!
Read more of Celeste’s blog posts on her blog, where she writes about her travels and adventures. A version of this post has previously been published on Celeste’s blog. We’ll be following Celeste and Linda on their walking holiday across England, both on this blog and on Celeste’s social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Follow her to take part in the adventure!