Kids in the 21st century often get a bad press. They are apparently a collection of computer and TV obsessed layabouts, who rarely poke their head out the front door. But Rachael Moseley is one that bucks the trend.
Aged only nine, she has already walked across England (on the Coast to Coast walking trail) three times. That’s 199 miles each time. In fact, at the age of seven, Rachael, from Cumbria, was the youngest to ever walk the Coast to Coast trail from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay.
She then went on to complete another two Coast to Coasts and became the youngest to do so. A booked called “Rachael: A Remarkable Record Breaker” by her grandma Joyce Buxton tells the story of this impressive long-distance walker.
And this morning I met Rachael and her dad Ian as they set off to walk the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William in Scotland.
Ian had asked Rachael what walk she fancied next and she went for the WHW, one of the country’s most famous long-distance walking trails.
As the sun started to make an appearance, Rachael and Ian had their photo taken at the start of the route, in the centre of the north Glasgow suburb of Milngavie, and began the walk, heading north. Their day’s plan was to reach the village of Drymen, some 11 miles away.
The dad and daughter are walking with Macs Adventure on the West Highland Way Walk Tour. Macs have booked their accommodation along the WHW and will arrange to transfer all their major baggage. This leaves Ian and Rachael with only the basic essentials to carry as they walk.
They plan to take nine days to complete the trail, although it can be completed in as little as four days or as long as 10 days with Macs.
A beginning, a middle and an end, and all the lovely waymarks in between. Long-distance trails are the perfect routes for walkers who prefer to plan their daily walking distances ahead of the trip and for those who like to feel sure about the navigation. Knowing that there will be welcoming overnight stops along the route is another bonus.
“A long-distance trail is also a great challenge,” said Ian, as we strolled along in the strengthening sunshine, leaving the edge of Milngavie behind and heading into beautiful Mugdock Country Park.
“A few years back I walked from Land’s End to John o’ Groats linking together many of the UK’s walking trails and I found it the perfect way to go.
“We have also really enjoyed the Coast to Coast walks previously so the WHW is going to be another great walk for us.”
Rachael added: “We like a long walk, over many days, and I like walking with dad.”
Ian has four children, but only Rachael has shown a keen interest in long-distance walks. He said: “Rachael seems to love the walking. We did the first Coast to Coast when she was only seven and when we finished she asked if we could do it again.
“I said: ‘Really?’ BUt she seemed so keen and so we did it again. And then again!”
“Rachael seems to have an energy for walking that other children don’t have. It’s unusual but really good.”
While the WHW is half the distance, at 96 miles, of the Coast to Coast there are some fairly daunting hills. But Rachael seems unworried.
Smiling and chatting as we walk along she simply said: “It will be fine. I am not worried about the walk. I will enjoy it.”
Her dad added: “We live in Patterdale and we are surrounded by fells. We walk a lot of these so the hills will not be a problem.”
Ian has also planned the route, with the help of Macs Adventure, to suit a nine-year-old’s walking legs.
He said: “Although Rachael is a keen walker and has the three Coast to Coasts under he belt we do not want to be walking forever each day.
“We have, for example, divided one of the hardest days further north into two.
“Nine days of walking this far will be about right for us and we are here to enjoy ourselves.”
On each walk, Rachael and Ian set themselves an “Eye Spy” challenge. Rachael said: “On the Coast to Coasts we spotted post vans and then tractors.
“This time we are thinking of yellow diggers, just to make it really hard.”
I then suggested that they might like to spot whippets (my whippet, Wispa, had joined us for the morning hike).
Rachael immediately pointed and said: “One. That’s my spot dad. One whippet to me!” Ian laughed at his daughter’s competitiveness.
The father and daughter team clearly enjoy each other’s company and they have plans to walk other trails in future years.
Ian said: “I let Rachael be my guide. I am happy to walk with her and wherever she chooses.”
Rachael added: “Then, when I grow up I want to be an outdoor pursuits instructor. I like the outdoors a lot.”
We will be keeping track of their walk north to Fort William and will blog again about how they enjoyed it.