Jane rounds up her 2019 Country Walking Challenge

We’d become a close group looking out for each other. We had laughed, cried and sung, we’d played games together, while supporting each other when needed.

As a charity partner for Country Walking Magazine's #walk1000miles in 2019 challenge, we've been speaking to Walkers who are getting involved! Since her last blog, Jane has trekked through Patagonia and continued walking... even after hitting her #Walk1000miles target! 

You can read Jane's previous blog here. 

You can walk the world one small step at a Time

How on earth did I get to my fourth blog of the year? I can’t believe my last blog was in September, where has the time gone?

Autumn has come and gone and there’s nothing nicer than seeing the seasons change while out and about walking. September and October were all about walking off road, while getting the miles in before my husband Roger and I trekked in Patagonia in November. I was very lucky to walk with many walking buddies over these months.

Sam from breast cancer charity Walk the Walk joined me for a walk on the South Downs Way a couple of times while she trained to lead the Camino 100k in Oct for Walk the Walk. The miles seemed to fly by, as we chatted and caught up.

Then 3 of my WTW buddies (Gillian, Claire and Andy) joined Roger and myself for the North Downs 50k. Even though we had trained on Box Hill, I knew that it would be a tough one. Gillian had come down from Scotland to stay a few days and volunteer at WTW. It’s great that people we’ve met doing challenges become friends. We had an early start, so we could get to the bus at 5.30am in Reigate, to take us to the start line in Farnham. Once there we met up with the others and off we went, the weather was kind to us and soon the miles flew by.

Knowing that the weather was going to turn we tried not to stop for very long at the rest stops and we wanted to get to Box Hill in the light at 26 miles. Our legs were burning, as the steps went on forever, but the training helped and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Soon we were at 53k and we all finished, tired but pleased.

But this walk made us realise that we needed to put more hill work into our training before Patagonia! A couple of weeks later Roger and I joined Julie and Christine to walk the Hangers Way from Alton to Petersfield.

What fun we had walking (more like slip sliding) across muddy fields, the rain started about 3 hours in to our 7 hour walk, so we put our waterproofs on, nothing like bad weather, only bad clothing they say!!!! We even had to clamber around a fallen tree, which was easier said than done.

By the time we had finished, we were jumping in puddles, as we couldn’t get any wetter, great to be kids again. Julie’s husband Paul brought towels, blankets and hot water bottles. They were much needed when he picked us up, we laughed so much.

November soon arrived and it was time to travel to Patagonia.

We were trekking with Discover Adventure who we have travelled with before. We met everyone at Heathrow which is always exciting. There were 14 of us going and Fi our leader. 7 of us were Walk the Walkers who have walked together before and soon everyone was chatting and getting to know each other and talking about what lay ahead.

After 36 hours of door to door of travel we arrived at our lodge. It was dark, so we had to wait until the morning to see our surroundings. Wow what a beautiful place to wake up to! We looked out onto the second largest lake in South America, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Soon we were on the minibus to the start of our first walk. We arrived at a mountain river crossing. Everyone out they said, the bus can’t go through, as the water is too high!

So it was boots and socks off, rolled up trousers, boots hanging around our necks and with the help of poles we waded across. To say it was cold is an understatement but needs must, luckily no one fell in and off we set for our walk up our first mountain.

Every time I looked around I had to pinch myself, it was just so beautiful. I couldn’t believe I was here. Even though we were with a group, we walked at our own pace and I found myself catching up with old friends, while making new ones. As we chatted, we found out why they had signed up, everyone had a different story to tell. It wasn’t long before we got our boots off again, as we retraced our steps across that very cold river again.

Back at the lodge we had a lovely meal, Fi introduced our guides for the coming days and told us what we could take with us over the next few days, as we would be camping in tents for the next 5 nights. With only our legs and a few packhorses to transport our sleeping bags etc., we had to go very light. Everyone repacked before the next day, as we headed further into the wilderness.

The next day the minibus took us another hour further along dirt tracks before we changed into 4x4 vehicles, which we named DA executive travel. Vehicles in Chile are not quite like at home, but after the first few potholes we realised how wild this landscape was. How we laughed as we bumped along the track, but they got us to the farm where we were spending our next night in tents and off we went on our next walk. A local guide took the lead and she was carrying a machete!! She’s grew up on this land and when a path ends she makes her own. It was mostly up hill, all very wild and interesting.

The next day we headed deeper into the wilderness. On foot to our next camping site (I say walking with tongue in cheek), we walked along paths which clung to the cliffs, while the river rapids rushed past below. We climbed down wooden ladders held together by nails and string, holding onto ropes as we made our way down. Indiana Jones eat your heart out, it was a thrilling walk. When we finally arrived at our destination, we saw what remote is really like. The guides had cleared patches of heather ready for us to put up our tents, home for the next 5 days.

Once settled I looked around at the beauty of our surroundings. We camped right next to a glacier river, which we got our water from every day, with snow-capped mountains in the near distance.

The next day we were given the chance to zip wire across a river before getting into small boats which took us to the third largest glacier in the world. Wow doesn’t express how impressive this was and we got the chance to have lunch on rocks looking at this magnificent spectacle. It wasn’t long before we were off on another walk/scramble to see another lake.

I say walk very loosely as the terrain was boulders and rocks with gaps you could fall into, you had to watch every step. Every day was a different walk, there were no trails, and even coming back to camp was always a different route. The next day we were told that we would be doing our longest walk, 8-10 hrs and we were going to see a lake full of icebergs. The terrain was mostly boulders and undergrowth, as always there were no trails. We tried to keep together, so no one got lost. We helped each other, as there were gaps and holes between the boulders and we had to go under or over trees which had fallen. Stopping for lunch on the way, we finally got to the lake 5 hours after starting out.

It was strange seeing such large blocks of ice floating in a lake. Once again it was time to look around and see the wonder of what our world has to offer. It only took us 3 hours to return to camp. We sang marching songs along the way. Soon it was time to leave our camp and head back to civilisation, but the river had risen too high for the horses to be able to come back and take some of the luggage. So we were in for a treat - if we could walk with our kit for an hour, there would be a speed boat waiting to transfer us back to the vehicles. Woohoo what a fab way to spend our last day. We got to travel at speed down the rapids.

Soon it was time for our long journey home, but first it was our celebration meal. We’d become a close group looking out for each other. We had laughed, cried and sung, we’d played games together, while supporting each other when needed. I’m going to miss this bunch of trek masters. I think it’s going to take a while to realise what I have achieved.

Miles to date: 1,650 Boots on.

To find out more about Country Walking Magazine's #walk1000miles in 2019 challenge click here!

Feeling inspired?

Join The MoonWalk London, Register your Interest for The MoonWalk Scotland or take a look at the other Walk the Walk Challenges on offer... sign up now and start Walking regularly, all whilst raising money for vital breast cancer causes!


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