After 18 months working for the NHS during the pandemic, Laura Owen was exhausted. Her usual walking and hiking routes were suddenly packed with lockdown-weary tourists, so she decided to book a trip within the UK. Somewhere remote, but that didn’t require a long flight or PCR test.
“My niece sent me a few links, one of which was Hadrian’s Wall,” Laura says. “Scanning through the itinerary, I was drawn to the words ‘Doesn’t require a high level of fitness.’ Of course, after the booking confirmation, doubts began to set in. Would I be able to walk for a week? Will I be the old lady holding everyone back?”
Laura decided to give the tour a crack and dug her old hiking boots out of the closet. She sprang for some new waterproof trousers and hiking socks too. “Unfortunately, I turned up dressed like I was going to Everest Base Camp,” she laughs. “I spent my first few minutes nervously eyeing up the rest of the group, trying to gauge everyone’s fitness.”
Despite the nerves, Laura finished the walk in style. The Northumbrian scenery was spectacular, her feet remained unblistered, and she found herself enjoying the group travel dynamic.
“The books that I’d packed in anticipation of early nights seeking solitude remained tucked away in my case, and I found myself looking forward to dinner each evening and carrying on with the laughter we’d had throughout the day. By the time the trip was ending and the outskirts of Newcastle were within sight, I honestly felt like turning around and walking back to Carlisle! Couch to hiker in the space of a week. Who’d have thought?”