We are a couple, Rebecca and Barry who love hiking, wild camping and the natural world. It is our aim to live a simpler and freer life, where we can spend more time in the places that inspire us. We have worked for a UK conservation charity for several years, including 5 years working on a small island in Orkney. Our time spent out with the birds, sea and sky, gave us a different perspective and shaped our view of the things that are important to us. Leaving Orkney in 2013 we arrived back with a jolt in Cambridgeshire, and quickly realized that the world had changed, or maybe we had. Either way, our island life had given us a different outlook on the values and way of life around us. Walking and camping became a way of escaping and reclaiming some of the freedom that we had lost.
In early 2015 we decided we were ready for a change. Our blog ‘wildpilgrims’ is inspired by our love of hiking and wild places, so combing the two seemed natural and offered the prospect of adventure! We decided to embark on a ‘wild pilgrimage’, an extended hike on one of the world’s great trails, allowing the time to experience the wildlife and landscapes we travel through. We settled on an 500 mile hike along the length of the Spanish Pyrenees, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, on the mighty GR11. Over the 2 months it took us to walk it, we loved the liberation that came from being free to wander, carrying all we need on our backs, and the chance to step out of the current of ‘modern life’ to travel more slowly, simply and deeply. It was a journey like no other.
In 2016 our journey as long distance hikers continued. We hiked 1000 miles east-to-west across Spain on the GR1 ‘Sendero Historico’. By adding the Camino Primitivo and Camino Finisterre onto the GR1, we will got the chance to walk into Santiago de Compostela as ‘proper’ pilgrims, and also walk a complete arc from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.Long distance hiking is a way of travel (and life) which offers a rich seam of experience, and one that we want to continue exploring. Our plan for 2017 involves walking the GR5 ‘Grand Traverse of the Alps’, along with any other smaller hiking adventures we can squeeze in between work commitments. Beyond that who knows, we have a long hiking wish list including lots more European trails like the GR10, GR48 and GR221, hikes in the USA like the John Muir, Arizona and maybe even Oregon Desert Trail, and maybe (at a stretch) the Te Aora in New Zealand. And that’s not including any walking journeys that we might like to invent ourselves…..
It might not be realistic to do all these, but we’ll aim high and keep dreaming!
Nature and Zen Buddhism are important aspects of our life, and are intimately intertwined with the experience and philosphy of our hiking. Along with being a trail journal, with posts about our gear and planning, we will also explore these themes as they ineract with what we see, feel and experience. Photos are also an important part of the blog and help create a photo journal of the experiences, landscapes and wildlife we encounter on the way. We hope ‘wildpilgrims’ might encourage others to step off the 21st Century super-highway and seek a different path…
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away”
– Henry David Thoreau