This article will hopefully send you into the New Year with some ideas to do something epic. Something unique. Something doable, and something you’ve never dreamed of doing. Here is my current inspiration: her name is Jane Dotchin. She’s an 82 years old (maybe 83 by now) British lady who just followed her passion, no matter what the odds. Here’s her story.
Jane Dotchin with her pals on the yearly trek to Inverness, Scotland positive-info.com.
The Daily Record headline read “Pensioner rides pony 600 miles to Scotland every year with beloved dog in saddlebag”. What? I had to open it up, and read a very British rendition of the adventures of one Jane Dotchin. The pictures show her Jack Russell Terrier Dinky as seen stuffed in a saddlebag (Dinky has deformed front legs and can only walk on grassy surfaces). Jane is riding atop her 13-year old “poney” Diamond (who we’re told is an Irish cob mare). She has developed quite a following, having done her long 7-week ride for over 50 straight years.
Here are some specifics to whet the appetite we all have for a truly epic adventure of our own making. She lives in Hexham, Northumberland and rides up and back to Inverness in Scotland, over 300 miles away. She has a patch over her right eye, which doesn’t bother her much, since she knows the route by heart. She doesn’t take maps, and if there’s stormy weather, she’ll just switch her route to avoid the higher passes. She carries an old cell phone, which is rarely turned on – she keeps it to phone ahead when she’s nearing some acquaintances so she can stop by for a chat. She normally sleeps in a tent (which is tied onto Diamond) and Dinky cuddles up to keep her warm inside at night. This year she took off on August 31st (my birthday – so we’re related in an odd way, right?) and will travel throughout September and October. Her mainstay (which she purchases along the way) is nothing but porridge (the British word for oatmeal), oatcakes (look it up), and cheese -all of which she shares with Dinky. Diamond has the luxury of spending the night on a long tether to graze on grass to her heart’s content.
Her main complaint has nothing to do with the rigors of a long trek, but rather negotiating the unbelievable amount of trash along the route. Sometimes when Diamond can’t avoid stepping on pizza boxes or other trash (“single use barbeques”), Diamond will spook and quickly leave the path. I loved one picture which shows how Jane likes to mount her pony – she likes to have a park bench near where she gets off, so it’s easier to get back on that way.
Park the horse near a picnic bench! azviral.net.
A good source of information came from Bhupinder Singh, writing in the India Times (Dec. 20th, 2021). The public has taken notice of her rigorous adventures, and the British Horse Society awarded her the “Exceptional Achievement Award” a few years ago. As one can imagine, she called this attention totally uncalled for 🙂 She’s definitely my type of adventurer. She’s doing it for the sheer joy of being on the road where she’s calling all the shots everyday…and just being outside for long periods of time. Isn’t that why a lot of us love to do looooong treks – the longer the better? Ask our 100-mile weirdos in the BSWD club…Megan DeHaan, Franklin Coles, Ed Anacker, and I’m embarrassed to say I’m forgetting all the others that do that kind of stuff. I fall apart going out that far, so I’m happy just going on long walks. But, I’ve never gone out for over 9 hours, so the goad here is to go out for 7 weeks! I’d say my main inspiration has to do with the simplicity of Dotchin’s plan. Just get out there, and not be worried about how far you go everyday, in other words – forget about TIME, my big bugaboo! Evidently, riding atop an Irish cob horse has something to do with it. These horses are the national breed of Ireland. They are extremely friendly, gentle, and independent – they have a knack for figuring out problems on their own. They’re perfect for taking trail rides (or road rides) and they’ve learned how to take care of themselves. Dotchin says she averages between 15 – 20 per day, but I guess it makes no difference how far she goes each day. And her joy is finding friends she’s made on her treks to stay with along the way.
Out on the road, and close-up of Dinky and Jane indiatimes.com.
I also found out she has written a book about her adventures, but I could only find it on “Abebooks.com”. It has 94 pages and is entitled “Journey Through Britain On A Pack Poney 1985-1987”. If it would help, the cover does show the Foreword is written by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall! So, you’ll be in great company if you purchase this book, and it just might be the convincer to go plan your own adventure. 2024 could be the year you graduate from your “same ‘ole same ‘ole” workouts, and go do something out of the ordinary!