[Written by Andy] And so it is left to me to say that Yvette has walked off into the woods of northern Northumberland at the start of her 320 mile Odyssey to Knoydart on the West coast of Scotland re-starting from where she left off, near the top of the Pennine Way. As such she is half-way on her journey from our backdoor down here in Shropshire to Knoydart, an expedition that started out simply as a research for a book but which has turned into something so much more.
Some people will find it ‘interesting’ that it is the mother who is heading out on such an challenging expedition, rather than the father – or the woman rather than the man – but for Yvette such a journey has become life-affirming as she is driven by a need to not only test her limits, but to test the limits of social acceptance. She is after all a mother, a fifty-year old woman who suffers from significant arthritis in the hip, and she is totally alone, wild camping without a tent and carrying all her food of pemmican and sauerkraut that she made herself, and finding all her other needs from the land that she passes through, including her drinking water, making tea from spruce needles, collecting sorrel and maybe eating worms.
In my minds eye as her husband and partner with many years experience like her in endurance and adventures, I am not sure it is possible to travel for almost a month, carrying your food, sleeping on the ground where you stop each day and supplementing your food with foraging. Not because she is a woman or because the plan is not well thought through, but simply because living wild like she is doing is such a difficult thing in this country.
And that is the last and perhaps ultimate reason for doing this, a desire to discover the wildness of this country that hides away in the forgotten corners and bits of land that haven’t be affected by human management. I said to Yvette before she left, that she should get a job as an survival instructor with the British Army as many techniques she uses are exactly the same as they teach for operating behind enemy lines; concealment, not using fires so as to give away position, being careful of hostile locals, living off the land and operating without support.
To end this piece, I expect that Yvette will cross the border and into Scotland tomorrow and from there on she is heading for Fort William and then on to Knoydart to arrive there sometime in early May. I will only hear from her every 3 or 4 days so updates will be sparse I expect. We wish Yvette Good Luck and hope the weather in kind!