Leila Snow: Scones, Sheep, Stiles & Peat Bogs

April 23, 2004

If a 190-mile walk across England sounds daunting, you need to talk to Obsidian Leila Snow, a former couch potato (her own words), who not only made the trek in 1998 but organized and led her walking group, which included three 11-year-old girls, a 13-year-old boy, and four other women. All of the children — now teenagers — and one adult hiker joined us at the April potluck to enjoy Leila’s slide show and join her in assuring us that anyone who wants to can make this trip. “The kids taught us that attitude is everything,” said Leila.

The group hiked west to east along the route developed in the early 1970s by Alfred Wainwright (described in the April, 2004 Bulletin), which follows public footpaths through fields and pastures, tiny villages, and four National Parks. The path is mostly flat and broad, with the steepest sections at the beginning, in the Lake District. Most of the way is fairly clearly marked.

Though they’d had no map-reading or compass classes, Leila and her group got lost only once . . . on a mountain top in deep fog. That night they got a lesson in navigation skills from friendly folk at a local pub.

Highlights along the way included ancient stone circles and old Roman roads, meticulously constructed dry stone walls, stiles of all kind, peat bogs that were waist deep on the kids, and close encounters with a lot of “wildlife”, including sheep, cattle, horses, kittens, and a reputedly friendly 500-pound pig that bolted and chased the girls around a farmyard!

The route also took them through the small City of Richmond, where they visited the castle and saw the remains of the wall that surrounded the city in medieval days.

The walkers dined at local pubs, stopped often for tea and scones, and stayed at a variety of B&Bs, youth hostels, and farm houses. Leila made all the reservations by phone from Eugene, booking accommodations and arranging for transport of their bags from place to place. She tried to keep costs to a minimum, mindful of everyone’s budget, especially the friend who mortgaged her house to pay for the trip! Only one place was unsatisfactory, at least to the young girls — a “scary” farm home with fittings made from tiny deer hooves and antlers, apparently not conducive to sweet dreams!

The trip was made in 19 days, without taking a day off. As they approached Robin Hood’s Bay at the end of the trek, their pace slowed . . . no one wanted to walk to the end.

— Beth Kodama

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