Walk Home 2020 Adventure Intro
#WalkHome2020 was conceived in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to celebrate life in healthy way, even in the darkest of days.
Cockermouth became my new home town in 2020.
Situated just outside the Lake District in the county of Cumbria, it’s far enough away to not feel too touristy but close enough for the fells to feel like they’re on my doorstep.
But Sheffield was once my home. I lived and worked there for over 30 years and I still feel a strong connection to my roots.
During the winter of 2020 I should have been walking the length of New Zealand on Te Araroa – a 3,000km long distance trail from the tip of the north island to the tip of the south island. But as New Zealand’s borders remain closed to the UK at the time of writing, I have had to postpone this trip and pick up some part time work in the UK.
Feeling a bit lost, I thought up an adventure that I could do around my new job – a long distance journey that would mean a lot to me and the Walk Home 2020 project was born.
On 3rd October 2020 I started my hike at the hospital I was born in 36 years ago in Sheffield. I then walked over 330km (over 200 miles) home to Cockermouth, via a selection of national and local trails through South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Walk Home 2020 Q&A
Which route did you take?
You can see the full route I planned here –
I detoured a couple of times in order to re-supply at shops along the way.
The full breakdown of each day can be found here –
Where did the route start?
The route started at the site of the old Jessop Hospital for Women on Leavygreave Road, Sheffield. This was the place I was born in August 1984. Unfortunately the wing of the original building that I was actually born in has since been demolished.
Sheffield is also known as the Steel City due to it’s history of steel-making.
Where did the route finish?
The route finished at my home address in Cockermouth, Cumbria.
Cockermouth is also the birthplace of William Wordsworth and the town is twinned with Marvejols, France.
How did you decide on the Walk Home 2020 route?
The komoot app suggested the most efficient walking route between the start and finish points but I found it a lot of fun to plot my own route, tweaking the suggested tour to include places I really wanted to visit along the way. I also adjusted the route to include national trails like the Pennine Way and local trails like the Dales High Way and the Coast to Coast route.
What was the total distance?
The total distance was 336km (209 miles). It fluctuated slightly above my initial target due to my mood on the trail. For example, I added in extra mountain summits in the Lake District when I had great weather.
Where did you sleep?
I planned on wild camping as much as possible along the route, but I added in one AirBnB and had two additional offers of accommodation along the route (one night in a friend’s caravan and one night in a friend’s guest house). The other 11 nights were spent in my tent.
Did you walk alone?
I walked half and half both alone and with small numbers friends and family, remaining respectful and compliant with current COVID guidelines.
I walked the Pennine Way section with my friend Becky and was joined for other small sections of the walk by friends Ben, Jess, Megan, Bryony, Adrian, Liz, Eeva, Carla, my boyfriend James and my parents.
My friends Heather, Kate, Laura, Aggie, Katie, Adam and Josh also joined me for short spells to cheerlead from the side lines.
Three Labrador dogs called Moss, Tia and Mack also joined me for sections of the walk.
I experienced a lot of Trail Magic along the way, offers to stay in accommodation, chocolates left along the route and I was recognised twice by people on their own day hikes who had been following my journey on Instagram.
How far did you walk each day?
I planned to walk in the region of 22km to 30km per day. My average day was 24km so my initial estimate was about right. My biggest day was 30km on the Cowling to Malham section of the walk.
How long did the Walk Home 2020 route take you?
I had 2 weeks off work so I had to be finished within that window. I started on Saturday 3 October in the evening and I finished on Saturday 17 October in the early afternoon. I had a contingency day in the schedule that I could have as a rest day but I didn’t feel the need to use it.
How did you re-supply food?
I resupplied along the way using four shops in Hebden Bridge, Gargrave, Sedbergh and Shap. I carried between two and five days of food at any one time. I considered leaving one or two stash boxes along the way containing supplies like gas for my stove, expedition meals and a change of underwear, but in the end I didn’t do this. I took enough gas for the whole trip from day 1 and wore the same clothes throughout.
What did you wear for the Walk Home 2020 adventure?
On my feet I wore the Hanwag Banks Lady GTX. If it was summer I would have worn lightweight trail running shoes but autumn on the Pennine Way will be very wet and boggy so I took the boots and gaiters approach and I have no regrets about this. My boot lace loop snapped on day 8 but I persevered and finished the walk in the same boots I’d started in.
I took a set of waterproofs, a down jacket and a set of thermal (merino) base layers to sleep in. I hiked in a pair of technical hiking leggings, a t-shirt and an insulated mid-layer.
I took a hat, gloves and a buff (which doubled as a face covering in shops).
What other kit did you take?
In my rucksack I carried a first aid kit, a one-person tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, lightweight stove, titanium pot, spork, bowl, water filter, personal locator beacon (PLB), a waterproof cover for my phone, a multi-tool, a set of dry bags, my hiking poles, a compass, water bottles, a trowel for when nature called, a head torch, a sit mat, a small microfibre towel, minimal toiletries, ear plugs, sunglasses, a power bank, my bank card and a small amount of cash.
My luxury item was a light-weight cotton pillow case, which I’ll put my down jacket in at night and use as a pillow. I always sleep so much better if I’ve got a cotton pillow on my cheek.
Can I do the same?
Yes you can! Unless you live a sea or ocean away from your birthplace, you can plot and consider walking or cycling from your own birthplace to your current home address, either as one full walk or in sections. It’s a great way to do an adventure unique to you and everyone’s walk will be different! If you do decide to do it, please tag #WalkHome2020 on social media so I can see and share your journey.
Did you update social media along the way?
I did! I used the hashtag #WalkHome2020 and I updated to my Instagram story daily. Check out the pinned highlights beneath my bio if you’d like to see my full photo diary, including all the ups and downs of the adventure.
Here are a selection of Instagram posts which explain more about my Walk Home 2020 adventure –
View this post on Instagram
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