Heather Egan : Walking Coast to Coast in the UK
Heather, in 2016 you turned your back on conformity and decided to walk from coast to coast in the UK - under prepared. Please tell us more where this adventurous decision came from?
I'd been on holiday with family and visited the start of the coast to coast at St. Beas, this sowed the seed and I began to look for other adventurous trails, ones which were a little less daunting but still presented a good challenge!
Was this something you’d been planning?
It wasn't planned as such. Once a few things changed in my personal life, end of relationship, quit job, the hike and wild camp was calling me.
How did you prepare? If you did….?
I finished my job on the Friday, Picked up equipment I was borrowing from a friend on Saturday, bought walking boots on Sunday then travelled up on Monday.
What would be your advice for people who have had similar feelings and a shared interest in undertaking something ‘adventurous’?
Just do it. We are designed to problem solve and take on challenges. If we rarely leave our boxes we are not fulfilling our potential.
What do you think of the term ‘adventure’? What does it mean to you?
It means different things to different people but I don't think it's all about jumping off buildings or racing down rivers. Generally just explore the outdoors I feel like I'm adventuring, learning and living in nature.
What was the highlight of your Coast to Coast trip? Would you do it again?
There were many, once you reach a certain distance you can see the sea and it's then you realise that you've walked from one side to the other. Also the people I met including three Aussies who took me in like family to share their b&b when it was chucking or down and when I met a female astronaut who was also completing the walk and again had a spare bed and put me up for a night. People's generosity and general good spirits.
What would you do differently?
Maybe not rush. The last few days I rushed as I knew the end was in sight.
Was it lonely? Did you walk with people along the way?
Leaving an intense job, with lots of pressure and in which I worked with people leading chaotic lives it was a shock to be alone but along the way I'd pass familiar faces who I'd met a few days before which was great. Once I got weighed down by another who wasn't the most positive person to have accompany me. It was then that I realised I quite enjoy my own company.
After your walk you decided to book a trip to Uganda and to part-take in a volunteering project. Could you tell us a little more about that?
I have a passion of youth development and travel. I signed up with International, Citizen, Service and was able to support a group of national and international volunteers in Uganda as they taught in schools and implemented community work
Do you find the walk and your volunteering project in Uganda have changed you? To what extent?
100%, my confidence has grown, I've got to know myself really well, I'm calm most of the time, apprehensive pre exploration but my curiosity pushes me to try new things. I find it easier to talk to new people even though I've always had to through work but it now comes easier when I'm not wearing a work hat. It's also given me encouragement to find out of different projects around the world to support others and take on adventure.
Any new plans on the horizon you’re ready to share with us?
I headed over to Calais in a campervan to help care4calais with the refugee crisis. I'm spending the summer working festivals, setting up glamping areas and have applied for a 1 year internship with the Red Cross in Iceland. But in the mean time I'm living in my campervan full time and adjusting to the simple life, and loving it.
You can read more about Care for Calais here