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Canton women tour European countries on foot


CANTON — Breathtaking scenery, new friends and miles of walking is how four Canton women kick started their summer, by touring European countries on foot.

Mary E. Carvel and Susan A. Hayden walked across England from June 13-30 as part of the Coast to Coast Walk. The two women, both in their 60s, completed 170 miles of the approximate 200-mile walk, which proved to be a more difficult experience then they thought it would be.

“The best part of this whole thing is that we figured out we could do harder things than we ever thought we could,” Mrs. Carvel said. “We got pushed to our limits and we didn’t break or bend or snap.”

Mrs. Carvel was searching for walking vacations online when she stumbled across the Coast to Coast Walk.

“I had never been to Europe and I didn’t want to do the traditional tourist attractions. I wanted to do something where you actually met people and have more of a personal experience and we certainly did that,” she said.

Armed with rain gear, hiking boots and food for the road, the two women began their journey by dipping their feet in the Irish Sea, a tradition for Coast to Coast walkers.

The trek took the women through three national parks including the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park.

“It’s not a well-marked path,” Mrs. Carvel said. “Alfred Wainwright, the man who devised this path, wanted everyone to have their own personal experience and for part of the experience to be figuring it out, getting lost and finding your way out.”

Wainwright’s guidebook for the journey included vague instructions on where to go, according to both women. They said since there was no clear path for much of their walk through fields and over mountains, the instructions would direct them toward solitary trees in fields or guide them along dry stone walls in the mountains. They said it was very easy to get lost.

Whenever the women felt confused by the map or unsure in which direction to walk, they said they asked other walkers or British people who were always willing to help.

“The people were wonderful,” Mrs. Hayden said. “I think that was one of the best things about the trip, they were so helpful and kind.”

Although the women walked with backpacks carrying supplies for each day, the women prearranged to use the Sherpa Van Service to move their luggage each day. Before starting out, the woman planned the entire walk making reservations at bed and breakfast inns along the way.

“Another challenge for us besides map reading was the land we had to walk on,” Mrs. Hayden said. “It was so rocky that you had to be really careful and go slow.”

The women said that after walking between 10 and 16 miles, they were exhausted at the end of each day. Every four to five days, the women would take a rest day to give them a break.

A few months before Mrs. Carvel and Mrs. Hayden set out on their trip, Adria E. Lee, Canton, and her girlfriend Amy E. Pennington were walking the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.

The 560 mile walk took the two women six weeks to complete, from March 29 to May 11.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Miss Lee said. “There was no way of training for it.”

Miss Lee and Miss Pennington decided to do the walk in celebration of their two-year anniversary.

“I love traveling,” Miss Lee said. “I wanted to take the time to see Spain slowly.”

Miss Lee said the Camino de Santiago used to be a pilgrimage for Christians but now it serves as an attraction to people who enjoy the outdoors.

Miss Lee said that she and Miss Pennington are cooks who are working on a new cookbook that they are self-publishing.

“We walked the Camino with a special focus on the food of Spain,” Miss Lee said.

She said that one of the biggest challenges they faced during the trip was trying to sleep in a room full of people who snore.

Miss Lee said the last four days of their walk was her favorite part because the trail was very quiet and ended at the ocean.

“It really shows you what it means to be committed to something,” Miss Lee said.

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