Here at Woolf PureFleece®, we’re periodically asked to help support various causes, endeavours and expeditions. One in particular caught our attention recently, the sheer magnitude of which is simply mind blowing.
On 24th April, 2022, Kate McMorris will set out on her 7 year old Palamino quarter horse, Marilyn, to ride solo from John O’Groats to Lands’ End, fulfilling a lifelong ambition and helping to raise much needed funds for two very special charities; Pets As Therapy and VetLife.
A test for the best
It’s an extraordinary journey, filled with huge challenges for both horse and rider, not least of which are the sheer distances and the great British weather. The 1,300 mile Trek is not a quest for the fainthearted and Kate will be negotiating some truly inhospitable terrain and conditions. “It'll test my strength of character, my courage, my mental health, my skill as a horsewoman, my faith and possibly my veterinary expertise” says Kate, a vet for the last 25 years who is now based in the New Forest.
It's also the perfect test for her new Woolf PureFleece® and to discover why why it's the best fleece for everything the weather might throw their way.
The route has been devised utilising as much off road and National Trails as possible, trying to stick to beautiful countryside, but also visiting lovely friends along the way. Kate plans to ride for 5-6 days and then have a rest stop for 2, to allow Marilyn to have some downtime and stock up with grass. They will be covering between 12-25 miles in a day, depending on terrain and grazing and camping opportunities.
Starting at John O'Groats on 29th April, the first month will be spent in Scotland heading down the Central Highlands past Loch Ness, Ben Nevis and Loch Lomond to Stirling, before crossing the Scottish Borders and reaching Hadrian’s Wall, near Haltwhistle.
The next section is through Northumberland and Cumbria to join the Pennine Bridleway at its Northernmost end, near Ravenstonedale. She will then follow this National Trail all the way down to the southern part of the Peak District before heading on the Sabrina Way to Telford, round the western side of Birmingham and down to the beautiful Malvern Hills. From there, Kate and Marilyn head southeast to Cirencester, then south crossing Salisbury plain.
The final month sees them joining the Wessex Ridgeway and riding west into the Blackdown Hills, entering Devon near Tiverton. crossing Dartmoor and going past Bodmin Moor, following the Kernow Way down through Cornwall to the final destination of Lands’ End.
“Accommodation for me will be a combination of camping, staying with friends, and relying on the kindness of strangers - the important thing is that Marilyn has some decent grazing and is safe. Some stops are already organised, but many will have to be arranged on the route - thank goodness for social media!” said Kate.
Kate knows that Marilyn's companionship is fundamental in helping her through the inevitable low periods and dark days of the trek. The deep connection and understanding that Kate and Marilyn have with one another will provide invaluable support and comfort for them both.
Always take the right kit
As you might imagine, sound preparation, good planning and great equipment are important. Kate highlighted a few choice items that she wouldn’t be without;
“A sharp strong knife - in case I need to cut her tack off in an emergency.
Wire cutters - these can be used to help get a shoe off, but also to cut if she gets stuck in wire.
My ‘Woolfy’, the Woolf PureFleece® merino mid layer top - this really is the best fleece out there. It's not only the warmest but is also so breathable during activity, so you don’t have to keep taking it on and off like a polyester fleece. And as a fleece it's also naturally windproof, water repellant and odour resistant. It's the only fleece I wear now.
A buff (neck warmer), which can be used as a hair tie, neck warmer, hat, balaclava, mask, and also a bandage.
A waterproof poncho - obviously can be used to keep me dry, but is also ideal as a tarp to wrap my stuff in overnight, a picnic blanket and an emergency shelter.
My kindle - so that I can read some of the books I have wanted to read for ages, while my horse has a graze during the long journey! "
We’ll be following Kate during the three-month journey and you can also follow her progress on her site, VetTrek UK- “Please do share my journey with me on my blog site https://vettrek.uk/ and if you are moved by my quest and ravings along the way, it would be so appreciated if you'd make a kind donation via JustGiving. Thank you so much.”
I’m sure you will join us here at Woolf and wish her every success on this adventure of a lifetime.
Kate McMorris and Marilyn, in her Woolf PureFleece®, training for their epic journey.