A HIKER has walked over 200 miles from her birthplace in Sheffield, South Yorkshire to her new home in Cockermouth, Cumbria.
Nicola Hardy spent 15 days hiking from the hospital in Sheffield where she was born in August 1984, to her new home in Cockermouth in north-west Cumbria.
The adventurous 36-year-old, an ambassador for mapping app komoot, walked sections of the Pennine Way, Ribble Way, Dales High Way and Wainwright’s Coast to Coast trail during her 330km expedition.
She battled stormy weather, carried everything she needed in a backpack that weighed up to 18kg and slept nightly in her one-person tent as she journeyed through the rural parts of South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Nicola said: “What better way to undertake my first long distance hike than to walk the journey of my life so far – from my birthplace to where I am today – like a pilgrimage, a journey on foot between two places that are very special to me.
“This was a great form of escapism. The only thing I had to worry about for two weeks was putting one foot in front of the other – it was a nice way to shake up my daily routine. I went back to basics and carried everything I needed in my backpack.
“I walked half of the journey alone, while friends and family joined me for the other half. My friend Becky joined me for the Pennine Way section of the hike through the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. Her enthusiasm and positivity was joyous. I love spending quality time outdoors with great friends.
“The best bit by far was the sunset on the last night. I was wild camping high in the Lake District mountains and I was treated to golden skies for an hour. It was such a special moment and I really savoured the experience.
“The most challenging element of the trek was when my boot lace loop snapped on Day 8 in the Yorkshire Dales, but I was determined to finish in the same boots I started in.”
Nicola set off on her adventure in Sheffield on Saturday, October 3, and made it home to Cockermouth two weeks later on Saturday, October 17. She walked an average of 24km per day and her longest day was 30km from Cowling to Malham.
She added: “What a way to spend two weeks annual leave in October, which has a reputation for being somewhat of a dreary month! It’s been a staycation unique to me, and a celebration of the rural beauty of the north of England.
“I remember crossing the river into the Lake District National Park at Shap and feeling like I was nearly home. I fell in love with the Lake District fells a few years ago and to live in Cockermouth with the backdrop of the Lake District fells is a dream come true.”
Nicola is no stranger to adventure. After over 10 years of living and working in South Yorkshire, she decided in April 2019 that she wanted to embrace a more adventurous life. She quit her job and sold her house and set about climbing all 282 Munros – mountains over 3000ft in Scotland – before settling in Cumbria, close to her beloved Lake District peaks.