Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The stuff that dreams are made of

 I learned about Hannah the writer and Chico the donkey last May, just prior to the start of their 1,000-mile walk around Wales. The moment I read about their magnificent adventure, all I could think about was how I would love to do something similar...how much fun it would be to spend many months in the constant company of one or two, ok maybe three, of my donkeys, walking across America. You'd let us camp in your backyard, wouldn't you? I've put that dream on hold until I retire. But in the meantime, I've followed Hannah and Chico around Wales through their blog and their tweets, cheering them on through the good and not-so-good times and vicarously sharing their journey. 
They completed their adventure in early November, and Hannah is here today to share a bit of their story. Take it away, Hannah!


 Happy new year, 7MSN and your online community! Linda has kindly let me write a guest blog, which I am honoured to do 
as the ranch feels like a kindred enclosure of dream-following, an ocean and most of a continent away.

And what better time to be writing about following dreams – the beginning of January, the month of plans and decisions and resolve.
Forget dieting – pour a glass of wine and sketch out an adventure! 

A year ago I’d never really met a donkey, not done much walking alone, and never walked with a heavy backpack, 
but I had had an idea, and been given 29 maps and a grooming kit for Christmas. There was no going back.

We began and ended in Aberystwyth, a perfectly-formed Victorian seaside town in the middle of Wales. It’s where I’m from, 
but for 15 years I’ve been living in London and getting completely accustomed to 24-hour noise, light, and a fear of strangers. 
The countryside has been exerting a gentle pull on me for a while, and this summer I immersed myself and a donkey called Chico 
right up to the eyeballs in countryside for nearly six months. 

We walked from Aberystwyth, heading north with the coast on our left until we completed the whole perimeter – a 1000-mile walk in all, taking over five months, right across those 29 maps! (There’s a map here seasidedonkey.co.uk/see-the-map/
We camped most nights, and often walked without knowing where we were aiming for. We were put up by people who saw us on the road as evening approached, we camped wild in dunes and under gorsebushes; people passed us on to friends and friends of friends; we stayed in some spectacular places like a lighthouse, a tipi, a vintage campervan, and a huge house completely empty of furniture
apart from a loud ticking clock and a rifle. 
We were very scared of each other at the beginning – I’d never owned an animal and Chico had never worked, or worn a harness.
It’s only since being back, and lifting myself out of the daily mud and chores, that the little bits of magic have begun to become apparent. 
I’ve discovered that every time I see a picture of a beach in Wales, it’s somewhere I’ve been. I realised that every time 
I leave Wales for ever more, I will be crossing my path. I have walked my boundaries and claimed my land!
I love that Linda struck out too, claimed her own piece of beautiful land, and assembled her crew of creatures around her. They are clearly such a family, and inspiring to me as Chico and I (and our new pal, woolly and friendly pot-bellied Flo), rub along together and try to be friends. I’d never owned an animal before, and now, after the thrill of the adventure has passed, I am learning about buying hay, shovelling Chico chocs, and being the mama of two field-dwellers. Living with animals and their different perspective is to have a new window on the world, and the more windows the better in this one life, surely.

So, happy 2014 and thank you for having me, seven miles south of nowhere! Perhaps Chico and Flo can be penpals with Alan, George and Lucy, from a pen in Wales to a pen in New Mexico! And Linda – if you ever need a ranchsitter or a donkey walker, or a little stroll around the old country with my wonderful walking beasts, just give us a call!

I’m currently writing the book and making the film of the adventure, and I’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to try to fund the endeavour. It’s scarier than the walk! If you’d take a look and consider supporting me I’d be very grateful, or failing that, do spread the word!


I’m also online here: www.seasidedonkey.co.uk
on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/seasidedonkey
and on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/hannahengelkamp


  1. Those photos are just like a dream

  2. i like the beach scene best of all... amazing lady and trip..

  3. Thanks to you Linda I followed the whole adventure, even exchanged mail with Hannah and I did also pledge in the kickstarter campaign as my first act in the first hours of 2014. it feels wonderful to take part!

  4. WOW! What an adventure !!
    Theresa from Alberta Canada EH ;)

  5. I can see you doing this, Linda, I do think Wales would be fun and beautiful. I do plan on helping and supporting this project. Thank you for sharing with us. hugs

  6. I, too, followed Hannah and Chico on their adventure and was part of the early crew supporting her campaign on Kickstarter. Please join in to help Seaside Donkey with their book and movie.

    Hannah, I love your writing and agree that living with animals does give us "a new window on the world and the more windows the better in this one life, surely."

  7. Welcome Hannah! And thanks for sharing a piece of your world with us!

  8. Amazing journey! Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

  9. Hannah and Chico were always our second visit every morning during their walk about....the first being 7MSN. Hannah has such a wonderful way of seeing things and I too am a contributor and admirer of her endeavor and labor of love (now). I can hardly wait for the book and movie.
    LC you are the reason I even knew about Hannah to begin with. I should say there is a kindred spirit of adventure in both of you wonderful women. Oma Linda

  10. The blue door photo with Hannah and Chico is my favorite. I followed the journey and it was excellent. Looking forward to the book and movie.

  11. If I'd known I would have followed Hannah's blog. Dang! But I most CERTAINLY will buy the book. My kind of travel--at least in my head.

  12. I love the internet, its so cool how people from all over can find each other and connect. I learned of Hannahs trip last year from a UK blog I read and followed along. She left out lots of details that Im sure she is saving for the book. But what a fun/crazy/scary thing to do. Ive heard of a woman who is riding her horse coast to coast here, I don't know her name but will have to do some searching. I can see you doing this Carson...

  13. Sigh - NOW I remember you doing a post on this, and me checking the link, and then forgetting to follow it! I have a lot of reading to catch up on. I'm so glad you invited Hannah to do this guest post. And Linda, should you decide to trek perhaps North America's west coast, you would be more than welcome to make a stop here!

  14. Thank you so much for introducing us to Chico and Hannah! Such a journey and beautiful photographs. If either of you are ever near Skoog Farm in western New York, we would love to have you visit and stay awhile. Several years ago we hosted Stella (a mule) and her owners, who had driven here from Arkansas. They were on the road for several years, and would sit tight in the winters...working at farms.

  15. What an incredible partnership! Amazing story and gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing <3 Wow.

  16. Thanks for all the kind words and Kickstarter support! I'm tempted to start walking across the US right away... what would Chico say?

  17. What an amazing adventure! Yes, I will be waiting for that phone call..." Guess what I am doing!"
    Thank you for sharing Hannah and I look forward to the book and movie, also!

  18. Hannah and Chico, and Wales. Sweet. Thanks, y'all.

  19. More stuff that dreams are made of:
    theblondecoyote.com. Her hiking partners are dogs, but I think there will be a burro or two in her future, too.