Powered by RedCircle

Elsa Kent (Explorer)

On today’s podcast, we have Elsa Kent. Elsa Kent is an explorer and speaker of Environmental education.

She set off on a 1000+mile journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End, with two horses, in aid of environmental education. She grew up on a small family-run farm in South West Devon, riding horses before I could walk and always being obsessed with all forms of nature.

This incredible journey involved a temporary bridge built in front of her by Highways England as to avoid a seven-mile detour and navigating the busy roads. It took the trio 64 days of riding to make the journey, which totalled over 1,000 miles.

Today on the podcast, we talk about his life growing up and how he got in these incredible adventures and the stories of his trips, the kindness of strangers and much more.

Elsa’s Instagram

Video Podcast

Latest Podcast Episodes

  • lucy-shepherd-podcast
  • mike-corey
  • elise-wortley-iran

Transcript of our Conversation

Elsa Kent

[00:00:00] Elsa Kent: I am delighted to introduce Elsa Kent to the podcast. Welcome Elsa. Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. Well, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you, and as you say you, a couple of months ago, got back from doing this incredible expedition across the UK, which is something I haven’t really seen done before.

One, because I thought it was a complete hassle and a complete minefield to take horses from one end of the UK to the other. Before we sort of jump into that, probably the best place to start is about you for people who don’t know you, but also how you sort of got into all these adventures. Okay, God.

So. I’m Aliza. Look at my AA and Melissa I’m 23. And yeah, I’ve grown up. I grew up on a little farm in Devin and always rode horses since [00:01:00] like before I could walk. And it was sort of something that I needed to be able to do to help out on the farm. And so yeah, when I was really late and I suppose I’ve always been really fascinated by venture and always been really keen to just do all sorts of weird wild things.

And so when I was. Really really little, a friend of mine had written around the world, a guy called James Greenwood for 10 years. He wrote the whole way around the world on horseback. And so I remember distinctly him saying to me, coming back from south America and he brought back this beautiful felt embroid waistcoat, and he gave it to me and he just coming from this man who’d just written the whole way around the world.

And I remember looking at the waste code and being like, oh my God, you are so cool. I’m going to do that one day. And I think I was literally about two at that point. And so, yeah, I think even since then, it’s kind of [00:02:00] been in my mind that. A long horseback journey is on the cards. And so this is just chapter one, I guess.

And it’s just finished and it’s a little bit weird now. Yeah. Hopefully the first of many. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think, yeah, the from here, God, I know where we’re going to go next, but there’s definitely more things in the pipeline. I imagine for people listening to sort of the idea of going from land’s end to John and greats, Johnny, Johnny, grace, land’s end.

We have horses where you always quite into horses growing up or was there something yeah, yeah, no, totally. I mean, I’ve, I’ve tried to kind of pull myself away from the horsey world quite a lot because it’s quite far removed from, or it’s become quite far removed from what I see as. [00:03:00] My kind of horsey, well, do you know, which is like much more about writing for a purpose?

You know, I used to always look at books of gauchos and, and people riding in Mongolia and people doing amazing things on horses for, for a reason. And that was why I learned to ride was for a purpose to help out on the farm, round up the cattle. And, and now in the UK though, you know, horse riding is just become for many people and I’m not against it at all.

You know, if it makes people happy, then absolutely crack on. But I think it’s become this hobby that is quite prim and proper and expensive. And you’ve got to do things in a certain way. And you know, we, we do a lot of riding around in circles going nowhere, and these animals have evolved. To, to walk long, long distances and to be used, you know, they’re such amazing animals to use.

And so it feels like such a [00:04:00] waste to have animals that just like we have a huge obesity crisis, not only with humans, but with horses in this country, because they’re not being used in the way that they should be. And so I feel really sad that we’ve lost that culture here because it used to be a really rich part of British culture to use horses for a reason to travel.

You know, it was the main form of transport for a really, really long time. And, you know, using them on the farm, using them on the land and at war, even just these kind of aesthetic bill ornaments that we keep and we brush and we cover them with fluorescent pink. God. Yeah. So for me, this journey was a kind of a rekindled.

Using these horses and actually seeing what they can do. And it made me realize how amazing the things are that they can do, but to get an idea or like this, how did it also sort of come [00:05:00] about? Do you know it was, it wasn’t, there wasn’t a huge amount of planning at all. It was quite off the cuff and and I kind of, it all sort of started and I didn’t really realize that it was starting and then I’m there kind of doing it.

And it was a little bit weird. But it came about because I’d come back from Kenya, which had just been registered. And I had a gap between I was still working, teaching online for the school that I work at in Kenya. And, and then I realized that I’ve got you need to pause.

Okay. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That’s fine. Cool. So, so yeah, I came back from Kenya which was red listed and I had a gap between that and my master’s starting. And so I thought, right, what am I going to do? I’ve got a couple of months and [00:06:00] knew I wanted to do. I mean, there’s so many reasons why, but I just had a gap and thought, what am I going to do?

And I think from somewhere deep in my memory to do with James and that journey and realizing that the gap was kind of just about right to do that, like the journey and feeling like I wanted to tap into UK culture and geography and looking at all of that, it just kind of fell into place. Happened God.

And I know as you said that, like with some of the best adventures, it’s always very loose because you have to be sort of very adaptable. We have a lot of these adventures and sort of the planning that went into the journey was sort a few weeks, few months, or I think it was literally. About two weeks. I mean, I went from going, okay, this is an idea.

And chatting to friends about it and family and them all going, [00:07:00] no, that’s not going to happen. And then that just fed me in this kind of feeling of, okay. Yeah, it’s going to happen. And then, I mean, there was so much that needed to happen. First I called James and said, I’ve got this idea. What do you think?

And he said, well, okay, Christ, like he’d written the whole way around the world. And he, he came back and said you know, after 10 years of riding everywhere in hundreds of countries the most scary thing scarier than being chased by the Taliban in Afghanistan was the roads in the UK riding on the roads in the UK.

And so he said of all of riding around the world, the UK was the hardest. And so he said, there’s no mean feat during this. But you’re going to need two horses. And so I got, I had kind of horses that one of them’s great Rosie but she’s a bit old, she’s 17 and sounds going, oh God, is she gonna make it?

You know, she’s scan on a bit. And, and [00:08:00] so James said, no, you’ve got to take two. And then the theory behind that is it’s much easier on the horses because you’ve got the second one who has nothing on its back. So you’ve got everything on your, you yourself or your kit on the one horse and then you’re leaving the other one.

And whenever this one gets tired or you feel like they’ve done enough for whatever reason or there’s something. Like a loose shoe or something, you can just transfer everything onto the second horse and so thought, oh God. Okay. So I’ve got to find a horse that is going to work for this. And that’s a whole process in itself, finding something that’s got an amazing naked body and confirmation and ability to really work hard and not break.

And then a brain that can take a changing environment every day and loads of different stimulation and remain cool. So finding that was, was a [00:09:00] challenge. But we got there and found summer and and then we had our team and then very quickly we pieced together all this kit and set off and it was started.

And what was the feeling like as a sort of start line up in John Graves? Do you know at that point. Up there. Totally hadn’t hit me. What I was about to do. I’d just driven up spent three days driving up and you know, you’re driving. Cause we drove all the way from Plymouth. So the whole way we were driving, I was like, I gotta ride this.

And it took three days and I was like, oh, that’s pretty. That’s pretty far, you know, but did not hit me until after a couple of days. Well, like early on when I was unfit, the horses were unfit. You know, your kit’s still very clunky and you haven’t really got your groove on at all. And even 10 miles at that point feels like a really, really long way.

Like before this trip I’d [00:10:00] never written, I don’t think I’d ever written 10 miles in a day. Like people have said to me, you know, have you done all this training? No, haven’t done anything. You know, just, I’ve just got the right horses. They’re relatively fit. We’re just going to see what happens. And we’re going to learn on the job and go at their pace and build up that way.

So I had no idea of the concept of what a mile feels like, you know, just I’ve written all my life, but not in that way. And so, yeah, it was a very steep, very steep learning curve. The first, the first week. And James had always said to me, if you survive the first five days, you’ll be fine. You know, 90 said, 90% of people say they’re going to do these things.

And then they don’t do them. And of the 10% that do these things, 90% of them screw it up so badly in the first five days that they can’t continue. So he said, five days, I’ll say you survived. That you’ll be fine the whole way. [00:11:00] And we got through it, but there was a lot that happened in those first five days, amazingly.

He was totally right. Well, so what can go wrong in those sort of five days? Heaps. So, yeah, like I said, your kit is all new and kind of, you know, you’ve probably massively over-packed I really learn very quickly. You’ve got to get rid of basically everything. You don’t want, anything you want your bare essentials, you know, with like a very, very light sleeping bag, very, very light tent water for yourself.

You’ve got to find water along the way for your horses. Basic medical kit you know, charger for your phone, which has your navigation. And I learned it’s everything, which is so sad. I wish, you know, I wish it wasn’t everything, but I think in this country, when you’ve got a lot of complex navigation to do to.

Really bad road crossings and stuff is the only way now. Unless you do [00:12:00] paper maps, but I figured out that you’ve got to have 42 paper maps to get down so that wasn’t gonna work. Yeah. So first five days getting rid of loads of kit was a big thing, checking meticulously that you’re not getting rubs.

Cause if anything starts to rub underneath your saddle, you’re scuppered, you know, that’s maybe cause it can go septic and then you, you’ve got a really big issue on your hands. So meticulously checking almost every mile, taking everything off, checking, checking, checking and so kit and then learning how to ride on the road was a huge thing because I mean, people just don’t know how to drive around horses.

Number one, number two, people don’t know how to ride on the. And be safe, you know, and when you’ve got two horses, you’re the width of a car. So it’s not like you’re just on one and you’re quite narrow and people can get round. But when you’ve got to, you know, it’s a, it’s a whole different ball game. So [00:13:00] learning how to be quite dominant and to read the road and to you, you develop all sorts of tactics to keep everyone safe.

And it’s really exhausting all of that because you’re trying to navigate and get that right. Cause you can’t backtrack cause that’s gonna cost you like your, all your energy. And I mean the whole, the whole thing with this, the whole thing with horseback, adventure and long riding is, and the thing that distinguishes it from, you know, like, like things that we do as humans that are challenging is that you’re not thinking about yourself.

And you’re not, you know, you’re your own aches and pains and your own tiredness and your own hydration and where you’re going to sleep and what you’re going to eat. That’s so secondary, you know, you’re all about these animals that you’re traveling with and are they hydrated? Are their feet. Okay. Is the equipment, okay?

How tired are they? You know, other salt levels. All right. [00:14:00] Because they can’t talk, they can’t say, oh, I haven’t eaten in four hours. I need to, you know, so your whole mindset, the whole way is constantly going, okay, where are they at in this journey? Not where am I at? That’s like, so you spend the whole time, probably quite uncomfortable, probably in quite a lot of pain, but that doesn’t matter because it’s all about them.

And so really quickly you kind of figure out that that’s what needs to be your priority. So that happened, God, what else? In the first five days? Traffic bogs. Oh my God. We had the most horrific. It was the hardest, the hardest thing that happened the whole way, the whole journey was in the first five days.

We were crossing this, it was a 30 mile day, so it was a huge. Cause when you’re moving, we’re only walking, so it’s two or three miles an hour. It averages out with like needing the horses to [00:15:00] graze and find water and, and breaking off. And you’re walking slowly. You’re not really marching because it’s not sustainable.

Especially on concrete because it just wears their legs out. So yeah, there was this day when we’re crossing from the golf volt hotel, which is may numb, Britain’s most remote hotel which we’d had a really weird wild night there because all that I’d had to contain the horses was this washing line.

And they had like four kinds of washing line posts. And so had to wrap some rope around them. And that was it. So the horses were in there and they could so easily have just gone underneath it and got. Into the most remote part of the whole of Britain. And so all night I was so stressed that I was going to wake up and my horses are going to be gone.

I woke up that morning, super early and there, they were just, you know, waiting for me going what’s going on. Cause it was so Mitchie [00:16:00] as well. The images were horrific up there. So they were really irritated by that all night. And I thought, God, they’re going to just get so irritated that they’re just going to break down the fence and go.

So yeah, we woke up that morning and set off and this all did. I know that this was going to be the hardest day. Of of my whole life, not just of this trip by far of my whole life I’d spoken to, there was basically those two route options. That was one way of getting to the KRAS, which was my destination, which is a main number is most remote in.

And yeah, probably a lot of adventurey people know about the crash, cause everyone’s cycling up from London and it goes through, it goes past it. And so, so yeah, we’re aiming for the crash from the gaveled and basically there’s two options. So you can either go over this old Drover’s route that no one really knows about is just on this old map that I found and I thought, oh, that’s going to be [00:17:00] really beautiful.

You know, that’s super remote, super like no one knows about it. That looks gorgeous. And I was sick of the road even after three days, I was so bored of the road. And so I thought, oh, I could go that way or I go round and it’s more. But safe and on this quite quiet road. And so I spoke to this gamekeeper up there who said, oh yeah, I think that you should be fine.

It’s been pretty dry this year. So you’ll be all right. And I thought, God, he doesn’t really know about horses and horses and bogs and that kind of thing. And so I said to him, do you know anyone who’s ever taken horses over there? And he said to me, yeah, there’s a, there’s a lady who runs a horse tracking business over that route when she goes coast to coast in Scotland.

And yeah, so I called this lady and, and I said, look, I’m on my own with two horses. What do you think? Is it going to be all right, going over this route? And she said, yeah, you’ll have a [00:18:00] beautiful time. It’s going to be gorgeous. You know, you’ll love it. And I said, what’s the ground? Like, you know, is it super boggy?

And she said, well, there’s a couple of bits of bulk, but you’ll be okay. And, and then, and I said, is there anything else that I need to worry about? And she goes, no, no, you should be, you should be absolutely fine. Have a beautiful ride. So there I was merrily sort of setting off, up this beautiful route that I thought was going to be amazing.

And about 10 miles in, it starts to get really hectic. The past just completely deteriorates. There’s been no signal for the whole day previous to this. No way of contacting anyone or looking at any kind of at that point, I hadn’t even figured out to use OSPF maps app. I was still on Google maps. I mean, I was such a rookie at this point.

And so there, I am trying to figure out my way over this [00:19:00] Drover’s route. And and the ground starts just falling away underneath us. It’s peat, bog. So it can be two double Decker buses deep and a horse can weigh up to a ton. So me walk and I walked the whole way that 30 mile day, cause I’m walking ahead of them checking the ground to see if it’s okay or not trying to follow this little path, but it’s all well and good me jumping up and down on it, but it’s totally different ball game to a horse.

And so, yeah, and so it quickly started to get really, really bad and the horses are just sinks, sinking every step that they’re taking. And, you know, it w it was okay. Ish. There were patches that were, as it was all right. And then, and then we came across these bridges where they’re crossing these like ravines that are coming down off the mountain, running into this law.

And and around those, those bridges are totally rotten. So you’re [00:20:00] trying to take two horses and yourself across these bridges that look kind of fine, but then the second you’ve got two horses on top of it. It just starts falling away underneath you. And you’ve got sometimes a really, really steep drop underneath, and you’ve got these massive animals are there.

So we did have a couple of bridges that literally broke underneath us. And we had to like slap the horse on the housing crack on over it, you know? And yeah, so that was pretty sketchy. And then it got really, really bad, really bad to the point where we hadn’t had, so we hadn’t hadn’t had signal. No one knew I was.

And you’re looking at your horse, you turn around and you’re looking at your horse sinking in a bog, and they can like horses in bowls can drown very, very easily and break their legs. And that’s like, what happens? And so when you’re up there and it’s that remote, [00:21:00] and you’re looking at your horse going this, and it’s hurling itself trying to get through this bog with all your kit flapping about and you’re alone.

And there’s no way that anyone’s going to find you because no one uses that path. So you’re not going to be found for days. And like, my whole mind is just going. If, if my horse breaks his leg up here, one of them breaks his leg or if it starts drowning and gets completely stuck, what do I do? Do I have to put my own horse down here, myself?

And so that’s, what’s going on in your head when you’re up there and your horses are looking at you, like you bought me, they’re trusting you with every step and they learn to follow exactly where you put your feet. They’re sniffing the ground, checking if it’s gonna fall away underneath them. And so your [00:22:00] head’s just in this horrible state of do I turn back, but if I go back, I know those bridges are broken and I know that how horrific it’s been to even get here.

And so you’ve got miles and miles of that back, or you’ve got miles of the unknown ahead of you and say, okay, well, I’ve just got to keep going. I’ve just got to keep going. And then it’s getting dark and you’re still up there. And then it just, I mean, it just went on and on and on. And I remember coming all the way up over this mountain and I’m thinking I’m going to see the crosswalk at, around the corner.

When we got up to this month has gotta be there. We definitely don’t. The emails is we’d been on the road for like 12 hours that day nonstop moving. We got all the way up to the top of this mountain and look down into the distance and way in the distance, like miles away. It was a little white dot and in between me and that little white dot was just [00:23:00] like this sea of peat, bog.

And I just thought we are already done. We’ve already done 12 hours of this. How are we going to how? Cause the hoses are shaking. They’re so tired and I’m crying and it’s all just a mess. And yeah, we somehow, somehow got through it totally unscathed. And I just, I don’t know how that happened, but it meant that.

Everything from then on felt so much easier, so much easier in comparison. And I said, I’m never going to complain about Tom. I cover again, cause it’s the hair underneath you. And then we got the craft and it was totally getting dark, like really, really dark. And at that point in the year, it was getting dark at like 11 o’clock at night in Scotland.

And the Bishop of Scotland was there in the crass waiting for me with a pint. It’s just so bizarre. I was just so shaken up. And, and then there was this warm fire and people in a [00:24:00] bed and a pint in a field for the horses. And, and that I had no words to describe what we just been through because it’s so hard to describe something that I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been alone with two animals in that kind of remote place, knowing that you might have to kill one of your below.

Animals. It’s such a hard feeling to describe, and it makes you go, what am I doing? Like, I really, what am I doing? This is serious, serious stuff. And yeah, it made me really deeply question whether I should continue. Cause I thought, you know, I could, we really could die doing this stuff and am I prepared to do that?

Well, and that was any day five. That was literally I think day [00:25:00] four day five. Yeah. Yeah. Well with heavy stuff knowing that you had another two months of this. Yeah, yeah. But that, at that point in the journey, I think it still hadn’t hit me. The concept that we were going to do this day after day after day after day after day.

Four months. I think you just, at that point, you just literally, every step one step at a time, you know, you can’t start to, I’ve learned also in the first week, don’t zoom out on the map. Like don’t zoom out because it’s terrifying. You just got to stay in it one day at a time, you know, just plan your route for the next day.

Really just focus on that. Because if you zoom out is terrifying and unless you’ve got to call them all and then you can zoom out and you go, yeah, this is amazing. Oh, my word, I’ve only covered an intro. Like, I mean, this is the thing. Cause like cycling or even like, I don’t [00:26:00] know, even running, I guess you, you actually kind of gained quite a lot of ground.

Like we were moving it to. Like 500 meters or an hour max that day, you know, where one step, sometimes one step is a huge experience when you’re trying to navigate a bridge, that’s just collapsed. I mean, the hallway down that was, that was these issues where you, cause you’re trying to avoid the roads the whole way.

And so it often spits you out on these brighter ways that just haven’t been used because no one tends to use them anymore. That just haven’t been used. And so they’re totally ruined and wrecked and you would just come across rotten bridges or things that are way too narrow. You can never get horse through and river crossings and just, I mean, yeah.

So your little dot sometimes you’d do a whole day of grafting, 14 hours of moving, but your little.is only moved that much. [00:27:00] Oh my God. And that just brings up this whole thing of. You know, people are following this journey and do they really have any idea that I had? I didn’t, I really struggled to find the words to, to communicate how hard this is, because I think my tendency definitely with these things is to try and sugarcoat it and to try and make it seem like, oh, I’m really positive.

And you know, everything’s fine. And it’s going great when it’s really hard really. But one of, one of the things that I thought was very interesting was this idea of pasting and reality of what you were experienced him. Because I know from experience that it’s very difficult to convey what emotions you’re going through.

And a lot of people, when they see, let’s see on Instagram, a beautiful sunset or you ride in into the distance or whatnot, they look at [00:28:00] it through that picture. And although you might write down the sort of feelings the picture says so much, and how did you find the sort of balancing act between the reality of what you’re experiencing and what you are posting on social media?

Yeah, it’s a really tough one because I think there was a point in the journey where I got really, really upset about specifically this, because I think I’d spent a long time trying to be really, really positive and to try and communicate the good bits and the, I, I’m not very good at describing things that are tough because I think you, you still feel very grateful for what you’re able to do and, and how privileged you are to be in this position to be traveling and journeying like this.

And so, you know, and all the, all the feedback that you get from everyone is always very positive and everyone’s going, you’re doing amazing and all of this, [00:29:00] and it’s all very success oriented when actually like some things you do mess up and you make mistakes and things go wrong. And it’s hard to hard to find the words, to communicate those things.

And so this all kind of was there and bubbling away in me. And then it did get to a point. I think I made it all the way to Stroud gone quite a long way. And then I kind of did have this moment where I’m like, God, I do actually need to tell everyone that this is, this is really hard. And I found it was actually easier to communicate stuff by taking a video rather than showing people, photos.

Cause all the photos that you take, even if they’re a bad, you know, like really, really in the rain and things have broken and you know, it’s all a bit of a mess. I think people interpret that as. Oh, that’s part of the adventure, which it totally is. You know, it’s an amazing part of the adventure, but I think it’s still seen in this kind of glorified way.

So I found that actually just [00:30:00] telling everyone with my voice and my face, there’s really hard, you know, and explaining it more. And I think that I’m the amount of support and people actually going, oh my God, I actually get it now. You know? So that, that was kind of my tactic for that. And it, it did feel better after that, but I mean, the tough thing for me was like every day I’d have people asking me, you need to update everyone.

Why are you not posting more? You know, you should be more on social media and all this stuff, and I’m going, look, I’ve got my hands literally full of animals and I’m trying to keep us all safe on the road and. And organize where we’re trying to stay for the night and all of this stuff. And then to do that and to do all of the social media and communication stuff, it’s a lot, you know, I could spend half a day trying to put to words, everything that’s happened.

[00:31:00] And so I used to get really frustrated by people badgering me for more information. Cause it’s like, is it, you know, who, who, what what’s this all for in the end? You know, I’m trying to, absolutely this is all about fundraising and trying to raise awareness for environmental education. But also I really, I can’t be on my phone right now because there’s a car coming past and you know, I, all I can do is my best.

And, and you’ve got miles to do, and this is the cover and you’re busy. You’re really, really busy, but people don’t seem to think. You know, Y yeah, I, I agree. It’s, but I suppose people, you know, who are following sort of look at it, they don’t see the tough bits that you’re going through. They don’t see you waving down a car to slow down because your horse gets frightened or something like that.

They only see that one picture per day, let’s say, or every other day. And so in their mind, they’re always sort of intrigued. They didn’t really get the idea. And I suppose [00:32:00] the sort of pressure of posting for these adventures or these travels is very much on the part of, you know, how you sort of feel about it.

You know, some people can go on, but you know, social media is an incredible platform to find people similar interests, similar. And to tell your story. And I suppose that was the main thing. It’s about how you tell your story. Yeah. Yeah. Completely. I mean, it’s all storytelling really isn’t it. But it’s like, yeah, the difference between what’s actually going on and, and what people are seeing, you know, like it just really builds up, you know, cause every single car that goes past as a whole, you know, you’re checking, you’re, you’re watching it or it’s not just, you totally cannot switch off with this stuff.

And it’s, it’s so exhausting, you know, you get to the end of the day. And I actually developed some tactics cause you know, you’re staying with strangers every night. [00:33:00] And I mean, I was so lucky with that. Like the, the amount of kindness from strangers and people hearing about what I was doing and, and reaching out and saying, come and stay, please come and stay.

And it was so amazing because he’d arrive somewhere and you know, they were so excited about it and they see it as an excuse for a party. So that was. I mean now I’ve got friends at like 20 mile intervals down the whole UK, which is just so lovely. And they’re all such kind outgoing, generous open-hearted people.

But yeah, I mean, you got to the end of the day and you’re so naked, so you get quite good at like making it clear really what, what you need. And so for me that was, if, if there was a bath around, I was like, this is what I need, because you know, if you say I need a shower, then people go, ah, yeah, you’re only going to be like five minutes, but if you say I really need a bath, then you’re definitely offered her for about an hour.

[00:34:00] You can kind of go and, you know, chill out and just like, I just needed time to not be focusing on the road and. All of that stuff. And then also to be being hosted and to, you know, be really engaging and, and talking to people. Cause a lot of the conversations that you’re having, you do get asked a lot of the same questions when you come from, you know, are you really on your own?

And, and it’s lovely. But yeah, having that time was really nice. So you get your little tactics of, you know, how to find even a little bit of time, even one hour where you’re just alone. Yeah. I, I doing these, doing these sort of trips. It’s very easy to sort of go abroad and say, you know how amazing the people, I didn’t know.

India, Pakistan, wherever it may be. But actually when you do a trip in the UK, you do actually see that sort of this, the kindness of strangers is completely universal and it sort of just makes you, [00:35:00] I don’t know, like when I did a short trip, I mean, it was only a week wasn’t two months like you, but you do do see some of the most incredible hospitality and kindness from people all up and down the United Kingdom.

And it just sort of make these sort of trips just so worthwhile in a sense. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, from that people that you’re staying with to just people that you meet along the way, I mean, the amount of people who sort of see me traveling along and they, you know, they go, you look like you’re on a long journey.

Like it was probably done. They covered it. Saddleback’s and stuff. And then you go negative. There could be a wave. You come from top of Scotland and they’re like, wait, what? And then five and you keep riding and then five minutes later, there’s a car that’s caught you up. And they’ve got carrots for the horses and they’ve got like a sandwich for you and hot chocolate and, you know, they totally go out of their way.

And it just, [00:36:00] yeah, it really, really made me realize that it’s about putting yourself out there into the universe and just trusting that, you know, it’s going to be all right. This humans are really, really kind beings. We’ve just lost awareness of that. But deep down, everyone really wants to help. And so, yeah, I think, I suppose what I did also think about is that it’s probably a lot easier for me being like a young woman.

I think that was one of the things that it is easier to be in this circumstance. Is a young woman because people don’t find you scary or threatening, but I th I think he will say with that, it’s going on your own. I think when you’re on your own, doing these people see a sort of sense of vulnerability.

Probably take pithy on oneself. They, 73rd when I did it but then they, I think that when you’re with someone else, they sort of look at you and be like, oh, well, they’ve got each other. So they’re [00:37:00] probably all right, whereas on your own, it’s just you and them. So it’s much easier for them, I think, to engage.

Yeah. No, I think that’s really, really true. And that kind of goes back to the whole question of why I took on this challenge, you know, because I think it, if I really asked myself that question deeply, I think it’s a lot to do with wanting to find something that I really found hard and that. Would really be a challenge because I think I’ve spent, I’ve done a lot of, a lot of weird things and a lot of hard things, but I don’t feel like I never felt like I’d done something that really, really challenged me to the point where that I didn’t know if I could do it or not.

And so I think I, yeah, that was a big factor in doing this trip was, you know, people going, this is not possible when you can’t do that. You know, I got in touch with the long writer’s Guild. They’ve, you know, [00:38:00] Have facilitated and helps with people riding huge distances around the world for hundreds of years.

And they said to me, you, you must not do this with two, especially with two horses, you must not do this. Your chances of survival is very slim. And so that made me everyone I’m going to do it there. And yeah. So I think it was a lot about challenging myself and, and people then said to me, why don’t you just do it with someone, take a frame with you?

And I thought, well, I could do that. You know, and a few people, you know, kind of came into my head and thought, oh, that’d be really fun, but there’s something about being on your own with. The horses that enables you to do so much work on yourself and like it’s a whole, I mean, the whole journey was some kind of meditation process because the whole time you’re, so in your zone, in your rhythm, you’re tapped in through the horses, [00:39:00] especially, you know, traveling with horses.

That’s the biggest thing about it is when you’re with animals, they give you access to what’s going on in that, in the natural world, because they’re so tuned in, you know, they hit everything and they see everything way, way further before way before a human would see it. So, you know, you’re completely zoned into what’s going on around you and, and yeah, that’s just a really.

Lovely lovely spiritual experience. And I ne and I craved that, you know, every morning, if I’d had a slow morning and hadn’t got away early, I feel myself going, God, I really just need to be back in our zone with no one else doing this. And I needed that for a really long time. And it was only after maybe 800 miles or something that I felt like I was getting, we were getting our rhythm, you know, so even early on I thought, oh, I could just ride from, you know, the length of Scotland or something.

And that seemed like a huge journey. But by the bottom of [00:40:00] Scotland, I was only just getting our groove on, you know, we’re only just getting the, getting the hang of it. And, and once you kind of get into your rhythm, that’s when you really can start to enjoy it and see the amazing things that this journey is giving you.

So I think that’s why it’s so important to do long, long journeys because. It takes a long time to settle into it and to kind of get things sorted and to get your head in the right space and to be able to go, oh, I’m actually here now. And I’m actually going to enjoy this rather than constantly being up here and thinking, well, what am I doing?

Where am I going? You know, because you’ve got to get out of that for a bit and kind of into absorbing what you’re actually doing. So I mean, you’ve done the sort of 800 miles. You did probably another 200 to get that’s the finish line. It was 12, it was nearly 1200 in total. So it was 1200 1,150 miles, I think in total.

So two thirds of the journey to get into your stride. It took a long time. I mean like, yeah, [00:41:00] Scotland was just, people drive really fast in Scotland. My God, it was beautiful. I mean, it was some of the most remote, beautiful mountains and loss and just amazing, but I was still, I think the whole way down Scotland.

I mean the midges and the flies. And we had a heatwave as well when we woke up when we were coming around Glasgow. So that was really tough because you’re trying to get the miles done, but then you’ve also got 38 degree heat. So, you know, I had a real scare with one of my horses, the old one, Rosie. She, we did one day.

I think we did, like, I don’t know, it wasn’t long, like an 18 mile day. And it got pretty hot towards the end of it. And I’d needed to get through the city and to get to where we were staying. So I couldn’t stop in the middle of the city. There was no way I was going to find somewhere to park the horses up for, for the night and stop.

So I knit, but I knew I really should. I it’s really [00:42:00] hot. Now we need to stop. Which city was this? I think this is north of Glasgow, like combin old region, maybe something like that. Yeah. Strange part of the journey and. And so, yeah, it was super, super hot. It was crazy hot and it was midlife middle of the afternoon.

I knew I should’ve stopped, but really, really couldn’t. So I was walking and knowing that they needed a drink. And I, I knew that night, that was the one night where I was like, I’ve pushed, I’ve pushed them a bit hard today. And I paid for it because the next day was it was going to be a rest day anyway.

Cause it was just so hot. It was think it was nearly 40 degrees. Glasgow was like the hottest zone in the whole of that heat wave. And we were right there in the middle of it and yeah, and I, I went to go and check the horses and she seemed all right. And then I went again and she was lying down a lot that day, just really sleeping, lying down and, and everyone around me, it was just like, oh, she’s fine.

You know, I was, I was at staying at a [00:43:00] writing center where there’s loads of horsey people and they were like, oh, she’s fine. She’s just lying down. But I was like, I know this sources not. Because you get so in tune with your animals and, and she really, really wasn’t right that day. I think she just got really dehydrated.

Even though, I mean, they’d had so much water to drink, but the amount that a horse needs to drink to replace everything that they’re losing and the, the amount of salt that they need. So I’m having to really load up their salt and find food that I can put salt into so that they can eat it. Yeah, so I’d, I’d screwed up and I paid for it cause I was so stressed.

I called my vet that day and was like, I don’t know what I’ve done. I really need you to call me. And we were FaceTiming. He was going, yeah. If, if she’s not right tomorrow, then get physically out there and, and come and check her. And sure enough, you know, after I put the phone down to my lovely vet down here [00:44:00] The sun had gone down and she, and she was kind of up and about and find again, but it it’s horrible.

Cause you know, if, if they break a leg or if something bad happens, but you can see what’s happened. That’s one thing. Cause you can actually know what’s going on. But when it’s something that could be anything it’s internally, you know, you think, okay, maybe it’s just dehydration, but heat stroke can cause all sorts of crazy issues and horses can die and you can see that they’re not right, but you don’t know what’s going on inside.

That’s way more scary. Cause you can’t see it. Yeah, so I pay the price without heatwave. And so towards the end, getting into the sort of finishing line who was there to meet you at the end at land’s end. Oh, we had a lovely time. We had. Summers previous owner was there, which was really nice and everyone was crying and loads of children were there and like loads of kind of local people that I [00:45:00] just had just heard about it.

And, you know, my family were all there and some friends and I was lovely. It was a really, really lovely time. And it was so surreal though, you know, like coming down the track and seeing the sea and seeing all of these people and kind of, and the horses were really confused. We were all really confused.

Cause we were like the land’s just run out. Like we’re. So in this motion of, of just we move, you know, that’s what we do, we move and then we couldn’t, and that was the end. And so you can see, and I know the footage, the horses are going, what what’s going on? Like, why are we not keeping going Yeah, it was a really surreal experience and it’s still surreal now.

It feels very weird to be not moving. Now. I find myself wanting to keep walking. And yeah, it’s, it’s hard because you go from being so tapped into that and where you, where every day, you’ve just got the [00:46:00] purpose of you just gotta keep going. You just gotta move from here to here. That’s your days buffers.

And when you achieve that, you’re like, yep, that’s my job. I’ve done it. You know? Fantastic. And now life’s just real. Life is so much more complex than that. You’ve got so much to think about and so much to kind of keep, keep walking out every day and, and they crave that simplicity a lot. That’s probably a lot of people on the podcast sort of here.

It is, as you say, your day-to-day is. Doing going from a to B. And it is a very sort of simplistic way of looking at it, but that’s the reality. It’s literally you get up, you either run cycle sale, whatever, ride a horse, whatever it may be. That’s your day to day on these sort of adventures. And that sort of simplicity is, I don’t know, quite, quite nice in a sense.

It’s good for you. I think it’s what humans are actually [00:47:00] designed for. It’s much more natural way of humans existing. Isn’t it? And you could see that with the horses as well. They just looked amazing. They were so shiny and muscly and Pappy, and I’d love to say the same about myself, shiny, muscly and happy.

I was definitely happy. And yeah, I think life just becomes very simple and you’ve got your purpose and yeah. And how long did that take you? 64 days, four days, 64. Very, very lovely days that were very different. Every single one of them. Did you feel could have made it go longer? Do you sort of wish that you had taken your time a bit more?

Yeah, we were fast. We were definitely fast. I kind of, there’s part of me that wishes that you know, we’d really relax into it and just been able to just go, oh, you know, we’ve done five miles and this is really lovely. Let’s just stay here and enjoy this place for a [00:48:00] few days. I didn’t afford myself that luxury cause I had to get back for this master’s degree.

But there’s also something that I think if you, if you know, you’ve got to do roughly 20 miles a day, which is tough when you’re moving slowly, it’s a lot. I’m walking a lot of it cause I walked back a third of it, I think so or more so I think what that gives you when you’ve got, when you know, you’ve got a long day ahead of you, is it challenges you, I guess, way more way more than just feeling like you can just stay for a week even, and fix all your kit and sort yourself out.

So it definitely is more of a challenge, but yeah, I don’t know yet to know. Yeah. It’s I mean, it just sounds like the most incredible sort of adventure and you’ve got some incredible stories from it. Yeah. And what’s the sort of [00:49:00] reaction being over the last couple of months, as in, from other people.

Yeah, God, I think people are a bit weirded out. I even got told by someone that he totally didn’t believe me. I’ve done this thing. Which is interesting. No people tend to just, I think be quite confused. I mean, a really funny example of this is my dad came out to meet me when I was riding for. We rode from boss to Glastonbury on one of the days.

And and he came out to walk the last, I think, three miles with us. And and everyone we walk past dad would be like, she’s written from Barth to Glastonbury, to Glastonbury, and everyone would be like, whoa, you kidding me, bought the glass and read that so far. And I look at that and I’m like, dad, we’ve written from John O’Groats to Glastonbury, what are you on about?

And he said to me, Elyssa, people don’t understand that you just have to talk in that language. [00:50:00] And I was really frustrated by that at the time. Cause I was like, you’re not, you’re not telling the whole story, but I kind of get it now. Like if someone said to me, I’ve just walked here from the top of Scotland.

You don’t mind. I think I probably do, but like maybe if someone, I don’t know, maybe if you’re in South Africa and says, someone says, I’ve just walked here from. He probably just be like, whoa, that, I mean, that’s huge, but you wouldn’t have any kind of perspective on how huge that is. Whereas if it’s all quite local and you know, and you know that route, then I think people understand, oh yeah, that’s, that’s a long way.

Yeah. I sort of agree with that. And what was the, because you were sort of going through quite, you know, these first five days were pretty tough for you. What was the sort of, why in the back of your head sort of driving you forward? Because as you say most people quit after five days, as you said, the sort of 90% quit.

What was the reasons to sort of go [00:51:00] on? Well, I mean, I think with this whole trip, there was a multitude of reasons for me. I mean the whole thing, the whole thing really boiled down to I’ve become really, really passionate about environmental education. I feel very, very strongly that this is what we need to be looking at if we want a regenerative future for our species.

And, and it’s the solution that I’ve seen. And so at that point in time, that felt like the best offering that I could give to that mission. And it was all very clear in my mind. I knew exactly where every pound of this money has been going and exactly what impact that’s going to have. And I fully fully believe that those projects could really, really help us to exist on this planet, you know?

And so, you know, there’s that whole thing going on in your head which [00:52:00] is maybe really, I don’t know, way to kind of a bigger concept, but there is that in the back of your mind that you’re like you’re doing this for a really, really big reason, you know, and this is, and I suppose it’s just about giving.

Giving your best offering to something that you believe in. So that was one big reason that kept me going. And then there’s definitely a thing of, no, you haven’t really challenged yourself that yeah, I know. I could keep going. You know, I know I could, and I know the horses could, I, I never pushed that.

Like if they needed to rest, they rested. Yeah. Why go hold? Yeah, I think it is to do with doing something you’d really deeply believe is going to make a big, a good difference. And then doing something that challenges you and, and also about finishing something, you know, you, you want to, if you’re going to start something and commit time [00:53:00] and energy to it, it’s such an extent that I think you owe it to yourself to see it through.

Yeah. And so. Yeah, I think, I think it’s a lot to do with that really. I don’t know. I guess that’s yeah, I guess that was the extent of it. I think it’s, I mean, it really, really, really was about environmental education. And still is, you know, that’s, it’s continuing, even now the work towards that project the fundraising, the next mission is all singing from the same hymn sheet.

So yeah, that’s what I believe in. And I suppose we’ve copped 26 going on at the moment was the one thing coming out of it that you would like to see? Well, I think for me, I mean, it’s a hugely, hugely complex issue that we’ve got here. And [00:54:00] all of this stuff stemmed from me studying the education system and realizing that it is the system that we have to influence the human species.

You know, every country has some form of education, whether it’s a cultural ritual or a formal education system like we have here. And so that is the tool that we have to create humans that don’t destroy the planet. So if we get that system right, we don’t have it right at the moment, but if we work on it and get it right, you know, we are really, really doing something that is sustainable.

But if we’re just trying to kind of be more, we’re basically need to be more preventative rather than cure orientated. So at the moment, there’s a lot of, kind of, that’s just kind of a saw out the results and issues of this problem, but actually we need to look at the root of this issue. And it’s the fact that we’re producing people that are so in themselves, you know, we’re producing humans that are [00:55:00] educated to believe that the important thing in life is only what benefits them and not what benefits.

Everyone around them, the environment, their communities, and those factors. And you can’t blame the people. It’s totally not their fault. It’s not the fault of the people who’ve designed the system, even because they’ve been through that same system. It’s about recognizing that there’s flexibility in that system.

It’s not doing anyone, any favors. It’s really damaging people’s wellbeing and mental health. And it’s really, really damaging the earth because if you have that mind, if humans have that mindset, then that’s when they start making really wonky consumer decisions. And when politicians start making bad decisions too, cause they just don’t seem to see the connection.

I think between the way we’ve been educated, the way we’ve been shaped as human beings and then the way we’re subsequently shaping the world around us. So it’s about seeing how we have, [00:56:00] we have the capacity to really shift that within ourselves and within the system. And I think if we can. Create a system that actually looks at us in a more holistic way and looks at the environment that we’re living in the finite planet that we’re living on and shapes our human species to be in relationship with that more.

Maybe there’s some hope somewhere, one hopes. So yes, there’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week with the first being on these trips or expeditions that you do. What’s the one gadget that you always take with you. Oh God. Gadget, does it have to be a gadget?

Well, of some sort. Yeah. I mean, it can be like a knife. If, well, I did take, I took a Gerber, not a Leatherman, a Gerber that as actually, it’s not with me now, but I really learned that that was a [00:57:00] totally essential piece of kit, whether it’s to. You know, get a gate off its hinges by bending a nail because you’re stuck in a field which happened a few times.

Or I don’t know, cutting something that’s wrapped around something lag and you’ve got to sort it out quickly. Or even eating rice with a knife. Yeah, my Gerber. That’s always a challenge. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s no space for you to have that. I’m all about travel lights. So worms, your sport called spoon.

Nope. None of that. I didn’t take, I threw out my Tanja. I said my, yeah, I traveled. I would literally, like, I think it’s less than less than eight kilos of kit. Nothing including all clothes or like camping equipment. Well, all the safety stuff that is not a lot of weight. Yeah. It was. Nuts. I even, I even at one point got rid of my tent [00:58:00] and swapped it for a plastic bag, like a human size plastic bag.

Cause it’s just you just, if you, if you’re not, I mean, people would offer me places to stay a lot of the time. But if you’re not using something all the time, then you just present the kit that you’re carrying, you just look at it and go, I’ve carried you for days. And I haven’t even used you. Like, why are you here?

You know? So. Travel light. And nice. What about your favorite adventure or travel book? Ooh I’m currently reading Africa, Overland that God, I should know who it’s written by. It’s this really beautiful old book of how to drive a vehicle across Africa which may or may not be happening next. And and so, yeah, and it’s got all these like old charts of drove for 20 minutes, moved this distance and got from here to here.

And it’s just, it’s [00:59:00] beautiful that all the old, really, really old photos and, yeah, it’s amazing. Lovely. And what about your favorite? Oh, why? Sorry, why are adventures important to you? I think for me, it’s about rekindling. That sense of wonder about the earth and. Going back to childhood as well. I’m really fascinated by reconnecting people with that childlike selves and having a really kind of playful time.

I think there’s a lot about playfulness and not having the answers. I think something that I’ve become really. Yeah. I think it’s about the big thing I would say with this, why adventures is putting yourself in a position while you don’t know all the answers and having to be cool with that? That is so important.

Cause we like human life doesn’t have all the answers. And so we have to be able to just know that [01:00:00] we’re going to just trust yourself to deal with it, you know? Yeah. You got to, you’re going to go through life, not knowing quite a lot. Exactly. Whether you like it or not. And I actually really liked the way you just sort of put that.

Thank you. Yeah. What about your favorite quote or motivational quotes? Oh, my God. I didn’t know about that. One. Motivational quotes Dory finding Nemo. Just keep swimming. It does. I mean, I know it’s probably really cheesy, but like it, it came up a lot in my head when the shit hits the fan, just keep swimming.

That’s a good one. Thanks. And finally, what’s the last one. Finally people listening are always keen to travel and go on these sort of big adventures. What’s the one thing you would recommend for them to get started? God, [01:01:00] I think taking the first steps, the hardest thing, isn’t it. So I think it’s a lot about not feeling like you need validation from other people for your idea. I give this something you really want to do. Chances are everyone around you is going to tell you that it’s not possible for some reason. And you know, there’s always, there’s always a reason not to do something that’s, what’s really been in my head recently is every time something comes up, whether it’s simply do I, should I go outside and go and get a loaf of bread or, you know, go that far?

Like there’s always a reason not to do something. And you’ve just got to find the right reasons to do it because life’s too short to not say, no, it’s so short and it can come at you when you least expect it. And suddenly things change. You know, I think we’ve become all. We’ve become really [01:02:00] disconnected from our own mortality and yeah, we’re all, we’re all finite and we don’t know how long we’ve got.

So we’ve got to crack on make the most of it. And if you can do that for. Reason that helps something then that’s that’s nice. Take, take the trip or take the holiday. Cause, well, what’s the one it always says, cause you won’t remember mowing the lawn perfectly straight, but you will remember that amazing trip that you took.

Absolutely. We’ve got to get out. I mean, this world is just, so the problem is, is flying. You know, we’ve got to cut the flying, so yeah, if you can find a horse, then, then go for that a bit longer. It takes a while. I mean, my biggest message with the climate ride is slowing down, right? So we moved so slowly, two miles an hour, three miles an hour for months, months, and never been happier.

So slowing down is fine. You know, [01:03:00] sometimes one miles is a whole journey. So you did sort of just briefly brush upon it, but what is next. Well now I’ve just started my masters in ecological design thinking. So I need to get that underway before the next trip have, I’ve just done a shorter trip, a hundred mile trip on horseback with a friend who Johnny goes to London to.

So that just happened, which was a bit weird, cause it was very soon and it was with loads of people. So that was bizarre. Yeah, but next there’s something very, very exciting and very big lined up and I’m quite intimidated by it at the moment. But. It’s going to happen. I’m not gonna say anymore. Yeah.

Yeah. I always remember. You sort of want to keep it quiet until it’s like [01:04:00] official and then you’re like, okay, it’s happening? Okay, great. Now I can say it. You don’t really want to know. Well, exactly. Cause you also don’t know. You don’t want to kind of fix yourself to a sudden plan. Like, especially in this phase, things always changing a bit.

This, this, this thing is much more planned than my last adventure and yeah, it’s much more, I guess when you’re doing things with other people, you kind of got to discuss how you actually going to do it. You can’t just go, oh no, I’ll just sort myself out. So yeah, it’s a different kettle of fish.

I’m very excited. And finally Elsa, how can people find you and follow this big adventure when it does happen? Ah, that’s a good question. So you got to some, I was in a gig last night and someone was promoting their social media and they said the phrase, you got to pick your poison Facebook, Instagram, whatever it is.

And I quite like that. So pick your poison. I’m on Instagram as [01:05:00] Elsa Kent, and I’m on Facebook as the climate ride which is where I’m probably most active. Yeah, amazing. Well, I’ll say it’s been an absolute pleasure listening to your stories and I cannot thank you enough for coming all the way to west London, to F to film this, to record this it’s first time in a year.

We’ve actually, well, I’ve managed to record in person, which certainly has made it a lot more fun and interest. For sure. Now it’s been really cool to be here and it’s great. Isn’t it being in person. Wow. Yeah, exactly. Cool. So thank you. Thank you so much. Well, that is it for today. Thank you so much for watching and I hope you got something out of it.

If you did hit the like button and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video. [01:06:00]

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google