Walking is underrated, especially in North America.  The average American adult walks an average of 4,474 steps each day. Canadians are not far ahead of that with 4,819 steps. Contrast that to the average resident of Hong Kong, whose total daily steps clock in at 6,880, nearly 30% more than those across a continent.  There are many reasons for this gap, but regardless of why the difference exists – most people in America don’t walk enough.

So, when Rita Enders, a 60+ year old Canadian and now Palm Desert, California resident, sought some advice about improving her physical fitness from her Physician Assistant friend, Michelle – she was given just a few words of advice. “Don’t just walk Rita, walk every day, as if you’re late for the bus.”

“Don’t just walk Rita, walk every day, as if you’re late for the bus.”

“Hmmm,” Rita thought. “I’m a world traveler, cook, weaver, spinner, reader, photographer, and all things in between.” Could the solution to getting fit really be so simple?” So, in November 2017, Rita began to walk. No, this wasn’t just her ordinary and occasional stroll. She began to walk with a purpose. Daily and quickly, she imagined the pace of a young student late for school, and trying desperately to catch that bus. Along the way, she began to walk with her 70+ year-old friend, Charlotte. Four months later, sometime in the spring, the two women decided they needed a goal. Their confidence and enthusiasm for their newfound level of fitness was bursting, and as Rita put it, “I needed to do something outrageous.”

Why not? After all, the women were in their 60’s and 70’s, and both agreed, they should pick an audacious venue. One that really made a statement. It was not enough to take on the annual run/walk challenge 10K of their Palm Springs area neighborhood. No, they set their horizons further. Across the ocean further – all the way to England. “How about walk the coast to coast, across England, they asked each other? “Lots of people do it, thousands in fact.” Indeed, the duo thought, “We can do it too!”

The Wainwright Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail is a 192-miles journey from St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea. It was conceived in 1972 by Albert Wainwright. Wainwright, an accountant, turned author, wrote a series of guidebooks on walking routes outlining the route. From the northwest English coastline, the routes meander east through rural villages, emerald pastures, ancient byways, rolling hills, and three contrasting national parks to the final destination along the North Sea shoreline. Since Wainwright’s writings, his books have lured thousands of walking enthusiasts from all walks of life, to undertake the challenge.

The Coast to Coast (C2C) Trail in England meanders 192-miles through rural villages, emerald pastures, ancient byways, rolling hills and three national parks. 

On May 26, 2018, after six months of working diligently to catch that bus, Rita and her companion, Charlotte, found themselves in St. Bees at the start of their adventure. Following months of training and preparation, which included careful study of Henry Stedman’s Coast to Coast Path guide books, they set out on their pilgrimage. The trip was a series of surprises and challenges with moments of pride and temporary defeat, which Rita chronicled in her C2C Blog (freespiritwoman.com). At times the women walked solo, swallowing in the serenity and brilliance of the landscape. Other times they walked with like-minded strangers who colored their journey and inspired them.

On June 18, the pair finally dipped their boots into the North Sea. They had walked for 16 days – a trip that less than six months ago, neither would’ve dreamt possible. As for Rita, she’d set her goal, believed in herself, and in the end, she finally caught that damn bus. Guided by Wainwright’s words, “You were made to soar, to crash to the earth, then to rise and soar again.” Rita wasted no time. She was already looking for her next challenge.

*For more details about Rita and her Coast to Coast (C2C) Trip, visit her website at Freespiritwoman.com

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