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Midges, Maps & Muesli: My Walk Round the Coast of Britain

helen krasner uk

by Helen Krasner

In March 1986, I decided to walk around the whole coast of Britain. No, I was not trying to break any records, become famous, or fulfil a long-held, childhood ambition; this trek was simply an idea I’d had for a long time.

I had often told my friends that if I ever had the time, the money, and no commitments, this walk would be a nice thing to do.

Well, this “nice thing to do” got me into the Guinness Book of World Records, turned me into a minor celebrity, and became the basis for a well-received book, now in its second printing.

I’ve Never Been Afraid to Try New Things

Of course, most women don’t just up and walk 5,000 miles around a large island. However, my whole life has been a bit of an adventure.  My misspent youth consisted of travelling around the world, and none of my friends would ever say that my life has been boring.  A few of my more memorable jobs, from my younger days, include:

  • Working as an extra in a movie in Istanbul.
  • Selling my hand-made macramé bracelets in Brazil.
  • Dancing as a go-go girl in Denver.
  • Singing and playing guitar at a bar in Teheran.
  • Harvesting aubergines on a kibbutz in Israel.  (Aubergines have the longest thorns in the world.)

My Amazing Record-Breaking Hike

I can be a bit impulsive at times, so my trek involved little in the way of planning. I was neither particularly fit nor was I experienced at long-distance walking.  Nonetheless, I managed to make it all the way around the coast of my native land.

My quest included many small adventures.  I was nearly blown off a cliff.  I was scared almost to tears by bulls and large dogs.  (Bulls are much more intimidating in real life than on the telly.)  And, once I was thrown out of my accommodation on a windy night by a suspicious policeman.

My wanderings continued for almost a year.  I walked in all weathers – wind, rain, snow...and occasionally lovely sunshine.  And, as you can imagine, I saw many sights and met many interesting people.

Finally, in January 1987, I arrived back at my starting point, to a rapturous reception from my relatives and the media.  Despite having tried to make this merely a private trip, I had walked into the record books and had become a minor celebrity.

Why People Like My Book

Midges, Maps & Muesli is not one of those diary-style travel books that ultimately turns into a boring list of places visited.  It is not an account of a great feat by a super-woman to whom most people cannot relate.

My book is an honest story, written by an ordinary person, but of a quite extraordinary trip.  I consider myself to be a careful observer of the things I see, the people I meet, and my own thoughts and feelings.  And, I’ve been told that this is what brings my great hike to life for the casual reader. My story unfolds in the same manner that it would have unfolded if any man or woman suddenly decided to leave the comfort of his or her armchair and give it a go.

What is Next for Me?

I’ve written Midges, Maps & Muesli in a light, easy-to-read style, because that is how I write anyway, and I’m just an ordinary woman who decided to say, “Yes,” when most sensible people would have said, “Maybe, someday....”  But since then I’ve become a helicopter pilot, and I’ve also written books in which I’ve tried to bring the joy of piloting a helicopter to those of you who’ve never had the chance to try it. Details of how that came about are in the later version of Midges, Maps & Muesli, if you were wondering…  I’m not sure what I’ll be writing about next, but hopefully it will be something equally inspiring.

For my hope is that women will read my stories and be inspired to learn to fly, or to do something else they’ve always wanted to try – maybe learn to play Chopin, take up acting, or just turn on to a beautiful country road in the middle of autumn merely to see where it leads.

Author Bio:

Find Midges, Maps & Muesli and other books by Helen Krasner at Amazon.com.

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What do you think of this article? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

Helen Krasner has been writing for most of her life but she has always done many other things besides writing. She has travelled the world, visiting around 70 countries. She has a degree in psychology and has worked as an occupational psychologist, she has been a meditation teacher, and she worked in marketing and market research for some years. She practises yoga, has a longstanding interest in complementary medicine, and has been a cat owner for around 30 years. She also flies both small aeroplanes and helicopters, and holds a Commercial Helicopter Licence and Instructor's Rating. Read more about Helen at her website must-fly.com.

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  1. Christina Gregoire

    Helen, I saw something on a Rick Steves show about how people can walk all around on people's farms in Britain. And, it's legal. You can't do that in the states...someone might shoot you or call the police. Now, I see why you decided to walk all the way around Britain. I want to wander around the countryside of Britain and have a walkabout.

  2. Pink

    I'd vertune that this article has saved me more time than any other.