A Walk Across England
“We recuperated by exploring nearby villages and took a train down to explore London when we finished the hike,” Dunn explains.
The girls heard about the West-to-East trail, regarded as one of the best hiking routes in the world, while on a previous trip to the UK with the 2012 Kiplin Hall program led by Ernest A. Howard Professor of English Literature and Director of the Humanities Program Richard Gillin. Devised by writer Alfred Wainwright in 1973, the Coast-to-Coast Walk rewards its brave hikers with the most beautiful natural landscapes in the United Kingdom.
“Along the path, we met many lovely and generous people from England, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United States. I really enjoyed the instant connection I was able to make with a total stranger just because we were hiking the same trail,” said Dunn.
Both English majors (Dunn is also majoring in drama and Hansen in humanities), the two worked closely with Dr. and Mrs. Gillin to develop a feasible hiking schedule, ensuring they balanced suitable lodging and reasonable daily distances to get the most out of their experience.
“In Robin Hood’s Bay, we met several gentlemen who had just completed the 192-mile trek. Claire and I enjoyed exploring Northern England under Dr. Gillin’s guidance, and we loved the thought of adventuring from west to east,” Dunn added.
“Each [student] is wonderful,” remarked Dr. Gillin. “Both major assets to the Kiplin Hall Program in summer 2012, their good humor and sensitivity to others was clearly evident throughout, and they showed themselves as superior hikers. Although many others have talked about doing the Coast-to-Coast Trail, Val and Claire were the first to actually do so.”
While the trip was carefully planned out, some of the best experiences turned out to be the unexpected ones. Dunn says that the trip reaffirmed her spirit of adventure and taught her that the best opportunities are often unplanned.
“I’m also much better at reading maps,” she added.
Dr. Gillin, who has served as the Director of the program for fifteen years, mentioned that while on their hike the girls stopped to visit those at Kiplin Hall this summer and also get some rest.
“The journey is a very trying one, especially in the early stages through the Lake District. Clearly they were weary, but also in an optimistic mood. It was evident to me that they were absolutely determined to finish the hike, and of course they did. The willpower, not to mention the endurance of physical demands, in completing their journey illustrates their uniqueness as individuals and as a team. I have great admiration for their accomplishment, and their success is a measure of the creativity of our students.”