How Jill Green found relief from illness and grief, a way to stay young and even love by pulling on her walking boots
Standing on the top of a hill in the middle of the Pennine Way trail, Jill Green slowly took in 360 degrees of awe-inspiring views and felt literally on top of the world. “It was like everything I looked on belonged to me,” says Jill (76).
Having walked all 263 miles of this trail on her own, she says it was a great healer following a challenging past few years.
Jill started long-distance walking as a child and would often lead hikes for other children around Surrey. But as she got older, she stopped. Then, when she and her husband moved to the Isle of Wight later in life, they decided to join the local Ramblers’ Association as a way of meeting people. Starting with four and five-mile walks, this soon moved to longer hikes as she completed the Isle of Wight’s Vectis marathon every year involving walking 31 miles in one day. After that, she joined the Long Distance Walkers Association and started leading a 24-hour walk around all 71 miles of the Isle of Wight coast, as well as training for a 100-mile walk from Winchester to Eastbourne.
Having now caught the walking bug, Jill completed countless more 100-mile walks and even became the first lady over 65 to complete the Centurion 100-mile Race in all six of the countries it’s held. But then in 2008, life changed for Jill completely when her beloved husband, Dave, passed away, just before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “It felt like everything collapsed around me. The only thing that saved me was walking as it spurred me to get outside, especially when I decided I wanted to get fit to walk 100 miles again.” And it was while training for this walk, three years after Dave died, that Jill met another walker with whom she would eventually find love again.
“He was doing his first ever 100-mile walk and I was doing my 20th, but we were both on our own and carrying self-doubt. It was wonderful to have someone to walk with and then shortly after he became my new partner. Coming back to walking truly gave me a new lease of life.”
As well as meeting her partner, Jill also says being part of a rambling group means she’s made lots of good friends. “It keeps me young as I’m mixing with older people as well as being good exercise. “Walking is so uplifting and it’s just amazing what going outdoors and putting one foot in front of the other can do for you.”
‘The only thing that saved me was walking as it spurred me to get outside’