Try ram­bling!

How Jill Green found re­lief from ill­ness and grief, a way to stay young and even love by pulling on her walk­ing boots

YOURS (UK) - - Contents - By Katharine Woot­ton

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’

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