Cowshed and National Trust reveal Nature Ambassadors with Jamie Roberts
Today, (21 August 2018) Cowshed and National Trust Wales have revealed two of its six nature ambassadors ahead of the Bank Holiday to encourage more people to spend time outdoors – two women who found a new lease of life along the Wales Coast Path.
18 months ago, aged 53 and 67, good friends Lucy O’Donnell and Eirlys Thomas decided to take on the Wales Coast Path following redundancy and retirement. With time on their hands and in need of a new focus, they set out to improve their fitness, mental health and sleep patterns.
Believing the walk to only be 450 miles (actually 870), it has taken them 100 days on and off, finishing the final section this summer. The pair are the only two female friends over 50 noted on the revered Wales Coast Path Hall of Fame to have completed the walk.
Lucy and Eirlys are sharing their story as part of National Trust Wales’ campaign, fronted by rugby star Jamie Roberts, to find ambassadors with special stories connected to nature around Wales which launched earlier this year.
The friends were chosen to inspire more people to get out and about in nature, proving age and fitness levels should be no barrier to exploring the outdoors.
Lucy, who picked up conversational Welsh along the route, said: “It started as a bit of banter, as we tottered out to explore the path from our base in Cardiff. I actually thought the walk was 450 miles to start with and retorted with a flourish of ‘whatever’ when the full extent of our ambition was pointed out.
“There were challenges, long days, blisters, aching bones, and falls in a bog. Often asking ourselves ‘how far can possibly be left?’, ‘how many miles per hour are we doing?’, ‘please when can I sit down?’
“Having both worked within the tourism industry, we both thought we knew Wales backwards but accepted quickly that we just didn’t. Every walking day threw up more surprises, incredible landscapes, history and hilarious encounters with locals and walkers. ‘You’ve walked how far girls?!’ was the usual.”
Inspired by her walk around the coast, Eirlys is due to complete the full length of Wales by walking Offa’s Dyke later this year. She added: “We weren’t really walkers or particularly fit and we definitely didn’t set out to walk the whole way. We started with our own patch and just kept walking.
“Now we can confidently say that walking clears the mind and lifts the spirits. It has certainly filled us with great optimism and confidence to take on any crazy project that appeals.
“If we can do it, anyone can. Don’t let any guide book convince you that you have to complete 15miles a day. Break it down to suit your ability and enjoy!”
Meeting Jamie Roberts at Rhossili, where the prospect of walking the Wales Coast Path turned from an interesting challenge to an enjoyable experience for Lucy and Eirlys, the ambassadors exchanged fond memories of the Welsh beauty spot – the people they met and the ups and downs of a long walk around Wales as friends.
National Trust’s Outdoor and Well-being ambassador, Jamie Roberts, also expressed his fondness for Rhossili: “I spent many a summer in Whitford Bay caravan park with my family growing up and would spend hours on Rhossili beach, building sandcastles, burying my Dad in the sand and attempting to bodyboard!
“It has been a really interesting to meet each of the ambassadors and hear how nature plays such a distinct role in their lives. I hope they now inspire people of every ability and circumstance to spend more time enjoying the benefits the outdoors brings.”
To find out more about National Trust Wales’ ambassadors and for inspiration on how to make the most of the great Welsh outdoors, visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wales-nature-ambassadors