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Jane Dotchin

Jane Dotchin 1

Jane Dotchin 1

Amazing octogenarian Jane Dotchin travels 600 miles on the back of a pack pony annually.

“Epic” octogenarian Jane Dotchin is best known for completing a 600-mile round ride from Hexham, Northumberland to Inverness and back on her Irish cob mare pack pony, Diamond, annually in seven weeks or thereabouts. She began traversing the country in 1972 and after finding the traffic in England “so bad,” decided to head northwards into Scotland in the 1990s instead.


Accompanied by her Jack Russell, Dinky, this off-grid smallholding owner is said to travel between 15 to 20 miles per day and “loves camping and loves the countryside.” She is said to sustain herself on “porridge, oatcakes and cheese and doesn’t need much electricity as she has an old mobile phone with a battery that lasts six weeks.”


Speaking to the Daily Mail’s Laura Sharman in November 2023, then aged 82, eyepatch wearer Dotchin charmingly shared:


“The more I’ve done it, the more nice people I’ve got to know en-route who I want go back and see again.”


“I know the route so well, I don’t need to read maps. I can manage if I keep to the routes I know. If I were ever in trouble, I know somebody would be there, not far away to help.”


“I refuse to go slogging on through pouring wet rain. I don’t want to go over hilltops in foul weather, but I work it out on the way.”


“There is always something interesting happening and there is never a dull moment.”


A lady appalled by the “shameful amount of litter” and particularly single-use barbecues, which she finds “left lying all over the place,” Dotchin has written three books about the “hardships and joys” of her experiences. One has a foreword by Queen Camilla (then Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall) and loves to get to know “kind, lovely people.” In 2021, of the countless many she’s encountered, this genuine delight observed: “There are more lovely people than nasty people; the one’s that cause the trouble end up in the headlines.”


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Jane Dotchin – a winner of a British Horse Society ‘Exceptional Achievement Award’ – has written three books. The first is ‘Journeys Through England with a Pack Pony’ (Wagtail Press, 2020). The second is ‘Journeys Through Britain with a Pack Pony 1985 – 1987’ (Wagtail Press, 2021); it features a foreword by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. The third is ‘More Journeys with a Pack Pony 1988 – 1994’ (Wagtail Press, 2022); it features a foreword by Helene Mauchlen, BHS development officer for Scotland.
Famed for her epic annual 600-mile trek with her pony and disabled dog, Dinky, Jane Dotchin is an inspiration and a treasure. She carries only a saddlebag for her dog, Dinky, and a tent and an old mobile phone that is rarely turned on. Her “mainstay” is “nothing but porridge, oatcakes and cheese – all of which she shares with Dinky.” If only more people were like her.
On Twitter of Jane Dotchin in May 2024, author of ‘The Vanishing Ice’ Iain Cameron remarked: “I met this remarkable lady a few years ago near Glen Lyon in Perthshire. Eighty-year-old Jane Dotchin travels on horseback from near Hexham in Northumberland to Inverness every year (she’s been doing it since 1972, I think). Covering about 20 miles a day on the horse, she camps where she can, cooking food on a stove. The 600-odd mile trip normally takes just over a month. When I met her, she was boiling a cup of tea on the stove and having a break. I only found out afterwards what she was doing, because she only said: ‘I’m out for a long ride’ when [I] spoke to her. The master of understatement.”
A cheery wave and this octogenarian – who has qualities akin to two other The Steeple Times roll call mentions, nonagenarian campaigner Lotti Henley and bagpipe playing traveler Ross O’Connell Jennings – is yet again on her merry way.

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