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Kate McMorris arrived at Land’s End in Cornwall after spending three months riding seven-year-old palomino Marilyn about 1,300 miles from John o’Groats. Using bridleways where possible made their epic solo journey from the most northerly point of Britain to the most southerly much longer than the 874-mile road route used by runners and cyclists.
Her husband Steve Parley was waiting to greet her at the finish and drove her and Marilyn to their New Forest home, where family and friends had gathered for a surprise party.
Kate, 50, had dreamed of doing the GB Vet Trek since she was a 20-year-old student but admitted it had pushed her to the limit at times.
Speaking from her home she said: “I am relieved it is over and my horse is in a good condition.
“I did not realise how much I would worry in the first few weeks about how she was coping, as horses like routine.
“Marilyn had to get used to the routine of daily change but once she learned to settle overnight I think she really enjoyed it.”
Kate says she also found the start of the journey in April and May tough, riding across the Scottish Highlands in wet, windy and cold conditions, particularly after pulling her calf muscle after a few days.
She said: “The adventure of crossing the Highlands was a highlight but also a low point as it was really hard.
“The rubbish weather and trying to settle into a routine meant we could not enjoy the spectacular views.
“My calf was so painful that I was nearly crying by the time we reached the Scottish Borders, but it got better.”
Kate was also alarmed by some of the motorists on roads she had to use driving past her Marilyn at 40mph just a few feet away.
But she was “overwhelmed” by the kindness and support of people following her journey on a Facebook page.
Kate, who lost two stones in training for the trek and another stone during it, says: “I had not factored in how many lovely people there are out there.
“People were leaving messages for me saying they had left something for me or Marilyn at certain places, some would leave notes by a bucket of water for Marilyn.”
She added: “I recorded videos for the Facebook page, which is something I had never done before and getting instant responses made me feel that I wasn’t on my own, to have that encouragement really helped.”
As she prepared to go back to work at Seadown Vets in the New Forest, Kate was already thinking about her next trek with Marilyn, with a return to Scotland now they are both fitter on the cards.
She said: “I was tempted to keep going when I got to Cornwall. I’d love to do some more trips, just me and my horse, and I’d love to redo the Highlands.”
*Kate is raising funds for the charities Pets As Therapy and Vetlife. To donate visit justgiving.com/team/gbvettrek
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