Sunday, 7 June 2009

Unexpected Visitors

Posted by Rosie

Thursday afternoon, I was just off to feed the chicks when Simon called me over. "We've got visitors." I saw no car and wondered who he meant. Simon led me towards the gate onto the footpath where I was met by a two walkers with a dog and two donkeys. It transpired that Ema and Christoph, their pack donkeys, Prince and Pepin and their little dog Maurice are walking from the village of le Merlerault near Argentan in Orne to Brest in Finistere (and back again). The entire journey is 2000km and they plan to take 5 months to complete it. They walk about 15 to 20 kms per day before searching for a suitable field in which to rest and feed the donkeys and set up their tent. "Have you anywhere suitable where we could stay?" they asked. "... that is donkey-proof and not full of young trees they will eat!" Our fields by the house are all planted with orchard trees but we showed them our "new" field and it was perfect.

Later, after they had put up their tent, they joined us for wine and cheese and we had a fascinating evening learning about the walk and their even greater plans next year to walk to and across the Alps. They were a great couple and an inspiration to anyone who has ever had a dream. And whilst walking with a donkey may have been done for millenia, Ema and Christoph do have several of life's modern luxuries to help them on their way - waterproof, lightweight panniers for all their gear; a modern tepee in which they can cook and run a heater if needed; a solar panel to run the heater as well as a light, charger for batteries etc.; a GPS system (cheaper and lighter than all the maps they would otherwise need); a computer to keep in touch (when they can get a signal!) and, most important of all a dog basket with rain cover so when 11 year old Maurice feels a little weary he can hitch a lift on Pepin.

Technology notwithstanding, the success of their walk is still reliant on the good nature of the people they meet on the way - some nights they find somewhere to stop very quickly - other nights it takes much longer but they said as yet, no-one had outright refused to help - although some hadn't answered the door when they were sure they were in. From time to time they rest more than one day in the same place for a well earned rest and I think they would liked to to have stayed here longer but the weather forecast was for rain and they wanted to crack on before a longer stop. They have however, taken our email address and promised to send regular updates of their journey and have said they will come back when the first Gite is built. I really hope they do - we were briefly able to be part of their dream; I hope they can become part of ours too.


  1. What a neat story, how interesting. Not what you would expect from a knock on the door!

  2. Great post, what lovely visitors - just teh sort you need! Will be great to keep up with how they get on with their journey. I lvoe that last photo.



  3. What a fascinating adventure they are on. Do keep us posted if you hear further from them!

  4. how inspirational. and great for your children to also see and hear this first hand. not only parents that up sticks and move countries, but people who forefill their dreams, biblical style with donkeys. a mixture of ancient and modern.

    Pioneering spirit if ever I read it.

    Simply fabulous.


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