Walking enthusiast completes nearly 250 routes in Northamptonshire in less than a year and creates many more herself

The early-retiree has mapped out a whopping 80 new trails alongside the more than 100 existing ones

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 8:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:00 am
Penny after beating one of her longest hikes

A walking enthusiast has just completed nearly 250 trails in Northamptonshire in under a year, including many more that she drew herself.

Penny Gasson, from Northampton, took early retirement to go exploring, ending a 33-year career in sales at British Telecom.

The decision almost seems fitting, seeing her go from field sales in an office to actual English fields.

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The view from Haselbach Hill, near Cottesbrooke

The effort began on October 1, 2020 as a change of pace from a very active running hobby. But where her new one might lack intensity, it more than made up with its longevity.

By November 20 this year, Penny had completed 247 walking paths, 80 of which she traced out herself.

Penny said: "I used to run, but then my knees gave up and I had to find something else to do. I thought, walking's free, and it takes you anywhere you want to go, so why not give it a go?

"I literally decided to walk through or around every village or town that I could.

Scenic view near Hinton in the Hedges

"You get to go out into the countryside and, especially after lockdown, there was no one else out there, so it was just lovely. Although I walked with my husband and with a friend, I have walked 200 of the trails alone.

"When I finished I went for a celebratory drink at the pub, and I got the warmest welcome from people who I'd had never even met before.

"They all congratulated me for a job well done and it was just lovely."

The outdoor enthusiast used a walking app to draw her routes on a digital map, meaning she never took the same path twice. Going by the name OS Maps, the app allows users to create their own routes and share them with others.

This helped Penny become a regular feature on Northamptonshire Walks, a popular site for country wanderers in the county. At her peak, she completed anywhere from 15 to 20 walks a month. In her more relaxed months, just five or so would do.

Even injury could not hold her down, as

Penny added: "Get properly kitted out, get the OS app on your phone, always tell someone where you're going and just go for it. It's just such a simple thing to do.

"We have some beautiful locations and I think too few people are aware of the beautiful countryside they have so close by."

Anyone wanting to have a go at country walks can find routes on the Northamptonshire Walks website.