For a change – and for the first time in three years – this blogpost is not about my donkeys nor my travels, but about Hannah Engelkamp and Chico her donkey, whose progress on a 1000-mile walking circuit of Wales I have been following for some time. Hannah has recorded her journey with a remarkable series of beautiful photographs of this very photogenic donkey and some breathtaking Welsh coastal scenery. You can find links below to read Hannah’s own account, on her website, blog and Facebook account, and the print and broadcasting media in Wales have also picked up on her adventures. Hannah is a travel writer, so a book can be expected at the end of it all, and I will happily add it to the small collection of donkey travel books now accumulating on my shelf.
For me, what is most enjoyable is reading about Hannah’s gradual adjustment to seeing the road and life around her through the eyes of the donkey. It is an echo of my own journey in these past years. I am now in my fourth year of life with donkeys, starting with my walk on a Compostela route in France with Dalie, borrowed from my friend Barbara in France, and now completely donked up, with four of these lovely animals. Hannah’s early fascination with Chico and the adjustment to doing things his way reminds me of those early days of discovery. Now, there is simply life with donks. An earlier life without donks is no longer possible to understand.
The other thing I like about reading Hannah’s journey is that it is a tale of adventure, courage, overcoming adversity (those awful stiles always blocking the path), toughing out the adverse weather, and generally triumphing as a pilgrim with donkey. With four donkeys, I am confined to home. The fact that I bought two pregnant ones and ended up with four meant that my plans to go walking with donkeys were sabotaged from the very moment Matilde sat down in the road, heavily pregnant, and refused to go any further… Rubí too, and then there were four! So I am confined to home with a small herd and it is good to watch the progress of another donkey walker, a long way off in a wet country with grey skies and green fields.